$3 Million ‘Scholarship’ for Coding Classes

Treehouse wants to help 2,500 college students circumvent the high costs of higher education by letting them use its platform for free.

Computer Code

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Computer programming skills are becoming increasingly valuable in today’s labor market, but the cost of a computer science degree can be unattainable for some. Now, Orlando-based web education start-up Treehouse is offering a “scholarship” program to help college students learn to code at no cost.

Treehouse announced on Thursday it would be offering $3 million worth of its online education services to 2,500 college students for free. The students will be chosen based on an application essay and those selected will receive a two-year Gold subscription–usually worth $49 per month–for two years.

“College is so riduclously expensive, and we’re trying to save a couple of people from going into debt,” Treehouse founder and CEO Ryan Carson says. “We can give you a scholarship to Treehouse and help you get the skills you need for a technical career for a couple hundred dollars instead of $100,000.”

The education platform offers classes (via video) in a variety of web development categories, such as CSS, HTML5 and iOS. When a student completes a lesson, they get a “badge” to show to potential employers. “You can be job ready on Treehouse in three to six months,” Carson adds.

Treehouse, launced in the fall of 2011, recently added an in-house job placement team to aid customers in finding employment, but as of now, the company has not facilitated any hires. The company claims, however, that many of its former students earn thousands of dollars per month as web development freelancers.

Treehouse closed a $600,000 seed funding round last fall and a $4.75 million funding round this April. Reid Hoffman, co-founder of professional social network LinkedIn, is one of Treehouse’s early investors. The company claims to have 12,000 paying customers and Carson projects the company will earn more than $3 million in revenue this year.

Students hoping to take advantage of the offer must have a valid .edu email address and have until September 19 to apply. (The application form can be found here.)

5 Ways to Get More Facebook Likes

You have to be everywhere your customers are, including Facebook. Here are some easy ways to rack up those “likes.”

It's time to shutter your Facebook shop

Flickr/GOIABA (Goiabarea)

If you don’t already know by now, I’m a big believer that social media can help grow a business. But I often still get some pushback from people and customers who are hesitant to jump in.

Here are two of my favorite excuses.

“I’m afraid I’m going to overexpose my business to my customers. Won’t that happen?”

Here’s how I answer that:

  • If you communicate with your customers through email marketing, 20% to 30% of your email recipients will open your message–if you’re lucky.
  • Probably only a few percent of your customers have liked your Facebook page.
  • If your “likers” have a lot of friends or are following a lot of Facebook pages, your message in their news feed may have passed them by.

My point? It’s not overexposure. You have to be everywhere your customers are as much as you can!

“Getting people to ‘like’ me sounds pathetic.”

In reality, it’s not that much different from asking people to give you their email address or asking for their business card. And the more people that you’ve got exposed to your message where they want to see it, the better.

Why do you want more Facebook likes?

  • When someone likes your business, that action will show up in his or her news feed.
  • When you post something, it could show up in your liker’s news feed (depending on how engaging your content is and how they have their feed set up).
  • It could show up in the ad to your liker’s friends when you use Facebook ads.

How do you get more Facebook likes? Here are a few ideas:

1. Facebook Ads

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  • It’s pretty simple to walk through and doesn’t cost much at all. Even better, you control how much you want to spend.

    2. “Like-gate” With a Coupon

    Send an email campaign offering a link to a killer coupon with a “like-gate.” What’s a like-gate? It’s when the customers click on the link to the coupon and they’re brought to a screen on Facebook that simply asks them to “like us” to get the coupon. (I recommend using VerticalResponse Social or Sprout Social for this.)

    3. Like-gate With a Contest

    Do the same as above, but with a contest for customers to win something they’ll really value. (I recommend using North Social or Wildfire by Google for this.)

    4. Email

    Send an email message to your email list asking them to like your page.

    5. Message Your Personal Facebook Friends

    Send a Facebook message to your Facebook friends (within Facebook) asking them to like your page (be strategic, because you can only send one request).

