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Advanta Cuts Its Credit Cards; A New Era in Antitrust
 

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Europe fines Intel $1.45 billion in a record antitrust case. The EU released its scheduled verdict against Intel today and it was a resounding victory for the (relatively) little guy over the megacorporations. EU's competition commissioner Neelie Kroes said Intel went to great lengths to cover up the fact that its strategy was designed to exclude rival chip manufacturer AMD by giving computer makers and retailers money to postpone, cancel, or avoid AMD products, reports New York Times. Intel was ordered to stop offering rebates in exchange for buying fewer or not buying AMD products. Intel, which is known for spending on R&D in during downturns to muscle out competitors, vowed to continue to spend to further its manufacturing lead. Sound familiar? Have you ever had a corporate competitor try to strongarm buyers into avoiding your product?

Advanta to close all customers' credit cards. Advanta Corp, a major credit card lender to small businesses, will shut down all its consumers' cards on June 10, reports the AP. In late March Advanta wrote off about a fifth of its credit card debt as unrecoverable, and this move is designed to stop the hemorrhaging. The company is facing several problems, from high lines of credit, to a large number of customers in housing-crunched Florida and California, to major expansions in 2006-07 that likely attracted less promising borrowers. Whatever the reason, this is bad news for small businesses dependent on credit card financing--bigger, more stable companies may take this as a sign to further slash credit lines on entrepreneurs.

Your new and improved Google search. Google unveiled a number of tweaks to its search functionality today, including filters, visualizations, spell-checking, and preview tools--all designed to improve relevance and accuracy of results. GigaOm notes that Google has also made some incremental improvements to real-time search. The new Search Options feature lets users filter results by "past year," "past week," "past 24," and the somewhat hazy "recent results." That last category uses a new algorithm to bring together relevant, up-to-the-minute results.

Starting a Business in 58 Easy Steps. Internet wunderkind Neil Patel has compiled a handy, and concise, list of 58 online resources for first time entrepreneurs. Covering all aspects of starting a business from legal and accounting to web design and hiring employees, Patel scoured the Internet so you don't have to. If 58 is too overwhelming, our Ultimate Business Tune-Up offers a more digestible 23 tips for getting your business on the right track.

Twitter still going gangbusters. The idea of using Twitter as a platform to build services--even entire companies--is becoming increasingly realistic. Techcrunch has the latest web traffic numbers from ComScore, which show that the service doubled its American audience last month, to 17 million unique users. Techcrunch thinks that the global audience probably doubled as well, which would give Twitter more than 30 million users in the world. More impressive, visitors are spending twice as much time on the service--an average of about 8 minutes--as they did in December.

Love at first tweet. The man behind the online ad marketplace AdBrite (a 2008 Inc. 500 awardee), certainly got the memo about Twitter as a service platform. AdBrite founder Philip "Pud" Kaplan just launched Flirt140, a free service he thinks could become the Match.com of the Twitterverse, reports TechCrunch. Kaplan says his free dating and flirting service will allow Twitterers to search for each other by gender, location, and keyword. Flirt140 also gives users the ability to send private messages to anyone on Twitter (up to now, users could only direct message their followers). No word yet on how Ashton and Shaq feel about DMs from the hoi polloi. Yearning for more online dating news? Check out Max Chafkin's stories on competitors PlentyofFish and OkCupid.

Your daily dose of bad news. The Commerce Department reported a sharper-than-expected drop in retail sales in April and said that March retail sales were worse than previously thought. That's bad news for the economy, the Wall Street Journal says. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of gross domestic product--and, as Amar Bhide argues in a recent issue of Inc., it represents the engine of U.S. innovation. Business Insider, meanwhile, leads with another downer: a spike in home foreclosures last month, according to RealtyTrac. Foreclosures were up 32 percent from the same period last year, which RealtyTrac calls a "shocker."

Inundated with résumés? Today's Wall Street Journal has some recommendations for tech tools to help you sort the wheat from the chaff. One website allows businesses to post for free and only charges when recruiters see someone they want to contact. Another service allows employers to upload phone interview questions and records candidates' answers, so you can sort through responses whenever you want. Several others run background checks and assess skills.

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Last updated: May 13, 2009




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