Icahn Calls, Motorola Finally Listens: Company to Split in Two

motorola cutsCarl Icahn’s not asking Motorola if “they can hear him now.”  Wednesday, the beleaguered company caved to shareholder pressure and announced they would agree to split the business into two separate companies.  One will house the mobile devices (cell phone) business.  The other will become home to their broadband and mobility solutions group.

In a press release, Motorola said the separation is expected to happen in 2009 and that it will be implemented as a tax-free shareholder distribution.  A new CEO will be recruited to run the phone company.

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Dear Boardmembers: Carl Icahn’s Letter to Motorola

Responding to the decision to split the company by Motorola’s board, investor Carl Icahn sent the following letter on Wednesday. It is reprinted from a copy attached to filings made with the SEC (they are available on their Edgar Database):


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Blockbuster Gives Shareholders Voice: Approves Say or Pay

bbi cash voteLast spring, shareholders at Blockbuster took advantage of proxy season to vote their thoughts on issues of executive salaries.   By a slim majority, 57%, they became the first of many companies to pass a “say on pay” shareholder proposal.   (Verizon shareholders passed a similar resolution a few days later).  Tuesday, Blockbuster became the first major media company to accept the non-binding proposal at the board level.

The “say or pay” concept, which was initially suggested to Blockbuster by the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, calls for an annual shareholder vote (pro or con, yay or nay) on executive pay.  It is not binding, and a compensation committee has no obligation to agree, but it does insure the shareholders have a voice in the process.

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Open iMeem: Music Service Gives Programmers the Catalog

imeem openIn the world of Web 2.0 and social networking “open” is the new black; it’s the “it” trend.  On the same day that Yahoo shook hands with Google and MySpace to join their Open Social programming specification, and the same day Microsoft announced a broad data portability pact with 5 other social networks, digital music network iMeem announced they were launching an open platform of their own.

The iMeem service, dubbed a “Media Platform” aims to go further than other offerings.  Click to Read More

Jury Pool: Gibson vs Guitar Hero et all, You Decide

guitar hero suitThe last time I had jury duty, I spent several hours waiting as prosecutors and defense attorneys horse-traded their way to a plea agreement behind closed doors.  Before being dismissed, the judge on the case addressed us to say thank you for our service.  Your time wasn’t wasted, she told us.  Even though we weren’t impaneled, we served a valuable role as leverage.  Our presence, and the ability to carry the case to trial it represented, was the point. 

That same kind of brinkmanship seems to be at play in an increasingly nasty patent battle being waged by Gibson Guitars at all things Guitar Gaming related.  The question is: are the lawsuits aimed at Guitar Hero and Rock Band threat enough to force a settlement, or are the patent issues so inapplicable in the eyes of the defendants that they’ll let the courts make the call.    

In court anything is possible. But having read the files and studied up on patent law, this doesn’t look like a case on the settlement path.  Readers can be their own Jury on this one.  Here are the details: Click to Read More

Management Shakeups: Surprise CFO Change at EA and Shift at CBS Mobile

staff changesThe dinner table may be set at Electronic Arts but the guest list seems to be changing.  After naming former Ticketmaster CEO John Pleasants as COO last week, today the company announced the surprise departure of Chief Financial Officer Warren Jenson.   For now, a replacement isn’t officially being named but that news is expected to come relatively soon.

In the interim, under a transition agreement (available here), Jenson has signed to remain on board through September. Click to Read More

Palm Continues to Struggle

palm.jpgDespite a burgeoning market for smart-phones and a voracious consumer and corporate appetite for Blackberry’s and iPhones in the US, once leading player Palm continues to struggle.   Their market share is hovering around nine percent (Apple took approximately 28 percent of the U.S. Smart Phone market in less than one year.  RIM’s Blackberry has 41%. (via Canalys)).  Since October,  Palm’s stock price has fallen more than 60%.  Since Elevation Partners purchased a 25% stake in June, the company’s market cap has shrunk to just above $500m 

(Palm’s shares were up about 10% to $19.57 per share following the deal but optimism was short-lived as Palm continued to lose business and see cash reserves erode.)

Thursday, Palm announced their earnings for the third quarter.  After two quarters of lowered guidance, there was again little to get excited about.  Click to Read More

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