Germany to extend electric company car tax incentives: paper

FILE PHOTO: German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz attends a media briefing during his visit to Beijing, China, January 17, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

BERLIN (Reuters) – German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz plans to extend tax incentives for electric company cars, he told a newspaper on Saturday, the government’s latest attempt to boost demand for clean vehicles.

Germany is trying to increase electric car sales in the wake of a diesel emissions cheating scandal that has engulfed its auto industry in the last three years.

“Half of all cars sold in Germany are company cars,” Scholz told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

“So I have decided that we will not end tax support for electric cars and plug-in hybrid company cars in 2021 but extend them maybe over the whole decade,” he said, adding that would help improve air quality and meet climate goals.

He added, however, that the rules for plug-in hybrids would be tightened, so that only cars that can travel on electric power further than they do today would be eligible.

Since January, drivers of electric company cars which they also use for private journeys pay less tax than they would for a vehicle with a combustion engine.

Government subsidy schemes have helped boost sales but even with rising demand, electric cars made up only 1 percent of new car registrations last year, according to the KBA motor vehicle authority.

The government has acknowledged it will miss its target of having 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2020 by two years.

Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Gareth Jones

Influencer Marketing Has Become a Massive Waste

Hulu decided to do something clever. It hired celebrity influencers–NBA stars Damian Lillard, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo–and put them into a series of commercials it called “Hulu Sellouts.” The whole point was to promote the streaming service while making it absolutely clear that the participation of the athletes was all about the money.

Influencers have become all the rage in marketing. However, if you’re interested in effective marketing, you still should wonder yourself why. Often influencer campaigns fall flat. Many of them rent their audiences, as branded content strategist Lena Katz showed when she turned an uncooked potato into a figure with a following in two weeks. Payless Shoes actually was clever and trolled a whole bunch of fashion influencers. Shortly before announcing that it was going out of business. Well, at least it was a last hurrah.

Hulu is making fun of the whole influencer approach and trying to let the audience feel like insiders who get joke. It’s quite similar to the RXBar ad last summer, when it hired Ice-T for one of its commercials. The actor and rapper says, “It’s one of those commercials with a rapper–you can’t even remember his name–comes out and says something dumb about an RXBar.”

There are two reasons for the direction that Hulu and RXBar took. On is the need to be clear on advertising regulations. The Federal Trade Commission says that if someone takes money to promote a product, they must explicitly say so in some manner. As Hulu vice president for content marketing Ryan Crosby told the Wall Street Journal, “Everyone is looking at what’s happening in social promotions. You’re not fooling anyone when you do these ads.”

The other aspect is advertising as postmodernist statement, rather than postmodernist literature looking at an ad. It’s an eyewink, letting consumers know that you know that they know what’s really going on. If they give it that much thought.

There really isn’t anything new about using “influencers” or making inside statements about their use. The pairing of recognizable names and brand promotion goes back a long way. Technically, you could say that pottery and china designer and manufacturer Josiah Wedgwood used royal warrants as endorsements, promoting his products as used by English royalty. In the late nineteenth century, companies employed trade cars featuring the brand and an image of a sports or entertainment figure. Tobacco companies made heavy use of name endorsers in the early twentieth century.

There’s also nothing new about using endorsements with tongue planted in cheek. This was a common device used in the 1930s and 1940s on radio. Promotional messages were inserted into the middle of a comedy show, receiving the same insider view treatment that some marketers use today.

With the drive to using influencers and then finding new and clever ways to distinguish their brands from others, marketers have forgotten a lesson that’s been underscored time and again. Whether you call them celebrities or influencers, it’s not clear that celebrity or influencer ads necessarily .

The celebrity and brand connection can work, like when Meghan Markle wears a piece of clothing and then there’s a run on the item. But that seems more an organic event.

In ads, often it’s the celebrity or influencer, not the product, that’s remembered. Ad industry giant David Ogilvy wrote about this years ago:

Viewers have a way of remembering the celebrity while forgetting the product. I did not know this when I paid Eleanor Roosevelt $35,000 to make a commercial for margarine. She reported that her mail was equally divided. “One-half was sad because I had damaged my reputation. The other half was happy because I had damaged my reputation. Not one of my proudest memories.

