Archive for September, 2011

Autonomy: When All Else Fails, Blame the Bankers

September 30, 2011  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Rule No. 1 when you find yourself in a public relations hole: Stop digging. Mike Lynch, the CEO of Autonomy, the software company being acquired by Hewlett-Packard in an $11.7 billion deal, seems not to have learned this lesson because the hole he’s in keeps getting deeper. As we reported Wednesday, Oracle decided to slap Lynch silly with a public rebuke concerning his comments to The Wall Street Journal that his company had never been shopped to Oracle . Always eager to clear up the record — just, well, you know, because — Oracle went on to publish the PowerPoint slides sent by investment banker Frank Quattrone of Qatalyst Partners to Mark Hurd in January. The slides may or may not have had anything to do with a meeting held by Lynch, Quattrone, Oracle President Mark Hurd and its head of M&A, Douglas Kehring, in April. Or not! You see, the stories vary. (Oracle, by the way, has since taken down the slides, but you can still read them here Update: And we’re now told the slides are back up . Interesting! ) But what about the email those slides arrived with originally? Well a kindly source has sent it to us. Dated Jan. 26 — you can read it below — it was sent to Hurd by Quattrone (whose address I’ve deleted as a courtesy). Judge for yourself, but it sure reads like the wind-up to a sales pitch to me. From: Frank Quattrone Date: January 26, 2011 7:48:37 AM PST To: “‘mark.hurd@oracle.com’” Subject: Fw: Autonomy slides Hi Mark, It was great to catch up earlier this month. I wanted to follow up by sending the slides I promised on Autonomy. Given its strong position in managing unstructured data (such as video, voice and photos), “meaning based” contextual enterprise search, data protection, compliance, archiving and content/web management, I beleive it’s a very strategic asset that could alter the balance of power in the industry for whoever might acquire it. And despite its strong track record of growth and very high profitability (50 pct margins), it trades at less than 20x earnings and around 11x Ebitda, huge discounts to the other strategic software assets of scale. Please let me know if you would like me to follow up with you, Doug K or otherwise. Thanks Frank And it was! At least the email part.

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Alibaba’s Jack Ma at Stanford: "We Are Very Interested" in Buying the "Whole" of Yahoo

September 30, 2011  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

In answer to a direct question about whether his company was going to buy Yahoo at a forum at Stanford University in Silicon Valley this afternoon, Alibaba Chairman and CEO Jack Ma said: “We are very interested.” Said Ma: “We are very interested in Yahoo. Our Alibaba group is important to Yahoo and Yahoo is important to us…All the serious buyers interested in Yahoo have talked to us.” Finally, at least one crystal clear answer in the confusion at Yahoo and the first time Ma has indicated that he wanted to be a principal player in any deal around Yahoo rather than an element of a buying group. Later, in answer to a question about how he was going to do that, Ma said he wanted the “whole” company, but that the effort was complicated and included a number of players. Again, he said: “We are very, very interested.” I also asked him is he had visited Yahoo in his trip to California, which Ma said he has not in 15 days here. Apparently, he said he has mostly been sleeping and eating, as part of a longer term visit to the U.S. Ma’s declaration came as part of a lively closing keynote at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, where he talked about the Chinese Internet company’s growth, focusing on how China is the next great Web economy. Talking about competitors such as eBay, which have tried to enter the huge Asia market, he joked that “eBay might be sharks in the ocean, but Alibaba is a crocodile in the Yangtze.” Of course, given his presence in Silicon Valley, the main topic that was of interest in whether Ma was heading over to visit nearby Yahoo and what role he will play in the current internal debate over the company’s future in the wake of the ousting of its CEO Carol Bartz. The disposition on Yahoo’s Asian assets, which includes 40 percent of Alibaba and a large stake in Yahoo! Japan, are critical to the current strategic review of the company, since they make up a large part of its market valuation. In comparison, the value of its U.S. and other global assets are small. When later asked about his experience of being involved with Yahoo, which made a very canny investment in Alibaba many years ago, Ma also said that he would do it again, but not in the same way. The same way has to do with the level of foreign ownership, which Ma has been trying to reduce in a number of ways and which Yahoo has thus far resisted. To answer question about the fight between Ma and Yahoo over its Alipay fight, when Ma spun it out of Alibaba, he said the situation was tense, but that today “the problem is solved and I am half-burnt.” He was referring to a settlement, which will require a lot of growth from the still-nascent payments business. Ma was asked later about the biggest misunderstanding between the U.S

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Are Zynga’s Second-Quarter Results Anything to Worry About?

September 30, 2011  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Are Zynga’s revenues trending in the wrong direction? In the second quarter, Zynga said its “bookings,” which are sales recorded during the same three-month period, dipped 4 percent. Additionally, it said three million fewer people played their games on a daily basis than in the previous quarter. After the company’s updated IPO filing was released last week, critics have been dissecting the results and coming to the conclusion that the drop in bookings is a sign of things to come. So, is it? Probably not. In fact, the San Francisco social games company, which is seeking to raise $1 billion in the public markets, may be gearing up for its second wind. In the first half of the year, Zynga launched only one major game — Empires & Allies — to break a five-month hiatus. Since then, it has moved quickly, announcing two other major releases: Adventure World and Mafia Wars 2. In addition, it has launched a number of minor releases, including an expansion to FrontierVille, as well as Words With Friends, which was brought over to Facebook from mobile. It has also launched two titles on Google’s new games network, and it is making a big announcement on Oct.

