A scant six years after the tech crash of 2000, BusinessWeek is once again falling into the same old trap ("Valley Boys," Cover Story, Aug. 14). Instead of touting real examples of creative entrepreneurship on your cover, you hyped yet another Web startup with anemic revenues and no appreciable business model. Numerous Web 2.0 darlings have already crashed and burned. Your publication should have asked the question that continues to plague all Web 2.0 businesses: How can a Web site that is entirely predicated on user-submitted content ever hope to survive?
As much as I enjoyed the latest account of how the dynamics behind Silicon Valley entrepreneurship are changing, I was deeply alarmed by the role that women are consigned to play in the article. If there is a lack of female tech entrepreneurs, the writers and editors of the article are certainly not at fault. But why should BusinessWeek validate the misguided perception that access to "pretty girls" is a benchmark on the ladder of success?
To emphasize the "rock star"-like status of so-called Valley Boys like Kevin Rose, readers are told that he was seen signing the cleavage of a "pretty brunette" at a party. This unnecessary detail, juxtaposed with other perks of his success, just reinforces the notion of women as prizes for successful entrepreneurs, rather than colleagues and competitors.
Bubble 2.0 is nearing its bursting point. A puff piece like the glowing BW quasi-press release for Digg.com suggests that Webvan, Pets.com, and Boo.com will soon be on their summer revival tour.
Archie Senor Hall
Douglas Wilder's National Slavery Museum is very long overdue ("A cause that scares business," Philanthropy, Aug. 14). I urged President Clinton during his first term to donate land and resources for such an institution memorializing this monstrous mega-crime, which took millions of lives during the passage across the Atlantic and in slaves' workplaces. To no avail.
Now Mr. Wilder is having difficulty raising the necessary funds for this important educational project. Here is a proposal: The same good people of all backgrounds who founded the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., with private donations and the resources of the federal government can make the Slavery Museum a reality.
It would be an historic tribute to the unpaid labors and terrible suffering of African American slaves who harvested the food, took care of others' children, and built much of America, including the U.S. Capitol itself, during those two and a half centuries.
Why is the United States National Slavery Museum being built in Fredricksburg, Va., instead of Washington, on our National Mall? I can answer this question. Most white Americans in this great nation are in denial of the devastating impact slavery and racism continue to have on America. Why put it in our own backyard?
Pamela A. Hairston
Regarding "Investors may be celebrating too soon" (Business Outlook, Aug. 14): Would a little wage inflation really be so bad? I understand labor's share of corporate profits are at relatively historic lows and the real wage has generally stagnated or fallen for some time now (with, I believe, a brief reprieve in the '90s). Maybe workers could finally have a chance to have their wages keep up with the nominal price increases we have all been experiencing lately.
I read Dan Beucke's commentary ("A blade too far," News & Insights, Aug. 14) on the Gillette Fusion razor with amusement. My wife and children tease me about my ever-increasing razor collection; as a new "cutting edge" marvel comes out, I'm one of the first to run out and buy it. Like Beucke, they seem to miss the point. To some extent, the humble razor is a utility device, used for personal grooming. It should be functional and, let's face it, there's a limit to the number of ways to trim whiskers. But to many people, the razor goes beyond that, and that is the market Gillette has tapped.
A razor is also a toy. Shaving every morning can be dull work, and for those of us looking to vary our morning routine, a new toy is welcome. A shiny color, more blades, a vibrating handle -- why, the Fusion even has an indicator light to tell you the battery is running low! But the best thing about this new toy is that most of us can afford it. Sure, $40 (with a bunch of blades) is more than cheap razors cost, but it's a lot less than just one ticket to a Major League Baseball game.
Robert D. Grossman
Egg Harbor Township, N.J.
Four blades, five blades, six blades....What's next, a lawnmower? Here's a novel idea: How about making one blade that actually works? One hundred years ago, Gillette advertised a razor that could get 100 uses. Revolutionary. In the meantime, I'll keep using the generics.
I'm an old man of 86, and I use a single-blade razor of pre-World War I vintage -- my father's safety razor. I carried it as a combat infantryman during my World War II adventure in France and Germany. I was superstitious and had the idea it would be good luck. Being a survivor of the Great Depression, when a penny had some value and you learned to get by with the bare essentials, I would be able to reuse the Gillette blades many times by simply resharpening the double-edged blade. The only tool needed was an average-size water glass. With one finger pressing on the blade on the inside of the glass and seesawing back and forth on the rounded surface, it would be as good as new. So much for advanced science.
Robert J. Straba