A Big Day for Elon Musk

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Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:

SpaceX's Falcon 9 blasts off. After a successful test launch this summer, Elon Musk's SpaceX sent another rocket into orbit this morning. The Falcon 9 rocket is depositing a capsule into orbit and, according to The New York Times it should circle Earth twice, before landing in the Pacific Ocean about three and a half hours later. The Times writes, "If successful, it would be the first commercial spacecraft to gently return to Earth from orbit." For more on Musk, a 2007 Inc. Entrepreneur of the Year, check out "Elon Musk's Guide to the Galaxy."

Paper company struggles to make money--literally. Back in 2008 we told you the story of Crane & Co., the 200-year-old, family-run paper company that has been the sole supplier of the U.S. government's currency paper for more than 130 years. The company is back in the news recently, unfortunately this time they are at the center of a big brouhaha regarding the government's new $100 bill. As today's Boston Globe reports, a production glitch has forced the government to delay the introduction of the new, more secure, $100 bill which could mean that hundreds of millions of dollars of sub-par bills will have to be destroyed. While the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is still investigating to determine what is the exact cause of the problem, Crane & Co. issued a statement saying that the "new $100 is an extremely complex product" and that they are working with the government to resolve the issue.

Who are the best CEOs in America? MarketWatch unveiled their picks for the nation's top CEOs, which reveal nothing too surprising, albeit a possible snub of Facebook's Zuckerberg. The winners include Bezos (Amazon), Schmidt (Google), Schultz (Starbucks), Solso (Cummins), and Jobs (Apple). MarketWatch gave the chiefs an illustrious preamble, noting that "In a decade marked by upheaval that shook not just the financial markets but the financial system, the corporate leaders who shone brightest--once they'd steadied their respective ships--were not content with incrementalism...For them, nothing less than revolution would suffice." Winners were chosen based on five variables, including "stock return, performance for customers, treatment of employees, corporate-governance initiatives, and corporate sustainability."

The new path to entrepreneurship. Today's Fortune explores an emerging trend, where junior venture capitalists are ditching their desks and starting their own businesses. It makes sense. People who start off at venture capital firms are trained to identify strong business plans and, perhaps more importantly, they know what investors want. The fact that venture capital investments these days aren't as lucrative as they once were makes it even more appealing for young VCs to turn to start-ups instead. As VC-turned-entrepreneur Jordan Cooper tells Fortune, "You're watching someone else achieve their dream and you think, 'Wait a minute. Why am I not living my dream?'" The transition also helps junior analysts move up the corporate ladder at their firms. "They don't even know how amazing you are until you've left and gone somewhere else," Cooper adds. "It's easier to leave, start a company, grow it, sell it for $50 million and then scale to partner."

Paying for a better business. The Better Business Bureau, originally started to expose fraud and hold businesses accountable, has run into some fraud of its own, Slate reports. The online magazine culled reports from several news sources over the past two years exposing the BBB's preferential treatment for companies that pay accreditation fees to the organization. The practice, Slate says, has effectively turned the BBB into a protection racket for local businesses. "The roughly 400,000 accredited businesses, even those that get numerous complaints, very often receive higher grades than unaccredited companies with spotless complaint records," says a January 2009 in the L.A. Times. Some pranksters have even gone so far as to register Hamas and white supremacist groups with a Southern California chapter, where the worst corruption has been cited, and received A ratings from the BBB.

A future cash crop? That's what some entrepreneurs hope to make of medical marijuana, which is legal to sell in some states but, for the most part, illegal to profit from. Take Steve DeAngelo for instance, whose medical cannabis dispensary in Oakland, California is structured as a non-profit, though it rakes in $50,000 a day. DeAngelo embraces that model, telling SmartMoney that "anyone interested in making money from this should run the other way," since "people don't want to see a two-page (advertising) spread for reefer." Still, the article notes that "there are plenty of patient, risk-loving capitalists already eyeing the $36 billion marijuana market--and betting that cash-starved states will continue to relax rules."

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Last updated: Dec 8, 2010




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