An innovation blast from the past. Plus, the business of All Hallows Eve, and the rest of the day's news.
Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
Edison on encouraging innovation. Find yourself stuck in an innovation rut? Rather than look to today's crop of young entrepreneurs for inspiration, perhaps it might help to take some tips from the original tech innovator, Thomas Edison. As the American Express OPEN Forum points out, the father of the light bulb and the phonograph actually has some surprisingly relevant tips for encouraging innovation. Using excerpts from the book, Innovate Like Edison, the post uses Edison's example to give pointers on embracing diversity, the power of networking, and getting the most out of personal relationships.
A stab at horror history. In the run-up to every horror lover's favorite holiday, our friends at Fast Company took a walk down horror lane with a look at the numbers behind the most famous scary movies. Jaws, Steven Spielberg's tour de force that unleashed a primal fear of being eaten alive while swimming, is still the No. 1 scary movie, grossing $470 million worldwide. Horror maestro Stephen King's stories have been made into 37 feature films. In 1978, the year Dawn of the Dead was filmed, the nightly wage for a zombie extra was $1 (or $3.35 when adjusted for inflation). And the Simi Valley, California, house shown in Poltergeist – which last sold in 1979 for $143,500 – is now worth $573,500. And who could forget the infamous shower scene in which Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is knifed to death by Mrs. Bates? Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock's acclaimed 1960 thriller, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Thinking of dressing up like your favorite horror flick character? Or an even scarier reality TV star? Check out our story on this year's hottest Halloween costumes.
Obama again bets on speedier tax write-offs.The president's federal stimulus plan last year included a provision that let companies more quickly write off 50 percent of capital investment costs. Now Bloombergreports a proposed extension to accelerate $150 million in tax breaks to 2 million business, letting them write off the full cost of qualified capital expenditures in the year they are made. The proposal awaits congressional approval but would be the largest temporary investment incentive ever, according to the Treasury Department, which released the plan. The ultimate goal is to encourage companies to spend the proposed tax savings along with the record $1.84 trillion in cash they had on hand at the end of the first quarter in 2010. Still, some companies may try to game the system by borrowing money for equipment purchases solely for the tax benefits.
The end of an era. Chris Hurley, the last remaining co-founder on YouTube's staff, has announced he's stepping down from his role as CEO. AllThingsD reports that the decision is a long time coming, since YouTube has largely been managed by Google's Salar Kamangar ever since it was acquired in 2006. Hurley's co-founders, Jawed Karim and Steve Chen, moved on years ago, and though there's no news yet on what Hurley's next move will be, he said in a statement: "For the past two years, I've taken on more of an advisory role at YouTube as Salar Kamangar has led the company's day-to-day operations. I will continue to serve in an advisory capacity and am excited to witness the next phase of YouTube's growth."
Workspaces of the future. Forget the holograms and teleporting to meetings. When Steven M. Johnson imagines the future of work, he imagines retreat lockers, napping closets, toll-booth gardens, Wi-Fi-enabled, computer-equipped walkers, and other mobile workstations. Check out his imaginative illustrations at Good.
Co-op your business. While the recession has sparked a wave of anxiety and fears among many business owners, some have seen an opportunity get creative. Today's New York Timesaddresses the ingenuity – and relative ease – of selling a company to its employees. "Many sellers have had to put their exit plans on hold, which is why this might be the time to take a closer look at an unfamiliar and misunderstood exit tool: selling your business to employees through a worker-owned cooperative," the article notes. Selling to employees can be a good option when the owners are at least five years away from retiring, the business is small, and the business culture reflects "participatory management," where the employees are already included in many of the business decisions. One of the major advantages of selling a business through a cooperative, the article notes, is that the employees, who are often treated like family members in small businesses, will get to keep their jobs once the company is sold.
A checklist for start-up success. "In a startup the search for a business model is chaotic, unpredictable and uncertain," veteran tech entrepreneur Steve Blank writes in his most recent blog post about his eighth start-up, Epiphany. "Yet the Customer Development process uses a series of checklists to ensure that you walk through Customer Discovery and Validation in steps." This is especially true for B-to-B companies, which have to wade through other businesses' hierarchy to find decision makers and the problems they face to identify the best way a product can help them. Here's the checklist to get you started.
CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is senior writer at Inc. @Lagorio