Lower-than-expected public offerings, Ashton Kutcher strikes again, why every start-up needs a COO, and the rest of the day's entrepreneur news.
Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today.
Is the IPO market hot or not? With investors clamoring for new tech public offerings such as LinkedIn and Yandex, it seems strange that chip maker Freescale Semiconductor Holdings debuted its offering at $18, reflecting weak investor demand, the New York Times Dealbook reports. The lower-than-expected offering comes as Delphi Automotive, an auto parts maker that has "languished in bankruptcy for years" filed for an IPO. The company listed its preliminary fund-raising goal at $100 million. While that number is still flexible over coming weeks, the expected price of public shares of Spirit Airlines, which make their debut on Nasdaq Friday, have also fallen—from $16 to $12 each this week.
Ashton Kutcher strikes again! Hot on the heels of his investment advice at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York, Ashton Kutcher reveals he has made a "significant investment" in vacation-booking website Airbnb, reports the L.A. Times. "For many, Ashton Kutcher is an actor and heart throb, but in the tech scene he's made his mark as a branding and new media expert with an eye for great ideas and a fearless approach to new markets," Airbnb said in a blog post this morning. "To the Airbnb team, he is more than an icon –- he is now our ally and trusted advisor." The "No Strings Attached" actor has recently been gaining street cred in the start-up world, with a record of investing in tech companies like Skype, which Microsoft just bought for a staggering $8.5 billion.
Remember drinking that Coke? Well it didn't happen. What if your company's advertising was so good that it could actually implant false memories in people's brains? According to Wired, it's not impossible. Writer Jonah Lehrer recalls drinking Coke from a glass bottle at a high school football game but realizes that would have been impossible; Glass bottles were not permitted on the field. "So where did this sentimental scene starring soda come from?" he writes. "My guess is a Coca-Cola ad, one of those lavishly produced clips in which the entire town is at the big football game and everyone is clean cut, good looking and holding a tasty Coke product...is less about the virtues of the product (who cares if Coke tastes better than Pepsi?) and more about associating the drink with a set of intensely pleasurable memories."
Why every company needs a COO. One of the great fallacies of start-ups is they don't think they have room, or need, for a chief operating officer. Nonsense, says Firas Raouf, a partner at VC-fund OpenView in Boston. In a column for VentureBeat, Raouf explains why hiring a COO makes sense for every company, especially early-stage tech companies. While many CEOs wish to be "close to the business" and control the entire operation, hiring a COO to handle the execution takes pressure off the chief executive, allowing him or her to focus on strategy. Raouf explains that a COO's true value is to be a complement to the CEO, creating a yin-yang division of responsibilities that provides structure and harmony to the company.
What's all the excitement about data? "Ubiquity of personal data through social media has created a new landscape for American business," says Laurent Ohana, chairman of Parkview Ventures, a merchant bank focused on technology, in this piece from DigiDay. Many of the biggest venture capital firms are investing in data start-ups that seek to optimize consumer insights. The value is in helping understand behavior, as well as define product lines, digital campaigns, and brand identity.
ALLISON FASS is deputy editor of Inc.com. A longtime business journalist at Forbes and The New York Times, she has also held roles in venture capital and innovation at Hearst Interactive Media and digital strategy at a start-up consultancy. @alliefass