Icahn Trying to Revive Micro-hoo?

chairs-board.jpgWith a stock price down to the mid 20s and Microsoft saying they’ve “been there, done that” and aren’t coming back, there are more than a few Yahoo shareholders second guessing whether Yahoo management overplayed their hand.  They’re wondering if holding out was a mistake.  For billionaire investor Carl Icahn, their mistake may be his opportunity.

Reports are circulating that Icahn has bought as much as 50million shares of Yahoo stock in the past week, an amount equal to about 3.5% of the company.  There are rumors he’s buying more too.  CNBC, in fact, reported Tuesday that Icahn may be gearing up for a proxy fight aimed at seating a new board and resuscitating Microsoft’s now scuttled takeover bid.

Click to Read More

HBO iTunes: Rumor to Reality

hbo itunesYesterday’s rumor is today’s fact.  It’s now official: HBO programming will air on Apple’s iTunes under a variable pricing model. Taking advantage of routine “iTunes Tuesday” updates, the Time Warner network and Apple confirmed the suspicions.

Effective immediately, iTunes will host HBO programming.  Breaking tradition, the shows will cost either $1.99 or $2.99 per episode.   Current programming from other outlets is currently priced at just $1.99.   Most of the shows offered (Soprano’s, Deadwood) do robust DVD sales and part of the justification for flexible pricing seems to be to reduce the potential for channel conflict between the two different distribution methods.  At $2.99, the increased price won’t erase the “digital discount” but it will make price differentials between DVD buys and Digital Downloads less dramatic.

Click to Read More

Applevine: The Latest iPhone and iTunes Rumors

applevine rumorsThe as yet still unscheduled premiere of iPhone 2.0 is getting closer and the frenzy is building.  With it, the rumors and speculation are picking up pace.  Two new iPhone whispers and one iTunes story have been passing down the AppleVine to start this week.

1. iPhone 3G Debut Date
Throughout April, iPhone product shortages fueled speculation Apple was thinning inventory in anticipation of the next iPhone product.  For the most part, the consensus was this channel inventory adjustments would build through June.  At that point, likely at Apple’s developer conference, the iPhone 3G would be introduced.   Occasionally, a whisper here or a rumor there has suggested an earlier (or later) delivery date could be the D (delivery) -Day too.

This weekend, news reports that Apple was no longer taking iPhone orders at their online US and UK stores brought the whispers of a possible day in May delivery Click to Read More

New Specialist VC: The Blackberry Partners Fund

Blackberry partners fundThere’s no question the current and next generation of mobile phones, products like the iPhone and RIM’s newly minted Blackberry Bold, have grand ambitions to advance and change their industry.  There’s also no question cottage industries are popping up to thrive on their coattails.

Where there is developing industry, there are investors.   In March, with Apple’s support, venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers (KPCB) pledged a sum of $100m for an investment initiative focus on forward thinking iPhone related software and services.  Now, Research in Motion is following suit with an investment focus of their own.

Monday, RIM announced the formation of a$150million fund to invest in services and applications for their rival Blackberry platform.  Canadian VC firms JLA Ventures and RBC Venture Partners are lending expertise to manage the fund. The fund will be called the Blackberry Partners Fund.

Click to Read More

By the Numbers: GTA IV Sales Stellar but Not Enough to Stall EA

gta ivTake Two knew they were going to have a hit on their hands with their new game.  The strength of the Grand Theft Auto brand, and increased market expectations caused by development delays, insured it.  The expectation was already set for a record breaker.  The question was – by how much would the bar be raised?  Microsoft’s Halo sold $300m in its first week on the market and was available for just one console (Xbox 360).  How much bigger a return could GTA IV do with the added PS3 audience?  And to follow up on that: on the Richter scale of gaming, would it be enough to impact Electronic Art’s pending take-over offer? Would it push them past the more than 60% trading pricing premium in their original offer? Looking at it by the numbers:

Click to Read More

Activision Beats Street, Earnings Stellar

activision earnsThe video gaming industry and the movie industry share a lot of common ground – narrative techniques, visual style, entertainment – but no factor is more influential to either industry than the importance of good titles.  It’s a little like the line from the movie “Field of Dreams” :  “If you build it they will come.”  If you have good quality games, you draw audiences and build money making franchises.  But if you make a dud? Revenues are sure to slump.

Game makers Midway and THQ haven’t been able to find the working formula and missed with earning as a resultActivision seems to have it locked in.

Thanks again to a surging game industry and phenomenal sales from the Guitar Hero and Call of Duty game franchises, Activision turned in stellar financial results Thursday.

Click to Read More

EA Buying Game Social Net Rupture?

ea rumorThere are a handful of surefire ways to know you’ve become a pop culture (or geek culture star): a major magazine cover shoot, being spoofed in a movie or TV show, or even playing yourself in a commercial.  Computer programmer Shawn Fanning can check all three off the list. From jokes that he stole the concept for the original Napster in 2003’s The Italian Job to a recent VW commercial, he’s had it all.

What he hasn’t had is an entrepreneurial home run; a company that’s succeeded. The original Napster file sharing service shifted the course of the music industry but as a business it wilted in the legal crosshairs of the music world.  Fanning’s follow up project Snocap was hyped to be a sophomore step up with its business to business music services.  That too, however, fell victim to tough times; a casualty of the antiquated DRM encryption environment that enveloped digital music sales.   Snocap sold out to iMeem officially in a fire sale last month.  The deal was reported back in February.

For all the efforts, the music industry just wasn’t proving a treasure trove for Fanning.   In his third startup, he shifted to gaming and now it looks like the adjustment may finally get him some entrepreneurial credit to go with his pop culture status.

Click to Read More

Page 3 of 512345