Love in Start-up Land
Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
Meet the copreneurs. Here's a Valentines Day fun fact: About one third of family businesses are husband-and-wife teams. The Wall Street Journal says "if love is a battlefield, then running a business with your valentine means living on the front lines 24/7." Fortunately for lovebirds in an entrepreneurial nest, it also illustrates that couples with a super-solid existing marriage and complimentary personalities can indeed make it work. If you're looking for a little cheer or inspiration, check out the Journal's profiles of entrepreneurial couples. Or revisit some of Inc. contributing editor Meg Cadoux Hirshberg's columns on the impact of entrepreneurial businesses on relationships and families.
Is Google's search slipping? Could Google, the titan of the lucrative search market, finally have some real competition? In December 2010, Google owned about 70 percent of the search market, way ahead of Microsoft's Bing. But looking into the future, could its strategy be off-point? "It's not often that Google waves the white flag, but last month the search advertising giant capitulated in its attempt to enter the real estate search market," wrote Jeffrey R. Rayport for BusinessWeek. Google's dominance on the Web is attributed to its powerful "horizontal" strategy, that is, anything can be Googled. But Rayport argues that specialized sites like Realtor.com and Zillow.com are giving Google a run for its money. "Google's humbling in the property sector indicates that the real threat is not from such Goliaths as Microsoft, but from a myriad of Davids: specialized search engines tailored to conduct 'vertical' search tasks," he writes. "The question is: How long will the good times last?"
The DNA of a successful start-up. Ever wonder what separates the truly great start-ups from the ones that are D.O.A? The people behind Silicon Valley's blackbox seed accelerator apparently did, which is why they're launching the Startup Genome Project in an attempt to "crack the code" of innovation. Comparing itself to Pandora, the Startup Genome Project wrote in a blog post, "We've created a taxonomy for startups, which allows us to classify them into different types." The Project encourages entrepreneurs to fill out a survey about their start-ups in return for business advice and recommendations. Responses to the survey also help the Project "type startups," according to a press release. In a few months, the Project hopes to release the results of their research, followed by a software product "leveraging the Startup Genome."
Meet "milkshake marketing." It's Clay Christensen's concept of marketing not toward a segment of consumer, but toward a job a product does. In his MBA course at Harvard Business School, Christensen tells a story about a chain restaurant using a customer survey to tailor marketing of a milkshake, which didn't increase sales at all, Harvard Business Review reports. But when the company employed researchers to deduce the "job" buyers were "hiring" the milkshake to do, the restaurant was able to make a more perfect product tailored to customers' desires.
Intel invests in mobile tech start-ups. According to TechCrunch, Intel's global investment organization Intel Capital has invested a total of $26 million into six technology start-ups. The companies—Android software integrator Borqs; mapping platform CloudMade; open-source video platform Kaltura; image-sensor developers InVisage Technologies; online authentication software developer SecureKey Technologies; and communications platform VisionOSS Solutions—each specialize in mobile platform technology, which Intel plans to develop and integrate into its own technology. "These six investments represent key growth areas of the mobile ecosystem and will contribute to bringing important features to the next generation of mobile devices," says Intel president and Intel Capital executive vice president Arvind Sodhani. Intel Capital has invested $9.8 billion in more than 1,100 companies since 1991.
Zynga's valuation to exceed $7 billion? The social-gaming company is hunting for $250 million in funding, The Wall Street Journal reports. Such a deal could value the three-year-old start-up at more than $7 billion. But Zynga is making money, earning $400 million in profits last year. So why raise another massive round? The analysts' take is that it appears banks are hounding Zynga—"the latest sign of an investor frenzy around a small class of large, fast-growing Web start-ups focused on the consumer market that have yet to go public."
A cheaper iPhone soon? After unveiling its new iPhone 4 last week, Apple's gearing up for something more. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company is developing a less-expensive version of the iPhone. The new phone is reported to be half the size of the new iPhone 4 and will be available to customers for as little as $199. The low-priced phone would make Apple a strong competitor to rival companies that mass produce cheaper smartphones. There's no confirmed date to when the new line will be introduced but analyst anticipate a summer release. Also in the works is Apple's online storage service, MobileMe. This service the company is considering offering free is reported to "serve as locker for personal memorabilia such as photo, music and videos."
Minority report. News flash: You (yes, you!) are in the minority. According to the digital ranking service comScore, 27 percent of Americans own smartphones. While that may seen like a relatively low number, it's actually a 10 percent year-over-year increase, reports I4U News. Another shocking fact is that Samsung is the No. 1 smartphone original equipment manufacturer in the United States. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't appear that the iPhone is poised to take over the world after all. Yet.
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CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer
Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.