Yelp hit with a class action lawsuit. In our January/February cover story, Inc. told you about the rising tensions between Yelp, a popular reviews site, and the small businesses that are being reviewed by it. Yesterday, as Inc.'s Christine Lagorio reports, the site was hit with a class action lawsuit that alleges that Yelp's sales people are extorting some businesses. "The suit hinges on the question of whether Yelp is simply offering to run a positive advertisement above negative reviews, or whether it is further offering to remove negative reviews for cash, which could in court amount to payoffs to prevent the site from doing future harm - a.k.a. extortion," Lagorio writes.
The hidden headaches of starting a business. There's an interesting article in today's Wall Street Journal about an aspect of launching a new business that many first-time entrepreneurs often overlook. Namely, the unexpected trials and tribulations of being a boss. For a new entrepreneur intent on growing a budding business, managing employees is the one part of the job that many are unprepared for. As one first-time business owner explains, "I was interested in building a company. I never thought through that it meant I would have to hire people, terminate people and do all of the things associated with being a boss."
Start-up visa wins friends. Fred Wilson, who has been agitating for legislation that would entice start-up founders from other countries to relocate to the United States, blogs that Senators John Kerry, a Democrat, and Richard Luger, a Republican, introduced a bill yesterday to the Senate to create a so-called "start-up visa." "I am certain that anti-immigration forces will find something not to like in this proposed legislation...but we have to fight back," Wilson writes. "So many great American corporations...were founded by immigrants...We need to create new businesses that employ our citizens. And the history of our country is rich with stories of immigrant entrepreneurs. We have to embrace them, welcome them, fund them, and let them do their thing."
Think you know the real Silicon Valley? Prove it in 15 questions. You've heard of Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt, and Mark Zuckerberg. But Business Insider is betting they still have 15 questions that might stump you. For starters, which Valley start-up that took an investment from "the Evil Empire" has a lego replica of the Death Star hanging in its office? What does "WFH" mean in Yahoo parlance? Which start-up uses board games, such as Mouse Trap, to name their meeting rooms? What famous, successful start-up CEO has been known to throw (stuffed) sheep? What start-up has a picture of a Shiba Inu drawn on a couch and why?
A new tool to increase foot traffic in your store. E-commerce may have replaced the traditional means of shopping for some, but physical retail stores have a new trick up their sleeves to lure customers, according to an article by TechCrunch. Location-based advertising start-up Placecast has launched a technology called ShopAlerts, which can notify consumers of sales and specials through texts and Facebook alerts whenever they are in the vicinity of the store. A major benefit of the platform is that it also works on non-smartphones, which means the potential to reach a much broader audience than other location-based services like Foursquare and Loopt. The New York Times recently reported that Seattle-based outdoor gear retailer The North Face is among the first to try out the technology, sending texts about new arrivals and promising free goodies such as water bottles with a purchase.
How to test each and every part of your business model. If you know Steve Blank, you know he loves his diagrams. Today, the serial tech entrepreneur doesn't disappoint as he outlines the Customer Development technique, used by start-ups to "quickly iterate and test each part of their business model."
How to use online video to market your small business. Using Web-based videos can be a powerful tool for small businesses that lack the finances and branding experience of large corporations with their own marketing departments. While Inc. has reported on the business benefits of hosting videos, video marketing site Reel SEO has also supplied five helpful tips for small businesses who want to market their videos online. Advice includes adding video to Facebook fan pages, optimizing video for Google searches, and posting your videos on YouTube and other video sites to increase your potential for expanding your audience.
Yahoo teams with Twitter. Yahoo announced on Wednesday that like Microsoft and Google, it too has teamed with Twitter to offer access to tweets from its sites. CNN reports that the partnership will allow users to access their Twitter feeds on Yahoo, including through their home pages, Yahoo Mail, and Yahoo Sports. Users will be able to update their Twitter feeds from Yahoo! as well as share Yahoo! content in their tweets. GigaOm notes that this is part of Yahoo's plan to become an aggregator of the social web, which includes an integration with Facebook that the companies announced in December. Unfortunately for Yahoo, Google also has aspirations to become the social web aggregator, having launched its own social networking feature, Google Buzz, last month.
JASON DEL REY was a senior reporter covering technology, branding, and company culture for Inc. magazine. Before joining Inc., his work appeared in Newsday, The (Newark) Star-Ledger, and the Staten Island Advance, and on ESPN.com. He lives in New Jersey. @DelRey