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The Rent-a-White-Exec Ruse

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Can we interest you in a fake white businessman? In The Atlantic, Mitch Moxley confesses to being part of a popular phenomenon in China--renting a white guy to be a foreigner-friendly face for your company. "The only requirements," writes Moxley, "were a fair complexion and a suit." It's a well-paying gig for expats living in China, Moxley writes. One friend of Moxley's was hired to give a speech promoting a low-carbon future. Another pretended to be a seasonal-gifts buyer. Two of the guys who went along with Moxley for a ribbon-cutting gig, his first as a faux executive, were even asked to stay on for eight months.

Tips for retaining your top talent. The American Express OPEN Forum has some bad news about your top employees. Namely, they may not be your top employees much longer. Citing research done on over 20,000 "emerging stars" in over 100 organizations, the article states that one in four intend to leave their current employer within the next year and that 12 percent were actively searching for a new job. To help stop the flood of talent leaving your business, the Forum has six tips to help you hold on to your top employees. Among the key suggestions is to keep them engaged by taking them out of their comfort zone and putting them in new situations. Also recommended is managing your top employees at a corporate level and not delegating their management to lower-level managers. As the article states, "The more involved they are with building the company's future, the less likely they will jump ship when the going gets tough."

How Fred Wilson invests. The Times publishes an illuminating interview with the New York VC and blogger. Wilson, who has invested in Twitter, Zynga, Etsy, and Foursquare (as well as Inc. Top Small Company Workplace winner Return Path), tells Nick Bilton that blogging has been critical to his success. (He authors the blog A VC, one of the 19 best blogs for entrepreneurs.) "You have to be out there in the hearts and minds of the entrepreneurs, and that's the scarce resource with what we have as investors; it's certainly not the money," he says. Elsewhere in the interview Wilson says that he's bullish on mobile companies, and he confesses that he'll sometimes force entrepreneurs to sell. "[W]hen companies are not sustainable, we have a lot to say," he says. "We don't necessarily put a gun to their heads, but it's not that far from it."

Is Facebook ripping off game developers? Depends on who you ask. According to the Wall Street Journal, the site's new credit system is angering some virtual goods entrepreneurs who say Facebook's 30-percent cut of the virtual currency is too much. "Thirty cents off of every dollar adds up," Gonzo Games founder Robert van Gool tells the Journal. "For a small company, the piggybank isn't that big." The system allows Facebook users to buy credits for 10 cents each and apply those credits to any of the more than 550,000 games and applications on the site. The developers then cash those credits in, in exchange for the money Facebook has collected as payment...well, 70 percent of it at least. About 100 of Facebook's partners, including the ever-popular FarmVille, are currently test-driving the service, and some even see the benefit in it. Kenny Rosenblatt of the gaming company Arkadium tells the Journal, "With Facebook Credits, when someone wants to buy on an impulse, they can do it immediately...They don't have to leave Facebook to go fill out a form on another site."

Another web analytics business gets acquired. Eight months after Adobe purchased web analytics giant Omniture for $1.8 billion, IBM says it is acquiring Omniture competitor Coremetrics, TechCrunch writes. With the deal, two of the largest analytics companies are no longer independent. If you've read our article on improving your website with analytics, you'll understand why this technology is so in demand.

Can imitation be an important part of innovation? Last week, Yelp introduced an update to their iPhone app, which included a feature that sounds a lot like Foursquare--users with the most check-ins at a venue can earn the title of "Duke" or "Duchess." As Tech Crunch said in its report, "obviously, companies copy one another's ideas all the time. If something is working, sometimes it just makes a lot of sense." TechCrunch also adds, though, that, "sometimes it's just a little pathetic," but Read Write Web cites studies showing that imitation can actually lead to better innovation. The post includes a video of Johanna Blakely in a recent TED talk about how one of the most traditionally creative industries--fashion--offers very little IP protection to designers, and how the fashion industry's relationship to copyright and patenting might be a model for other industries.

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Last updated: Jun 15, 2010




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