The Tax Man Cometh
IRS is keeping a close eye on entrepreneurs. With Tax Day looming, a quick warning that entrepreneurs might want to be extra careful with their tax returns this year. As the Christian Science Monitor reports, a new study shows that IRS audit efforts aimed at the nation's largest corporations have dropped over the past few years to an all-time low but audits aimed at small- and medium-size businesses have increased steadily. According to a former tax counsel for the Senate Finance Committee, "As if April 15th isn't frightening enough for small business owners, now comes news that the IRS has increased audit hours for small and medium businesses by 30 percent over the last five years, while at the same time decreasing the number of hours spent auditing large corporations by 33 percent."
The nicest tech CEO? It's Google's Eric Schmidt. That's according to Farhad Manjoo who writes that Schmidt, in contrast to fiercely competitive CEOs like Apple's Steve Jobs and Oracle's Larry Ellison, is "widely considered to be nice." Whereas Jobs has taken jabs at Google, Schmidt praised Jobs as "the best CEO in the world today." "What sets Schmidt apart from other tech leaders is the same thing that sets Google apart—he has an abiding belief in the power of good engineering and in the idea that open systems will win," Manjoo writes, adding that hardball tactics like lawsuits and aggressive technological restrictions are anathema to Google's approach. "In Google's universe, tactics like those suggest insecurity, and Google is the most confident company in tech," he writes.
The annoying habits of VC's. Ben Horowitz, an entrepreneur who teamed up with Netscape founder Mark Andreesen to form the VC firm Andreesen Horowitz, has only been in the investing game full-time for 9 months and already has some grievances to air about his counterparts in the venture capital industry. One pet peeve he's developed is when VCs "fake casual" -- holding relaxed board meetings, working minimal hours, and providing poor oversight for the entrepreneur's company. "If one of your VCs implies that board meetings aren't serious business ... you should view this as a 5 year-old child requesting complete autonomy and unlimited candy," he advises. "That may be what they are asking for, but what they really crave is structure." Horowitz also takes some VCs to task for bullying entrepreneurs and always asking him to "compare notes" over cups of coffee, which he calls pointless and conducive to groupthink. "When I was a CEO, I didn't take meetings with no agenda and no purpose," he writes. "I'm not sure why I should take them as a VC."
Groupon reportedly secures $1.2 billion valuation. Just this month we told you about what a partnership with Groupon can mean for your business. For those of you who live in non-Groupon cities, the local-discount site may very well be coming to you soon. That's because the company is set to raise a huge new round of funding that will value the two-year-old company between $1.2 billion and $1.35 billion, according to Michael Arrington of TechCrunch. Arrington says Russia's Digital Sky Technologies, which has recently invested in Facebook and Zynga, could be involved. DST declined to comment for our Inc.com report.
Revelations from the Oprah biography. Unless you've taken a break from the internet recently, you're probably aware that celebrity profiler Kitty Kelley has tackled the great American mogul: Oprah. Gawker's combed through some early excerpts, culled from 800 interviews with relatives, friends, former colleagues, though not the woman herself. In addition to the $47 million jet, she spent more than a million redecorating her hangar. If she hasn't gotten her full eight hours of sleep on the jet, pilots are under orders to sit and wait until she does. Everyone in Oprah's orbit, from her employees at Harpo, to her magazine, to her vets, to the headhunters who helped her recruit teachers for her leadership academy all have to sign NDAs. "After several disgruntled employees took her to court, Oprah reportedly started vetting potential staff so closely that she may now have more intel on them than the CIA has on Osama bin Laden," adds Gawker.
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