How Steve Jobs does customer service. Personally—and with brevity. The New York Times tracks down some mundane Apple customer service e-mails sent by none other than the famously reclusive founder Steve Jobs. "Apple is a notoriously secretive company," writes Brad Stone. "But Mr. Jobs sometimes takes a more intimate approach to information-sharing — and when his e-mail messages pop up on the computer screens of random fans and critics, they can inspire ecstasy and awe." Jobs's emails are usually brief, with a tossed-off quality, but even a one word email from the founder—"No," was the entirety of one Jobs response to a question about the forthcoming iPad—is enough to send the lucky customer into a tizzy, and to generate lots positive attention in the blogosphere once the e-mail is inevitably posted there. Valleywag flags the post and suggests a few funny email possibilities.
How to wring more time out of your day. One common gripe among business owners is that there never seems to be enough time in the day. With the multiple hats they wear within the company, who can blame them? WebWorkerDaily has a post that includes some tactics that can be implemented to steal some of that time back. The article lists some common methods like cutting back on phone usage and reserving intervals on a calendar, but also advises readers to review meetings that may have exhausted their purpose, and to consider ending commitments that sap productivity. "Maybe it's time to step down from a nonprofit board position, or to ditch some bad clients," the post says. Click here for Inc.'s advice on showing difficult customers the door.
8 types of people to unfollow on Twitter or defriend on Facebook. Perhaps taking a cue from Inc.com's piece on the 8 types of people that belong on Twitter, Gawker compiles a list of the types of people to weed out of your friend list or scrub clean from your Twitter feed. For entrepreneurs that use those social networks as a marketing tool, it might be a good clue into what consumers (or friends) do and don't want to see online.
Google expands behavioral targeting . Never heard of remarketing or retargeting? You will. A year ago, Google started testing its own brand of "behavioral targeting" (tracking people's visits across different websites and serving them ads based on where they go). Now, AllThingsD reports, Google is taking its "remarketing" (what other companies refer to as retargeting) out of beta. Google's description of the service: a basketball team that puts a code on the "buy tickets" page of its website, so that the team can serve basketball ads every time a previous visitor comes to its site or when that visitor browses other sites through Google. AllThingsD thinks it sounds very innocuous. The rub? Google makes it extremely difficult to opt out. Watch for a strategy article on retargeting in our May issue.
Entrepreneurship by accident. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but it may also serve as the impetus behind a new business. The San Francisco Chronicle has a list of seven businesses started by "unintentional entrepreneurs," regular folks who started businesses as a way to solve some of life's everyday problems. For example, during a business trip in Reno, Nevada, Mario Moretti Polegato, punctured holes in his rubber-soled shoes as a way to relieve his sweaty feet. That idea gave birth to Geox shoes, a worldwide company that produces breathable shoes. Among the other companies that were born out of necessity are a sugar-free cookie line, a clothing line designed for nursing mothers, and a macho cupcake company called Mancakes.
Go Daddy to stop hosting new Chinese websites. Just a few days after Google closed down its Chinese website, Go Daddy, the Bob Parsons-led giant domain name registrar, announced that it would stop offering hosting services to new Chinese .cn sites. As the San Jose Mercury News reports, Go Daddy told a Congressional panel on Wednesday that it would rather lose new business than continue to have to turn over private information to the Chinese government about those who have created new websites. "We made the decision we didn't want to act as an agent for the Chinese government," the company's general counsel said.
Is the electric-car battery industry the next to collapse? A new report by the German consulting firm Roland Berger is forecasting that the electric car battery industry will collapse by 2017 (GreenBeat via peHUB). They expect that only one in 10 EV lithium ion battery makers will survive the decade. While this isn't an atypical fail rate for budding businesses, with so many opportunities in the electric car ecosystem you'd think there would be higher demand. The hidden perk of all these expired Energizers: the price of the batteries, which are some of the more expensive parts of an electric vehicle, could come way down.