Back to the Future: Wired buys Ars Technica

ars soldWhen Wired magazine came on the scene it was the essence of Geek Chic.  It was business news for the up and comer, forward looking journalism for the techno Internet industrialists.   Founded in 1993, the magazine was quick to draw raves, winning industry awards for design and general excellence.  It set a standard for innovation and vision.  Then the Internet bubble burst.  Along with it, the audience of need-to-know-know news hungry entrepreneurs shrank.   Advertisers had less interest to spend.  To survive, Wired evolved and sought new readers.  While peers like Industry Standard and Business 2.0 stayed their courses and shuttered, Wired became more mainstream, broader.  With a wider, more diverse audience, the property survived the crash, even weathered through complex ownership  issues ( and Wired magazine shared content but had different owners from 1998 to 2006).  Along the way, however, Wired lost some of its “Silicon Street” credibility.

Over the past two years,, Wired’s owner, has moved to restore some of that digital cache. Click to Read More

The Gaming Surge Continues: April NPD

game dataThe debut of Grand Theft Auto IV was one of those rare releases guaranteed to influence sales results; not that the gaming industry needs any help these days.  And even with a late in the month debut, even with just a few days to wield influence, that’s exactly what GTA IV did.   NPD North American retail numbers were released this week.  As has become common, the results were strong.

In total, April saw $1.23b in retail sales, up from $836.6m last year, a 47 percent increase.   Month to month, things were a little more measured:  April sales showed some seasonal slowdown compared to March.  The effect of Easter falling early also likely had some influence.   Still, year over year, impressive trends are continue.  Year to date, the industry is tracking 31% ahead of last year’s record setting pace. 

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Time Warp: Corporate Raiding Redux. Yahoo, CBS, CNET and Icahn

proxyfights.jpgThe big merger news this week was supposed to come Friday with the expiration date of Electronic Arts hostile takeover for Take Two.  Unfortunately, a number of people didn’t get the memo.  Instead, Thursday became the big day for M&A activity with not one but two major announcements lighting up the news wires. 

On one front, CBS stepped up to rescue CNET from the grips of activist shareholders by means of a $1.8billion cash tender offer.  Elsewhere, financier Carl Icahn went public with his plans for Yahoo.  He’ll begin the process Microsoft was unwilling to initiate: a tender offer to take control of Yahoo’s board of directors.

Three major deals in a week – two of them hostile and one something of a white knight rescue… it almost seems like we’ve slid back to the 80’s. Click to Read More

The Official Words: Icahn to Bostock, Bostock to Icahn

lettersCarl Icahn today made his interest in Yahoo official.  More details on the proxy fight can be found in the related summary article here on Metue. Here, reprinted in entirety are the letters exchanged between Carl Icahn, initiating the attack, and Yahoo’s Roy Bostock, acknowledging it. (Biographies of his proposed board slate are available here).

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The Icahn Slate: Proposed Yahoo Board Members

With the proxy fight officially initiated, Carl Icahn attached his nominees for Yahoo’s board to his letter to Roy Bostock. The full list of candidates, which mix former executives like Mark Cuban  ( and HD Net) , John Chapple (Nextel)  and Frank Biondi (Viacom) along with a number of professional investors is reprinted below along with biographies for each candidate.

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Icahnography: Strategies of Icahn, Meaning for Yahoo

icahnographyLooks like the story to watch is quickly becoming the story of the day.  Early rumors of Carl Icahn buying shares of Yahoo stock and gearing up for a proxy fight are now being supported by widespread reports that cite “sources familiar” or “involved in the matter.”  From Reuters to the WSJ, and all across the blogosphere of financial news, the news rooms and pundits are buzzing.

The reports for now provide the following set of facts (or suspected facts):

•Icahn is preparing to nominate a slate of 10, possibly 12, directors by Thursday’s deadline.
•One of the nominees is expected to be former Viacom CEO (1987 to 1996), and past Icahn compatriot, Frank Biondi.
•Icahn is proceeding with his strategy without any assurances from Microsoft that they’ll revisit merger discussions in a friendly deal if an Icahn controlled board initiates it.
•DF King has been retained to work on proxy solicitation, or prepare accordingly, should a proxy fight begin.
•Icahn is holding more than $1b of Yahoo stock.  Rough estimates are that he has at least 50million shares.

Views can be deceptive. At first glance, the shareholdings and press leaks (which may be as engineered as the share purchases) have all the makings of a straightforward corporate raid.  Icahn buys shares, rallies support among institutional investors privately, builds buzz in the press to add additional support, then uses the consortium to replace the board and sell out. Click to Read More

EA Reports Q4 and Year End Results

earns eaAcquisitions and corporate reorganizations can be expensive and time consuming.   Electronic Arts, which has worked through both in the past year, demonstrated just how much Tuesday with the release of Q4 and yearend earnings.

Partly due to onetime charges, the game publisher recorded a quarterly loss of $94m.  The good news, on an adjusted basis, they earned $30m (9 cents a share), up from $19m last year.  The results were also more than good enough to surpass analyst consensus expectations.

By the Numbers:
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