How America fell in love with green-topped rooster sauce. The New York Times looks into the origins of the now ubiquitous bottles of Huy Fong sriracha chili sauce and finds a quintessential story of American entrepreneurship. David Tran, the 64-year-old founder of the Rosemead, California-based company started making hot sauces from peppers grown by his older brother in a village outside Saigon. He decorated caps with a rooster, his astrological sign, and reused Gerber baby food jars they got from American serviceman. By 1979, Tran had enough money to buy his family's way out. The Trans were spread out in different U.N. refugee camps. After learning that they grew red peppers in L.A., David followed his brother to the camp there, and a month later, he was in business. Intended only for Asian companies in the U.S. who might miss the hot sauce of their native countries, Huy Fong now produces more than 10 million bottles a year and is used by chefs from Applebee's as well as Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Blog as you will, but you better have a good lawyer. It's a jungle out there in the blogosphere these days. At least that's what The Wall Street Journal reports today in a story about the rise in lawsuits targeting bloggers and online forum commenters. In 2007, there were 106 civil lawsuits brought against bloggers and others in online forums, according to the Citizen Media Law Project at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard. In 2003, there were just 12. Now this is not all that shocking considering the ease with which anyone can air opinions online today. And the numbers are far from crisis-level for bloggers. But it's likely those numbers will continue to climb. As a result, you might want to exhibit extra caution the next time you needle a competitor on your blog or call out a delinquent customer online. For more on the topic, check out our November story on what happened when an outspoken business owner took to her company blog to bash a business that had pitched her on their services.
Wall Street greets two tech IPO's with open arms. After a nine-month drought, the tech sector got some promising news as two startups went public with two successful initial public offerings. Shares for Austin-based SolarWinds closed 10 percent above the initial offering price on Wednesday. OpenTable, a Silicon-Valley restaurant-reservation software company, hit the market today with an expected opening price of $20 per share, above the company's initial estimates of $16 to $18. It may not match the heady days before the recession, but at least it is a positive sign.
Mark Cuban on how Twitter and Facebook compete with Google.peHUB links to an interesting blog post by Mark Cuban, who noticed that for the first time more people are finding his blog from Twitter and Facebook referrals than Google. In fact, his total readership is increasing, but the number of readers from Google is decreasingly significantly. That's due in part to behavior on Twitter and Facebook where users influence users. And it's a huge revelation for businesses. "There is no reason why a big or small company, say Charmim selling toilet paper, cant set up a Twitter account and do whatever marketing they can to build the largest number of followers possible." Interestingly enough, Proctor & Gamble is doing exactly that. Advertising Age has an interesting video on how P&G's social media campaign has boosted tampon sales amongst its teenage demographic.
About that Twitter revenue model. Twitter cofounder Biz Stone wrote a blog post yesterday that attempted to clarify his red hot company's position on how it will make money. Stone writes that Twitter is focusing on commercial ideas other than traditional banner advertising. But his description of what Twitter actually plans to do--"facilitating connections between businesses and individuals in meaningful and relevant ways"--is pretty opaque. Techcrunch helpfully reads the tea leaves: "Twitter doesn't have to make money yet, so it is not ready to commit to a revenue model and clearly wants to take the time to find its own way and strategy. The startup knows that it can make money with advertising if it needs to but continues to experiment with different advertising strategies to find the model that's the best fit."
If you can't beat 'em, feed 'em. That's the advice Andy Sack, entrepreneur and co-founder of Seattle venture group Founder's Co-op, gives to aspiring business owners on his blog, A Sack of Seattle. As he points out, "Food is an underrated and under-discussed business tool." Sharing coffee or going out to lunch brings people together in a way a boardroom can't. Sack says sharing a table has proven to be a great setting for getting business deals done or bonding with employees.
Jack Stack talks Chrysler. Now that the union has an ownership stake in Chrysler, can they make it work? Jack Stack has some advice in a Q&A in the New York Times. First, the company and the union will have to resolve their culture of confrontation and learn to collaborate. Part of that, he says, is employees will need to have a sense of accountability: "With equity comes ownership and responsibility. They need to learn to be for the company as a whole and not just their own interests." He points to Harley-Davidson as a role model, another open-book company able to work well with its union. For more with Jack Stack, and why every company needs a Plan B, click here.
Craigslist update. After tussling verbally with South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, Craigslist is taking it to the courts. The web company filed suit yesterday, seeking declaratory relief--that is, a legal opinion from a judge--and a restraining order against McMaster who has threatened criminal charges. McMaster responded by backing away from that threat and, curiously, declaring victory. The affair is shaping up into a bizarre case study in how to handle a public relations crisis.
Long weekend! The Fresh Inc. staff is off until Tuesday. We recommend that you use your extra free time on Inc.-approved activities. Like reading Meg Hirschberg's new column on how to balance marriage with business. And, you know, actually balancing your marriage with your business. Have fun this weekend.