Twitter unveils advertising platform. That long-awaited Twitter revenue model that we've been telling you about? It's finally here. Co-founder Biz Stone writes that Twitter will unveil an advertising platform at a conference in New York City today. The product, called Promoted Tweets, will display messages from advertisers like Starbucks, Best Buy, and Red Bull on Twitter search results pages. The New York Times unpacks the news and predicts that the new platform will be used by brands to quickly respond to negative publicity. Twitter's announcement comes just one day after IdeaLab founder Bill Gross announced his own Twitter advertising platform.
Startup lessons from Warren Buffett. Berkshire Hathaway's annual shareholder letter is always closely watched by investors, but Warren Buffett's latest missive contains lessons for entrepreneurs too. Lou Hoffman, CEO of the Hoffman Agency, a worldwide public relations firm, dissects this year's letter for VentureBeat. A sampling of wisdom from the Oracle of Omaha: Talk like a human being, admit your mistakes, and harness the power of humor in business.
How to set business metrics. The numbers you track on a regular basis shouldn't just be revenue and cash flow, argues Fred Wilson. He writes that the most important data isn't always the easiest to collect, nor does it always directly contribute to revenue growth. Online craft marketplace Etsy, for instance, focuses its key metrics on customer service. Once you've figured out the numbers to watch, don't forget to regularly share them with your team. "It helps to keep everyone on the same page, aligns people across the different parts of the business, and leads to a culture of success when you see the key business metrics moving in the right direction," Wilson writes
A bouncy farewell to the father of the trampoline. Sad news from La Jolla, California as George Nissen, inventor of the trampoline, has passed away at the age of 96. Dubbed a "true sports pioneer" by the president of USA Gymnastics, Nissen was inspired to build his first trampoline after watching acrobats jump on their safety nets during a visit to the circus. Nissen developed his trampoline, a crude prototype made from scrap metal and strips of inner-tube, in 1934. Sales were initially slow, but his company got a big boost when the U.S. Navy began purchasing his trampolines to train pilots and paratroopers. A master of the promotional stunt, Nissen had publicity shots taken of himself bouncing with a kangaroo in New York's Central Park, and he even snuck a trampoline to the top of a pyramid in Egypt for some action shots. In an interview given when he was 94, Nissen summed up his outlook on life: "There are really about three things in life that make you happy. Work and loving and creating," he said.
Big bank insider raises concerns about small business lending. In a wide-ranging Q & A with the Huffington Post's Ryan McCarthy, an anonymous executive at one of the nation's 10 largest banks confesses that after 20 years in the industry, "I cannot live with the extent of the compromises to my value system." In the interview, the banker claims that it has become increasingly difficult to issue small and midsized business loans, despite evidence that this type of lending is rather low-risk. "If you look at the growth of manufacturing and entrepreneurship versus the growth of the financial sector, clearly, if money had not been diverted to the financial sector, if those resources and intellectual capital hadn't been allocated to sectors that don't create benefit for the society at large, you'd have more funding available now," he says. "There may not be a directive given that you will make fewer loans, but the practical effect is that you will make fewer loans."
What it takes to do business in China. As Google can attest, running a business in China as an outsider is no easy task. So what does it take to succeed? According to a post by GigaOm, the key is to line up investors and lawyers who already have experience in China. "It's critical to understand the competitive, regulatory, and legal topography of any given industry sector," the article says. "If you can't afford to do the proper market-entry work and due diligence, then you probably can't afford to operate in China."
Who are the best customers? Believe it or not, they are the picky ones. Zappos, the online shoe store, which touts its return policy and free two-way shipping, among other customer service flourishes, found that customers with the highest return rates are the most profitable (via Fast Company). So, a policy that seems costly, even extravagant, is actually proving to be a moneymaker. See how your industry stacks up in terms of customer satisfaction.
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