Articles of the Day


Microsoft Plans $40 Billion Buyback — Microsoft on Monday announced that it would repurchase $40 billion worth of its own stock, and raise its quarterly dividend to 18% in an effort to spur investors into buying the company’s stock. That raises Microsoft’s dividend from 11 cents a share to 13 cents. The $40 billion buyback program will expire on Sept. 30, 2013. According to Reuters, the company recently completed a $40 billion stock repurchase program. It also said its board had issued debt financings “from time to time” of up to $6 billion. The company will use the proceeds from this for general corporate purposes.

Platform-A Gets Into The Ad Exchange Business With ‘BidPlace’ — While Yahoo’s Right Media and Google’s AdSense serve as the largest examples of online ad exchanges, AOL’s (NYSE: TWX) Platform-A wants them to make room for another one: later today, the Time Warner company will be introducing BidPlace, billed as a a self-service marketplace exchange which is set to launch during the first half of next year. In an interview with paidContent, Lynda Clarizio, Platform-A’s president, says that the exchange is being presented as a way for marketers to better manage their display campaigns. The announcement, coming on the second day of New York’s Advertising Week, also comes after months of industry reports showing that display advertising revenues have slowed considerably and the darkening economy has advertisers feeling less certain about the ad format. Clarizio says that BidPlace is not being created to allay such fears—though she seems to feel it should help. BidPlace has been in the works for some time, Clarizio says, emphasizing it is not a reaction to anything going on in the market right now or that recent warning that Time Warner gave last week about AOL possibly missing its revenue targets due to the ad slowdown.

Yahoo To Form Digital Advisory Council — Yahoo on Monday announced formation of a Digital Advisory Council made up of agency and advertising partners that it said will work together “to explore the continued evolution of digital media and online advertising.” More to the point, the effort is aimed at helping smooth adoption of Yahoo’s forthcoming display ad system and acceptance of its controversial search ad partnership with Google.

Microsoft Partners With CNBC On Mobile Ads — Microsoft will be the exclusive third-party display ad provider for the mobile Web site of CNBC, the companies announced Monday. The deal expands an online ad agreement Microsoft and the cable network reached last December and marks the software giant’s first mobile ad syndication deal in the U.S.

Ailing Newspapers: NY Sun Still Needs Cash; McClatchy CEO: ‘Too Early To Judge Knight-Ridder Buy’ — The New York Sun, the highbrow conservative daily in New York, needs cash now in order to survive. Just a couple of weeks ago, the company published a letter, saying that without fresh capital it would have to fold up shop. In an interview with NYT, editor and publisher Seth Lipsky says: “I haven’t raised all that I need, but I’ve raised a lot.” He added that avid readers have sent in checks of $100-$200, though that’s not going to cut it. He also seems pretty sure that Rupert Murdoch will not swoop in as a savior. The most likely rescue scenario at this point would be for a major, wealthy benefactor to step in with no illusions about getting a return on investment. Meanwhile McClatchy (NYSE: MNI) CEO Gary Pruitt made some surprising comments about the company’s 2006 acquisition of Knight-Ridder… In an interview with the Sacramento Bee, Pruitt said it was “too early to tell” whether it was a smart buy. Seeing as the company has already taken goodwill writedowns associated with the deal, and there’s no question that the overall business has deteriorated, this is a hard position to reconcile. He did add that “It’s hard to claim it’s a good deal when you see the stock performance,” so perhaps the earlier statement needs more context. Faced with a steep debt load, McClatchy made its second major employment cutback for the year, just last week.

Answers.com Writes Off Brainboost Acquisition; Does Away With Direct Ad Sales — Last week, the troubled Answers.com filed an S-3 with SEC. In it, it disclosed that it has written off its acquisition of Brainboost Technology, the developer of the Brainboost Answer Engine (BAE) that it bought in December 2005 for about $4.56 million, $4.0 million of which was in cash. The reason? It says that its WikiAnswers site of user-gen questions is growing much faster, and both BAE and WikiAnswers are effectively focused on similar areas, answering complex natural language questions. “Conversely, during that period, Answers.com has generally declined each quarter….the success of user-generated questions and answers as compared to the technology-driven answers presented by the BAE, we made a strategic decision in the second quarter of 2008 to focus our efforts, in the realm of questions-and-answers, on user-generated questions and answers, and effectively abandoned our use of the BAE,” it says in the filing. As a result of abandoning its use of the BAE, the net book value of the BAE, as of May 25, 2008, in the amount of $3.138 million, was written off during the three months ended June 30, 2008, the company said.

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