Although there aren’t a lot of public studies that have compared use of celebrities to sales, there have been some that looked at various measures of ad effectiveness on television. Celebrity ads tended to perform at most equal to the average ad, and often worse.

Even if some influencer campaigns have worked, it seems like next to none compared to the vast number of supposed influencers taking money to promote things.And what happens when one of them ends up with bad personal publicity that is now tied to your brand?

Although not all influencer marketing is all worthless, success depends on the particular person, the actual connection they have with an audience, and the appropriateness of the context to the brand. Amazon has its own group of influencers that reportedly work via affiliation links for percentages of sales, which means at least Amazon can track the effectiveness.

But if your marketing team or client show a keen interest in using an influencer as an automatic win, maybe it’s time to go back to a brainstorming session and see what other ideas everyone can come up with instead.

It Might Be Time to Stop Assuming Hotels Are the Best Option for Business Travel

I travel about 75,000 miles a year for business, yet I can’t remember the last time I stayed in a hotel. That may surprise many business travelers, but to me, it’s a relief. I suffered through years of expensive boutiquesor cookie cutter chains, uncomfortable mattresses and terrible breakfasts. Finally I gave up on hotels altogether, and I’ve never looked back.

For several years now, Airbnb has been the secret weaponto my business travel success. There’s an amazing variety of locations, types of lodging, and hosts. I’ve found wonderful places and fascinating people I never would have if I’d stayed in hotels.

1. Feels More Like Home

One of the biggest complaints about business travel is that you don’t have your stuff. It may sound silly, but the stuff and the people are what turns a house into a home. And if you can’t have the people while you’re traveling, at least you can have things more like your own stuff at home. Hotels can be so sterile – or worse yet, unsterile!

2. Cheaper than Hotels

I’ve saved a ton of moneyusing Airbnb instead of hotels. This is especially true for me because I’m willing to stay in a privatebedroom in a shared unit. Even if I weren’t into sharing, Airbnb-ing a fully private unit is often a huge savings over even a modest hotel. Don’t forget to consider a whole house rental for group business travel. It may be closer quarters with your colleagues than you’re used to, but think of it as bonding time. Everyone could still get their own bedroom, and you can save using group transportation and food options.

3. Healthier Eating

In the last 2 years, I’ve lost – and successfully kept off– 54 pounds. One of the benefits of Airbnb is that many units provide a fully functional kitchen, often including staples like salt, pepper, and olive oil. All I had to do was take a quick trip to the grocery store. Then instead of eating bad take out or overindulging at a restaurant, I could cook exactly what I wanted at exactly the calorie count I could afford. No more temptation for midnight room service. It saves calories and money – and you can multiply the savings by making your own lunch, too.

4. Often More Convenient

Business travel can be unpredictable, and often doesn’t leave flexibility for changingdates. So what can you do if you have to go visit a client at the same time as the World Taxidermy & Fish Carving Championships, and every hotel room in Springfield, Illinois, is booked? Airbnb to the rescue. Just like hotels, Airbnb prices go up with demand, but I’ve never had a problemfinding an Airbnb that worked. Sometimes the Airbnb is considerably more convenient to where I need to spend time. I also often save money on parking by avoiding expensive hotel garages.

5. Opens Opportunities – and Eyes

One of the most fun and powerful reasons to use Airbnb is the amazing experience it can provide. While others are isolated in boring hotelsfilled with other businesspeople, you’ll be living among the local people. The hosts can share a great deal about the local way of life, which may be helpful in dealing with your client. The fellow guests, if you have them, often have wonderful stories to tell. For this and all the above reasons, Airbnb makes travel easier and more accessible, which means you can experience even more of this world!

