Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
The Reinvention of AOL. AOL, often thought of as a relic of Internet's first days, is experiencing a rebirth, according to CNN. AOL's plans to become a "content company" became mighty clear last week when it aggressively acquired not one, but three online companies, including TechCrunch, 5Min Media and Thing Labs, a social media company. The company's president of Media and Studios, David Eun, tells CNN, "We want to be the pipe to distribute the best, most compelling content on the Web." The story points out that AOL's "widely recognized brand" is its strong suit, but because the company has lagged behind the competition for years, finding smaller content companies to sign on with them may be a struggle. "AOL has to buy companies in the primordial slime," says Todd Dagres of Spark Capital. "People may not know much about Thing Labs, but AOL has to act almost as a venture capitalist and help guide these new companies."
What country has the best brains? The BBC poses the question, and answers it unscientifically, by simply counting the number of Nobel Prize winners hailing from each nation. Since 1901, France has been awarded 57 Nobel prizes, Germany, 103, and the United Kingdom, 117. Who's on top for best brainpower? Drumroll, please. With a whopping 323 Nobel prizes racked up, it's ... the United States!
Tune in, drop out, start-up. Never mind the perennial debate over whether or not an MBA is useful when starting a business. Perhaps a better question might be whether or not a college degree is even necessary. While Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are famous Harvard drop-outs, the American Express OPEN Forum has a list of other well-known entrepreneurs who have started wildly successful companies without the aid of a college degree. For example, Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA, became one of the 11 wealthiest people in the world without a sheepskin. Likewise, John Mackey, founder of Whole Foods dropped out of college twice and never took a single business course.
Start-up lessons from The Social Network. There's more than just a bunch of laugh-lines to take away from David Fincher's Facebook film. If you're an entrepreneur working on your latest 'preneur, The Wall Street Journal suggests you take a nod from the fictionalized account of Mark Zuckerberg's journey and do things like ask your friends and family for seed money, get on the same page as your coworkers, and dream big. Just can't get enough? Read our review by Charles Taylor.
Redefining the music industry. Thus far, ad-supported music services offering free content have largely staggered. Yet Spotify, a Swedish company that's become quite popular in Europe, aims to break this tradition by landing deals with major music labels this winter, CNET reports. Like its predecessors, Spotify faces a number of daunting obstacles to successfully penetrate the U.S. market, not the least of these is Apple. The only real way Spotify could get the labels on board, CNET says, would be to pay up and limit the risk the labels would have to take on. The site also faces an impending threat from Google, which plans to launch its own music service by early 2011.