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Texas Governor, Greg Abbott hires out of state firm for site redesign

When Texas Governor, Greg Abbott hits the road bragging about all of the positivity the Governor’s Office has done for the state, hiring an out of state firm to redesign his own site with taxpayer dollars has some scratching their heads.

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Texas Governor site, built by non-Texans

With nearly 30 million residents, Texas is home to the Silicon Hills of Austin and is rich with talent in the tech industry. There are thousands of tech companies within the state’s borders, and hundreds of web design firms. Which is exactly why some are scratching their head at the announcement that The Office of the Governor (OOG) has hired an Arkansas-based firm to redesign its public-facing website for $85,000.

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The OOG’s current site greets you with the lead image of a group of women with Governor Abbott, proclaiming “making Texas #1 for women-owned businesses,” followed shortly by “the Texas economy continues to thrive,” which is in direct conflict with sending business outside of the state. Was there no woman-owned firm worthy of hiring in Texas?

If the mission truly is to support and expand the healthy business ecosystem which Texas is so famous for, the decision to send $85,000 of taxpayer money outside of the State may confuse some.

$85,000 in taxpayer dollars goes to an Arkansas firm

Although the OOG put out a request for proposal (RFP) solicitation to Texas companies, they also did so through the Department of Information Resources (DIR), which allows local and state governments to get discounted services from DIR-approved vendors from across the nation.

“I am surprised to learn that the Governor of the great state of Texas was unable to find anyone in the large State of Texas to handle the job,” said Jay Matthew of Jay Matthew Consulting. “This does not really do much to show that [Governor Abbott] values the hard working people of this state… many of which I know would be more than capable of handling this project. Outsourcing something that represents Texas is an extremely poor decision.”

Although it does not appear that the Governor’s values are misaligned with the hard working folks in the Lone Star State, this contract could lead people to think otherwise.

UI designer, Robert Emery Shelton tells us, “Given that the Governor’s office sits in the heart of the tech industry in Texas (Austin), it’s an odd choice to give an out of state firm the design contract, given the subject matter.” Shelton adds that “Because it’s taxpayer funded, the contract most definitely should have been invested in a Texas designer/firm.”

But there might be a good reason

It’s possible that of the Texas companies that submitted proposals, none were willing to do the scope of work within the budget range, so getting a discount from out of state might have been the best option (too bad India isn’t an option for DIR-approved vendors).

It’s also conceivable that none of the companies that responded to the RFP had the high level of experience that the winning firm obviously has, regardless of geography.

It is possible that Texas firms were honest with the OOG (“no one can do that much work for that little cash”), but it is equally possible that the Texas firms submitted bloated proposals with over-priced cockiness.

We have requested access to the redesign proposals and requested further information as to whether or not the OOG hired a non-DIR vendor without acquiring an exemption. We have also requested comment from the Governor himself.

The story is developing, and the inspiration for hiring a non-Texas firm remains unclear, but it is certainly clear that it doesn’t put Gov. Abbott in a positive light as he promotes all of the good that the OOG really, truly does to develop, attract, and expand the business economy in Texas.

#Texas

Business News

Supreme Court okays trademarking for ‘generic’ name URLs

(BUSINESS NEWS) Generic name trademarks have helped to stave off monopolies of broad products and services, but the Supreme Court just ruled that generic company names like Booking.com, can now be trademarked.

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For years, The United States Patent and Trademark Office has denied rights to names termed as “generic.” This was previously used to prevent generic terms from monopolizing a section of the market. It has prevented many companies from doing that as well.

However, as we move into the 21st century we begin to see things that may not be so cut and dry. As usual life gets messy and things are far more grey than they previously have been.

Recently, the US Supreme Court ruled that website names are eligible for a change to the previous trademark rules. The website that pushed for this privilege first, Booking.com that is owned by Booking Holdings Inc., argued that they needed this ruling to stop consumers from following copycats down a rabbit hole and away from their business.

The decision, heavily weighted at 8-1, gives Booking.com, nationwide legal protection against competing companies trademarks.

A remark released later by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the Supreme Court states, “We have no cause to deny Booking.com the same benefits Congress accorded other marks qualifying as nongeneric.” An argument quoted from the decision continues as since, “‘Booking.com’ is not a generic name to consumers, it is not generic.”