7 Reasons To Start Your Own Company in Your 20s

The traditional narrative for entrepreneurs is a step-by-step process that generally looks something like this:

  1. Get a degree
  2. Get a job
  3. Build a network
  4. Save some “seed capital”
  5. Start your business

The assumption is that you’ll be ready to launch your startup in your 30s or 40s. Or maybe your 50s because, well…, kids.

Now, I don’t want to burst any happy bubbles for those of you who are already treading the traditional pathway, but that traditional narrative no longer makes much sense because over the past two decades, big corporations, big academia, and big corporatist government have rigged the business world so that the longer you wait to start your own company, the less likely you are to be successful. 

Because of this, young entrepreneurs (Millennials and Gen-Zers) should launch their startups immediately rather than waiting until they’ve got a degree and some experience. Here’s why:

1. College has become increasingly irrelevant.

If you already know you’re going to be an entrepreneurs, college is a waste of time. Business colleges are so out of touch that very few teach sales skills–the most important business skill for any entrepreneur. B-schools are also notorious repositories of wannabee entrepreneurs spouting clouds of fluffy biz-blab. Furthermore, colleges are always a decade behind the real world in technical skills and technology. Example: almost all computer animation college programs lack even a single class on real-time animation, the most important new technology in that industry.

2. College has become absurdly expensive.

How many thousands of times have you read about recent college graduates who can’t get a decent job in their field but are nonetheless saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in student debt? By contrast, how many times have you heard successful entrepreneurs say: “wow, I’m sure glad I graduated from college…”? Like never, right? Look, if you’re going to spend yourself $50,000 into debt, do you want to end up with a useless, but largely symbolic degree? Or do you want to own a business that cost $50,000 to start?

3. College doesn’t impress recruiters anyway.

Let’s suppose you want to start your own business but you’re banking on your college degree as a backup plan… as in “I’ll give this startup my best shot but if I fail I can get use my degree to get a job.” Well, IMHO, if you’re thinking that way, you’re setting yourself up to fail as an entrepreneur, but whatever. Let’s suppose it’s a reasonable plan. Hate to tell you, but recruiters are far more impressed by an effort to start your own company than whatever cookie-cutter degree you managed to eke out of the college system. Even fancy Ivy League degrees don’t have much cachet any longer.

4. Employers hire contractors not employees.

According to a recent study conducted by Allison & Taylor Reference Checking, “the current growth of freelancing is estimated to be three times faster than that of the traditional workforce, with approximately 47% of working millennials now working in some freelance capacity.  At the current growth rate, the majority of the U.S. workforce will freelance by 2027.” Freelance positions lack benefits and pay less, thus making it more difficult to put aside the money you’ll need to start your business. Can you spell “dead end street,” boys and girls?

5. Employers legally limit your options.

You may think you’re gaining valuable experience and contacts that you can use to launch your own business, but chances are that your employee agreement or “work for hire” agreement vastly limits your ability to use whatever you’ve learned. You might launch your business and find yourself at the short end of a lawsuit, from a company that can afford an entire staff of lawyers to make sure you’re properly crushed.

6. Resumes don’t impress investors.

Investors don’t give a rodent’s posterior about your college experience. They also don’t value your work experience much more than that, unless what you were doing was directly relevant to building and running the company you’re envisioning. Investors want people who’ve successfully started their own businesses or, at the very least, somebody who’s gained the valuable experience of starting a business that didn’t pan out.

7. Exuberance is a limited resource.

You may think all those long hours and hard work working for somebody else is preparing you for the long hours and hard work you’ll need to make your startup successful. But you’d think wrong. Their plan is to burn through your youthful energy and enthusiasm until you’re an empty husk. Even if you keep your spirits up and your body in tip-top shape while they try to suck you dry, as you get older, you will INEVITABLY find it more difficult to summon extra oomph. Far better to expend your youthful exuberance making your own business a success, rather than lining someone else’s pockets, right?.

Tesla rolls out 'sentry mode' safety feature

FILE PHOTO: A Tesla logo is seen at a groundbreaking ceremony of Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory in Shanghai, China January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

(Reuters) – Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc on Wednesday launched a safety feature called “sentry mode” for its electric cars, as it attempts to make its vehicles more attractive to buyers.

