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Groupon's Game Day

Will the social coupon site's Super Bowl ad be a fumble or a touchdown? Plus, Google's hiring spree 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:

Groupon tries to score points with Super Bowl ad. Most game-day ads peddle storied brands with long histories. So what's Groupon, purveyor of digital coupons that started in 2008, doing in this year's lineup? Protecting its turf from copycats, who have grabbed market share in every major city, according to AllThingsD. Groupon, known for its cheeky responses to speculation, is keeping mum on the ad. But whatever it does, "expect it to have a viral component that extends the momentum after the 30 seconds is up."

Is the MBA's dominance diminishing? Forbes ponders the question. The evidence is largely anecdotal, but one new study by GMAC found Europe is drawing a growing share of the U.S. MBA pool. And Luke Wilson, CEO of the organization, which owns and administers the GMAT test, says that if his own child was admitted to business school, he'd hope it would be in China. Why? "Whether you are looking to work there or here in the U.S., you are going to discover that you'll have to deal with Asia and especially China," he says.

Did someone say "hiring?" Google did. Oops. The company, which is stepping up hiring of engineers as it aims to make gains in mobile services and applications, wants to add about 6,000 employees this year. Well, it got 75,000 applications last week alone. That's more than the entire population of Palo Alto.

Nokia teaming with Microsoft? Does Nokia need Microsoft to battle the iPhone and Android? Investors seem to think so. Nokia's shares have risen more than 4 percent amid growing speculation that it will announce a software alliance with Microsoft, according to The New York Times . The scuttlebutt is that Nokia may adopt Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 operating system for its phones, either as a partner or a complete replacement for its own struggling operating systems. Analysts predict a collaboration between the two smartphone underdogs could help Nokia break into the American market.

The perfect plastic pair. Mashable has the inside scoop behind Mattel's quirky new marketing campaign: reuniting Barbie and Ken, star-crossed lovers who (apparently) split up on Valentine's Day seven years ago. The site notes that "The campaign comes just in time for the release of a new 'Sweet Talking Ken' doll that Mattel describes as 'the ultimate boyfriend for every occasion,' because he 'says whatever you want him to say!'" Between a dedicated site for the couple, Barbie's own YouTube channel, and Ken's Facebook page, Mattel has plastered useless information about the couple all around the Internet, like how Ken uses a MacBook and prefers Google Chrome. Perhaps it will persuade some kids to buy the dolls, but to the rest of us, it's frankly a tad bit nauseating.

Congress grills Zuckerberg. Facebook's frontman is in the hot seat. Read Write Web reports that Congressional Privacy Caucus co-chairs Reps. Edward Markey and Joe Barton sent Mark Zuckerberg a letter, questioning Facebook's plans to share user data with third party applications. The move would allow apps to access the current addresses and telephone numbers of users who neglect to change their security settings. Facebook has yet to respond. Download the letter here.

Verizon to "throttle" heavy data users. The carrier is bracing itself for a massive surge in network traffic ahead of next week's iPhone launch, according to The Wall Street Journal. Verizon said it will slow down, or "throttle," connections for customers who fall in the top 5 percent of bandwidth users, but only in areas where a user is affecting other customers. "This is clearly something we've been looking at for some time and introducing now," says Verizon Wireless spokesman Jeffrey Nelson, insisting it was unrelated to the iPhone launch.

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Last updated: Feb 4, 2011




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