    Getting more likes for your Facebook page should just be a part of your overall social media marketing mix!

    For more tips and ideas, download this free marketing guide, Why Facebook Is Important for Small Business.”

    Ireland Says Refinancing Progress Made with ECB

    Deputy Finance Minister Brian Hayes Sunday said the Irish government had made progress in talks involving the European Central Bank to refinance the huge sums Ireland has injected into its lenders during its severe banking crisis, but that there was still questions over when and how any such deal would be completed.

    Since a June 29 euro-zone summit, Irish government ministers have said that they have had the agreement to start detailed talks on ways to lessen the massive burden of servicing the 64 billion euros ($84 billion) the country had provided six lenders to keep them from collapse over the past four years.

    “That dialogue is based on getting the best deal we possibly can,” Mr. Hayes told Irish broadcaster RTE Radio. “We are seeing some success. Whether that deal will happen sooner or later remains to be seen.”

    The government has made “substantial movement” with the ECB on the EUR32 billion in promissory notes the government has pumped into Anglo Irish Bank Corp and Irish Nationwide Building Society, two so-called dead banks that are being wound down, Mr. Hayes said.

    A wider deal on Ireland’s banking debt could yet be done on a “phased-basis” that first involves an agreement involving the promissory notes, he added.

    “I think there is a clear willingness on their [the ECB’s] part now to resolve this issue and that’s very, very important given the enormous liabilities that this state is on the cards for in terms of the Anglo debt through the promissory note,” Mr. Hayes said.

    Government ministers and officials have in the past said that striking a deal with the euro zone on the bank-rescue costs will help Ireland secure durable access to capital markets from 2014 when the country’s bailout program expires.

    Ireland has long complained that it was forced to seek a EUR67.5 billion bailout deal with the ECB, European Union and International Monetary Fund in late 2010 when it had bear the full costs of rescuing its banks from its own resources.

    Write to Eamon Quinn at eamon.quinn@dowjones.com

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    Copyright © 2012 Dow Jones Newswires

    Cyprus Central Bank Hopes for ESM Aid to Banks

    Cyprus is hoping for direct capital injections into its banks from the euro-zone’s rescue fund, German daily Handelsblatt reported Monday, citing Panicos Demetriades, governor of the country’s central bank. He said Cyprus has a large banking sector that would be overextended without help from the European Stability Mechanism.

    “It would be very important for us that the ESM directly recapitalizes our banks from January 2013,” he told the newspaper.

    He expects an October completion of an aid program assembled by the euro zone and the International Monetary Fund, according to the newspaper. Cypress will need aid from the euro zone and IMF for up to five years, he told the newspaper.

    Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker put pressure on Cyprus Friday to conclude a bailout program, after weeks of dithering by the Cypriot government, Dow Jones Newswires reported.

    After a meeting with the country’s President, Dimitris Christofias, Mr. Juncker said that Cyprus has no time to lose.

    “Cyprus and the troika will have to speed up the process. There is no time to lose,” he said. “The answers to the problems of this country–and they are very serious–will be found in the coming weeks.”

    Also present in the meeting was European Central Bank President Mario Draghi

    Cyprus’s government is expected to begin consultations with unions, political parties and other social partners within the next few weeks, so as to form a program of cutbacks that it will present to international creditors some time next month, according to government sources.

    The country has enough cash reserves to cover its financing needs until the end of October or the beginning of November.

    Unofficially, Cyprus is expected to need 13 billion euros ($17 billion) to cover its financing needs and the needs of its banking sector.

    Dow Jones Newswires; dennis.baker@dowjones.com

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    Copyright © 2012 Dow Jones Newswires

    Asian Banks to Help Fund Australia Growth -ANZ Institutional Head

    Asia’s cash-rich banks will be key to funding Australia’s future economic growth, a senior executive at Australia New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ.AU) said.

    Alex Thursby, the head of International Institutional Banking at ANZ, said higher costs and more stringent regulations meant Western banks–including Australia’s highly-rated major lenders–didn’t have the capacity to meet Australia’s capital deficit.

