Giving away live puppies goes awry. Plus, more on Zuckerberg's strategy and who's profiting from College Football Bowls.
Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
A puppy promotion fail. People love promotions. They also love puppies. But when Carlos Slim's Mexican-based company, América Móvil SAB tried to raffle off 200 pugs, beagles, and boxers to its Columbian-based customers as part of a national cell-phone marketing campaign, the company drew sharp criticism from PETA, and perhaps a bit more negative press than it imagined. "Unless families who win these puppies spent months and months deliberating as to whether or not they could make good homes for these animals, they have no business having them," a PETA representative told Bloomberg, which first reported the news. The moral of the story, if there is one, seems to be this: Consult with a lawyer before launching your next "creative promotion."
"Huffing and Puffing." If Arianna Huffington's success can be said to parallel that of Mark Zuckerberg, it's that she, too, is being sued by a duo claiming to have been part of her site's brain team. Vanity Fairhas the story of Democratic operatives Peter Dauo and James Boyce, who say they tried to collaborate with Huffington in 2004 to create a "liberal Drudge," but she ripped off their idea instead. Huffington denies the charges, and many of her fellow power-bloggers rushed to her defense. "Everyone in the start-up community had better hope the plaintiffs in this case walk away with nothing—ZERO—or this after-the-fact I-want-a-piece-of-your-success legal blackmail is going to become a trend," writes Henry Blodget in Business Insider.
Why Facebook really won't go public anytime soon. There is much debate at the moment over whether Facebook is already a public company and, if not, whether the SEC might force it to become one. Felix Salmon over at Reuters reminds us (via Steven Davidoff) that Google faced the same conundrum several years ago. But while Google chose to go public under such pressure, you shouldn't expect the same from Mark Zuckerberg & Co., says Salmon. He lays out several reasons, but here's the most provocative one: "Zuckerberg is the CEO, he's always wanted to be the CEO, and he has zero intention of relinquishing that job. He's not like Larry Page and Sergei Brin, who are happy being founders and letting Eric Schmidt do the less pleasant things associated with being CEO: this is Zuckerberg's company, and he's going to run it." If truly public, that might become a lot more difficult.
Who's banking on College Bowls? It's not just the sponsors, Fortunereports. Under Armour's brand is growing quickly, projected merchandising sales are set at $48 million for Oregon apparel, and $35 million for Auburn apparel, and ESPN's contract for the big championship game is $60 million, as valued by Fortune. The little deals add up, too: A ticket to the game is $345 face value, and the winning coach takes home an estimated $500,000 (and a $25,000 Waterford Crystal trophy!).
What to do with to-do's? That's the question Mike Michalowicz tackles in a Wall Street Journal guest column on running a business. First, he breaks tasks down into two categories: "whatever makes money in the near future" and "whatever will make customers happy." Everything you tick off your list should relate back to these ideas, he says. Then he shares five basics: maintain a paper list instead of digital; create a "type" column and a "task" column; put dollar signs in the "type" column for money-making tasks and smiley faces in the "type" column for tasks that make customers happy; finally, write down each new item as soon as it pops into your head. "If cash is flowing and the customers are happy," Michalowicz says, "who cares if I never get around to the other tasks?"
CES: media extravaganza? Well, it doesn't officially start until Thursday, but already the tech media machine is enunciating the significance of the Las Vegas show. Brian Stelter writes in the New York Times: "Nowhere is there a better display of the symbiotic relationship between entertainment and electronics." It it just that our latest tech is media-savvy or is media really driving new technology showcased at CES? "The show's status as a media summit meeting has risen in the last few years, as has the realization that device makers can help their products stand out by cutting deals with content makers," Stelter continues. That means devices relying on content—sports, news, and lots and lots of Hollywood films and shows.
What a sound idea! OK, now this is just plain neat. CNN Money has invented The Dow Piano, an application that transforms the peaks and valleys of the Dow Industrial Average into a five-note scale with a three-octave range. Heavy trading volume leads to literal high (loud) volume. So, if that's a blaring dirge you seem to be hearing in your headphones, you may want to transfer your funds, stat.
CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is senior writer at Inc. @Lagorio