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Apologies, Steve Jobs's Illness, and Cutbacks at Google

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The wrong way to apologize. Signal vs. Noise has an entertaining breakdown of that trite way of saying sorry—"We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused." That's not an apology, David Heinemeier writes, it's a jerky way of trying to shirk responsibility and it's almost guaranteed to anger your customers: "First of all, if I depend on a service and can't get to it, it's not an inconvenience. It might bloody very well be a full-on crisis. An inconvenience is when I can't get my flavor of milkshake at Potbelly's or if there's line at the grocery store. This ain't that."

More on the Steve Jobs leave of absence. The story of the day seems to be Apple founder Steve Jobs's admission that he is sicker than previously disclosed and that he will be taking a medial leave of absence. The Wall Street Journal gives the news the front page treatment and reflects on what a post-Steve Jobs company might look like. And the New York Times's Brad Stone says that it's not cancer and that the stress of running Apple had been hampering his recovery. I blogged my reaction last night.

Tesla cuts a deal with Daimler. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors (and of rocket maker SpaceX), announced that his company would supply battery packs to for Daimler's cute-as-a-button all-electric Smart car. The deal, which comes by way of the Times's Bits blog, should be a shot in the arm for Tesla, which has been trying to right itself in the wake of the credit crisis and a slowdown in demand for pricey cars. The two companies expect to deliver one thousand Smart cars in 2009.

Google cuts services. Just as Google announces its first ever layoff—Valleywag calls it a "loss of innocence"—the search giant says it is cutting services, a handful of which were independent companies that it acquired during the past boom in Web 2.0 acquisitions. These include Jaiku, the erstwhile Twitter competitor that Google bought last year, and Dodgeball, a social networking startup that the company acquired in 2005. Google has long impressed observers for its continued support of dozens of useful little web services that make no money, but Techcrunch wonders if more cuts are on the way, such as Google's Wikipedia competitor Knol and phone add-on Grand Central.

Take a page out of the Denny's playbook. Bizbox says small business owners should look to the example of Denny's, the "real breakfast" fast-food chain. While many have slashed their marketing budgets, the company has purchased a Super Bowl ad for $3 million. This is exactly what marketing experts advise—in a bad economy, market yourself more. Of course, marketing experts generally sell marketing.

Small business owners bring stimulus suggestions to the Hill. Independent Street recaps hearings held this week by the House's Small Business Committee. In testimony, entrepreneurs outlined a number of possible government actions, including government-funded infrastructure projects, SBA-backed loans for employers offering health insurance, and tax credits for entrepreneurs and angel investors. What do you think needs changing?

Are American and British businesspeople the world's most easily offended? Reuters reports that these Anglophones are more sensitive than their colleagues from the Middle East, China, and Japan. The report found Australians the most offensive in their habits, admitting to talking loudly and asking excessive personal questions. A quarter reported thinking swearing in the workplace is perfectly acceptable. (For conclusive evidence, see this clip from Flight of the Conchords.)

The importance of negative feedback. Entrepreneurs who are trying to build a startup should actively talk with a killjoy or two to sharpen their thinking writes W.P. Carey's Kerri Susan Smith. "Knowing what works is important," she writes. "First-hand experience with what doesn't work is just as important."

What does an Inc. cover shoot look like? Like this.

Last updated: Jan 15, 2009




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