    Asian banks, particularly Japanese and Chinese ones, are already stepping in.

    Mr. Thursby said that in about 75% of the recent syndicated-loan deals he’d worked on–the most common form of finance for large-scale mining and energy projects in Australia–more than half the funding came from Asian banks.

    “Chinese banks have a vivacious appetite for Australian corporate debt,” he said in a recent interview. “I’m pretty confident Australia can meet its [debt] needs, it just needs to change where those funds come from.”

    Deposit-rich Asian banks have taken a growing slice of the Australian corporate-debt market since the onset of the global financial crisis forced many Western lenders to retrench to their home markets.

    Asian banks accounted for about 21% of new syndicated-loan issuance in Australia so far this year, up 4% from a year earlier, according to data from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. At the same time, European lenders have halved their exposure, research from the bank shows.

    The push by Asian banks has seen a kickback from some politicians and lobby groups. Critics have focused particularly on investment from Chinese state-backed enterprises and banks, which are seen to have Bejing’s interests more at heart than Australia’s.

    Mr. Thursby said he intended to double the size of ANZ’s financial institutions practise, which works in partnership with Asian lenders looking to work in Australia, to around 40% of its institutional banking practise over the next few years.

    Australia’s fourth-largest lender is also underwriting more offshore yuan-denominated bond issuances, known as Dim Sum bonds, as more companies turn to debt markets for funding. By the end of the year, he forecasts that ANZ will have underwritten 22-24 bond deals, of which 3 or 4 will be for Australian companies.

    Write to Caroline Henshaw at caroline.henshaw@wsj.com

    Copyright © 2012 Dow Jones Newswires

    Mining Industry Less Optimistic About Investing in Australia -Report

    The mining industry is more pessimistic about investing in Australia than in other key mining hubs and views the country as expensive and risky, according to a report released Monday by law firm Baker McKenzie.

    Three-quarters of the mining and finance leaders surveyed for the report found that investing in Australia’s mining sector has become more complicated and costly, thanks to increasing regulatory and environmental obligations, complex and uncertain project development requirements and the rising costs of mine development and operation, Baker McKenzie said.

    “Getting a project across the line in this country is now harder than it should be,” said David Ryan, the law firm’s global head of mining. “We need to look at reducing the complexity of mining regulation and sovereign risk, otherwise we risk companies deploying their capital elsewhere.”

    A number of high-profile mining projects, including BHP Billiton Ltd.’s (BHP) multi-billion dollar expansion of its Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine in South Australia state, have been deferred in recent weeks as companies have refocused on cutting costs to fight being squeezed by slumping commodity prices. Mining companies also have been shedding jobs across the country and closing loss-making operations.

    Baker McKenzie said its survey found investors are comforted by Australia’s security of land-holding rights, political stability and enforcement of contracts, but the country currently is seen by some as presenting greater sovereign risk than lower-cost areas such as Indonesia and South Africa. The report said Canada stood out from the six jurisdictions it reviewed for a competitive tax structure, stable political landscape and well-developed capital markets.

    “Mining is an industry which involves large, up-front capital investments and long project lives.,” Mr. Ryan said. “Investors crave certainty, and miners need more certainty regarding the application of taxes and royalties and land use restrictions.”

    The report said that Australia’s minerals resource rent tax on iron ore and coal profits and its carbon emissions pricing scheme, both of which came into effect in July, are seen by the industry as discouraging investment. It found that 61% of those surveyed believed there is too much government involvement in the mining industry.

    While 52% of respondents don’t currently see sovereign risk as a material factor in decisions to invest in Australia, 72% said the they see sovereign risk increasing, according to the report.

    The report said that although investment into Australian mining is strong, there are clearly a number of concerns surrounding the complexity and expense of projects. Baker McKenzie said it recommended Australia address the complexity of approvals and pace of permitting for mining, the costs of operations by allowing an increased level of skilled foreign labor and streamline processes for obtaining environmental approvals, among other things.

