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First Impressions for Start-ups

Can acting a little stupid help impress? Plus, looking inside Branson's iPad culture magazine and Murdoch's iPad newspaper.
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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:

Think you've mastered first impressions?  As the saying goes: You only get one chance. Whether you have an introductory meeting with a prospective client or are pitching a new idea to investors, you don't want to blow it. But maybe it's wise to act a little less informed than you are. Entrepreneur and VC Anthony Tjan recommends in the Huffington Post that you should do solid background research on whomever you will be meeting with—but be careful not to flaunt that knowledge too blatantly. As he says, "Act stupid, win smart." Your goal? "Be armed with the data so that you can answer or direct the conversation appropriately; your goal is not to demonstrate what you know of the person or company but what you had in mind when you first set up the meeting."

Let the tablet media wars begin. Virgin Media mogul Richard Branson announced the launch of Project, an iPad-only style and culture monthly magazine, according to the BBC. The launch of Project comes just a few days after Rupert Murdoch's launch of his iPad newspaper, The Daily, which, as its name implies, is a daily. Project costs about three bucks an issue, and the magazine's editors are confident the magazine will be a success. "It's a quality piece of editorial, so you have to pay for it," the e-magazine's editor in chief noted. Project also launched a blog, where users can read—for free—articles about "really fancy yachts" and a "bicycle drawing machine."

Will Google liberate e-books from tablets? That's what The Wall Street Journal is reporting, anyway. Although Google had planned on launching Google Editions, an e-book retailer, this summer, legal negotiations have delayed progress, the story reports. Now, though, sources say Google has its contracts in order and will be able to launch in the U.S. by the end of the year. Google product management director Scott Duggall explained the delay to the Journal saying, "Because of the complexity of this project, we didn't want to come out with something that wasn't thorough." Unlike Kindle's e-books, which can only be purchased on Amazon.com, Google Editions e-books can be purchased on Google or other online retailers, and The American Booksellers Association predicts that more than 200 independent bookstores in the country could sign up as partners. The hope is to free e-books from the confines of tablets "by offering an open, 'read anywhere' model." Funny, we thought that's what books were for.

Behind Groupon's expansion strategy. The Web is abuzz today with theories, suspicions, and estimations at what makes up Groupon's $6 billion buyout by Google. Mashable first took a look at Groupon's expansion strategy, which includes new features like Groupon Stores (that lets shop owners set up virtual stores with as many deals as they want) and the Deal Feed (a personalized deal stream for customers). But Inc.'s Max Chafkin is a little more dubious. He says the bid stems from Google's desire to secure local advertising dollars—dollars that Groupon has partially wrested from Google's grasp. And in a similar vein, a New York Times Dealbook blog wonders whether the price is a little too steep. "A multibillion-dolar valuation for a company that is in a business with virtually no barriers to entry and is younger than my toddler is absurd," wrote Sucharita Mulpuru, a Forrester Research analyst, in a note to clients. At last the article contends that Groupon's viral, on-the-ground approach could give Google a lift in social networking, an area where the company has struggled to make any significant headway thus far.

Twitter now worth $4 billion. The bidding war to buy a piece of the microblogging startup has driven its valuation up by nearly a billion dollars, writes Michael Arrington in TechCrunch. Leading the charge is John Doerr, a partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, who is "acting something like a dog with bone that won't let go." Russian holding firm Digital Sky Technologies and venture fund Andreessen Horowitz are also reportedly sniffing around, but unless another concrete bidder steps up, Kleiner has all but sealed the deal, says Arrington.

Doing holiday bonuses right. Around the holidays, who is better to reward, employees or customers? While more small businesses planned to give gifts to their customers than their employees this year, Rosalind Resnick writes in The Wall Street Journal that making sure members of your team are taken care of around the holidays is "not just the right thing to do ... it's good business." The former entrepreneur and real-estate developer continues: "The next time I ask one of my guys to go the extra mile for my tenants, I can reasonably expect that the answer will be yes." Need specific gift advice? Check out Inc.com's guide to employee gifts. Anyone out there have extra tips for making employees happy around the holidays? Leave 'em in the comments.

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Last updated: Dec 1, 2010

CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer

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 a senior writer at Inc.




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