Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
Amazon enters the diaper business. After a weekend full of rumors, Amazon has confirmed it is acquiring Inc. 500 company Quidsi, which owns Diapers.com, Soap.com and BeautyBar.com. The deal will cost Amazon about $545 million, all told, and will be finalized in December. In a statement, Mark Lore, Quidsi's co-founder and CEO, said, 'Amazon shares our commitment to the customer. We are excited to be part of a company that will help us to serve an even larger audience, and we will continue delivering unexpectedly great service that makes life a little easier--that is our mission.'
Small businesses cash in on midterm elections. The recent midterm elections may have been a big victory for the Republican party, but they also created a nice windfall for those small businesses that catered to the election campaigns. As today's Washington Post reports, an analysis of the campaign expenditure reports shows that candidates spent at least $50 million on catering and liquor, $3.2 million at country clubs and golf courses, and $500,000 on pizza, coffee and doughnuts. As one analyst at the Brookings Institution explained, "It's certainly had an impact on the bottom lines of many of these companies, particularly in the media area. It probably improved things for some of them at a critical time."
AMEX to launch Small Business Saturday. The weekend after Thanksgiving really didn't need another designated shopping day name, but this one we'll approve of: Small Business Saturday. American Express OPEN announced today that it is declaring the Saturday after Thanksgiving a day to support local, independently-owned, small businesses. As part of the initiative, the first 10,000 small business owners to sign up at facebook.com/smallbusinesssaturday will receive $100 of free Facebook advertising to build buzz for their businesses. At the same time, American Express is giving $25 statement credits to the first 100,000 AMEX cardholders who register their card and use it to make a purchase on that Saturday at a local small business.
A browser for the social-media savvy. RockMelt, a company started by some Netscape alumni, released a Web browser today with sights set on the thriving social media space. Funded by the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, RockMelt intends to simplify the process by which users can "share" Web pages and other information on their favorite social sites. The New York Times took a sneak peak at the software yesterday: "At first glance, RockMelt looks like an ordinary browser, a digital windowpane onto the Web. But along the side of its main window are two thin rails with icons, one showing a user's friends on the left, and another displaying user's favorite social sites, including Twitter and Facebook, on the right." Despite these modern features, RockMelt will face the challenge of penetrating a market dominated by titans like Microsoft, Google, and Mozilla, all of which outlasted Netscape the last time around.
Would you work out of a treehouse? What about a suspended meeting pod? How would you like a lavish dining room in a former bank vault? We at Inc.com teamed up with architecture site Architizer to find the neatest, most functional, offices on the planet. Check out stunning photos of the World's Coolest Offices, as well as our interview with Architizer co-founder Marc Kushner.
Dropped a call? Drop your carrier. As web and app-based conversation services continue to sprout up, some are beginning to ask what the traditional carriers are doing to fight back against these less expensive, and often free, alternatives. The answer, it seems, is not much. In a TechCrunch article today written by Steve Cheney, he notes that "It's very evident that Google and Apple are making overtures to become your de facto voice and messaging provider, and the carriers are sitting with their pants down, struggling to plan how they stay relevant." He points out that smartphone technology has allowed carriers to implement their own web-based conversation strategies, but they've largely missed the boat. "The carriers had a chance to provide a better voice and messaging experience with 4G, and to charge a toll for that experience, but they are missing that window," he says.
Windows Phone 7 hits stores today. Speaking of phones, Microsoft's latest entry hits the market today. While some phones have already launched in Europe, today is the first day you can put down cash in the United States for a Windows Phone 7, CNN reports. The Microsoft online store just let loose the HTC HD7 from T-Mobile, and the HTC Surround and Samsung Focus, both from AT&T. With its colorful tiles and hubs, tech bloggers say the platform does look different, and doesn't repeat the sins of Windows Mobile, which catered mostly to corporate users. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says there will be nine phones available running the platform, including other models from LG and Dell. They will work on 60 carriers in 30 countries, with Sprint and Verizon on tap for next year.