Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
Bad news for Bit.ly? Libya is seizing some domain names ending in .ly, according to TechCrunch. Already, the URL shortening site vb.ly has been shut down, because the site's design, which shows a girl in a tank top drinking a beer, was considered "offensive imagery" and in opposition of Libya's prevailing Islamic Sharia Law. According to Ben Metcalfe, who owns vb.ly, Libya is also moving to take over any URLs with less than four letters in front of the .ly to reserve those domain names for local Libyans. The verdict is still out as to what this means for popular URL shorteners like bit.ly and ow.ly.
Sun Chips gets a little less green. Well, that was fun while it lasted. Today, Frito-Lay announced it's pulling most of the biodegradable packaging it uses for Sun Chips. Apparently, the crinkly bags were just too loud for consumers' ears. According to the Wall Street Journal, sales plummeted, and have decreased each month since the noisy bag release. The take-away? Even if you're riding the green trend with a product or packaging launch, consumer testing is key to success.
The dumb questions investors ask. If you've ever sat down with a potential investor, you'll absolutely love this hysterical video on TechCrunch. And if you haven't, we're pretty confident you'll still laugh out loud at least a few times. Put on your earphones (some salty language), put down your coffee (you don't want to spit it out), and enjoy.
Financing the fight against poverty. Vinod Khosla, a billionaire venture capitalist and co-founder of Sun Microsystems, believes that businesses, not charities or governments, should lead the cause against global poverty. This belief stems from the success of his venture fund SKS Microfinance, The New York Times reports, which lends money to poor women in India. Khosla tells the Times, "It surprises me that in India there is not a tradition of large-scale giving and helping to solve social problems and set a social mood." By financing and challenging entrepreneurs in his home country, Khosla intends to break this trend with his venture funds that recycle profits back into poverty eradication.
Why does your brand need a story? That's the question everyone should be asking, according to MP Mueller in a column for The New York Times. She discusses two small businesses that have weathered the tough economy by developing what Mueller refers to as a "tribe" of followers. "Creating a movement around good feelings is a great way to differentiate your business and have consumers championing your brand," she writes. One company, Sweetgreen, a chain of salad and frozen yogurt restaurants in the D.C. area, instituted a "Random Acts of Sweetness" policy and slips gift cards under parking tickets. Another company, Atayne, of Brunswick, ME, sells apparel from recycled materials. According to the company's founder, Jeremy Litchfield, 'Everything we do for marketing is around telling our story. It's more about promoting the lifestyle as opposed to pushing products."
A ho-hum holiday forecast. With summer now officially over, retailers across the country are beginning to turn their sights (and hopes) to the upcoming holiday season. According to the National Retail Foundation, the outlook for this year's holiday season is decidedly middle-of-the-road. The NRF predicts that consumer spending in November and December will rise 2.3 percent, a moderate increase that falls just short of the 10-year average gain of 2.5 percent. As the NRF's CEO explains, "We would characterize this as neither optimistic or pessimistic. I think we would characterize this as very realistic."
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