How hot are green cars? This hot: Lamborghini is making a hybrid. (Yes, Lamborghini of the 13 mile-per-gallon Gallardo.) The Wall Street Journal's Environmental Capital blog says the move is part of the automaker's efforts to give itself "a patina of green, when its products are by definition anything but." It's a curious development, partly because an all-electric motor--like the one in the Tesla Roadster, which goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just four seconds--might have been a better choice. The Journal writes, "Why hybrids? Lamborghini's whole claim to fame is neck-snapping acceleration and high speeds. For that, electric motors are not only better than hybrids' they can hold their own with Lamborghini's gasoline-powered beasts." (Via Business Insider.)
Pitch your ideas on national TV. ABC has announced that it will air "Survivor" Producer Mark Burnett's newest reality show, "Shark Tank," which asks entrepreneurial applicants to pitch their ideas to a group of five venture capitalists, or sharks. Even if the show is a bit hokey--and actually includes a shark tank-lined hallway for the would-be entrepreneurs to walk though-- it could be a worthwhile opportunity. Applications for contestants are being accepted online at ABC, or at one of the in-person casting calls going on this week. The Orlando Sentinel has details about today's tryout in Orlando.
Kiva brings microloans to the U.S. In a nod to the fact that economic struggles are everywhere now, microlending service Kiva.org announced its plan to expand its services to U.S. borrowers. The Web site, which was originally set up to facilitate microloans to entrepreneurs in developing countries, has facilitated over $76 million in loans to roughly 500,000 people. Domestically, these loans probably won't fund the next big Internet startup, but they may help struggling entrepreneurs get the day-to-day funding they need to survive the downturn. For a more in-depth look at the impact Kiva has had on entrepreneurs in developing countries, check out Tamara Schweitzer's blog, The Kiva Connection.
Another Kindle competitor. Much attention has been paid to Amazon's Kindle e-book reader and the one made by upstart Plastic Logic. But another startup is making a unlikely play for the e-book space. CoolReaders, a British startup founded by Neil Jones, managed to take its reader from conception to release in just 4 1/2 months--blinding speed for a consumer electronics company--according to Galleycat. Jones got the idea to make a reader not because he had ambitions of getting in on the e-book business, but because he wanted to publish a book and was having trouble getting an agent. His reader is expected to ship this month and retails for $249.00.
No recession for Craigslist. While classified ad revenue at newspapers continue to plummet, Craigslist seems to be getting stronger, according to The New York Times. The Times reports on a new study from the media and web consultant company AIM Group that projected 2009 revenue of $100 million revenue for the San Francisco-based online ads company. That would be a 23 percent increase over its projected 2008 revenue, growth just about anyone in the publishing world would kill for right now. About 80 percent of the company's projected revenue comes from recruitment ads, AIM Group found. Of course Craigslist won't confirm any of this, but AIM says it's projections are actually conservative.
Thousands object to the price hike of the new iPhone 3g S. A pair of Twitter petitions, known as twititions, are voyaging through the U.S. and the U.K. with protests from more than 4,000 users about the iPhone's new pricing, according to the Los Angeles Times. In the U.S., customers currently under a two-year AT&T contract must pay $200 more for the new phones than customers not under contract. This means that unless Apple decides to quickly reduce the price, as they did shortly after the 2007 release of the iPhone, customers will pay $499 for the 32-gigabyte iPhone 3G S and $399 for the 16-GB version, instead of $299 and $199 respectively. Unfortunately it looks like "reasonable iPhones at upgrade prices" is a far cry from what Apple had in mind.
Chili's chain loses important link. The world of chicken crispers and the "guiltless grill" has lost its most avid entrepreneur. Norman Brinker, of Brinker International Inc. — the owner and operator of Chili's Grill & Bar, among others — died yesterday while on vacation in Colorado Springs. Brinker, who signed onto the chain in 1983, took Chili's public the following year. His Dallas-based company helps operate more than 1,700 restaurants, including On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina and Maggiano's Little Italy.
Ringing in the money. "Pay-per-call" is the ticket to Santa Barbara-based RingRevenue's $3.5 million in VC funding, wrangled up last week. Reuters reports the company is developing a service that would allow sites to house customer service phone numbers for the products they advertise, but don't produce themselves. If a customer's call results in a sale, the site's publisher earns a commission. Each site would have a unique customer service number to allow for tracking the origin of the sale. The concept could be lucrative, considering RingRevenue's belief that large purchases, although researched online, are often finalized over the phone. "No one clicks 'Buy Now!' on a $3,000 mountain bike," Jason Spievak, RingRevenue's CEO, said. "You have a question, and so you call a listed toll-free number before buying the bike with your credit card over the phone."