Entrepreneurial lunar dreams. Plus, working out-of-the-office goes mainstream, LivingSocial's investment boost, 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.
A tech entrepreneur with lunar dreams. The "moon is money," writes Om Malik on GigaOm today. Malik is referring to a venture founded by Dr. Barney Pell, a maverick NASA scientist that recently sold his tech start-up and is beginning work on a new project: developing a space vehicle that will be able to mine the moon's surface for mineral resources, which, apparently, include platinum and fossil fuels that would be valuable here on earth. "Our big play is to develop a robotic lander to transport things to (and from) the moon," Pell said. "There is eventually going to be a moon rush, because there are a lot of resources on the moon that we will need...In the future we want to be able to land the payloads and machines and bring things back. We want to be the last mile to the moon." Right now, the company, Moon Express, (yes, for real) has a contract from NASA worth up to $10 million, but Pell and his team are looking to snag the Google Lunar X PRIZE, worth about $30 million.
Why CEOs are loving sustainability. In this week's issue, BusinessWeek examines the changing face of corporate social responsibility. While implementing great CSR once meant cutting a check to a local charity, today, it can mean greening your supply chain, integrating waste-reduction measures, and, well, saving a lot of money. "Executives are trying to realize meaningful cost savings by coming up with innovative ways to go easier on the environment," the article reads. In short: everyone from Walmart to International Paper is working with a new idea in mind. "Saving the planet can save big bucks."
Working from home today? You're not the only one. A recent survey conducted by Skype reports that more businesses are allowing their employees to work from home (via Mashable). In fact, 62 percent of companies surveyed say 34 percent of their employees work outside the office. The prevalence of video conferencing options (like Skype) makes working from home easier, which, in turn, makes the ability to work from home more important to employees. Asked to rank the factors that determine job satisfaction, the employees surveyed ranked flexibility to work outside the office just below salary and quality of working environment. Want to see how working from home has worked (for a while) for Inc.? Check out the story here.
LivingSocial raises $400 million to battle Groupon. Tim O'Shaughnessy is confident. So confident, in fact, that the CEO of LivingSocial has already predicted his company's victory over Groupon Inc., as told by the New York Times'DealBook blog this morning. The online discount site raised $400 million last week from existing investors Lightspeed Venture Partners and Amazon.com, as well as new ones such as Institutional Venture Partners. This new capital will help the company expand and challenge its hefty competition.
Who are those people? We all know at least one of them. They seem to do it all...every day...and never need more than a couple hours of sleep to wake up refreshed and do it all again. And, we admit it, we're jealous. The Wall Street Journalexplores the topic of this "sleepless elite," aka "short sleepers."
Where to not start a business. The 2000s claimed the lives of Blockbuster, Lehman Brothers, and Circuit City. But in order to discover which industries suffered the worst overall drop-offs over the last decade, research firm IBISWorld identified the 10 dying U.S. industries that are stuck in a decline, The Huffington Post reports. While reasons for suffering vary, most industry strife was attributed to three key factors: new technology, foreign competition, and industry stagnation. The report notes that many of these industries can expect continued decline through 2016.
Inventing new apps with old data. Instead of letting the piles of city data stay locked up to collect dust, New York City's government agencies decided to release that information to the people who would make the most of it: tech entrepreneurs. CNN reports that the city issued more than 350 public data sets and challenged the city's tech entrepreneurs to invent innovative Web and mobile apps for the public to use. More than 50 teams have accepted the challenge to compete in the second annual NYC BigApps 2.0 competition. Mayor Bloomberg hopes that initiating tech competitions will attract more tech entrepreneurs to the city. Although the grand prize for winning the contest is only $10,000, tech groups are really in it for the publicity and exposure.
The underdog way to travel. David and Goliath references abound this morning, as the New York Times' You're the Boss column highlights ShermanTravel.com, a travel website battling with behemoths such as Orbitz and Expedia. With only 40 employees, ShermanTravel.com lacks the muscle of more established travel websites, but distinguishes itself by providing specialized travel advice and information in addition to the deals and steals for destinations. Founder Jim Sherman even infuses his own extensive travel experiences into a blog. Despite its fresh ideas, ShermanTravel.com doesn't show up on page one of Google search for "travel sites." It's tough to take down a giant if you're not even in the fight.
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