Articles of the Day


Microsoft’s Ballmer: Read My Lips—No Bid For Yahoo — In case you didn’t believe him the first 20 times, Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer repeated today at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting that he has no intention of making another offer for Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO). Ballmer’s words, reported by MarketWatch: “Let me be as clear as I think I’ve tried to be publicly: We are done with all acquisition discussions with Yahoo. We have moved on.” Ballmer also repeated that a potential search deal could be “an interesting opportunity.” Not clear whether he means acquiring Yahoo’s search business, as he tried to do after the full-monty bid failed, or some other arrangement. Meanwhile, Yahoo’s stock price, boosted by the notion that Jerry Yang’s departure as CEO signaled a Ballmer reversal, is coming back down, dropping more than 17 percent to $9.57 as I type.

WebMD, QualityHealth Parent Cancel $50 Million-Plus Acquisition; Ad Pact, Minority Interest Instead — Some consolidation unwinding in the health content area and another deal that won’t happen for WebMD … WebMD Health Corp. and Marketing Technology Solutions, the owner of QualityHealth.com, have “mutually terminated” the acquisition of MTS, a deal announced in September for $50 million in cash plus a possible $25 million earn-out. Instead, WebMD has signed an ad services pact with MTS and acquired a minority preferred interest. WebMD will sell some of QualityHealth.com’s ads and provide “limited access” to some of its own inventory.

Google Pulls the Plug On Lively — Google’s “me too” virtual world Lively will be dead by the end of the year—just six months after it launched. It was almost inevitable though, as Google (NSDQ: GOOG) debuted Lively well after the virtual world frenzy had simmered down. The service also had to compete with established worlds like There.com, IMVU and even themed properties like MTV’s Virtual Laguna Beach. Lively traffic was marginal at best (via Compete stats), and given the state of the economy, even Google couldn’t afford to devote resources to a fledgling project. The company admitted as much in an official blog post: It has been a tough decision, but we want to ensure that we prioritize our resources and focus more on our core search, ads and apps business. Any guesses on which other Google projects might be on the bubble? Google Base?

Blinkx Reboots Bid For Ad Net MIVA, New All-Cash Offer — Blinkx isn’t taking no for an answer. Despite dropping its pursuit of pay-per-click ad network MIVA last month after being rebuffed, it’s now restarted the reverse-takeover bid after recording strong earnings last week. At $0.55 per share ($19 million), the new bid is far less than the $1.20 ($41 million) first offered back in August, but is still 108 percent up on MIVA’s Tuesday close of $0.26 and comes in all-cash. MIVA’s share price has tanked by 85 percent this year and the outfit last week raised a $10 million credit facility after seeing Q3 losses widen from $3.3 million to $10.5 million. Blinkx said the buy is still attractive to shareholders “in light of issues in the MIVA business and current market conditions; however, because of MIVA’s continued loss-making performance and rapidly declining cash position, time is of the essence”.

Dow Closes Below 8,000 For First Time In Five Years; ContentNextDex Drops To Lowest Since ‘07 Launch — The Dow, with its first sub-8,000 close in five years, wasn’t the only index with a record-you-don’t-want day: the ContentNextDex, our own index of media, tech, mobile and entertainment stocks, dropped nearly 6 percent to 507.32—the lowest close since we launched it officially in September 2007. Compared with the year’s high of 1,076.02, that’s a staggering 47.68 percent loss year to date. The ContentNextDex performance hovered between the Dow’s 5 percent drop to 7,997 and the S&P 500’s loss of 6.12 percent. ContentNexDex is a flood of red with Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) snugly in the top five losers thanks to Steve Ballmer’s most recent public repudiation, down 20.8 percent to $9.14. Media General (NYSE: MEG) lost nearly 30 percent of what was left of its value, closing at $2.96. Fellow newspaper publisher McClatchy (NYSE: MNI) wasn’t far behind, down nearly 22 percent to $1.51. Together, the combined market cap doesn’t come close to $200 million—$152.8 million to be exact. Sirius XM (NSDQ: SIRI) Radio is close to non-existence at 16 cents per share with a market cap of $515 million. In all, 30 stocks—just under one third of ContentNextDex—closed with double-digit losses.

eHarmony Offers Matchmaking To Gays, Lesbians — Online dating service eHarmony will start a matchmaking service for lesbian and gay singles to settle a discrimination complaint in New Jersey. The agreement between the company and New Jersey Attorney General’s Civil Rights Division also calls for eHarmony to pay $50,000 to the state and $5,000 to a resident, Eric McKinley, who brought the complaint. The new service, Compatible Partners, will debut next March and will offer free six-month memberships to the first 10,000 people to register within one year.

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