Angry Birds lands $42 million in funding, AOL announces more layoffs, 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.
Angry Birds has some Happy Developers. Angry Birds, the insanely popular app played by about 40 million people around the world, just received an investment to the tune of $42 million. "This investment will give Rovio wings," Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstroem told MSNBC. Zennstroem, who was named to the board of Rovio, the game's developer, also noted that "Angry Birds is one of the fastest-growing online products I've seen, growing even faster than Skype, and the company has done a brilliant job of extending it across different platforms and merchandise." Perhaps the popularity of Angry Birds serves as yet another reminder to investors that the app market is hardly a fly-by-night phenomenon.
Are you a Zoom-In or Zoom-Out Leader? We all know how the zoom-in/zoom-out feature works on Google Maps. In the latest issue of the Harvard Business Review, the leadership expert Rosabeth Moss Kanter uses the zoom feature as a metaphor for how people lead. Some CEOs (she cites BP's hapless Tony Hayward as an example) zoom in to the point that they cannot comprehend the larger consequences of the decisions they make. But the answer isn't simply to zoom out and focus on the big-picture 100 percent of the time. "Zooming out is appropriate for top leaders. But it also has traps," Kanter writes. "For one thing, key stakeholders might want to see immediate results and know that the details are right before they support long-term big-picture thinking. That's why broad visions need to be matched by small wins that demonstrate feasibility. The trick, then, is to zoom in and zoom at at regular intervals. "President Bill Clinton's political genius was that he could ‘feel your pain' while putting events into historical and international context, zooming in and out quickly in a single conversation or speech,' Kanter observes. 'That dynamic capability is the essence of great strategic thinking.'
China's entrepreneurial idols. There's a growing class of billionaires in China—115 total—and the most beloved of the bunch are those behind tech start-ups. Robin Li, the man behind China's popular search engine Baidu, has attained near-celebrity status on social media. Being rich is still seen as attaining glory, Reuters reports.
How to find the perfect employee. As many entrepreneurs find out the hard way, hiring the wrong people—especially in the early stages of a company—can spell out disaster for the organization. Sometimes it's because the entrepreneur doesn't have much experience in bringing a team together; other times it's just because they're not confident enough in the business. Ben Lerer, founder and CEO of Thrillist.com, found himself in that latter category. "In an attempt to cover my insecurity, I often found that I was trying to sell Thrillist and myself to potential employees, always focusing on the perks of the job and the momentum of the company -- and not painting a realistic picture of the hard work that the job entailed," he wrote in a blog post for OPEN Forum titled "How I Hire and Why I Suck Less at It These Days." Thrillist now has about 100 employees, and Lerer says he's learned his lesson. "I learned the hard way that the last thing you want to do is hire people who aren't 100 percent sure that they want to work for you or 100 percent clear on what they're getting themselves into....Now, rather than painting a rosy picture of all the fun they'll have at Thrillist, I spend more time trying to convince candidates not to take the job; explaining that it's going to be harder than they think and more pressure than they want."
AOL layoffs begin today. As promised by CEO Tim Armstrong, AOL will be laying off hundreds of employees starting today. This round of layoffs is substantially smaller than the company's last, when 2,30 were canned. According to All Things Digital, the majority of the cuts with be within AOL's editorial and media product groups; mostly because of the overlap caused by the company's recent acquisition of The Huffington Post.
Will Goodreads outdo Oprah's Book Club? Most likely. Goodreads, the social network for people to share, review, and rate books they've read and want to read, will now offer a new service: recommending books based on taste. The New York Timesreports Goodreads acquired another start-up, Discovereads.com, to use the company's algorithms that analyze user information, including data about books the user enjoyed and books that people with similar tastes have enjoyed, to recommend books for the user. "This will give the casual reader a quick answer to 'What should I read first?'" said Otis Chandler, founder and CEO of Goodreads. Goodreads makes money from commissions when people click to an online bookstore to buy a book, and has raised $2 million from investors.
Don't freak out! Fred Wilson, a principal and VC at the New York-based firm Union Square Ventures, thinks that you should chill out. In an anecdote posted on his blog, Musings of a VC in NYC, Wilson recalls receiving a voicemail from the CEO of a company in which he was closing a deal at an odd hour of the night. Frightened that this phone call was ominous of the demise of the upcoming deal, Wilson endured a night of restless sleep without notifying the Chairman and CEO of his company. It turns out that the CEO of the other company called about something totally unrelated to the project. Hence, the deal was still on! Wilson's colleagues thanked him for not sharing the voicemail with them, thus preventing a late night group panic wrought of fear and anxiety. The moral of the story? If you're going to panic over an unconfirmed issue, do not share it with your colleagues. As Wilson explains, "freakouts should not go viral."