The feature will be compatible with U.S. Model 3 vehicles, followed by Model S and Model X vehicles that were manufactured after August 2017, the electric carmaker said.

When enabled, the “sentry mode” monitors the environment around an unattended car and uses the vehicle’s external cameras to detect potential threats, according to Tesla’s blog here

A minimal threat will be detected if anyone leans on the car, triggering a message on the touchscreen and warning that its cameras are recording.

For a more severe threat, like someone breaking a window, the mode activates the car alarm, increases the brightness of the center display, plays loud music and alerts owners on their Tesla mobile app.

The United States had 773,139 motor vehicles stolen in 2017 – the highest since 2009, according to data from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. here

Last week, Tesla lowered the price of its Model 3 sedan for the second time this year to make its cars more affordable for U.S. buyers. The Palo Alto, California-based company has been cutting costs as it looks to turn in profit this year.

Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

Cities Spurned By Amazon for HQ2 Renew Courtship After Winning New York Has Second Thoughts

As Amazon faces political obstacles in building a huge office in New York City, cities that were once candidates for the campus are courting the tech giant once again.

Cities including Miami, Chicago, and Newark, NJ have all recently talked to Amazon, brushing off their earlier rejections in hopes of landing thousands of jobs. Then Denver and Dallas said they never stopped speaking with Amazon.

Since announcing plans to build a new “second headquarters” in New York City three months ago, Amazon has encountered intense blowback. New York politicians are balking at a plan to hand over huge financial incentives to one of the biggest companies in the world while local residents complain about the impact of thousands of new workers on an already expensive and crowded neighborhood.

The opposition has Amazon second-guessing its move into the city, according to media reports, opening the door to former candidates to dust off their old proposals.

Last year, Amazon last year received 238 bids for the new headquarters, which originally was planned for one city. Candidate cities made big offers—like Maryland’s $8.5 billion incentive package—in hopes of landing the giant.

After going through the proposals, Amazon released a list of 20 finalists, which included Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, and Columbus, OH—though very few of these cities publicly disclosed the incentives attached to their bids.

Ultimately, Amazon decided to change course and name two winning cities, but with only 25,000 job each. In addition to New York City, the company chose Crystal City, VA.

And while many losing cities were disappointed about being passed over, a few now are taking advantage of the tension in New York for a second chance with Amazon.

Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker, who previously helped pitch Chicago, immediately jumped on the phone with Amazon.

“Governor Pritzker reached out to Amazon to make a full-throated pitch to attract these good-paying jobs to Illinois and assure them that they would have a strong partner in the governor’s office,” Jordan Abudayyeh, spokeswoman for the governor’s office, told Fortune in a statement.

Meanwhile, Newark, NJ contacted Amazon to let the company know the city and state still have incentive packages, approved before the city was rejected, waiting for Amazon. Officials hope the news will show Amazon that it can move in without any risk of second guessing.

Miami-Dade’s mayor Carlos Giménez told the Miami Herald that he’s ready to restart talks about bringing the Amazon to Miami or other South Florida sites that were included in an earlier joint bid. The mayor of Magic City, Fla., said he planned to reach out to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to pitch him directly, according to the Herald.

A representative of the Dallas Regional Chamber said during a panel that that organization “never hung up the phone with Amazon,” according to media reports. The chamber declined to comment on whether Dallas planned to approach the company directly.

But Dallas mayoral candidate Jason Villalba was vocal about the matter on Twitter, saying, “Dallas can win this bid!” Undoubtedly, he also was using the issue as a way to highlight his experience in economic development to voters.

Similarly, The Dallas Morning News took the opportunity to write an op-ed titled, “Dear Amazon, New York doesn’t want you; Dallas does.” Mind you, the Morning News’ former headquarters is one of the potential sites for Amazon’s headquarters that Dallas listed in its proposal—a financial consideration that the News failed to mention.

