Did the group buying site cross the line with its mock-PSA Super Bowl ads? Plus Obama's challenge to American businesses 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:
Groupon's Super Bowl backlash. After last night's Super Bowl, it looks like Groupon's got some explaining to do. The ever-quirky group buying site made its grand TV entrance last night with a set of three commercials that poke fun at celebrity-endorsed PSAs. One spot featured Timothy Hutton saying, "The people of Tibet are in trouble. Their very culture is in jeopardy. But they still whip up an amazing fish curry...and since 200 of us bought at Groupon.com, we're each getting $30 worth of Tibetan food for just $15 at Himalayan Restaurant in Chicago." Today, Groupon's dealing with the repercussions. On Twitter, users wrote, "Dear @Groupon - over a million Tibetans have been killed during Chinese occupation. Your ad wasn't funny," and according to today's New York Times, "The commercial made Kenneth Cole's comment about Egypt on Twitter last week — 'Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available' — seem sensitive."
Obama: Keep business in America. Speaking to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—a group that's been a harsh critic of the president's policies—President Obama will challenge buisness leaders to improve the business climate domestically by investing in workers, paying good wages, and keeping their manufacturing and operations in the country. "If we make America the best place to do business, business should make their mark here in America," Obama said in a Saturday radio address, previewing his speech to the country's biggest business lobby today, BusinessWeekreports. What does business want the U.S. government to do to ease the burden? House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chair Darrel Issa is on it, USA Todayreports.
Entrepreneurs who want more regulation? Most small business owners protest government regulations, but some don't seem to mind it. In fact, some are even asking for it. The Wall Street Journalreports on the growing number of "specialists," from cat groomers to tattoo artists, that are hoping the government steps in to require various certifications and title requirements for their trade. Why? "The hope is that regulation will boost the prestige of their professions, provide oversight and protect consumers from shoddy work," the article notes. Still, some cast their doubt that such certifications are fair, or even necessary, insisting that "licensing mostly serves as a form of protectionism, allowing veterans of the trade to box out competitors who might undercut them on price or offer new services."
One Huffington to rule them all. Is this the new media deal of the century? At midnight, Arianna Huffington, founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, and AOL issued a joint announcement that the mega sites are joining forces. AOL will acquire the prodigious blog for $315 million and will instate Huffington as editor-in-chief and president of The Huffington Media Group, which will encompass all of the content produced by The Huffington Post and AOL. According to information Huffington shared with CNN's Christine Romans, The Huffington Post receives 26 million unique visitors a month, while AOL enjoys 110 million unique visitors in the United States and 250 million worldwide. It is also expected that The Huffington Post's sales will reach $50 million this year. With all of these figures being tossed around, perhaps AOL will require that Huffington finally compensate her contributing bloggers and citizen journalists.
The eBay face-lift. In response to growing concerns that eBay's popularity has fizzled, John Donahoe, eBay's chief executive, plans to announce the company's comeback on Thursday. Ebay's cleaner website is gradually bringing customers back to site, but will it be enough? The New York Times reports that the company's push to target mobile shoppers has shown promise but analysts doubt it will match this year's forecasted growth. Ebay's investors are pressuring the company to do everything possible to keep its competitors, Amazon and Groupon, from widening the lead in the market.
Yahoo gets personal. Yahoo hopes to bounce back from the company's recent slide in prominence and revenue with a move towards customized content. According to The New York Times, Yahoo plans to announce a publishing platform for applications where users can receive custom, personalized content on their mobile devices. Early speculation says the Yahoo project, originally titled "Deadeye," will combine a user's preferences, search items and social media to find relevant content for the user. Two anonymous sources close to the project say Yahoo will likely announce details of the project later this month at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Million-dollar mommies. Babble today released its list of the country's top 50 "mompreneurs," who balance business and babies everyday. Julie Aigner-Clark of Denver landed the No. 1 spot for her infant education firm Baby Einstein. In 1997, the 44-year-old mother of two created a "video picture book" by recording images of colors and shapes and pairing them with music and poetry soundtracks. Four years later, she sold the firm to Disney for a cool $20 million. Rounding out the list are Candace Alper of Name Your Tune, which records children's songs and boasts a roster of celebrity clients including Angelina Jolie, and Alphabet Photography's Jennifer Blakely, whose products sell in Target, TJ Maxx and Bed, Bath & Beyond stores nationwide.