A big test for Elon Musk and SpaceX. Sometime today, SpaceX, the privately held rocket company started by Elon Musk, will attempt the maiden launch of its Falcon 9 rocket. The company has already reached orbit, but with a smaller rocket that is only capable of delivering satellites to space. The larger Falcon 9 is designed to carry astronauts to the International Space Station and has been singled out by President Obama as a possible successor to the Space Shuttle program. The company has emphasized that this is a test flight and that the goal is "is to collect as much data as possible," and the Wall Street Journal cautions that "Maiden launches of newly-designed rockets are notoriously risky." You can watch the launch here, and we'll keep you updated on what happens. (For more on Musk, check out this profile, which ran when we named him Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007.)
UPDATE: The rocket is off and it looks like it worked! Falcon 9 reached orbit.
Should you loan money to your employees? If you're one of the 25 employees who works at Fab Electric in Gaithersburg, Maryland, you can borrow up to $4,000 per year, interest-free, from owner Jim Fab for expenses you can't afford up front - such as down payments on a car, a funeral, or legal fees. The Wall Street Journal carries this story, reporting that close-knit companies often take on a parental role toward employees. Business owners who do it say it can boost productivity from workers stressed about their finances, as well as improve loyalty, morale, and a company's reputation. Owners worried about not getting paid back say they only lend amounts they could live with losing. Others ask for collateral or withdraw payments directly from paychecks. You may be tempted to only lend to the most trustworthy among your staff, but be warned, that could lead to a discrimination lawsuit.
Who's the king of social media? According to Wired's UK edition, it is Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley. He's pictured on the new cover smirking and wearing a crown. Crowley's reaction? "When I told my friends about the crown they were like 'oh no - you need a publicist!'" TechCrunchreports that European competitors to Foursquare - Rummble and TellMeWhere - are feeling irked over the cross-Atlantic crowning. Meanwhile, China has blocked the popular service. The reason is unclear, but Fox Newsnotes that many users had been "checking in" from Tiananmen Square to mark the anniversary of the bloody 1989 military crackdown on pro-democracy protests.
Michael Dell mulls going private. Perhaps he misses the autonomy of not having to answer to the whims of Wall Street, but in response to a question during an analyst conference in New York yesterday, Michael Dell said that he has considered taking his eponymous computer company private. He declined to elaborate on his answer and he did say that he has "every intention" of continuing to run the company. When asked about his revival plans for Dell, which he initiated when he returned to the CEO seat in 2007, Dell said that "If I had to give it a grade, I'd give it an incomplete." Analysts interviewed by the Austin American-Statesman said that Dell taking his company private is an unlikely, but not impossible move. As one analyst speculated, "I think Michael was being honest in that he is looking at it." But, he said that "at Dell's scale and size, it would be pretty tough to take them private." For a closer look at how Michael Dell got his start, check out our Great Leaders profile of him.
GM to back start-ups. The recently bailed-out automaker is set to launch a venture-capital subsidiary, General Motors Ventures, on July 1. According to the Wall Street Journal, GM is already on the road to recovery, with sales up 32 percent in May alone. The company hopes that investing in new technologies through its new venture capital unit will help fuel that growth. "We are constantly looking for ways to deliver the best technology for our customers," Stephen J. Girsky, GM's vice president of corporate strategy and new business development tells the Journal. "Our goal is to nurture these innovative technologies to help bring them to market, and to ensure our customers have access to the best technology available."
Yelp and OpenTable team up. In a move that made too much sense not to have eventually happened, Yelp and OpenTable announced Thursday night that Yelp users will soon be able to secure restaurant reservations directly from Yelp review pages, Nick Bilton writes on The New York Times Bits blog. The paper reports that 29 percent of reviewed businesses on Yelp are restaurants.