Google extends chip-making efforts to design hub Bengaluru

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google has hired more than a dozen microchip engineers in Bengaluru, India, in recent months and plans to rapidly add more, according to LinkedIn profiles, job postings and two industry executives, as the search firm expands its program to design the guts of its devices internally.

A woman walks past the logo of Google during an event in New Delhi, India, August 28, 2018. Picture taken August 28, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

The Bengaluru site, which has not been previously reported, makes Google the first among the handful of big internet platform companies developing their own chips to establish a team for those efforts in what has become a leading hub for semiconductor design over the last two decades.

Google declined to comment on the hires.

Jim McGregor, who follows the semiconductor industry for Tirias Research, said since most traditional chipmakers long have had large presences in Bengaluru, it made sense for the industry’s new players to start following to find experts.

“Everyone tries to keep things close to home when starting out, but when you reach a certain level of success you have to expand out,” McGregor said.

Since 2014, Google has designed computer server chips for its data centers and an image processing chip for its Pixel smartphones. Its aim is to create more powerful and efficient devices by customizing key components that traditionally came from firms such as Intel Corp.

Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp, Apple Inc and Facebook Inc each have launched similar chip design efforts, which could help them cut costs, reduce reliance on vendors and keep pace in building attractive products.

In Bengaluru, Google has hired at least 16 engineering veterans and four talent recruiters for its “gChips” team from traditional chipmakers such as Intel, Qualcomm Inc, Broadcom Inc and Nvidia Corp, according to a review of LinkedIn profiles.

Rajat Bhargava describes himself on LinkedIn as Google’s “silicon site lead” in Bengaluru, saying he joined last May after a decade at Broadcom and a year at Intel.

His staff is likely working with Google’s existing chips team in Silicon Valley to fine-tune and test design ideas before shipping final ones off to manufacturers, said two industry executives familiar with Google’s plans. One executive said the team could grow to 80 people by year’s end.

Google had 13 job postings for roles related to chips in Bengaluru, according to a recent check of the company’s careers website.

Google sells smart speakers, routers and home security devices that all could benefit from chips that analyze voice commands and videos better and faster.

Microsoft and Facebook so far have concentrated chip-related hiring in the United States, according to current job postings. Amazon has an overseas presence in Tel Aviv.

Reporting by Paresh Dave; Additional reporting by Sonam Rai in Bengaluru; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Leslie Adler

Cyber Saturday—Investigating Jeff Bezos’ Sexts, Huawei FBI Sting, Facebook’s Outspoken ex-Security Chief

How did the National Enquirer obtain the richest man in the world’s sexts?

While the truth remains a closely guarded secret, plenty of theories have been floated. Gavin de Becker, the sagacious security consultant granted carte blanche to investigate the situation by Jeff Bezos, the ultra-billionaire founder of Amazon, alleged adulterer, and target of the Enquirer’s prurient exposé, supposedly believes his boss was not hacked. That’s what Manuel Roig-Franzia, a feature writer with the Washington Post, a publication Bezos owns, says de Becker told him anyway, adding that de Becker believes the leak may have been “politically motivated.” In a recent interview on MSNBC, Roig-Franzia added that de Becker, with whom Roig-Franzia says he has chatted extensively about Bezos’ predicament, is entertaining the possibility “that a government entity might have gotten hold” of Bezos’ text messages and then, somehow, these texts found their way into said tabloid.

Considering for a moment that this might be true, which regime might have done so? Michael Sanchez, an avid Trump supporter and brother of Lauren Sanchez, Bezos’ mistress, has apparently discussed with de Becker the possibility that the president, an avowed Bezos opponent, enlisted allied intelligence services, such as those run by the UK and Israel, to dig up the dirt. It’s a fantastical scenario that stretches the imagination beyond all elasticity. Bezos, on the other hand, seemed to intimate in an essay on the blogging site Medium that the intrusion could have involved another state actor. Specifically, Bezos dwelled on connections between American Media Inc., the Enquirer’s parent, and Saudi Arabia. (The recent murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents, and the kingdom’s reported penchant for mobile spyware, lend plausibility.)

