Novel ideas. Here at Inc., we publish listings and reviews of the best business books, but what are the best business novels of all time? The Daily Beast lists the six best literary portrayals of the absurdity of the office grind, including books from Joseph Heller (Something Happened), Richard Yates (Revolutionary Road), and Hermann Melville (Bartelby the Scrivener). Check them out.
The most disruptive tech company you never heard of. Intel still dominates the PC chip market, but a strong competitor has crept onto the mobile microchip scene without setting off any alarms. ARM Holdings, though not a household name, now dominates the market for smartphone chips with designs used in 1.4 billion chips each quarter. The company's business strategy is noteworthy--rather than manufacturing their chips, they simply spend their time on design and license out those designs to other companies. Business Insider explains it this way: "Think of ARM's employees as a group of talented chefs that only makes recipes. They then sell those recipes to restaurants around the world. Each time a meal is cooked based on an ARM recipe ARM is paid. Continuing the metaphor, when a chef uses an ARM recipe, he can add his own garnishes, appetizers, and sides." Check out our guide on how to outsource your own R&D.
Rethinking the Retweet button. Almost a year into Twitter's "Project Retweet," the the Big Money wonders whether the company's solution (changing "RT" into a simple button) was worthwhile. Short answer: no. "The feature works in only one scenario: if you want to simply pass an idea around with no additional comment of your own." In order to add your own comment or abridge the tweet, users have to resort to doing things the old way. That confusion, in turn, extends to third-party developers (like HootSuite and Tweetie) since the majority of tweets don't come from the official twitter interface. Why kvetch about a minor function? Big Money argues that improving sharing is integral to Twitter's future. The blog's advice: take a page from the reblogging function on Tumblr, where the original post is automatically cited, but you're free to add or edit as you see fit.
GE launches energy innovation contest. Have a breakthrough idea related to renewable energies, smart grid technologies, or eco-building? Well, General Electric may have some cash for you, reports The Huffington Post. The company announced that it has launched with several VC firms a contest that could result in partnerships between itself and some promising start-ups. "A lot of these energy ideas are never going to see the light of day because [the companies] don't have the muscle to commercialize them," GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt told the website. GE is hoping that the contest can help change that for the five winners. Entrepreneurs have 10 weeks to enter their ideas, with the entry receiving the most user-submitted votes getting a $50,000 award. A panel of judges will select five winners in total who will each receive $100,000 cash prizes and be considered for either an equity investment from GE or a partnership agreement to develop a product or company.
How to go into business with your spouse. The Wall Street Journal ran a piece today on married couples who have decided to start businesses together. The article cites a Kauffman Foundation survey which found that eight percent of U.S. small businesses started in 2004 and still operating in 2008 are co-owned by husbands and wives. By profiling several of these couples, the Journal finds that "financial stress, long hours and pet peeves can undermine a marriage in such set ups. Couples say they have to draw firm boundaries among work and maritl roles, schedule weekends away whenever possible, and, above all, keep a sense of humor." Still not sold on the idea? Check out this article to help you weigh the pros and cons.
A 100 mpg car? That's the goal of Edison2, a start-up collection of former race car mechanics, engineers, and drivers based in Lynchburg, Virginia. The company, with $5 million in investment, is creating what's dubbed the Very Light Car, two of which are finalists in the Automotive X Prize, the competition seeking the world's first 100 mph car that can go at least 200 miles before refueling. The prize? Five million dollars. Or, as The Washington Post notes, "the real payoff could be what's discovered along the way - innovations that might one day help reduce the global consumption of oil and curtail greenhouse gas emissions."
Hey, traveller. If you haven't renewed your passport recently, you'll owe the State Department $35 more for a first-time passport. Renewals are now $110, up from $75. The new costs are based on the results of a 2009 study to determine the actual costs of providing passport services, including producing the booklets, implementing new technologies, and providing emergency services to U.S. citizens abroad.
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