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Landing a Spot in Starbucks; A New Boston-Area Booze Biz

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Life at Silicon Valley's most famous research center: A tech geek's uptopia. BoingBoing looks as the painstakingly cultivated culture of the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). In the 14-acre facility, every employee has his or her own office with a view of the courtyard or the Palo Alto Hills. Privacy in the common areas was also ensured with the entire building divided into pods, each with its own feel. Biz dev director YF Juan tells BoingBoing that the PARC inhabitants are divided into "celebrity geeks" like Van Jacobsen who wrote the TCP stack for the internet protocol and the "default geeks" who specialize in a particular subject. Just how geeky are they? On February 13, 2009 at 3:31:30PM the number of seconds since the day that UNIX time was created became 1234567890. The PARC had a party to celebrate. "We just gathered around and took pictures around the computer and had coffee and water." Despite Google-like amenities, including a killer cafeteria, workers try to strike a good work/life balance, the way George Pake intended when he conceived of Xerox PARC. Says Juan, "We're often hanging out, except that when we hang out we're talking about how to address a particular computing problem. We hang out in our own geeky way."

Time to pay up. Television executives are coming to realize their position today very closely mirrors the predicament newspapers are facing. Namely, having long-distributed content for free on the Web, how do you convince your customers to start paying for it? Wired sees a new business model in the crystal ball, or screen, as it were. Possibilites include new content where ads are integrated right into the show rather than separated into 30-second spots (which sounds a lot like old-school product placement to me), and a premium subscription plan, something like Netflix. One Disney-ABC executive seems to have the end down, if not the means. "We need to be able to match the appropriate pricing, availability windows and distribution platform to the right consumer," he says.

Breaking the Starbucks barrier. Tuesday marked a milestone for KIND Fruit + Nut bars. After a five year struggle to woo Starbucks execs - and many free samples and e-mails later - Daniel Lubetzky can finally see his company's food products grace the shelves of the coffee giant's retail stores. His dogged persistence caught the coffee company at a point of weakness. It needed to revamp its image, providing healthier menu options. Lubetzky's bars, made with whole natural ingredients rather than paste, fit perfectly into the equation. "This is such a huge break," Lubetzky said. "Now we just have to show we can make it work." This isn't the first successful David and Goliath story we've seen. Tom Szaky of garden products company TerraCycle had similar success when he pitched Wal-Mart.

DFJ's global business plan competition picks a winner. Venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Cisco announced the winner of their joint business plan competition yesterday. The $250,000 prize goes to Husk Power Systems, launched by two University of Virginia b-school graduates in India in 2007. The startup designs and operates mini power plants that convert rice husks into electricity to serve off-grid Indian villages.

Unemployment rate rises. So much for signs of recovery. The U.S. economy lost 467,000 jobs in June, the Labor Department said today, a month after job losses slowed amidst hopes of a turnaround. Economists had been expecting 365,000 lost jobs, The New York Times reports. The unemployment rate also rose, to 9.5 percent from 9.4 percent. One economist told Times that the stimulus has been "a finger in the dike." But another, Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com, said, "If we didn't have the stimulus, the economy would've contracted twice as fast in the second quarter."

A toast to entrepreneurial spirits. Finally, as you pause to enjoy a Fourth of July cocktail this weekend, you might want to raise a glass to a pair of Gloucester, Massachusetts entrepreneurs making a bid to become the next Absolut Vodka. The Boston Globe has the story of 56-year-old Bob Ryan and his 37-year-old nephew Dave Wood, who left more stable occupations to open their upstart distillery Ryan & Wood. The pair's premium, handcrafted Beauport Vodka and Knockabout Gin have already begun to hit liquor store shelves and bars. For a closer look at the ins-and-outs of the liquor business, as well as a glimpse into the life of a true American original, check out this How I Did It on the late Sidney Frank, the man who brought Jagermeister and Grey Goose to the states. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July weekend, the Inc. staff will be back to work on Monday.

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Last updated: Jul 2, 2009




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