Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
Fire the slackers. A great company is built by great people. So what do you do with people who aren't great, but aren't bad either? Or, as Jay Goltz calls them in The New York Times, the "sixes." "You've probably already parted company with the people who rate worse than a six ‚ but it's the sixes who can be tricky," he notes. "They're not that bad, but they're just not good." Though firing an employee is never an easy task, Goltz reminds entrepreneurs that it's necessary for the survival of the business. After all, would you want a "six" flying your plane or a "six" performing your father's heart surgery? "The problem is that firing people is not fun, easy or pleasant," he writes. "As a matter of fact, it might be the hardest part of being the boss... (but) if you truly want to run a great company, you have to have the right people in the right jobs."
Is "Start-up America" a dud? Steve Blank thinks so. The serial entrepreneur dismissed President Obama's efforts to boost entrepreneurship as nothing but "a great photo op." The problem with the initiative, says Blank, is its sheer lack of focus. "The notion of a public/private partnership without giving entrepreneurs a seat at the policy table inside the White House is like telling the passengers they can fly the plane from their seats. It has zero authority, budget or influence. It's the national cheerleader for startups," he wrote. Blank breaks it down for us in Fortune.
Meet the new social media elites. Nope, it's not Lady Gaga, though she does have an impressive Klout score of 90. It's people like Katie Miller, a 25-year-old PR account executive, and Casie Stewart, a 28-year-old social-media consultant from Toronto. It's their prolific Twitter feeds, which have earned them great scores on Klout, PeerIndez, and Twitalyzer—aka "influence over other consumers," as The Wall Street Journal reports. While the new class of yet-unknown social media elites are cashing in on freebies from companies, the Klout bug is catching in Hollywood, too—and even in political circles. The Journal reports: "The Twitter accounts for President Barack Obama and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez are both registered on Klout, with scores of 90 and 80, respectively."
Zuckerberg serves stalker with restraining order. TMZ yesterday broke the story that Mark Zuckerberg has a stalker by the name of Pradeep Manukonda, who has been following, watching and contacting Zuck, his girlfriend and his sister. According to the story, Manukonda wrote desperate Facebook messages to Mark asking for money to support his family, including "please help me, then I am ready to die for you," and "please respond in time… before it get too late for us." Last month, Zuck's security team caught Manukonda approaching the Facebook CEO's home. Now, a judge has ordered that Manukonda stay at least 300 yards away from Mark, his girlfriend, and his sister.
House brew boom? Retail giants Supervalu and Walgreens are going head-to-head with heavily advertised beer brands by offering their own discount cans of beer. Beer sales have been declining in general due to high unemployment, but sales of discount store-branded goods have been robust. Hence, the birth of Buck Range Light (Supervalu), Big Flats (Walgreens), and Game Day Light (7-Eleven), The Wall Street Journal reports. But can these new cheap brews survive in a market that depends so heavily on brand recognition and big advertising budgets? Let us know what you think.
Sprint to offer dual-screen Android phone. Apparently, two phone screens are better than one. Sprint today announced its plans to launch the Echo, an Android phone with a twin set of touch screens that give the device a "pseudo-tablet design," according toThe Wall Street Journal. Made by Japan's Kyocera Corp., the phone lets users run two programs "simultaneously and independently" on either screen. It will be available in the spring for $200.
Is Apple poised to make a "universal" iPhone? The iPhone 4 Apple built for Verizon has a Qualcomm chip, which analysts say is the missing link needed allow the iPhone to work on any cellular network. The repair firm iFixIt found the chip under the hood of a pre-ordered phone, according to CNN. The phone still lacks the crucial SIM card slot that allows for seamless worldwide roaming. But the building blocks are there, leading analysts to believe the next iPhone model will work on most wireless networks around the world.
Investors pin content hopes on Web. Newspaper stocks jumped yesterday after AOL agreed to buy news site Huffington Post for $315 million, according to the Associated Press. "All of a sudden, people are looking for ways to play content for the iPad and for the Internet and Web audience growth," analyst Doug Arthur said. "And they're looking at the newspapers for having that content."
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