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Who Turned Down $100 Million?

Path, that's who. Plus, a Super Bowl gamble, highly successful companies you've never heard of, and the rest of the day'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:

Social network Path's wild decision. On Tuesday, it was announced that fledgling mobile social network Path raised a tidy $8.5 million venture round led by Kleiner Perkins and Index Ventures. Not bad for a company with a few hundred thousand users. But TechCrunch has uncovered that's really only part of the story. In December, when Path first signed a term sheet with Kleiner, Google swooped in, eventually offering $100 million plus a $25-million earnout. The search giant was reportedly keen to land ex-Facebooker Dave Morin, Path's co-founder and CEO. But Path rejected the offer and stayed true to its word with Kleiner and didn't try to push up the deal valuation. That's right: Path took $8.5 million over $100 million. Time will tell if Morin & Co.'s somewhat noble gesture pays off.

Million-dollar companies you've never heard of. Who knew that amassing an elite force of border collies in order to scare geese away from golf courses could make one company—dubbed Geese Police—$2.5 million last year? What about a $5 million-a-year sock subscription service? Custom art based on DNA? A room full of trampolines? If this random assortment of wacky ideas by Forbes isn't inspirational, nothing is.

Obama spotlights energy efficiency. Today's stop on the White House innovation tour: Penn State, where President Obama touted his new "Better Buildings Initiative." The ambitious program aims to boost energy efficiency by 20 percent over the next decade, save businesses $40 billion per year on energy bills, and reform outdated energy policies. The plan involves tax incentives, commercial retrofitting financing opportunities, and competitive grants for green practices, according to Fast Company.

Is the real you a bad leader? Sure, people respect those who keep it real by being truthful, candid, and natural. But what if you the real you is just kind of a jerk? The Harvard Business Review reports that being an authentic leader could mean you're making life for your employees harder than necessary. If your motto is "This is just how I work," then maybe The Review's five steps to changing your attitude in the workplace might just help you be the kind leader you want to be.

Papa John's gambles on the Super Bowl. Super Bowl Sunday is one of the pizza franchise's most profitable days of the year. But this year, will it have its hands full with its latest promotion. According to The Wall Street Journal, if Super Bowl XLV goes into overtime, Papa John's promises to give away free large pizzas with any three toppings to any customer who signs up for the promotion in advance. "We're hoping we bring our franchisees new loyal customers who've never tried Papa John's," says Papa John's spokeswoman Tish Muldoon. While all 2,800 franchise restaurants are at risk for being swamped with free orders, Papa John's has history on its side: In the 44-year history of the Super Bowl, never has the big game gone into overtime. Should this game break the mold, however, customers too full for another pizza would have a chance to redeem their free overtime pizza until June 30.

Microsoft fires back at Google. After Google's accusations on Tuesday that Microsoft's Bing has been copying its search results, Microsoft is trying to set the record straight. The Business Insider reports that Bing executive Yusuf Mehdi posted a blog stating that Google's spy operation is actually "click fraud." Mehdi's blog also states that Google tricked Microsoft and contends his company does not copy results from its competition at all.

Is the patent fast-track bad for entrepreneurs? That's the question the Wall Street Journal seems to be posing with an article examining one piece of Obama's "Startup America" initiative unveiled Monday. Over the past year, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted more than 244,000 patents, for a fee of $1,090. Each application takes an average of 35 months to complete. The new fast-track process would cut the time to 12 months for a fee of $4430. The logic? Innovation could be spurred by allowing filers to "prioritize the innovations they need to get to market first by choosing the ones worth the extra fee," the Journal says a patent-office spokesperson explained. But with patent applications submitted by independent inventors dropping dramatically in recent years, there's a question as to whether the process is already prohibitively expensive for many would-be entrepreneurs and first-time inventors. We're curious: would you pay $4,000 more to take months or years off the patent process? Is it fair to need to?

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Last updated: Feb 3, 2011

CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer

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 a senior writer at Inc.




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