Investors can't cash out. Venture investors found relatively few opportunities to recoup their investments in start-ups this year, reports the New York Times. VCs sold just 260 companies in 2008, down from 360 in 2007 according to data from the National Venture Capital Association and Thomson Reuters. The IPO market has soured, and normally acquisition-happy companies like Cisco are scaling back. That said...

Xobni lands more funding. Xobni, a web service that turns your Outlook inbox into a mini-social network, has landed a $7 million investment from, well, Cisco. In October, we profiled Xobni's founders Matt Brezina and Adam Smith in a story about the expanding ranks of young entrepreneurs. The NYT's Bits blog has the details.

From the "Do More With Less" Department. Rest easy, we already have the business cliche of 2009. Advertisers and marketers - like nearly everyone in this economy - are being asked to "do more with less." Advertising spending is set to drop 6.2 percent this year in the U.S., according to the WSJ.

Thriftiness blamed for latest economic woes. "Usually, frugality is good for individuals and for the economy," reports the Wall Street Journal. "But in a recession, increased saving -- or its flip side, decreased spending -- can exacerbate the economy's woes." Consumers are so frightened that about the economy's long term prospects that they're drastically cutting back, saving more money than they earn for the first time in years. Conventional wisdom seems to be that consumers are overcompensating, and are damaging the economy out of an excess of caution. But you know its bad when Tom Perkins has to sell a yacht.

Yup, more bad news. The recession is shaping up to be the longest since 1933, says the Wall Street Journal. The disturbing quote of the day: "Almost no living money manager has seen anything like this. The devastation has hit almost everywhere, including finance, manufacturing, oil, consumer companies, technology, real estate, commodities and most foreign markets, developed and developing."

Apple's Jobs-less keynote. It begins at 9 AM pacific time, as the media chews over yesterday's oblique statement from founder Steve Jobs. There's live coverage all over the web (including here, here and here)--but given Jobs's absence, expectations are low.

Still haven't made a New Year's resolution? The AMEX Open forum has seven resolutions for small business. Marketing expert Randy Vaughn suggests small business owners should stop harmful (marketing) habits. "People don't care about your products, but they do care about how those products will benefit them. Consumers are self-focused - that's why they dispense their hard-earned dollar to whichever company offers the better price. Spend your marketing words on talking about the consumer - speak in their language and in ways that benefit them. Harley-Davidson has long been recognized for not selling motorcycles, but for the way it makes their loyal customers feel."