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Borders Faces the Music

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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:

Borders files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It's been a long time coming, but the financially troubled chain of book stores has finally filed for bankruptcy, with plans to close 200 of its 659 stores (via CNN). In a statement, Borders said, "It has become increasingly clear that in light of the environment of curtailed customer spending, our ongoing discussions with publishers and other vendor related parties, and the company's lack of liquidity, Borders Group does not have the capital resources it needs to be a viable competitor." The company's president, Mike Edwards, hopes the decision will give Borders "a proper infusion of capital" so it can "reposition itself to be a successful business for the long term."

Business tips from Bieber. What can your company learn from Justin Bieber, the cherubic 16-year-old pop star? Perhaps, more than you think. In a guest post for OPEN Forum today, Guy Kawasaki gushes over Bieber's ability to slog it out on the road, find the right advisors, reach out to his customers using social media, and perhaps most importantly, find his niche. "Who among us would not like to own a segment the way he owns the teenage girl market?" Kawasaki writes. "To use my favorite term, he's totally enchanted them. He brings tears to their eyes. He, or whoever writes his music, knows exactly what they want and delivers it in a timely manner. Meanwhile, HP just announced its intention to ship a Palm tablet in four months. Tell me: who can you learn more from?"

Google under fire. The Texas attorney general's office is conducting an in-depth investigation of Google and the tactics it uses to rank search results. According to The New York Times , the attorney general has asked the search giant for "information related to ad pricing, shopping search and the ranking of Web sites in search results and ad listings." This investigation, which started in July, will ultimately determine whether or not Google favors its own businesses and advertisers in its search results. It's unclear whether Google is complying with the requests, but a company spokesman contends that since its start, Google has made every effort to be "fair and square."

TED broadens its online reach. TED, the organization behind the annual five-day gathering of the world's great minds, has launched TED Conversations, today. According to Mashable, it's a question and answer forum, similar to Stack Overflow or Quora, but with questions, ideas, and debates. Also: smart people. We wonder: Is it possible to maintain a presence of thought leaders and intelligent debate on an open online forum? What do you think?

Cashing out start-ups gets more complicated. Thinking of selling your company and making a quick buck? Be warned: "Today's venture-backed acquisitions are fraught with land mines that can result in delayed payments and reduced purchase prices long after the deal has been struck," according to the Wall Street Journal. The problem is taking a toll on entrepreneurial wealth and VC returns. Take Chip Scarlett, a serial entrepreneur who's sold four private firms over the past two decades. He's still collecting the money from his last sale more than two years later. Entrepreneurs today "are less likely to score really big one time and to retire to life on the beach," he said.

ReachLocal and DealOn join forces against Groupon. ReachLocal, a company that helps small businesses sift through their online and mobile advertising options, hopes to challenge Groupon with its latest $10 million acquisition of the daily deals site DealOn. According to VatorNews, ReachLocal plans to utilize DealOn's OfferEx service, "which allows other daily deal sites and publishers to supply or resell deals on an open platform." VatorNews also reports that "DealOn's research found that 95% of consumers are not going to sign up with more than 3-5 group buying sites." That's why ReachLocal is betting that business owners will be more interested in posting deals to a single platform that other deals sites can plug into than posting a deal on Groupon, alone. "We didn't want to out-Groupon Groupon," said Zorik Gordon, CEO of ReachLocal. "They've clearly won that space. We want to be the provider of record for everybody else who wants to put deals on their site."

Choosing 31 days over a month. According to a study by the Journal of Consumer Research, people attach more significance to actual numbers than to what numbers represent. Confused? Consider this: the study found that people will pay more for a service they're told will be completed in 31-days than a service they're told will take a month. The study also found that people spend less when they shop in countries with a favorable currency exchange rate. Why? Because handing over a large stack of cash feels like overspending, even if foreign currency is worth less than our own. How can this information help business owners? For starters, it helps to price items individually rather than in bulk. You'll end up with more of a profit, and more people will believe that they walked away with a deal. Read more on this phenomena at Ars Technica.

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Last updated: Feb 16, 2011




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