Articles of the Day


Quadrangle Closing Faltering Media Hedge Fund; Losses Near 25 Percent

Hammered by the media downturn, Steve Rattner’s Quadrangle Group is closing
down its media hedge fund with losses approaching 25 percent this year, WSJ
reported. Quadrangle Equity Investors, run by Robert Donahue, opened in
2006 to invest in publicly traded media and communications stocks; it
handled about $500 million in investments at its height. The news comes
just one day after Rattner and Quadrangle hosted the high-profile,
invite-only FourSquare media conference. Earlier this year, another
Quadrangle hedge fund split off from the PE firm. Quadrangle Group still
has some other healthy business: as the Journal notes, New York City
Mayor—and Rattner’s good friend—Michael Bloomberg recently put his
multi-billion fortune in Quadrangle’s asset management hands. This closing
may put a few chinks in Rattner’s media expert armor but it doesn’t take
the company out of the media and communications business.

James Murdoch: Large Acquisitions Possible But Timing Is Everything
James Murdoch is looking at the same economic clouds as the rest of us but
his view comes with glints of silver. Murdoch, making some of his first
public comments since he took over News Corp.’s European and Asian
businesses, told the Monaco Media Forum that talk about newspapers is too
gloomy and that competitors’ woes may open doors to deals. From the FT:
Acquisitions: He followed his father Rupert’s lead from last month by
suggesting the company’s $5.5 billion or so in case could bankroll some
shopping. India would be one possibility, as competitors collapse and
earnings torpedo values, but he was cautious: “What you don’t want to do is
be strong now and blow it in the first part of the storm.”

Invest Like It’s 1998: Microsoft Stock Hits 10-Year Low; 30 Percent Decline
From First Yahoo Offer
— Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) stock hit its lowest point
in 10 years on Thursday— $18.74—when the tech sector took hits from Cisco
(NSDQ: CSCO) and Intel (NSDQ: INTC), before coming back to close at $21.25.
(via AP) Google (NSDQ: GOOG) also had something of a rebound—relatively
speaking—ending above $300.00 Thursday after hitting a three-year low the
day before. Much of the focus since Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO)
went sour has been on the latter’s disappearing value: on Thursday, Yahoo’s
stock closed at $11.15, at one point dipping below $10, a five-year low.
But consider Microsoft’s stock price when it first offered to buy Yahoo for
$31 on Feb. 1— $30.45—and where it stood when the last offer of $33.00 per
share was made—around $25.00. Could there be a much better time for
stubborn Steve Ballmer to switch back to acquisition mode?

The End for Packaged Software: Microsoft Opens Online Store — Microsoft,
the undisputed king of packaged software, “quietly drove another nail into
the coffin” of the business that built its empire by launching a new
software download store aptly named the “Microsoft Store.” After initially
testing the online service in Europe and Korea, the U.S. version of the
store was opened up on Thursday. The Microsoft Store sells downloadable
versions of all Microsoft software, from Office to games for the Xbox 360.
Unlike, say, the Apple App Store, the Microsoft Store does not distribute
mobile applications or third party software. Curiously, Microsoft didn’t
make a big deal about yesterday’s launch. TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld
surmises that the software giant probably didn’t want to “alienate” its
retail distribution partners by doing so. Instead, Microsoft left it to
program manager Trevin Chow to explain the benefits of electronic software
distribution on his personal blo.

Google Adds Voice Recognition To Mobile Search — Want to know where the
nearest Starbucks is, but don’t feel like taking out your phone to search
for it? Well, now you can simply ask your phone, thanks to new voice
recognition technology Google’s added to its search software for the Apple
iPhone. Simply place the handset to your ear, and you can ask virtually any
question. The sound will be converted to a digital file and sent to
Google’s servers, which interpret the words and then pass them to Google’s
search engine. The search results will be displayed in a matter of seconds
on a fast wireless network. The New York Times points out that such voice
recognition technology “has long been the supreme goal of artificial
intelligence researchers looking for ways to make man-machine interactions
more natural.” Incidentally, Google is not the first to try it. Both
Microsoft and Yahoo already offer voice services for mobile phones.
According to the Times, Microsoft’s Tellme service returns information in
specific categories like directions, maps and movies, while Yahoo’s
oneSearch with Voice is more flexible than Google’s offering but does not
appear to be as accurate.

Facebook Updates Self-Serve Ad Reporting — Facebook has upgraded reporting
on its self-service ad system to allow marketers to get reports on
advertising performance, and the demographics and interests of members
responding to ads. The reports can be run at the campaign, ad or account
level and sectioned by day, week, month or the last three, six or 12
months.

Classmates.com Sued Over Emails Promising Contact With Schoolmates — A
California resident has sued Classmates.com for allegedly tricking him into
purchasing a paid membership with false ads. The plaintiff, Anthony
Michaels of San Diego county, alleges that he signed up for a free
membership to the site last Christmas Eve, but then upgraded to a paid one
after receiving e-mail ads stating that other schoolmates were trying to
contact him. Those statements turned out to be false, according to the
lawsuit.

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