TVs up the Wi-Fi ante. Plus, Four Loko's life after death, Facebook follies, 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:
Kiss your Wii goodbye. An emerging trend highlighted at this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is the notion that TV manufacturers will break into the highly profitable world of video games. Utilizing TVs' built-in WiFi technology, companies such as LG and Samsung hope to offer consumers the ability to play video games without the need for a game console like PlayStation or Xbox. According to the Wall Street Journal, TV manufactures are hoping these video game partnerships will boost declining margins on their TV's, but there's no set timeline yet when they'll be made available to the public. These partnerships could also signal trouble to video game producers: "The direct availability of casual, simple-to-play games on the TV could test videogame console makers, which rely on consumers to pay big bucks for a console and then buy games over the life of the device," the Journal notes.
Which business plans rocked 2010? You know which companies stood out last year (Groupon, anyone?), but which business plans behind the breakout companies really stood out as game-changing? TechCrunch republished today a presentation on biz concepts that have reached their tipping point by Nick De Mey from Board of Innovation. It details the structures behind companies like Spotify (ad-based freemium), PayWithaTweet.com (pay with the value of your social network) and Inc. 30-under-30 company AirBnB.com (a one-sided matchmaking platform). What business model do you think is the most likely to break out into mainstream in 2011?
Learning from legacy. Famously aggressive entrepreneur Donald J. Tyson of Tyson Foods passed away yesterday, The New York Times reports. Apart from his lion-like legacy, Tyson leaves behind a valuable lesson from his uphill climb to creating the multi-billion dollar food enterprise. For one, "Mr. Tyson was a risk-taking, bare-knuckle businessman who bought out dozens of competitors, skirted the edge of the law and transformed a Depression-era trucking-and-feed venture into a global enterprise," the Times writes, all after dropping out of college in 1952. With Donald at the helm, Tyson Foods grew to encompass 60 processing plants, 6,000 different products, and $5.2 billion in sales by 1995, when he stepped down as president. Though his "grow or die" antics ran the company into some unsavory arrangements, Tyson was responsible for much of the company's exponential success. And today, leave it to Forbesto point out that Tyson's death came just six days after the estate tax went back into effect.
A second life for Four Loko. Sure, energy drink Four Loko, amongst others, was pulled from shelves after the FDA cracked down on drinks that mix alcohol and caffeine. But that doesn't mean the controversial elixirs are destined to be dumped down a drain. Instead, wholesalers from Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, and other East Coast states started sending cases of the high-alcohol, caffeinated malt beverages to MXI Environmental Services in Virginia to be recycled into ethanol and other products, the AP reports. MXI is one of three facilities in the U.S. that recycle ethanol. "We're equipped to process four truckloads a day, and we're at full capacity," said Brian Potter, vice president of operations at MXI's facility in Abingdon, Virginia. "There are about 30 different products involved, and we've only seen a couple of them at this point. It could go on for several months."
Predict your pageviews? Leagues of bloggers and SEO scavengers are about to make a New York City start-up very successful. The New York Observer reports that Visual Revenue has developed software that can tell you which articles to place on your homepage in order maximize traffic to your site. According to CEO Dennis Mortensen, the recommendations provided by Visual Revenue via their Front Page Automation Platform resulted in a 29 percent traffic boost for its beta publishers in November. The company also lists NY Daily News as being one of their clients. The question is, will potential revenue pulled in by lesser publications offset the cost of the service itself? Who cares about that stuff when you've got great traffic numbers to brag about, right?
Jon Stewart slams Facebook-Goldman deal. The funnyman took a bite out of Facebook on The Daily Show last night, wryly commenting on the irony of CEO Mark Zuckerberg's reluctance to disclose financial information: "Mark Zuckerberg doesn't want to be transparent. The guy whose success was founded on mining our personal data. The guy who shares my photos with the whole world unless I change my privacy settings every half-an-hour?!" Watch the video here.
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 senior writer at Inc. @Lagorio