    The law firm interviewed 301 senior figures in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Indonesia and South Africa for its report.

    Write to Robb M. Stewart at robb.stewart@wsj.com

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    Copyright © 2012 Dow Jones Newswires

    Russian Healthcare Group MD Medical Plans London IPO

    Russian healthcare company MD Medical Group plans to list in London in October, hoping to raise about $150 million, the Financial Times newspaper reported Sunday on its website, without directly citing a source.

    This week the company is expected to announce its intention to sell global depositary receipts representing 30% of its shares in London to fund the expansion of its hospital and clinic network, the report said.

    It said Deutsche Bank AG (DB) and J.P. Morgan have been chosen to manage the IPO.

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    Copyright © 2012 Dow Jones Newswires

    CAW to work ‘around the clock’ with Ford Motor Co.

    The Canadian Auto Workers union says it is making progress in negotiations with Ford Motor Co. and will work “around the clock” with the U.S. automaker to sign a new contract ahead of the looming Sept. 17 deadline.

    Ford has “certainly showed a willingness” to negotiate a new contract, CAW president Ken Lewenza said at a press conference on Sunday. “So we are going to move the resources of the national office, all of our bargaining committees in support of the Ford bargaining committee.”

    Lewenza said CAW will continue to talk with GM and Chrysler “if they are genuinely interested in getting a deal done.”

    “We’ve got the energy to go from room to room,” he added.

    The CAW has threatened job action if there is no deal by midnight Monday.

    CAW national secretary-treasurer Peter Kennedy had said earlier that one of the so-called “Big Three” car manufacturers, which he did not name, is reviewing the union proposal following talks Saturday morning in Toronto.

    Firms want wage, benefit concessions

    Kennedy said the offer is key, as the rest of the deal should be easy to nail down once the wage issue is resolved. He said the union expects negotiations with the two other companies to move more quickly once one of the trio signs off on an agreement with the CAW.

    The companies have been seeking wage and benefit concessions, especially among newly hired employees. There have been conflicting reports on whether the union’s bargaining committee will go along with a two-tier wage system in exchange for new Canadian investment by the Detroit Three automakers.

    On Friday, Dino Chiodo, president of CAW Local 444 in Windsor, Ont., and chairman of the union’s Chrysler bargaining committee, said the union is willing to lengthen the time it takes for newly hired employees to get up to the top wage.

    Negotiations to reach three-year agreements are continuing around the clock.

    Lewenza has said the strike deadline can be extended if the union sees progress in the final few days of talks.

    With files from The Canadian Press

    Conservatives edge NDP as Parliament returns, poll says

    A quiet summer has given Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives some breathing room as they head Monday into what could be an acrimonious fall sitting of Parliament.

    A new poll gives the governing party a seven-point lead over the Opposition New Democrats — a cushion they may need if a second omnibus budget implementation bill sparks the same public backlash and all-out parliamentary warfare its predecessor did last spring.

    The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey, which was conducted Aug. 30-Sept. 10, put Conservative support at 34 per cent of respondents, the NDP at 27, the Liberals at 24 and the Greens at seven.

    The telephone poll of 2,007 Canadians is considered accurate within plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, 19 times in 20.

    The results suggest Canadians may be slowly returning to “more traditional patterns of voting behaviour,” said Harris-Decima chairman Allan Gregg.

    Until now, New Democrats had been running neck and neck with — or even slightly ahead of — the ruling party, eating into core Conservative support among older, male and rural voters and core Liberal support among female and urban voters.

    The latest poll suggests those voters are migrating back to the traditional choices, said Gregg, causing NDP support to sag and producing modest gains for the Conservatives and Liberals.

    A relatively sleepy summer with little federal political controversy has likely helped settle voters back into a somewhat more traditional pattern. But Monday’s resumption of Parliament could shake things up again.

    “As we know, the House has become a combat zone and, absent that, things do settle down; there aren’t those events that drive people’s change in viewpoint as much,” Gregg said.

