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Obama, Venture Capitalist-in-Chief?

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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:

Meet the nation's venture capitalist-in-chief. That's what Businessweek labels President Obama in an article dissecting his significant commitment to clean technology investments. It seems to be a title that's well-deserved: By the end of next year, the White House plans to invest more than $50 billion in thousands of clean tech companies through tax credits, low-interest guaranteed loans, and grants. That includes a $5 billion gamble on electric cars and related components. "That level of government intervention in a selected business sector adds up to a new American industrial policy - and it's stirring a heated debate among economists and academics," the article says. "[Obama] envisions thriving new industries putting Americans to work churning out green products such as high-performances batteries, electric cars, low-energy lights, super-efficient air conditioners, wind turbines, and solar panels." One thing's for sure: Those are definitely jobs the country needs.

Drop that book. That's the advice serial entrepreneur Rob Walling has for aspiring start-up entrepreneurs who are probably nose-deep in the latest Malcolm Gladwell book right now. According to Walling, while books like The Tipping Point are interesting and fun to read, they most likely don't deliver any actionable information that can directly help you launch your business. As he puts it, "Reading a business book that does not have a direct impact on what you're going to be working on in the next one to two months is about as productive as watching Lost. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that for entrepreneurs, reading business books is the new television." Instead of books, Walling recommends setting up meet-up groups with other entrepreneurs to discuss your business. (Via ReadWriteWeb.)

The story behind a legendary video game. In the 22 years since its first release, the Madden NFL video game has generated $3 billion. But for Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins, early on, his dream of creating a football video game seemed destined for failure. For starters, John Madden wasn't his first choice. Or even his second. And production of the game took six times longer than expected. Yet, as you'll read in this ESPN feature, the project that was known inside EA as Trip's Folly ended up proving everyone wrong.

Foursquare gets a facelift. But does the cosmetic change hint at the future for location-based social game? TechCrunch speculates that today's redesign of profile pages, with a cleaner list of Days Out, Check-Ins, and Things Done, could indicate that "Things Done" might be a key new metric. Meanwhile, Google CEO Eric Schmidt told reporters he remembers when Google bought Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley's previous - and strikingly similar - company, Dodgeball. Crowley's called working with Google "incredibly frustrating," but Schmidt apparently has no hard feelings. "Dodgeball was a good company," he said. "Would Google have built Foursquare earlier? I don't know. Those are always sort of missed opportunities."

Strategies for finding good start-up ideas. Penelope Trunk, the founder of the Brazen Careerist, a social network to help young people manage their careers, and one of our 19 bloggers you should bookmark right now, has a post on how idea-starved entrepreneurs can jog their foggy brains. In addition to keeping eyes peeled for emotional needs in the marketplace, asking lots of questions about a lot of different businesses, an entrepreneur has to learn that no idea is precious. Rob Adams goes even further, writing for Inc. that no idea is valuable without the execution to back it up.

Sex, drugs, and supergeeks. Yes, we're talking about the Facebook movie, The Social Network. FastCompany has gotten its hands on "what seems to be the almost final entire script," which includes a lot of Mark Zuckerberg's girlfriend calling him a failure, geek, and, well, every curse in the book. There's also a scene straight out of Boogie Nights. Time to watch that trailer again!

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Last updated: Aug 6, 2010

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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