Meet Google's Resident Entrepreneur
Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
Google's idea man. Craig Walker, the crafty upstart behind Google Voice, will be named Google Venture's first "entrepreneur-in-residence," The New York Times reports. Google bought Walker's call routing service, GrandCentral, for a reported $45 million in 2007 and turned it into what is now Google Voice. Essentially, as the Times writes, Walker will now be "paid to sit around and think about new ideas, and investors get the chance to join an entrepreneur early in a new project, betting that lightning will strike twice." What's more, he'll have the ability to bounce ideas off Google's experts in usability testing, back-end engineering, marketing and a host of other areas.
Cuba experiments with capitalism. With the country's economy floundering and a bloated government bureaucracy that employs 85 percent of the workforce, Cuban leaders are hoping that an experiment in capitalism will revive the ailing island nation. As the Washington Post reports, President Raul Castro recently fired 500,000 state workers and is encouraging them to find work in the private sector or even start their own businesses. As no plans were announced for any capital injections or small business loan programs, the laid-off employees will have a difficult task ahead of them. But Cuba did recently change their laws to allow businesses like barbers, taxi drivers, and beauticians to work for themselves. As one economist explains, "It's a big deal, a big breakthrough, because for the first time the government acknowledges that the private sector, the small-business operators, are not bit players but a strategic part of the Cuban economy, that they are the solutions, that they will help save Cuba."
No Facebook, only textbooks. That's what students at a central Pennsylvania university have been living with for the past week. As The Associated Press writes, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology this week blocked on-campus access to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. "Provost Eric Darr said the exercise that began Monday is not a punishment for the school's 800 students, nor a precursor to a ban," the AP writes, "but a way for people to think critically about the prevalence of social media." Sounds more like a publicity stunt to us.
Want to do business with Bank of America? A new online portal called Supplier Connection is making it easier for small businesses to land corporate contracts and play in the big leagues. Through the portal, small businesses can submit applications to become vendors for major players like Citigroup, Bank of America and Pfizer. According to the Wall Street Journal, the corporations involved in this initiative dole out a combined $150 billion in contracts every year. And even if an application gets rejected, all small businesses are entitled to free feedback that can help them improve for the next time around.
Your (digital) newsstand. Will expressions like "reading the paper" be soon defunct? Bloomberg reports that Apple is in negotiations with publishers to create an iBook-esque platform for the iPad, separate from the app store, in which users can purchase and download periodicals and newspapers. Apple claims this effort will help increase magazine subscriptions for the publishers, and, of course, help sales of the iPad. One hurdle Apple will face, however, is deciding who will land control of the subscriber's data, and what percentage of revenue Apple will take in from sales. Expect to see the Android, Kindle and other tablets enter the fray, too.
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