What's in Obama's budget... The big news: President Barack Obama unveiled his budget yesterday. It's large--134 pages, $3.6 trillion, and a $1.75 trillion deficit--and it proposes dramatic changes, according to the Wall Street Journal. The budget includes the beginnings of universal health care, lots of money for clean-energy, and tax breaks for workers and the middle class. There are also some tax increases: couples making over $250,000 will see their taxes go up to 39.6 percent, the estate tax will not be repealed, and taxes on the earnings of venture capitalists and hedge fun managers will be treated as income.
...and what it means for small companies. The new budget probably won't be as scary for most companies as you might think. Obama's tax hikes should not hit growing small businesses, says the AP. The president is not proposing increased business taxes, and he plans to eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses. Who will be affected? Companies that report profits as personal income--like sole proprietorships--and that make more than $200,000 a year.
Paul Graham's 13 keys to a start-up. It's hard to imagine a more concise and enlightening breakdown of what it takes to run a great start-up than Paul Graham's latest essay. Here's one memorable tidbit, entitled "Get Ramen Profitable": "Ramen profitable means a start-up makes just enough to pay the founders' living expenses. It's not rapid prototyping for business models (though it can be), but more a way of hacking the investment process. Once you cross over into ramen profitable, it completely changes your relationship with investors." Here's another fun way to experience Graham's essay.
How to fail well. Jason Calacanis just posted his latest essay, which offers advice to companies facing failure. It details how to cut salaries, how to play hardball with your landlord, how to talk to your investors, and, if necessary, how to shut the company down gracefully. Despite the subject matter it's a surprisingly positive essay--and it should be inspirational for anyone facing long odds: "Remember that there is no shame in failure but there are honorable and dishonorable failures. If you're going to lose the game, remember that it's just that: a game. There will be another and another and another yet to play. Don't lose your cool and don't get depressed. Just get yourself back up, dust yourself off and get back in the game. The precursor to success is almost always failure."
In-flight wi-fi. That's right, technology has reached further into the recesses of the airplane hull. For 60 days, passengers on Alaska Airlines between Seattle and San Jose will be able to check their email, log onto Facebook, and tweet about the food, or lack thereof. It's a trial run for Row 44, a California company that uses Ku band satellites to provide the service, says Om Malick. If all goes well, Alaska will roll out the service to its entire fleet. Row 44 also a deal with Southwest Airlines, while its competitor, Gogo, which uses an air-to-ground system to provide the connection, has already launched on some American Airlines flights (for $12.95) and is coming soon to Air Canada and United. Is this an invasion of the last Internet-free frontier or will road warriors find their in-flight productivity increased?
Track your employees. According to Human Resource Executive , Google's mobile GPS tool--called Google Latitude--is a low-cost way for employers to track their workers, especially those that don't work in offices. Although delivery services have been using people-tracking GPS software for a while, other companies that couldn't afford the investment before might now consider playing big brother.
Business lessons from the Oval Office. Whatever your political leanings, it's hard not to appreciate Obama's skills as a politician and a manager. Forbes has a list of five leadership lessons from Obama's first month in office. His branding, long-term planning, and ability to manage the nation's expectations have been especially noteworthy. But the article says he's too worried about consensus-building and that he's already damaged his reputation for due diligence in vetting his team. Meanwhile, Fast Company gives Team Obama the top spot in its annual list of the most innovative companies.
Twitter on Nightline. Still confused about Twitter? Nightline has a silly, if slightly condescending and somewhat dated, report on why Twitter matters. The highlight is an interview with Twitter's founders, Biz Stone and Evan Williams in their San Francisco offices. If you don't know what Twitter is, you could also check out Inc.'s story from last year.
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