Twitter suitors are talking in huge figures, but is it all one big bubble? Plus, a "goon" entrepreneur, unemployment drops, 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:
Twitter's sky-high valuation. Is the microblogging start-up really worth $10 billion? The eye-popping figure is being bandied about in Silicon Valley, according to The Wall Street Journal, which reports that both Google and Facebook have engaged in "low-level talks" recently to snap up Twitter. Could such rich valuations—Facebook at $50 billion, Groupon at $6 billion and the Huffington Post at $315 million—lead to another tech bubble? A warning from Ethan Kurzweil of Bessemer Venture Partners: "Are these prices justifiable based on financial multiples? No."
Turning your site into a profit center. Ben Lerer, founder of Thrillist.com and Inc. TV veteran, knows a thing or two about making money off of digital content. After all, Thrillist has millions of subscribers, a devoted following, and, following the recent acquisition of JackThreads.com, a bona-fide commerce arm. In a recent post for OPEN Forum, Lerer discusses the need to monetize your site, even if that means going outside your traditional business model. "In the future, the smartest content companies are going to find ways to leverage their big audience to make money in commerce," Lerer writes. "What those guys would be well-served to think about is how best to otherwise monetize the audience they have, and I don't think selling content on the iPad is the answer." The same theory can be applied to commerce companies, that is, building legitimate content to keep audiences interested, Lerer says.
Unemployment reaches lowest levels in three years. Even with severe weather and snowstorms causing temporary layoffs over the last month, unemployment levels continue to steadily decrease. The New York Times reports unemployment applications sunk to their lowest point since July 2008. Unemployment applications currently stand at about 383,000, significantly lower than the recession's low point in March 2009, when applications peaked at 651,000. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment applications are a good barometer of companies' willingness to hire, but applications would need to sit consistently below 375,000 to indicate a significant decline in the unemployment rate. Nearly 14 million people remain out of work, and 9.4 million people continue to receive unemployment aid.
Maybe the clothes do make the business woman. Months ago, the media had a field day after Swiss Bank UBS AG crafted a detailed 43-page employee code instructing staff members on how to "dress to impress." Now, Harvard Business Review reports that the Center for Work-Life Policy has produced new research showing that the Swiss bank wasn't too far off by suggesting a dress code for women. After surveying over a thousand males and females working in corporate America, more than half of the women agreed that not only does a woman in a high position need to dress conservatively, but that clothing and success go hand-in-hand. The question is who's responsible for providing business women with "constructive feedback" on what to wear and how to wear it. Perhaps their male colleagues? Yeah, right.
From penalty box to corporate suite. It's an unspoken truth: professional athlete entrepreneurs are usually just glorified spokespeople. But today's OPEN Forum has the story of Zenon Konopka, a center for the New York Islanders, who, according to the story, is as passionate about his two businesses, Prime Wine Products and Pure Press Oil, as he is about hockey. As one colleague tells OPEN Forum, "He calls before his pregame naps to talk business, and he texts me at two in the morning with ideas. If he didn't put money in, I would have paid him to be a part of this." Konopka first learned about business as a kid growing up in Ontario, selling produce at a local market, and later, buying a local pub with his family. Now, Konopka is hoping to keep the tradition of running a family business alive. He tells OPEN Forum, "I want to build a business big enough and profitable enough that I have the luxury to have my friends and family involved in the business, working in the business, and able to grow with the business."
BBC's unnoffical archivist. In a effort save money, the BBC announced a couple of months ago that it has plans to cut 172 websites. But fear not. An anonymous good samaritan has taken the time to archive the doomed sites in a BitTorrent file for public access. The cost for copying, archiving, and redistributing the online content from all 172 websites? A mere $3.99. "The purpose of this project is to show how the entire 172 public facing websites that are earmarked for deletion have been copied, archived, distributed and republished online - independently - for the price of a cup of Starbucks coffee," according to the anonymous archivist.