    “I think that conventional wisdom is right, that Parliament and Parliament sitting is the enemy of the incumbent.”

    Just how much of an enemy Parliament proves to be to Harper’s Conservatives will revolve primarily around the second budget implementation bill, which government House leader Peter Van Loan describes as the “cornerstone legislation” of a fall sitting focused on job creation and economic growth.

    Anger over budget bill

    The first omnibus budget bill last spring — a 400-plus page behemoth that amended some 70 different pieces of legislation — sparked a furor.

    It was a massive grab-bag of measures, many that had little to do with the 2012 budget, including a complete rewrite of environmental protection legislation, an overhaul of employment insurance, changes to employment equity law and new rules for political advocacy by charities.

    Opposition parties joined forces to rally public opinion against what they called a “Trojan horse” bill, forcing a 22-hour voting marathon on hostile amendments that stalled Parliament for almost two full days.

    ‘Canadians generally didn’t like that approach to just lumping everything together, cutting off debate, ramming it through and telling people basically to go to hell.’—Ralph Goodale, deputy Liberal leader

    The second bill is not likely to be as contentious, containing housekeeping measures and following through on tax measures announced in the budget, such as renewing the hiring credit for small business and improvements to registered disability savings plans.

    It is also likely to include reforms to the gold-plated pension plan enjoyed by members of Parliament and the more-generous-than-average plan for federal public servants, requiring them to pay 50 per cent of their pension contributions.

    Still, Van Loan isn’t overly optimistic that opposition parties will give the second bill an easier ride than the first.

    “We saw a lot of political games at the end (of the spring sitting) and, frankly, the early signals we’re seeing from the Opposition suggest that they want to continue to play games,” he said in an interview.

    “Our biggest challenge for the fall is simply to try and keep the House of Commons functioning in a productive fashion in the face of an Opposition that’s chosen again to play more political games.”

    Both the NDP and Liberals are taking a wait-and-see approach. But they are prepared to go to the wall again if they deem the second bill, like the first, is larded with non-budgetary measures the government is trying to sneak through with little public notice orparliamentary scrutiny.

    How New Democrats respond to the bill “depends what’s in it,” said Nathan Cullen, the NDP’s House leader.

    “It’s the opening of the conversation. If the government wants to take a belligerent, bully approach, then it’s going to set the tone for what’s to come.”

    ‘Lumping everything together’

    Ralph Goodale, the deputy Liberal leader, echoed that sentiment, adding that the government’s handling of the spring omnibus budget bill was symptomatic of its general contempt for parliamentary democracy.

    “If it’s the same kind of attitude and the same style that we saw in the spring, then there’s very likely to be a lot of acrimony about that,” Goodale said.

    “Not only did members of Parliament not like it, but Canadians generally didn’t like that approach to just lumping everything together, cutting off debate, ramming it through and telling people basically to go to hell.”

    A host of other issues and potential controversies could also quickly sap the Conservative lead in the polls: any hitch in the fragile economic recovery, further revelations about the so-called robocall scandal, the results of the federal ethics watchdog’s investigation into a possible conflict of interest involving Harper’s chief of staff, or another foreign takeover bid.

    The election of a minority separatist government in Quebec could also put national unity concerns, dormant for more than a decade, back in the spotlight.

    According to the Harris-Decima poll, the NDP were leading in Quebec with 31 per cent support, compared with 25 per cent for the Bloc Quebecois, 24 for the Liberals, 15 for the Tories and four for the Greens.

    The Conservatives had a 10-point lead in Ontario, with 39 per cent to the Liberals’ 29, the NDP’s 23 and the Greens’ six.

    The NDP and Conservatives were tied at 33 per cent in British Columbia, with the Liberals at 19 and the Greens at 13.

    The Conservatives held a commanding lead in Alberta and Manitoba/Saskatchewan.

    But they trailed with only 25 per cent in Atlantic Canada, where the NDP and Liberals were statistically tied at 34 and 32 per cent, respectively.

    © The Canadian Press, 2012
    The Canadian Press