Senate passes hiring incentives. A measure designed to provide financial incentives for companies to hire new employees looks set to pass the Senate, after five Republicans, including newly elected Senator Scott Brown, crossed party lines and voted with the Democrats. The New York Times, which carries the news, calls it "a glimpse of bipartisanship." The bill, assuming it passes today and is reconciled with a House version, would give companies that hire unemployed people an exemption from payroll taxes this year. Meanwhile, companies that keep a new worker for more than a year will receive a $1,000 tax credit.
A new way to fight email overload. TechCrunch reports on a new start-up that just launched out of the Y Combinator incubator that can help you take control of your inbox. Etacts is a free service that keeps track of the people you email and call using your cell phone. It then tries to figure out who your most important contacts are, and it sends you reminders when it's been a long time since you've heard from them. TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid says Etacts, "seems like it would appeal to any professional that has to manage a sizable contact list."
10 mistakes they made so you don't have to. Entrepreneurs know the importance of learning from their own mistakes, but sometimes it's nice to learn from other people's mistakes for a change. On his blog Quick Sprout, tech entrepreneur Neil Patel speaks with 10 founders of companies that are worth at least $50 million and asks them what was their biggest mistake in business. Among the entrepreneurs featured is WhitePages.com founder Alex Algard, Pricegrabber's Kamran Pourzanjani, and Tony Hsieh of Zappos. So take heart, if these entrepreneurs made big mistakes in building businesses, don't feel too bad about those you might have made. As Pourzanjani explains, "Though we all want to avoid mistakes, there is almost no way to get around them when running a business, particularly a start-up."
Are you paying too much for social media marketing? Since December, venture capitalists have invested more than $90 million in start-ups that mix marketing and social media, writes the Wall Street Journal, but questions remain about how much social media marketing is really worth. For example, Groupon helped Balani Custom Clothiers, a Chicago men's attire store, sell 850 gift certificates in a single day and generate buzz on Twitter. But the Groupon took a hefty 50 percent of the earnings from the promotion. The lesson: Social media marketing works great for generating buzz--and even actual sales--but it isn't always cheap.
Wal-Mart buys a start-up. The age of the DVD may have come to an end yesterday when Wal-Mart announced that it had purchased Vudu, a start-up allows TVs and Blu-Ray players to download high definition movies. The New York Times reports that the purchase price was over $100 million. That sounds impressive, but Vudu, according to the Times, had raised some $60 million from investors. Meanwhile, BusinessWeek reports that the acquisition could signal Wal-Mart's entrance into all sorts of digital goods: e-books, internet-based storage, and music.
When a private-equity takeover goes right. In 2006, Duane Reade, New York City's biggest drug store chain was, "hemorrhaging money," the New York Times's Andrew Ross Sorkin writes. But then a private equity firm came along and proved it could actually manage a turnaround. Today, Sorkin has the untold story of the deal that made last week's $1.1 billion Walgreen acquisition of Duane Reade possible.
The bidding war over YouTube's front page. Last year, YouTube was seen as a pariah among marketers, but nowadays, just try buying ads on the homepage. AdAge's Michael Learmonth reports that, in an effort to try to turn the video site into a profit maker, Google has rolled out dozens of marketing opportunities for large and small advertisers in the last 18 months, including homepage ads, pre-rolls, overlays, paid placement, and search ads. Some lessons for the website's rise: be flexible; play to your strengths; and put your customers first.
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