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President Obama in the Valley

What exactly happened at the president's CEO huddle? Plus, Apple's App Store investigated and the rest of the day's news for entrepreneurs.
President Barack Obama joins a toast with Technology Business Leaders at a dinner in Woodside, California
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Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:

What happened in Silicon Valley? President Obama woke up in San Francisco this morning after a meeting with a dozen Silicon Valley executives last night, including Apple chief executive Steve Jobs, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. What happened? Due to a all-but-complete lack of cell phone data service out of the Woodside, California, home (that of venture capitalist John Doerr) where the meeting was held, tweets and other social media updates were failing, the Washington Post reports. Yes, even Twitter couldn't tweet. When asked for a meeting update over Twitter, Twitter CEO Dick Costello replied "@jess sadly no. i was in a part of the bay area where the tweets cant get in or out!" At least White House press secretary Jay Carney released a statement on the mini-summit, which was closed to reporters: "The President believes that American companies like these have been leading by investing in the creativity and ingenuity of the American people, creating cutting-edge new technologies and promoting new ways to communicate." Carney says President Obama specifically discussed "his proposals to invest in research and development and expand incentives for companies to grow and hire" and double exports over five years. We can't wait for more reaction from Silicon Valley. For now, the White House is already posting a couple of great photos of the dinner meeting. Check out who's got the prime seats next to Obama.

Give the White House a piece of your mind. In keeping with President Obama's recent push for innovation, the White House is now asking small business owners to share both their experiences starting businesses and their "ideas for how America can continue to grow the economy." On the White House website, you can answer questions about how the government can help small businesses secure the financing they need, what exporting obstacles your business has faced, and what your business stands to gain as the clean energy sector grows. The so-called "Advise the Advisors" initiative comes just a week before President Obama is scheduled to speak with small business owners at the Winning the Future Forum on Small Business in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Justice Department eyes Apple. Earlier this week, Apple Inc. announced its controversial terms for media companies that wish to sell content on Apple devices. Now, according to The Wall Street Journal, U.S. antitrust enforcers have begun preliminary investigations into Apple's new subscription service. The payment system, which funnels media companies' customers into the payment system for its iTunes and App Stores, plans to take a 30 percent cut from each subscription bought through the App Store. "The costs don't leave any room for a sensible business model," said Jon Irwin, president of Rhapsody International Inc., an online music subscriptions via an app. The Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission are also interested in Apple's rule that demands companies with digital subscriptions on Apple devices to make that same content available for sale through the App Store at the best available price. Representatives for Apple, the Justice Department, and the FTC all declined to comment.

Small-business optimism on the rise. After hunkering down these past few years, the nation's entrepreneurs feel like they're finally poised for growth. The Wall Street Journal reports that most small-business owners are bullish on this year's outlook for their companies, with many calling current conditions "excellent or good," according to a Citibank survey. But that may not translate into job creation, since nearly 80 percent of owners plan to keep the same number of employees over the next year.

Leadership clash at Time Inc.? After less than six months of being Time Inc.'s chief executive, Jack Griffin is leaving. So soon? The New York Times reports that Jeffrey Bewkes, chief executive of Time Warner, says it was Griffin's leadership style that clashed with the company's tradition, so much so that the situation "had become unworkable." Griffin, who spend most of his days leading Meredith's magazine division before joining the Time Inc. team, declined to comment, but someone close to him spoke anonymously about the situation saying that Griffin's exit wasn't about his managerial style but the fact that Time Inc. is so set in its ways, which made it impossible for him to reorganize the company appropriately.

Clearing out office space. AOL is preparing for the Huffington Post merger in the same way that any conglomerate company would—by deciding which employees to layoff first. Business Insider reports that AOL has enlisted the services of the international consulting firm Booz & Company to decide which employees to keep and which to let go due to some AOL positions overlapping existing positions in the Huffington Post camp. These so-called "restructuring changes" will reportedly cost AOL $20 million in 2011. No word yet on if the AOL bigwigs will send Rebecca in to oversee the layoff process.

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IMAGE: Pete Souza
Last updated: Feb 18, 2011

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.




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