The Case for Founders; CEOs as TV Stars

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Zuckerberg: founders make better CEOs. Henry Blodget of Business Insider has posted a video interview with Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The subject is innovation, and, as usual, Zuckerberg isn't perfect on camera. Even so, there are a few interesting moments. For one, Zuckerberg reveals that Facebook embraces mistakes--"move fast and break things," is a mantra at the company--and he defends his decision to remain as CEO despite growth and PR headaches. "The companies that have been the best have been led by founders," he tells Blodget. For more on Zuckerberg's remarkable rise at Facebook, Ellen McGirt's story in Fast Company is a great place to start.

How to take on the Tax Man. The double whammy of the recession and the abysmal commercial real estate market has spurred entrepreneurs to question their property valuations and fight back on their tax assessments, reports The Wall Street Journal. Property-tax burdens vary, but because they are a fixed costs, their role on the balance sheet has become more important as revenues shrink. This, in turn, has made commercial property tax appeals a more popular option for small businesses. In some cases, the appeal rests on the fact that the assessment lags behind the current value of the business property. (Municipalities under pressure to keep revenue from property taxes coming in are issuing fresh assessments, even as their coffers are dwindling.) Using a lawyer to issue an appeal will typically cost you an average of a third of the annual tax savings won, The Journal reports. Anil Patel, whose company owns Fieldstone Place, a senior living facility in Tennessee, hired an independent appraiser who valued his property $2 million below the government's figure and ended up saving $30,000 on 2009 taxes he had already filed.

Deadline for tax havens approaching. Maybe your property taxes aren't an issue. But if you've been sitting pretty with a sweet, sweet offshore bank account in, say, Switzerland, you've got two choices this week, according to the New York Times: "Pay or pray". The Times reports that the IRS deadline for coming clean and paying back taxes related to offshore bank accounts is October 15. Those who do will receive relaxed penalties; those who don't could face stiff fines and prosecution. The Times says that while many people offshore accounts have opted to pay off others are keeping quiet in the hopes that the IRS doesn't go after them.

Choosing incarceration over a job search. Faced with imminent release and the bleak job market that they'll face, some prison inmates have come up with an unusual solution: petitioning to stay behind bars, the Union Leader of New Hampshire reports. But as Mike Hofman wrote earlier this year, a growing number of soon-to-be-released inmates are choosing an entrepreneurial path instead. Just ask Dave, of Dave's Killer Bread. (Hat tip to Recessionwire.)

When is it a good idea to make your CEO the star of your ad campaign? Recently both GM and Sprint have featured their CEO prominently in their TV ads. It's a classic ad strategy, says Slate's Seth Stevenson, from local car dealerships to Frank and Jim Perdue. Whether the style is jokey or sincere or "pure ego massage" in the case of the car dealers, the message of CEO ads is to reassure the customer that the person running this company stands behind the product. Who wins the Cleo for best CEO performance? Dyson vacuums founder James Dyson. "He's not just a guy who designed a vacuum and assures you of his quality," says Stevenson. "He also wears faded t-shirts and has nice pecs. He's cool! Which makes the brand cool."

With social media, CIOs just say no. According to a new study by Robert Half Technology, an IT consultancy, 54 percent of CIOs ban social media at work. The article at Small Business Trends notes that antsy employees are equally likely to fritter away their time on email. But as our readers told us, smaller businesses may be substantially less likely to block and monitor their employees' computer activity.

Charge your electronic devices, sans power cord. Any traveling business owner's dream, right? With the help of Powermat, a wireless device-charger, it can be done. Simply lay your device on the mat, and by utilizing a magnetic attraction between your electronic device and the Powermat receiver, your equipment will receive an efficient charge without wasting energy.

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Last updated: Oct 13, 2009




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