Who needs sleep when there are start-ups to launch? Between endless e-mail conversations and talkative co-workers, getting actual work done during the day isn't always an easy proposition. The New York Times has an interesting article about a group of entrepreneurs, freelancers, and software developers who have come up with a nocturnal solution to that problem. Calling themselves the New York Nightowls, this group of roughly 30 techies meets every Tuesday night from 10 p.m. until about 4 a.m. to to work on pet projects and side ventures that they normally don't have the time to focus on during the traditional workday. As one of the group's co-founders explains, "It's six hours of uninterrupted, productive time where you're surrounded by other creative people doing awesome things." The concept of late-night work sessions seems to a perfect fit for New York, it is the city that never sleeps after all, but similar groups have also formed in nearly a dozen cities including San Francisco and Boston.
The Huffington Post isn't immune to revenue issues. When considering the future of online media, you can't engage in conversation without referencing The Huffington Post. The liberal online newspaper/aggregation site/blogging community founded by Arianna Huffington and Ken Lerer attracted more than 24 million unique visitors last month, almost as many as The New York Times. But as Newsweek explains, HuffPo "has a big audience, but like most Web sites, it can't monetize it very well." Still, the site's audience just keeps growing and growing, and as Huffington told Inc. in her How I Did It, her site is already valued at $100 million.
Gulf Coast business owners' fate rests with one man. When the owners of Gulf Coast businesses affected by the BP oil spill apply for damage claims against the oil giant, the legitimacy of those claims will be determined by one man, Kenneth Feinberg, the so-called Spill Czar. Feinberg determines which businesses will be eligible for a piece of the $20 billion escrow account BP has established to pay for damages. As CNNMoney reports, Feinberg has already warned that not every business who applies for damage reimbursement will get paid. For example, to a motel on an oil-soaked section of beach, Feinberg says "Pay them. Pay the claim." However, a claim from a Boston restaurant that can no longer get Gulf shrimp is "highly unlikely" to get paid says Feinberg.
The real cost of smartphones. We recently told you why you should say no to conflict minerals from the Congo that are used in smartphones and other gadgets. Now, legislation included in the financial reform bill will make it easier for you to identify which electronics are truly conflict-free (via The New York Times). Under the new law, companies are required to certify whether they're using minerals like tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold that have been mined from the Congo or its surrounding countries. Many of the mines where these minerals are found are operated by rebel groups, and are the source of much of the violence in the war-torn country. The Enough Project, a humanitarian group that has been advocating for the legislation, hopes tech companies don't boycott trade in the Congo altogether. Instead, a rep tells the Times, "We want them to take a hard look at where their materials are coming from, but also contribute to positive change out in the region."
Start-up lets you rent an iPad (or chainsaw) for a day. Sometimes you just want to take a high-price gadget on a trial run, like perhaps if you'd to test out a Kindle on a business trip, or borrow a high-powered drill for some DIY time. TechCrunch has a profile of a company called Snapgoods which, like Zipcar for autos, lets you rent expensive doodads by the day. Though the company has a few competitors, the post sees its hyperlocal focus as its strength. The company which has only launched in New York so far lets you deal with people in your physical vicinity, you meet up with them in a local business, and you review the transaction afterwards to screen for crazy or klutzy individuals. Sounds promising but consumers will still need to take the leap of faith.
What's happening in your neck of the woods. This morning on Inc.com, we launched 12 city-specific pages, so you can find all of the stories relevant to your area. We're calling them Local Sections, and they cover everywhere from San Francisco to Shanghai; from Atlanta to London. Check them out, and check back for the latest local content, and for more cities as we launch additional Local Sections in coming months.
Staff editor KASEY WEHRUM has written for Inc. magazine on subjects ranging from the businesses behind professional bull riding to gadget inventor and father of the infomercial, Ron Popeil. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Worth, Budget Travel, and on MSNBC.com. He lives in Brooklyn.