To be clear: I have no privileged information about the entity behind this whodunnit caper; I will note, however, a worthwhile contribution toward the howdunnit. In all the speculation, a blog post by Rob Graham, CEO of Errata Security, a hacking shop, stood out. Using a cheap, online “people finder” service, he was able to discover possible contact information for Bezos’ ladylove, including email addresses, phone numbers, and the names of close relatives. Entering Sanchez’s email addresses into a database of compromised login credentials—the recent mega-leak dubbed “Collection #1”—turned up associated passwords. If Sanchez reused compromised passwords to secure Bezos’ love notes, this might explain the dallying duo’s undoing. If that’s true, then the methods behind this intrusion might not have involved super-sophisticated spy-craft so much as teenage hacker hi-jinx.

Again, I have no idea how these leaks were procured, or who did it, but Graham’s findings suggest at least one possible, simple explanation. If the security of both parties to a conversation is not up to snuff, everyone suffers. “If you send sexy messages and you are a celebrity, there are large parts of the hacker underground who specialize in trying to steal them,” Graham notes—a statement that is not an endorsement, but a reality. Through password reuse and phishing attacks, “getting celebrity nude pics is fairly simple.” He adds: “there is no reason to consider conspiracy theories at this time.”

People interested in protecting their own privacy might consider the following advice: Segment your information by using multiple email accounts dissociated from your real-life identity. Secure your digital accounts with strong and unique passwords—and use a tool like HaveIBeenPwned to make sure none of these has been compromised. Adopt two-factor authentication as an added layer of protection. And finally, instruct confidantes in the merits and methods of proper digital security. (Heck, you might even recommend they sign up for this newsletter.)

If a nation state goes after you, it’s likely game over. But there are steps you can take to make it harder for run-of-the-mill hackers to get their hands on your goodies.

Robert Hackett

@rhhackett

[email protected]

Welcome to the Cyber Saturday edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily tech newsletter. Fortune reporter Robert Hackett here. You may reach Robert Hackett via Twitter, Cryptocat, Jabber (see OTR fingerprint on my about.me), PGP encrypted email (see public key on my Keybase.io), Wickr, Signal, or however you (securely) prefer. Feedback welcome.

Sony stock perks up after first-ever share buyback announcement

TOKYO (Reuters) – Sony Corp announced its first-ever share buyback on Friday, worth 100 billion yen ($910 million), helping its stock recover somewhat from the hammering it received earlier in the week when the technology firm reported lacklustre earnings.

FILE PHOTO – Journalists wait for Sony Corp’s new President and Chief Executive Officer Kenichiro Yoshida’s news conference on the company’s business plan at Sony’s headquarters in Tokyo, Japan May 22, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

The announcement marked Japan’s second major buyback this week after technology investor SoftBank Group Corp said it would repurchase 600 billion yen worth of stock on Wednesday, sending its share price soaring.

Both stocks had been under pressure prior to the announcements reflecting investor unease over the outlook for the global technology industry amid falling demand in China.

Sony said its buyback, its first-ever aimed at boosting shareholder returns, will be equivalent to 2.36 percent of its outstanding shares and will be conducted through March 22.

“Our financial health has improved enough to conduct the repurchases,” a Sony spokesman said, adding that recent share prices were also a factor in its decision.

Hiroyasu Nishikawa, senior analyst at IwaiCosmo Securities, said the buyback showed how much Sony had changed over the years, responding more to shareholders.

“This announcement was well timed, and it shows they are watching the market very well,” he said. “Sony’s gradually been recovering in the past few years.”

Until a few years ago, Sony had been struggling with losses as its consumer electronics business lost market share to Asian rivals. It has since reinvented itself as an entertainment company with stable revenue from music content and gaming.

But its shares had plunged 14 percent this week to their lowest in more than a year after the company reported lower-than-expected profit as its previously thriving gaming business sagged – though a one-off gain related to its acquisition of EMI nevertheless pushed the quarterly result to a record high.

