The Pirate's Life for You
Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
Risky business. Michael Arrington recently told us that entrepreneurs are his "rock stars." In a new TechCrunch post, he Arrington goes a step further, likening them to an even more rebellious group -- pirates. According to Arrington, both pirates and entrepreneurs have skewed concepts of risk. "The payouts for starting a business are just terrible when you account for risk," he writes, and as far as 17th century pirates go, "There's a very small chance you'd make a fortune from some prize, and a very large chance you'd drown, or be hung, or shot, or whatever." Instead, Arrington believes, the real payoff for both pirates and entrepreneurs is the adventurous lifestyle both career paths afford them. "I don't care if you're a billionaire," Arrington writes. "If you haven't started a company, really gambled your resume and your money and maybe even your marriage to just go crazy and try something on your own, you're no pirate and you aren't in the club."
The truth on small business tax cuts. Over at The New York Times's You're the Boss blog, Robb Mandelbaum evaluates President Obama's comments from last week, in which he asserted that over the last few years he and Congress have "passed...16 different tax cuts for America's small businesses." If that number sounds a little high to you, it should, says Mandelbaum. "[H]alf of these 'tax cuts' are actually incentives that reward businesses for taking actions they might not otherwise take -- in other words, you have to spend money to get the tax benefit."
Farewell, old eBay design. Years ago, eBay emerged as the premier auction site on the web. Though perhaps little has changed in its status, even less has changed in its design. Now, as eBay faces mounting competition from e-commerce sites like Amazon, The Wall Street Journal reports that company execs have announced a site redesign to launch this week. The overhaul is meant to boost sales - just in time for the holiday season. "Behind the new look, which includes eBay's first major home-page redesign in nearly four years, is an urgent effort to close a technology gap that has caused the onetime Web pioneer to lag behind rivals like Amazon.com," the article notes. One tool the company plans to utilize in the new design is the "suggestion" model popularized by Amazon, an algorithm that has been known to eerily predict a user's desires, or, more often, get it wrong completely.
Get ready for Blekko. Remember those upstart search engines that set out to be Google killers? That's OK, we don't either. Gaining a significant share in search, a market that generates billions of dollars annually in advertising revenue, is a long shot. But here's why Blekko, a new search engine that launched publicly this morning, is worth a crack, according to The San Francisco Chronicle: It offers search results from only useful, trustworthy sites. Using "slashtags," or search filters, Blekko scours 3 billion web pages it considers worthwhile, but shows only the best results on any given topic. Searching "cure for cold," for example, generates a limited amount of links to sites like WebMD and MedicinePlus, which is affiliated to the National Institutes of Health. Google couldn't copy that selling point even if it wanted to, analysts say. "The goal is to clean up web search and get all the spam out of it," says Rich Skrenta, Blekko's co-founder who spent his career working on human-edited web directories and has been quietly building Blekko since 2007.
Talking turkey. Sure, 25 million visitors check out FoodNetwork.com in November, and AllRecipes.com gets about 20 million visitors. But when it comes time for the Super Bowl of cooking, Thanksgiving, Butterball is customer service king. That's because executives at Butterball say they believe that, in addition to selling turkey, the company's strength is in its customer service. The Butterball advice line fields 10,000 calls on Thanksgiving day alone. Sure, it answers email questions as well, but the personal touch "isn't lost on those who follow the food industry," the Chicago Tribune reports.
How to build an entrepreneurial community. Having helped make Boulder, Colorado an entrepreneurial hotspot with his TechStars program, Brad Feld knows a few things about building a start-up friendly community. For those looking to follow his lead, Feld has some tips on his blog for anyone looking to create an entrepreneurial community in their own hometown. However, before you start turning your city into the next Silicon Valley, Feld explains that it isn't going to happen overnight. As he warns, "Get ready for a 20-year journey. It takes a core group of leaders--at least half a dozen--to commit to provide leadership over at least 20 years." For more of Feld's thoughts on how to achieve a successful work/life balance, check out our Q & A with him here.
A nutty new campaign. Rod Blagojevich and Jersey Shore's Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi don't have much in common except, of course, their run-ins with the law. Now, in one of the strangest marketing schemes we've seen in a while, the pistachio brand, Paramount Farms, is capitalizing on the unlikely twosome's infamy in a $20 million TV campaign that features Snooki and Blagojevich cracking open Paramount pistachios. According to Dow Jones Newswires, the company says the ads are "not looking for controversy, but looking for a buzz factor." Looks like it's working.
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