The new rules of starting up. Plus, analyzing the start-up "blubble"—yes, blubble—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.
Entrepreneurs, defined. Merriam-Webster defines an entrepreneur as "one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise;" however, Business Insider columnist James Altucher believes this definition is inadequate. Altucher, who has started, invested in, and advised dozens of businesses, has created his own definitive 100 rules for being an entrepreneur. Most of the rules on this comprehensive list address the initial challenges of launching a new business—but some rules also apply to those larger, more stable, companies as well. Which rules do you follow? What's missing from the list? Let us know below.
Is the start-up bubble just "blubble?" That's the word Michael Arrington is using, at least. In a TechCrunch piece published this weekend, Arrington asserts that the state of the start-up world is a far-cry from the 1999 to 2000 years of cash and burn. "This isn't a bubble," he writes. "It's more like a Blubble. A blubble? Yes, a blubble. Because there is a lot of whining going on." Arrington asserts that start-ups 11 years ago were encouraged to raise hundreds of millions in venture capital and spend it on anything remotely useful, while today's start-ups are much leaner. High valuations on Facebook and Twitter have stoked the "bubble" buzz, he says, but start-ups are hardly raising enough funds to start using the B-word officially. Well, most start-ups at least. "Absolutely no one is telling start-ups to raise and spend money as fast as they can. With the possible exception of Color. I have no idea what those guys are up to over there in crazy picture-sharing land."
Happy employees work here. In the mist of a gradual economic recovery, how do you retain employees? Fortune highlights the best practices from three companies that made this year's 100 Best Companies to Work For list: Zappos, DreamWorks Animation, and Teach for America. Some of the perks include a live-and-work-from-anywhere policy, free dry-cleaning, meals and medical care on campus, and the ability of veto hiring decisions if a job candidate doesn't fit the company culture. One recruiting manager, Christa Foley, says: "We're looking for people who don't take themselves too seriously." The company she works for interviews job candidates in rooms with weird names, such as an Oprah-style talk show set where candidates sit on a couch next to their HR host.
The stalemate is over. Twitter is staying in San Francisco, the company announced on its blog Friday, the New York Timesreports. The news puts to rest a months-long stand-off over during which Twitter threatened to leave its home by the bay, and officials debated whether Twitter should be allowed to benefit from a special tax exemption to San Francisco's only-in-the-state payroll tax. In order to take the break, Twitter is moving into a district of the Central Market neighborhood newly zoned as payroll-tax-exempt. When? "We don't yet have a timeline for our relocation, but we expect we will move into our new space in mid-2012. We can't wait," Sean Garrett posted for Twitter. What's yet to be seen is how the city reacts to similar relocation threats from other local, growing tech companies such as Zynga.
Redmond rethinks employee comp. In an effort to keep from employees from departing for start-ups, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer has unveiled new rules governing employee pay, according to an internal company memo published by GeekWire. The retooled compensation scheme would raise base salaries while reducing deferred compensation awarded in the form of stock. In addition, Microsoft's performance-rating system will be retooled, and special consideration will be paid to "early and mid-level R&D, mid-level company-wide and certain geographies," the memo says. In a post titled "What Microsoft CEO Ballmer Gets Wrong About Employee Compensation," Mogulite's Amy Tennery observes a.) the shout-out for oft-maligned middle managers is surprising; and b.) "For the less-stock-more-cash strategy to be a boon to employees, Microsoft shares would need to decline significantly over time."
Big gains for tablets predicted. When the iPad was introduced a year ago, critics complained it was simply a bigger version of the iPhone—without the actual ability to make a phone call. The iPad and its competitors have since proven themselves highly useful both for consumer and for commercial use. Goldman Sachs forecasts tablets will account for 17 percent of all wireless data demand by 2020, as reported by All Things Digital this morning. Smartphones remain far more prevalent than their larger counterparts (they can make phone calls after all), but this data proves tablets are fast becoming less a luxury and more a necessity for consumer and commercial use.
Marketing begins at home. Sure, customers research large purchases, such as electronics or automobiles, before heading to the store or showroom. Research shows that "coming out of the recession, consumers are more scrupulous about researching their everyday products such as diapers and detergent, too," the Wall Street Journalreports. More than one-fifth of consumers research food and beverage purchases online, one-third research pet products, and nearly 40 percent research baby products, data from consulting firm WSL Strategic Retail shows. Is this an early knell for the end of flashy in-store shelf displays and aisle-end promotions? Not necessarily, but it does mean retail stores and brands are boosting their investments in reaching consumers online first, including on social media. Eighty-three percent of consumer-product companies say they plan to increase their investments in shopper marketing over the next three years, according to a Booz & Co. survey.
Are you a winner? Eager to learn more about the ins-and-outs of social media and how to apply them to your business? An American Express-sponsored Facebook contest could land you (and four other small companies) a trip to Facebook's offices in Palo Alto, California, as well as $2,500 in Facebook ad credits and a $20,000 check, ReadWriteWeb reports. How can you enroll? Why the AmEx OPEN Facebook page, of course.