STARTUP

Thiel's Dropouts Announced

The early Facebook investor just gave 24 kids $100,000 each to leave college, plus Zynga's looming IPO, and the rest of today's news.
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Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today.

Start-up and drop out. Facebook investor Peter Thiel announced this morning the list of 24 students under the age of 20 who will receive $100,000 to pursue their start-ups. Of course, the money comes with one catch: they must leave school. (One of Inc.com's Coolest College Start-up entrepreneurs, Tom Currier, was selected to pursue his sustainable energy project.)  "The fellowship addresses two of the country's most pressing problems, Mr. Thiel says: a bubble in higher education and a dearth of Americans developing breakthrough technologies," The New York Times reports. The program is not without controversy. Critics argue that students who drop out of school lack the well-rounded approach to innovation and discovery; Thiel disagrees.  "We're not saying that everybody should drop out of college," he said. The problem, he said, is that "in our society the default assumption is that everybody has to go to college." Inc.com staged this debate once before, but what do you think?

Brands banking on retro stylings. Have you seen Doritos lately? With a packaging overhaul pulled from the 1960s and 1980s, the brand rings with nostalgia for a simpler time...and simpler packaging. The Wall Street Journal writes that the move, which is being made by brands like Tide and Cheerios as well, is a U-turn from latels cluttered with myriad claims. "We got to the point where you couldn't add one more bling thing to a package," says Christine Mau, director of design for Kimberly-Clark, the maker of Huggies and Kleenex. How can new products adopt a "simpler times" feel? Easy: keep your packaging simple, your branding straightforward, and—if you're feeling groovy—throw in a jazzy retro font.

Ditch the coffee shop. Want an interesting place to host a meeting with a client? OPEN Forum suggests a dozen unexpected options. Consider renting a sailboat, or a room at a spa. What about a nice garden in a public park? Or just take a hike.

iPad app for...kitties? Friskies unveiled  three new apps yesterday, all specifically designed to interact with its target consumer: cats. CoDesign reports the apps are essentially silly games meant to attract your kitty's need to paw, pat, and peak. For example, one has images of a fish swimming back and forth the length of the iPad screen. But Friskies says that the games are based on science, "on research of cats' senses and how they react to different stimuli." Meow!

Zynga ready to go public. Just a week after LinkedIn's extremely successful IPO, Zynga will reportedly prepare its own public offering, according to AllThingsD. The social gaming company based in San Francisco, known for its popular games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars, will file for its IPO with the SEC as early as this week, or next week at the latest. After its latest round of funding in February, Zynga's latest valuation was $10 billion, but the company will likely price itself higher in its offering. Sources also say Goldman Sachs will be among the lead bankers in Zynga's offering, but Zynga will refused to comment or confirm any details about its IPO plans.

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Last updated: May 25, 2011




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