Sony also cut its profit outlook for imaging sensors, citing weakness in the global smartphone market.

The buyback announcements also come as Japanese companies have been increasing share repurchases amid growing calls for higher shareholder return. Instruments maker Yamaha Corp and trading house Itochu Corp also announced buybacks along with their quarterly earnings in the past week.

Sony has been steadily increasing shareholder return through higher dividends over the last couple of years. It paid 7.09 percent of its profit in dividend in the last fiscal year, compared with 22.5 percent at U.S. tech giant Apple Inc, according to Refinitiv data.

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki and Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Christopher Cushing

7 Traits the Most Successful Employees Share (That Can Keep You Ahead of Competitors)

Every mature company I know is looking for more innovation from within. They are painfully aware that tenure on the list of S&P companies is shrinking — from thirty-three years back in 1964, down to twenty-four in 2016, and predicted to be just twelve by 2027.

They need inside intrapreneurs: people who work at the company who think and act like the entrepreneurs who are disrupting their business.

I have seen this happening firsthand from my years of experience in several big-name companies, including IBM and Fujitsu. In my view, success starts with nurturing and bringing in the right people to make it happen, or being one of the right people from within if you want your career to blossom.

I just completed a new book on this challenge, Disrupt-It-Yourself, by Simone Bhan Ahuja, which includes a great summary of the required attributes to maximize your success potential in this area.

I don’t believe that any of these requires a birthright, and all can be adopted or learned by anyone, so I encourage you to take a hard look at your own interests and key team members:

1. Action trumps ideas and more analysis every time.

Real change comes from people who are obsessed with action, not ideas. Thinking and analysis without execution feels like zero cost to existing organizations, but it actually ignores the opportunity cost lost.

If you act, you learn from other people, especially customers, and you build momentum.

2. Focused on progress rather than process.

Most entrepreneurs realize that for early stage startups, process is the enemy of progress, slowing you down when you’re trying to move forward.

But more mature companies have learned that scaling a business requires process, so the focus changes. Intrapreneurs have to always think like entrepreneurs.

3. Relishes the opportunity to learn from problems.

Corporate environments tend to treat problems as failures, rather than opportunities. People are trained to avoid change, and stick with the safer status quo.

True entrepreneurs, like Thomas Edison, realize that the biggest innovations come from solving problems, such as failing light bulb filaments.

4. Loves to “hack” new outcomes from existing systems.

In software, hackers love the intellectual challenge of confronting a system designed to do one thing and cleverly exploit it to achieve something different.

That’s the essence of innovation, and good intrapreneurs need to find new opportunities by bending existing strengths in new ways.

5. Reach out across the aisle for complementary talent.

Smart intrapreneurs know they can’t do it alone, and know how to enlist the help they need by making it clear “what’s in it” for others.

They enjoy engaging in informal partnering and co-design solutions with other stakeholders, while making the total opportunity as much possible about others. 

6. Married to a mission, but not just to one way to do it.

The people you desire know the “what” and the “why,” but don’t want to be told “how.” They are always looking for gaps and misalignments, and thrive on changes, even radical changes, so the organization performs better.

In this context, strategy deviations can keep the company on track.

7. Frugal by nature, and don’t ask for much to proceed.

Even though they see huge budgets all around, they prefer to start on the cheap (like an entrepreneur), reusing existing resources, working on the side, and employing messy, make-do methods over expensive sanctioned systems that have long approval cycles and much oversight.

Because fostering entrepreneurship internally is hard, many companies have now shifted their innovation focus to acquisitions and partnerships.

All have found that this approach can be equally difficult, due to the integration of multiple corporate cultures, processes, supplier dependencies, and management styles.

Thus, I continue to assert that effectively harnessing and building of internal talent to drive innovation from within will continue to be one of the single most important factors for your company’s long-term success.

It starts with a mindset that disrupting your business regularly is necessary, before your competition and new startups do it to you. Measure your tenure from today.