The big business behind the World Cup. Today marks the first day of the 2010 World Cup and soccer fans aren't the only ones who are excited. Here in the U.S., as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, bar owners and restaurateurs are opening their doors wide to welcome the soccer fans. Michael Gerard, owner of Atlanta's Brewhouse Cafe, invested $42,000 in new TV's, sound systems, an outdoor tent, and fencing to prepare for the big games. He expects the matches to bring in about $400,000 for the month, double the business the Brewhouse typically does. For a closer look at another business that is hoping to cash in on World Cup fever, check out our story on wine-distributor Heritage Link.
Bad news on the economy. Sorry to kill the festive mood, but retail sales fell in May, a sign that the economic recovery may be faltering. The Wall Street Journal has the news and rounds up economists' reactions, which amount to this: It's bad, but not as terrible as it looks.
How to ax your co-founder. New York City VC Fred Wilson says almost all the successful companies in which he's invested over the last 25 years have had to fire a co-founder at some point. "I have seen this so many times now," Wilson writes. "One of the founders or early team members performs heroic work, most often in building the product. But as the company grows and engineering turns into a team effort, that person or persons can't work well in the team environment." To soften the blow, Wilson says, you should be more generous than you have to. "I am in favor of vesting more stock than is contractually obligated to be vested," Wilson writes. "And severance so the person can take some time and decompress is another way to be generous. Most of all, be generous with the way you talk about the person's contributions." One of Wilson's portfolio companies that hasn't fired a founder is Return Path, a winner of our Top Small Company Workplaces contest.
Next generation soda cans? Pepsi, whose logo is all over New York's Internet Week, is making its cans interactive. Well, sort of. In order to unlock a video, photo, or other multimedia content, one must photograph a Pepsi bar code with a smartphone. Next, sync that photo with the app for a start-up called Stickybits, which tags barcodes with information and allows users to access it digitally. Users can also upload additional information, like photos and comments, and attach these "bits" to the barcode for other users to see. This marks the first major-brand partnership for Stickybits, which announced receiving $1.6 million in funding in May. We'll see if it sticks.
Kevin Rose to go off the air. TechCrunch reports that Digg founder Kevin Rose will leave his popular Internet TV show, Diggnation. (Rose confirms via Twitter.) The move comes as something of a surprise given that Diggnation continues to attract more than 200,000 viewers each week, but Michael Arrington speculates that Rose is leaving to focus his attention on Digg itself, where he recently reassumed the role of CEO. For more on Rose, check out our profile, which captured the man during headier times.
Who's the world's last great salesman? According to Bloomberg Businessweek's Devin Leonard, it's Steve Jobs. Leonard celebrates the Apple CEO's flair for the pitch, for building excitement about a product, and for his near-magical ability to "keep the rabbit in the hat" before rolling out his next carefully-crafted launch. Most of the time. As a marketing expert tells Leonard, "We sometimes think that in a connected, interactive world, salesmanship is no longer effective...But it's not true. We are still attracted to it. We are looking for it. We need something to believe in. People believe in Apple. They believe in Jobs."
Has street food reached its peak? Late last year we told you about the budding trend of food truck start-ups and now Fast Company posits that the trend has reached its peak, with the news that Whole Foods is considering stocking the wares of successful street vendors. But with this good fortune comes an existential crisis: Is street food still street food if on Whole Foods's shelves? Meanwhile, if you're looking to start your own food truck, our guide tells you how to do it right.
A new strategy for funding retirement plans. As the economy improves, more small companies are adding cash-balance pensions, says the Wall Street Journal. These hybrid plans, which let employees set side much more pretax dollars than they could in either a 401(k) or a profit-sharing plan, are appealing to high-earning professionals like doctors, lawyers, plumbers, and other types of small businesses.