This stance, taken by the majority, exemplifies a firm position on the rights of the individual companies’ abilities to identify themselves as they see fit.

The lone dissenting vote coming from Justice Stephen Breyer who argued that he fears that this decision “will lead to a proliferation of ‘generic.com’ marks, granting their owners a monopoly over a zone of useful, easy-to-remember domains.”

Honestly, if you can’t come up with your own domain that either incorporates, but doesn’t copy, or gets your point across without being too generic, you may need to hire a PR person.

This move forward from the Supreme Court opens up a lot of possibilities for people to be creative with their businesses. If generic and simple names will be the norm, then people will have to think outside the box in the future. Bring on the challenges.

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Business News

New company beats Amazon with next morning delivery?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Amazon has a new competitor in South Korea: Coupang, with faster shipping than Prime.

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delivery services

What if I told you Amazon Prime’s, 1-3 day guaranteed delivery time isn’t the fastest e-commerce service the world has to offer? You would think I’m lying right?

Coupang, one of the world’s fastest delivery services located in South Korea, allows you to order any item, anytime before midnight, promising that it will be at your doorstep by 7am! (I wasn’t lying!) With 70% of its employees living within a 10 minute radius of a Coupang center, 80% of residents residing in populated cities and 95% of it’s population owning a smartphone, South Korea has become the perfect e-commerce epicenter. Coupang employees over 10,000 people who together deliver 99.3% of all orders within 24 hours. Imagine it’s Tuesday night, you’re falling asleep and suddenly remember you forgot to get your wife a present for her 50th birthday tomorrow. You have two options: accept your fate of being put in the dog house for three long weeks, or quickly order a few great items off Coupang’s website that’ll be delivered BEFORE she even wakes up!

Like Amazon, Coupang allows its customers to create a profile, store desired products in a list, and check out using your saved payment method. Half of South Korea’s total population of 51.6 million has installed Coupang’s app with a surge of people trying Coupang for the first time during stay at home orders due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The company struggled to meet fulfillment demands, especially those including PPE, household cleaning products, and children’s necessities. While many companies are struggling to stay afloat, Coupang is quickly adapting to meet consumer demands. In March, the company opened a new logistics center to expand its overnight/same day delivery services and is currently working to reach an even broader population.

Believe it or not, right before Coupang received a $2 Billion investment from SoftBanks, its founder, Kim Bom debated walking away from it all. Bom founded the company in 2010, receiving the investment in 2018 and is expected to pursue an IPO by the end of 2020. So for all of you entrepreneurs wondering if you should give up on that decade long dream…DON’T. Coupang went from selling a few hundred items each day to 3.3 million. Now that’s what you call entrepreneurism!

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Google plans to pay publishers for content (a little too late)?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Google will finally pay publishers for news, but only a few, and they have to meet Google standards.

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I mean…could you get any greedier Google? (Chandler Bings voice).

After years and years of pressure and complaints from publishers that Google’s search feed doesn’t properly recognize them or the news they work so hard to report, Google has finally announced that they will begin to pay publishers for content. But only some.

WHAT A LOAD OF BS.

According to the News Media Alliance, Google profited 4.7 BILLION in 2019 as a search engine for the news industry. So now, not only is Google fleecing its content providers and the writers who are working to create material for them, but it’s quite likely that Google’s algorithm is pushing paid news to the top of its search feed. What does this mean for users? It means that for one, you will see what they want you to see, but most importantly, it means that Google HAS the money to pay its publishers but chooses not too!

Google’s announcement to start paying publishers excludes all publishers outside Brazil, Germany, and Australia. Even within the countries that Google closed a deal with, there are many that do not meet its “high quality content” requirement for a paid position. The problem with all this nonsense is that we stopped letting the news come from others like us, and instead, according to the U.S News Media Alliance, the news is entirely owned by a handful of companies. You may have 635 channels on your TV, but if you google…or maybe you should duck duck go it, you’ll find that all those channels lead back to one huge organization.

SO WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?

Google has definitely been pressured to make some big changes, and while paying publishers is a good first step in the right direction, is it enough to make up for years of damage?

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