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Lightbank invests in San Francisco startup Qwiki

Lightbank, the Chicago investment firm run by Groupon backers Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell, has invested $1 million in Qwiki, a San Francisco, Calif.-based startup. Get the full story »

Groupon co-founder to head state innovation panel

Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to announce during his budget address Wednesday the creation of an innovation council to be headed by Groupon co-founder Brad Keywell.

Part of the council’s job will be to determine what kind of projects the state needs to support to be able to compete in the global market place, such as developing new technologies in agriculture, finance or in a combination of industries. Get the full story »

FeeFighters snags $1.6M in new funding

FeeFighters, a local startup that helps small businesses compare credit-card processors, has raised $1.6 million in a new round of funding. Get the full story »

Google searches for new role as business incubator

A small team has toiled since early October in a quiet corner of Google Inc.’s sprawling campus in Mountain View, Calif., on a project related to the discovery of human antibodies.

The group is not part of Google and has nothing to do with Google’s flagship Internet search business. Get the full story »

Sources: Groupon rejects Google’s offer; will stay independent

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason speaks at the company's headquarters on Aug. 31, 2010. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

By Melissa Harris and Wailin Wong

The deal didn’t tip after all.

Chicago-based Groupon Inc. has turned down an acquisition offer from Google Inc. and is staying independent, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation said Friday.

The two companies had been engaged in talks, with speculation about the marriage reaching a fever pitch over the last week. Mountain View, Calif.-based Google reportedly had offered between $5 billion and $6 billion for the daily deal start-up. Get the full story »

Facebook, Amazon launch $250M startup fund

Betting that the future of the Web is in social apps and services, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, along with Amazon, Facebook and Zynga are launching a $250 million fund to help such startups grow. Get the full story »

Investors pour $510K into start-up TransFS

TransFS, a Chicago-based start-up that helps small businesses compare credit-card processors, has raised $510,000 in its first round of funding.

TransFS was launched in the spring of 2009 by Sean Harper and Joshua Krall, classmates at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. The company provides a comparison shopping Web site for credit-card processors, including ratings, reviews and explanations of how contracts work. Get the full story »

Small biz faces roughest business climate in years

Small businesses are facing the most difficult business climate in three years, according to a report released today.

Among the most troubling signs: Four out of every 10 small business owners are unable to secure adequate financing, according to the National Small Business Association’s mid-year economic report.

Indeed, it has been 17 years since this many small businesses have had such a difficult time getting loans, said Todd McCracken, president of the Washington D.C.-based organization. Get the full story »

Ex-McDonald’s execs cook up casual concept

From Advertising Age | Two former McDonald’s executives plan to launch a chain of casual dining restaurants emphasizing healthy fair including steel-cut oats and pita pockets starting next year.

Groupon expands into Minneapolis

From Fox News Twin Cities | Chicago-based Groupon, which is currently in 40 cities, is expanding its coupon offerings to Minneapolis. Groupon is expected to be in 100 cities in the U.S. by the end of 2010.

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Fast Company: Chicago a great place for business

Fast Company | The Windy City has a strong startup culture, lots of federal research dollars, and talented fourth-generation entrepreneurs, says Fast Company magazine. In an article on Chicago’s business culture, Fast Company interviews Matt McCall, a partner at New World Ventures and managing director at DFJ Portage. McCall notes that Chicago is home to many of the largest companies in the U.S., and that the city “is where many Internet mainstays were launched, from the jobs site CareerBuilder and travel service Orbitz to RSS technology innovators Feedburner.”

McCall describes a typical Chicago entrepreneur as “incredibly capital efficient because obviously capital is scarce in the Midwest…they tend to be very collaborative and cooperative.”

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