Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
Meet basketball's most impressive entrepreneur. Basketball fans may remember Jamal Mashburn for his successful career with franchises like the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat, but entrepreneurs might be equally impressed with Mashburn's success with some different kinds of franchises. As Yahoo! Sports reports, Mashburn has been quite busy since his retirement from the NBA in 2006, owning an astounding amount of Outback Steakhouses and Papa John's pizza franchises. By his count, he owns more than 34 Outbacks and 37 Papa John's, not to mention a few car dealerships and a number of other assorted franchise operations. Mashburn's inspiration was the exact opposite of every CEO who ever dreamed of leaving the boardroom and playing in the NBA. As he explains, "I've always wanted to carry a briefcase. It's just something you want to do growing up in NYC. When I was younger, I always wondered what was in them."
Digg Drama: Rose on the rollout. Techcrunch sat down with Digg co-founder Kevin Rose yesterday to rehash the Digg Version 4 launch and the drama that resulted. In the video interview, Rose addresses what he would have done differently if given the chance to do it over. "It's always a battle for us," Rose says, "it's like an arms race." He also addressed some of the problems Digg faces, like features, SEO, and content. "We have the same problems Google does with people trying to manipulate search results with SEO, except on the social voting side of the house." Rose also discussed future product plans for Digg, such as leaderboard and "Interests" pages for different verticals, with the goal being to allow Digg users to jump into specialized interests and form communities around them.
The sweeter side of politics. Who better to sweeten things up in Washington than a few former Bush aides? After leaving government posts in 2007, Dana Manatos and Christian Edwards decided to leverage their newfound clout in a new way: selling chocolate. With $150,000 in capital the two revived a family-owned Pittsburgh chocolate company and used connections to land a 1,500 square-foot space in the Pentagon this February, Business Week reports. The location has helped them to land contracts with the State Dept., embassies, and politicans on both sides of the aisle including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Fortunately for them, as Edwards says, "the chocolate business in nonpartisan."
Rethinking calling cards. If anyone still uses them. Nonetheless, VentureBeatk reports reports that an Austrian VoIP company called Jajah aims to revamp traditional calling card schemes that include hidden fees and surcharges. Instead, Jajah will leverage its VoIP technology (like Skype) to keep per-minute costs low. The company will also provide transparent access to customers where they can view costs and balances online or through an iPhone application. They hope to focus marketing efforts on immigrants and low-income workers who have long been the victims of calling card scams and expenses.
The Globe will split in two. The Boston Globe announced yesterday that it will begin charging for full access to its online version beginning the second half of next year, according to Mashable. The company plans to move some content from Boston.com, its current location, to BostonGlobe.com, which will have a pay-wall. In perhaps what will become the standard model for future newspaper publishing, print subscribers will automatically have full access to all of The Boston Globe's daily published content at the new site, if newspapers can even afford to continue to print in the first place. According to The Globe, the change will result in a shift of news coverage to more local and breaking news for Boston.com, while BostonGlobe.com will contain all features and bigger stories. "These two distinct sites will allow us to serve both types of readers with maximum effectiveness," publisher Christopher Mayer said in a statement, "while continuing to provide advertisers the large engaged audience they have come to expect from Boston.com."
Inc. 500|5000 Conference update. This weekend's Inc. 500|5000 conference got off to an impressive, if a little rainy, start this morning with general session presentations from Stonyfield Farm CEO Gary Hirshberg, last year's Entrepreneur of the Year Kevin Surace and Tim Westergren, founder of online music service Pandora. In his speech, "Good for the Earth: Good for Your Business," Hirshberg explained how he got some early divine intervention to help him fund his organic yogurt start-up. "Our first VCs were nuns called the Sisters of Mercy who lent us $35,000. Mercy was the operative word." Stay tuned to Inc.com for more highlights and updates from the conference.
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