Paul Allen's unflattering portrayal of Bill Gates is stoking controversy, a new cohort of young (and rich) entrepreneurs discover charity, and the rest of the day's news.
Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today.
Microsoft co-founder speaks up. In the early days of Microsoft, Bill Gates schemed to take shares of the company from his co-founder, Paul Allen, in the wake of Allen's cancer treatment. That's just one allegation in Allen's new book, Idea Man, which is largely critical of Gates. It's due out April 17. Early reviews of the book, including this one from the Wall Street Journal, are already brewing controversy. The Journal writes: "Mr. Allen's unflattering account of Mr. Gates in the book is already making waves within the tight circle of early Microsoft alumni, with several people who know both men privately expressing confusion about Mr. Allen's motivations for criticizing his old business partner and questioning the accuracy of Mr. Allen's interpretation of certain events." Can't wait to read what else the world's 57th richest man has to vent about? An excerpt of the book appeared on Vanity Fair online this week.
Why robots are bad for business. Managing employees is all about dealing with "real people" with "real lives" and "real emotions," writes Ben Lerer, founder of Thrillist, in a post for OPEN Forum. Lerer, who recently hired his first assistant (who, likewise, had never assisted anyone before), says the biggest mistake managers make is being too robotic with their employees, and not relating to them on a human level. "I guess when it comes down to it, managing is just about being human," he writes. "The more human you can be, the more understanding you can be. And the more you realize that it's about more than just business, the more successful you'll be as a manager."
The best of youth. As entrepreneurship becomes more of a young man's game, so too does philanthropy. Ted Livingston, a 23-year old college dropout who founded Kik Interactive, a Canadian company that has developed a wildly popular chat app, has announced a $1 million donation to the University of Waterloo, his almost alma mater. The school will make the gift, and use the funds as seed capital for a program designed to help students launch companies. Despite the buzz surrounding the big gift, Livingston is not yet your typical high-rolling benefactor. "I don't think he's living too much differently than when he was a student," one university official told the Globe and Mail. "I saw him last fall and he was still driving an old car."
Patent office holds up millions of jobs. Well, at least that's what David Kappos, the director of the U.S. Patent and Trade Office, says. And maybe he's not far off. For months, President Obama has been pushing for a reform bill that will whip the USPTO, and the patent process, into shape. CNN reports that after passing through the Senate with minimal delay, the patent reform bill is scheduled to reach the House week. If passed, the reform bill is expected to reduce the USPTO patent backlog from 700,000 applications to 350,000 and the wait time for approval from three years to one.
Ricky Gervais' guide to creative tyranny. Ricky Gervais, the writer, director, actor, and producer behind The Office and HBO's Extras, has enjoyed a wildly successful career after age 40, which is how old he was when he created The Office. Yet, prior to his comedic turn, Gervais was an events manager at the University of London Union's student union before accepting a job at Xfm London, where his broadcasting and entertainment career took off. In an interview with the Harvard Business Review, the comedian and controversial Global Globe awards host discusses his past successes, his management and leadership styles, and why being a creative control freak is actually advantageous in business.
Are ads becoming too smart? Beware of sending multiple emails to a friend while co-planning an engagement party. Gmail is preparing to sniff your email in order to target your deepest needs and expensive desires, reports TechCrunch. Based on keywords in the messages stored in your inbox, Google Ads will pop-up, titillating and tormenting you, respectively. Unlike AdSense, this new system will be able to gauge your interests based on emailing patterns rather than simply from the email you're currently reading. Good for advertisers? Definitely. A little bit creepy? Perhaps.