A review of the biggest small business and startup stories from the past week, with a focus on Washington.
Congress signs up for small-business insurance plans: Starting this year, federal lawmakers and their staff can enroll in health plans through the small-business exchange on the District’s new online insurance marketplace. So far, 12,359 representatives and staff members have purchased plans, representing two-thirds of the private insurance plans purchased so far in D.C., according to city health officials. (WP)
A chill on small business sales: Small employers had high hopes coming into the new year, however, one in three now say strong winter storms have caused them to reign in their sales expectations for the first three months of this year, according to a poll released last week by Vistage and the Wall Street Journal. (WSJ)
Small business helped USA win six medals: More than 5,000 miles away from the action, Hans deBot and his 20 employees watched last week as several of the bobsleds and skeletons they equipped with carbon fiber technology barreled down the ice tracks and into the record books during the Winter Olympics in Sochi. (WP)
Facebook forks over billions for app: The world’s largest social network has agreed to acquire mobile messaging company WhatsApp for $16 billion in cash and stock, representing the largest purchase of an Internet company in more than a decade. The app is particularly popular in countries including Brazil, India, and South Africa. (WP)
Disney launches start-up accelerator: Disney is teaming up with Techstars to launch a new technology accelerator, hoping to lure more talent from Silicon Valley down to Los Angeles. The program will offer a three-month mentorship program and $120,000 in funding to early-stage media and entertainment ventures. (UP)
Barbie becomes an entrepreneur: During the American Toy Fair last week in New York, Mattel unveiled a new entrepreneur version of its iconic doll. The Entrepreneur Barbie dons a pink work dress and — of course — comes complete with a tablet and smartphone. (ENT)
D.C. entrepreneur and investor launches new venture fund:Paul Singh, a former partner at venture fund 500 Startups and founder of Dashboard.io, a networking platform for entrepreneurs and investors, is now launching his own venture capital firm in the District. It will target maturing, post-seed-round start-ups on the East Coast. (TC)