How to Reduce Email Clutter and Save on Travel
BY Max Chafkin
GM is bankrupt. Well, we saw this coming, but it's still depressing to wake up and discover that General Motors, once the world's largest company and a symbol of American industry, is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Bankruptcy seemed unthinkable back in 2006 when Inc. published "How Would You Fix General Motors?" but a number of our readers (that's you!) nonetheless proposed it. In fact, Malcolm Bricklin, the guy who first imported the Subaru and the Yugo, suggested a solution almost identical to the one being pursed today by the Obama administration: drastically cutting the number of dealers, selling off or shuttering most of the brands, and renegotiating with the autoworker's union. If you're interested in exploring the company's history, check out the New York Times's interactive timeline.
The faith-based email strategy. We've heard of email bankruptcy--when you decide to clean out your inbox en masse, giving up on any unread messages. Now the VC Fred Wilson introduces a new idea for dealing with clutter: Trusting in providence. "If the message is important it will find me," he writes on his blog. "It's become impossible for me to read every message that is directed at me. I try hard to get to all of my messaging but I've reached the point where I don't sweat it anymore." The argument is that with all the new messaging services that have sprung up over the last few years--Twitter, Facebook, blogs, IM--it's become impossible to monitor everything exhaustively. The only option is to assume that the important stuff will rise to the surface.
What Google Wave means for entrepreneurs. Last week, Google unveiled its own solution to the email clutter problem, introducing Wave, a collaboration tool slated for release later this year. Techies have been going nuts about the possibility that it will revolutionize communication ever since. But Gabor Cselle, the founder of reMai, examines what may be a more important issue: namely, how to make money off of Google Wave. He writes that because the service will be open source, it will be possible for companies to build applications and businesses on top of it. The most promising business? An enterprise version of Wave.
Business (and pleasure) travel gets a little cheaper. Next time you book a flight on Orbitz.com or Travelocity.com, you'll most likely be saving $7 to $12. The two sites plan to announce today that they will no longer charge booking fees on single-carrier flights originating in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, according to The Wall Street Journal. Travelocity experimented with the fee ban with a promotion in March, and saw an increase in airline ticket purchases, a Travelocity executive told The Journal. Though a nominal saving for some, the fee ban marks a cost-cutting measure you didn't even have to implement yourself.
Small manufacturers get a silver lining Manufacturers whose sales haven't plummeted like the some of the big producers have seen a flood of talent for otherwise hard-to-fill jobs like electricians and mechanics, reports the Wall Street Journal. When Schebeler Co., a $30 million metal fabricator specializing in industrial chimneys, placed an ad for welders and other jobs last December, he got 11 applicants, most of them unqualified. In March, the same ad brought in 154 offers, many with more than a decade of experience. Even so, Manpower Inc. says that skilled and manual trades are the third-hardest type of job to fill after engineers and nurses. Is it to bring back shop class to the school curriculum? Check out one former knowledge worker's argument for learning a trade from the New York Times magazine.
Clean-tech companies go digital. The problem most "clean-tech" companies face is that their technology tends to be either very capital-intensive or that it requires a massive infrastructure overhaul. The Los Angeles Times looks at how Internet entrepreneurs have begun to change that premise, using their digital expertise to solve environmental problems. The story focuses on Hara, a Silicon Valley-startup that uses software to help companies lower their monthly bills by monitoring and managing their water and energy usage. With Coca-Cola as an early adopter and a recent $6 million investment from VC Kleiner Perkins, Hara is reveling in all sorts of green.