From earnings to sell offs, lawsuits to forecasts:The EA and Take Two Deal Diary

ea ttwo deal diaryEarnings are down but forecasts are up.  The pipeline is good but some big shareholders are selling. Some small shareholders are suing. There are new severance packages but nothing to fear.  “All is well” is the tagline. 

Such is the ongoing saga of Take Two Interactive as they sort through their own issues with the added monkey of Electronic Arts$2 billion takeover offer on their backs.  It’s a story with more twists and turns than an installment of their popular Grand Theft Auto gaming franchise.   Here’s the plot summary for the latest news:

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Here’s Hulu: Video Site now Open

hulu_player_open.jpgWhen News Corp and NBC Universal partnered to launch their own video distribution portal many thought the odd couple partnership amongst two TV rivals would be little more than an expensive joke.  These weren’t companies known for building technology.  Nor were these companies, or their brethren in traditional media, known for playing well in the sandbox with each other.  The pairing seemed so unlikely many began deriding the then unnamed company with the name:  “Clown Co.” 

In August, the jokes got cruder when the company sold a 10% stake to Private Equity firm Providence Equity Partners.  The deal valued them, an unlaunched, non-public company at a billion dollars. Click to Read More

Babelgum Films: IPTV Company to Fund Original Works

babelgum filmsMost startups beg for money but having a billionaire backer has a way of twisting things like Alice’s rabbit hole.  That’s the case with Internet TV site Babelgum.  Monday, along with introducing a new beta release of their peer to peer software, the company announced that they were setting up a fund to invest in new original content. 

A total of €10 million has been budgeted.  The money will commission documentaries and shorts up to fifteen minutes in length.  They will air exclusively on Babelgum’s Internet network.

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EMI Won’t Abandon Trade Groups, Will Cut Fees to IFPI

emi piracyS.W.O.T and Cost-Benefit analysis are nothing new to consultants. They’re tools of the trade.  They’re also part of the vernacular of turnaround specialists looking to right the sinking ship of a company in crisis.  When such an executive walks into a troubled corporation one of the first things asked is what is returning value and what isn’t.  “Where is the pain?” the saying goes.  Under-performing sectors that aren’t part of the strategic vision end up on a short list to be euphemistically cut.

Last year, private equity firm Terra Firma entered the fray of the struggling music industry and privatized “Big 4” label EMI.   Quickly, they went looking for the trouble areas and one of the first areas to be called out was the music industry trade groups like the RIAA and the IFPI (the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry).  At a reported cost to the label of nearly $130m a year, there were serious questions whether these assorted lobbying groups were returning enough value to justify the expense. 

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Lionsgate to Test Bundling iTunes ready file on Select DVDs

lionsgate appleMini-major independent film producer Lionsgate announced Monday that they will become the third movie studio behind 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures to bundle an iTunes digital download with a DVD purchase starting in May.  According to the announcement, the packaging will begin with all special edition DVD and Blu Ray copies of Rambo.  A second movie, The Eye, featuring Jessica Alba, will also feature the bundled package when it’s released.

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Saban Capital Adds Digital Media Venture Focus

saban vcSand Hill Road in Silicon Valley remains ground zero for venture capital investment.  In 2007 Silicon Valley outpaced its closest geographic competitor by a factor of nearly three to one (via PWC Moneytree).  Still, even with a smaller scale Hollywood Blvd. is getting busier, generating more investment traffic, and building buzz.  Saban Capital Group is the latest to hang up a V.C. shingle to address the SoCal market.

First reported in the Hollywood Reporter, Haim Saban’s Saban Capital Group (SCG) is expanding from a focus on broad, large, traditional private equity deals to now also include more venture oriented digital media component in their portfolio mix.

Historically, SCG has been known for large media transactions. Haim Saban himself was behind Fox Family Worldwide which News Corp sold to Disney for $5.2b in 2001. Click to Read More

Samsung and Adidas offer Exercise Phone

micoachThe convergence of fitness and entertainment technology has become something of a trend.  Nintendo has been hawking their Wii Fit platformApple’s been joined at the foot with Nike.  Now Samsung is working out with Adidas.

Today the electronics maker introduced the MiCoach, a curious combination of mobile phone and MP3 player that is aimed narrowly at the fitness market.   Every bit a convergence device for the gadget freak, the system bundles all the key functionality of a cell phone with a small 1GB MP3 player, a heart rate monitor and an electronic training monitor into a single device.  All that’s missing is a water bottle and gym membership.

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