Management Shakeups from Facebook to Warner Music

staff changesPeter Lynch used to say, “the person that turns over the most rocks wins the game.”  The revolving door of executive management changes sometimes seems to fit that sentiment.  New strategies and new people come and go as individual and company both seek new challenges and new perspectives in the pursuit of their goals.    Over the past couple of weeks, from Warner Music to Atari to NBCU/GE to Facebook, even Sony’s Crackle, there have been a handful of high profile leadership changes.   

Facebook recently lost chief revenue officer and COO Owen Van Natta.   His departure left a void in the experienced leadership column for the high profile social network.   To fill the gap and add a figurehead with the balance of brains, expertise and managerial skill, they’ve lured away Google’s VP of Global Online Sales and Operations Sheryl Sandberg.

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Disney Tries Again with Mobile Service

disney mvnoFor all the achievements, kid centric, branded mobile phones haven’t been among Disney’s successes.  For that matter, all past Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO’s license airspace from other network operators rather than running their own cellular network) efforts, including an ESPN sports themed mobile service, have failed for Disney.  That isn’t stopping them from trying again.  Somebody in Mouse-land thinks there’s gold “in d’em de’re hills” and it’s just a matter of getting the formula (and geography right). 

Disney MVNO version 3, was officially revealed Monday.   The new service will narrowly target the Japanese market in partnership with Softbank. It will also focus on a new demographic.

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By the Numbers: Recent Stats in Perspective

numbers and statsStatistics and comparative numbers hit the airwaves and headlines of business news every day.  “The price represents a 39% premium over the prior day’s close.” “Total U.S. gaming sales were up 18% over the same period in the prior year”  EBITDA. Market Share.  Off. On.  Positive. Negative.   Today’s grabber was an announcement from retail tracking firm NPD that Apple surpassed Best Buy to become the number two music retailer (offline and on) in the U.S.

Boiled down, it seems there is a number to tell any story, or as often, support any argument.   But what might these digits look like in perspective?   Outside the microcosm of tech, or media tech, what do some of the statistics translate to?

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RIP HD DVD: Toshiba Officially says Goodbye

rip hd dvdWith the expectation that Internet video will eventually replace DVDs, many have viewed the battle to set a high definition standard as an anti-climactic, largely irrelevant, marketing experiment.  To them it’s been a fire drill in an empty building.  To the studios and hardware manufacturers standing to make billions in revenue in this intermediate period (which could last five, ten or fifteen years), it’s been anything but trivial.  Now, it’s official.  HD DVD will join Betamax and Laserdisc in the pantheon of displaced technologies.  Blu Ray disc has won.

Toshiba, HD DVDs primary, backer announced Tuesday they will officially, and deliberately, exit the market.  Click to Read More

In The Cloud: An Alternate Theory of Microsoft Yahoo

cloud computing mergerIt’s about the price… News Corp is in… News Corp won’t play… Microsoft will destroy Yahoo…Yahoo isn’t worth more than what’s offered. 

There’s been so much commentary on the proposed mega merger, it borders on overwhelming.  Anyone with an inkling of insight on tech and an opinion is weighing in while we all wait for the next dose of fact to supplant innuendo.   While I wait, one wonder keeps hitting me: is Microsoft’s collective head in the cloud?

That phrasing may sound odd but it’s not a typo.  It is meant to be just one cloud – as in the so named concept of Cloud Computing. 

As much as web traffic and advertising dominance make an approachable, and rational, near term justification for this deal.  There’s also a longer term vision; something more in Microsoft’s strategic vision.    Cloud computing, as esoteric as it sometimes seems, could be part of it.  Research, sound bytes from the executives themselves and a deeper look into just what this vague concept of computing actually means seems to make for a logical argument:

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News Corp to Yahoos Rescue: Possibly but not Probably

news white knightOne of the rumors floating around the potential merger of Microsoft and Yahoo is that News Corp.  is in discussions to get involved.  The idea, which started floating on blogs like Tech Crunch and Silicon Alley Insider late last night and since escalated to Wall Street Journal reporting, speculates that News Corp is considering rolling MySpace (and possible more of Fox Interactive Media’s assets) into Yahoo.  In exchange, and along with cash paid to Yahoo, News Corp and possible private equity partners would take a substantial stake, as much as 30% of the combined property.

Anything is possible in the Wild West like fog of the Micro-Hoo scenario. News Corps opportunistic investigation certainly makes sense. Where I’m having a difficult time is forming an opinion as to whether such conversations have any shot at being fruitful.  It’s not that Rupert Murdoch has explicitly said no to buying Yahoo (“We are definitely not going to make a bid for Yahoo”).  Click to Read More

Murdoch Speaks: The State of News Corp

news corp q2After the close of markets Monday, News Corp released their second quarter earnings.  The numbers, which are reported below, were very good on an operating level despite slightly missing profit expectations. Also, in a true rarity for this earnings season, the company raised its guidance for fiscal 2008 operating income. 

More insightful than the numbers was the analysts call and Q&A. Rupert Murdoch’s participation is a little like a light version of Warren Buffet’s famous annual meeting speeches.  Mr. Murdoch is at times frank, occasionally reserved but always on point and extremely well informed.  At one point, he even corrected one of his colleagues on the numbers. What follows are some of Murdoch’s comments on the News Corp empire, broken out by theme:

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