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Kitchit Brings the Joy Back into Your Holiday Dinner Party

‘Tis the season of holiday dinner parties. Often among the most joyful events of the winter, they can also turn into occasions of great stress.

So, imagine for a moment if you could have a top-tier chef move into your kitchen and handle the whole event for you – from shopping to cooking to presentation and cleanup?

CastleVille is Zynga's "Believable Fantasy World in a Social Space"

Zynga is preparing the next in its series of "Ville" franchise offerings and this one offers a medieval setting called CastleVille

Two of its predecessor games, CityVille and FarmVille, are among the most popular games on Facebook at a time when the San Francisco-based gaming giant prepares for its upcoming IPO.

Smashwords CEO Talks Online Book Publishing, Present and Future

Smashwords: Ebooks from independent authors and publishers

Back in 2008, when Mark Coker launched Smashwords as a self-publishing platform for independent authors of ebooks, he knew that self-publishing  “was widely seen as the option as last resort for failed authors.”

That was then.

When I caught up with him by phone yesterday, Coker stated, “I think that self-publishing is actually becoming the option of first resort for authors now.”

E-Book Publisher Hyperink Wants to Turn You into an Author

Though they may only account for a single-digit portion of the overall book market at present, sales of ebooks are soaring globally and will probably reach $12.7 billion (16.1 percent of all book sales), according to Outsell, by 2013.

And since Amazon has established that there is a “long tail” for physical books, that should logically be even more true for ebooks.

Scenes of the City: the Bay Bridge's Final Piece

Last Friday, the final piece of the new Bay Bridge was laid (it weighed two million pounds). It marks the completion of the largest structure of its kind anywhere in the world. The new Bay Bridge is scheduled to open in 2013, so don't start revving your engines just yet.

Wantful Aims to Bring the Pleasure Back to Gift-Giving

Inside a bustling Victorian flat on Haight Street, a team of merchandisers led by serial entrepreneur John Poisson has just launched a service to “help solve your gift-giving dilemmas.”

Didn't think you had any such dilemmas? Think again.

What We're Searching For This Halloween in the Bay Area

You don’t have to have lived in San Francisco very long to realize that Halloween is this city’s idea of a pretty good holiday.

And it’s not necessarily just for kids, either–although most of them make out like bandits (or whatever else they’re disguised as) by visiting the stores along our neighborhood commercial strips, as well as houses on the specific blocks in various neighborhoods that specialize in goblinery.

"We're Not PayPal," Says New Online Payment Player, WePay

WePay’s co-founder Bill Clerico can sum up his company with a simple phrase: “We’re not PayPal.”

The online payment giant claims 94.4 million users, but if you Google the firm, above the fold search results include a link to PayPal Sucks, with horror stories of frozen accounts, scams and other bad consumer experiences.

“One of the problems is that PayPal was built back in 1998, but the world has changed a lot since then,” Clerico observes. And one of the biggest ways the world has changed is the emergence of social media, especially Facebook.

“A huge piece of the friction between financial services institutions and the customer historically has been identity verification,” says Clerico. But now, thanks to the way people share their true identity on Facebook, “it’s much easier to verify who you are and have that validated by the many people who agree you are who you say you are.”

BranchOut Challenges LinkedIn By Bringing Professional Recruiters To Facebook

Since its public launch at the beginning of the year, BranchOut has quickly grown into the largest professional network on Facebook, with three million people using its free service to find jobs, or alternatively, the talent to fill job openings.

Now, the startup is bringing recruiters into the fold as well with a new product  called Recruiter Connect. This move places BranchOut into even a more direct competition with LinkedIn.

The startup likes its odds.

“Facebook is just much bigger with its 800 million users than LinkedIn, with 100 million,” says Chris Merritt, VP of Sales. “And, people spend 164 times as much time on Facebook as on LinkedIn.”

True, but pretty close to all of those 100 million of those LinkedIn accounts, I’d wager, are devoted to professional networking of the type BranchOut is building at Facebook, which most people still consider a place to connect with family and friends.

Merritt counters that that is precisely why BranchOut’s Facebook location makes sense.

In the Social Media World, Female Millennials Hold the Upper Hand

If it sometimes seems like Facebook has taken over the world, the most recent report from Nielsen on social media usage in the U.S. provides lots of evidence for that belief.

Americans are spending over 50 billion minutes on Facebook a month, which is more than three times as many minutes as on the second leading website, Yahoo, and over four times as much as on Google.

Women dominate that usage time, accounting for 62 percent of all page views at Facebook, and Millennials (ages 18-34) have the highest concentration of visitors there and at most social media sites among all the age groups.

“Social media’s popularity continues to grow, connecting people with just about everything they watch or buy,” stated the report. “Whether it’s a brand icon inviting consumers to connect with a company on LinkedIn, a news ticker promoting an anchor’s Twitter handle, or an advertisement asking a consumer to “like” a product on Facebook, people are constantly being driven to social media.”

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