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Universal Television nails first outside sales

September 30, 2011  |  Variety  |  No Comments

TV News: NBC sister studio sells scripts to ABC, CBS -- NBC's newly rechristened studio sibling Universal Television wasted no time meeting its goal of getting into business with other networks, announcing script sales to ABC and CBS on Friday.

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How Amazon Got Fire (Comic)

September 30, 2011  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

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Witnesses reporting backfire heard from @theonion

September 30, 2011  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Humor online is a tricky thing, as any misunderstood internet commenter can tell you. Part of what makes comedy work are subtle cues and indicators of “play,” that we’re in on this humor thing together. When the medium for that exchange is something as minimal as Twitter (you’ve got 140 characters, and that’s all), strip those subtle cues out and—well, stuff like this happens. Boing Boing partner Xeni Jardin , discussing an “oddly presented” and largely misunderstood tweet from @theonion yesterday morning reporting that screams and gunfire had been heard inside the Capitol building

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Kodak Hires Restructuring Lawyers

September 30, 2011  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Eastman Kodak Co. has hired law firm Jones Day for restructuring advice as it faces growing concerns from investors over its turnaround prospects, people familiar with the matter said. The move to hire restructuring lawyers signals Kodak is intensifying efforts to ensure it has the financial wherewithal to complete a difficult strategic and financial revamp. Shares in the 131-year-old company have lost around a third of their value this week following Kodak’s disclosure that it pulled $160 million from a credit line. Read the rest of this post on the original site »

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Beach Session: Google+ Team Circles Up in Maui

September 30, 2011  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

A week after Facebook debuted substantial revamps of its core design and sharing platform, the Google+ team is hard at work. Well, as hard at work as you can be on a trip to Maui. Sources told us the Google+ team has decamped to relax and discuss strategy in Hawaii for the past few days, and their own Google+ photo streams are full of geo-tagged beach snaps that back the story up. Asked for comment, a Google spokeswoman replied, “Part of the Google+ team is attending an offsite this week.” A source said that the members of the Google+ team also had visited Hawaii for a celebratory offsite right after the launch. Perhaps this is a repeat or a second trip for those who didn’t get to join the first. Update: Mike Arrington is reporting on Uncrunched that 450 Google employees are at this week’s event. It might be hard to believe, but in Silicon Valley’s competitive job market, trips to Hawaii aren’t unheard of. As I recall, the Facebook Photos team also had a Hawaii “offsite” after a major launch last year. Here’s a fire dancing snapshot from the Google+ photo stream of software engineer Eider Oliveira, who posted it last night with the fitting caption “I’ve circled you.” And here’s a stunning sunset picture from Chris Chabot, a Google+ developer advocate. This gorgeous Instagrammed shot at Haleakala National Park from open Web advocate Chris Messina hit the Instagram popular list last night.

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Oracle Buying Hewlett-Packard? Fuhgeddaboudit!

September 30, 2011  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Amid all the recent drama that has unfolded at Hewlett-Packard — and the he-said she-said back and forth concerning Oracle and whether or not it was approached to buy Autonomy before HP ponied up — lies a lingering meme that refuses to die: That somehow the software giant Oracle is going to make a bid for HP. Given the recent feuds between the management teams at the two companies, Oracle’s acquisitive history and HP’s sudden weakness, it doesn’t take much for a popular narrative of Oracle buying HP to emerge. It would be a dramatic denouement to the events of the last year that have found HP and Oracle at increasingly caustic loggerheads. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison would take some kind of victory lap and mount HP on the wall like a of trophy. The idea gained some currency with an Aug. 21 story in the New York Post (which, like this Web site, is owned by News Corp.) arguing that HP’s $11.7 billion bid for the British software firm Autonomy, having caused shareholders to knock $12 billion and change off HP’s market cap, would therefore make HP more attractive to Oracle. The meme gained further currency with a Bloomberg News story saying that HP’s board was “ concerned ” that its weakened condition had left it vulnerable to Oracle. Let me put it like this: No. Just, no . The first problem with the notion is this: What parts of HP would Oracle want to own? Answer: Practically none. First, let’s look at the condition of Oracle: Its mainline software businesses are showing healthy returns, while its hardware business, built on the foundation of Sun Microsystems, the IT hardware concern it acquired last year for $7 billion, is ramping up to full speed. But here’s a fundamental truth: Software carries a higher profit margin than hardware, so when software companies buy hardware companies, they can’t avoid seeing their overall profitability erode.

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‘George’ gets West End reign

September 30, 2011  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Legit News: Road version lands in London next year -- "The Madness of George III," the historical drama by Alan Bennett ("The History Boys") revived for a U.K. tour by helmer Christopher Luscombe, will transfer to the West End's Apollo Theater for a limited run Jan. 18 - March 31 with a Jan. 23 opening.

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