Archive for CNet

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2008 by Dave Liu

Liberty Media To Split Off Majority Of Liberty Entertainment; Assets Include DirecTV, Sports Nets — In typical Liberty Media (NSDQ: LINTA) fashion, the company founded by John Malone has just filed a complicated business plan with the SEC on a Friday night. It’s also a relatively rare move—a split-off that will give holders of the Liberty Entertainment group tracking stock shares in a new subsidiary that will hold the majority of the group’s businesses, assets and liabilities in exchange for some of their tracking stock shares. The announcement follows CEO Greg Maffei’s assurance this week at the UBS Global Media and Communications conference that the company is looking for a structure that benefits shareholders better than the current tracking stocks. If it gets the usual regulatory and IRS approval—as is generally the case with Liberty, the goal is a tax-fr*ee transaction—holders of the tracking stock will have stock in two investments. Release. The details: The new Liberty Entertainment will be a publicly traded company—not a tracking stock—called Liberty Entertainment, Inc. That company would include roughly 52 percent of The DirecTV Group (NYSE: DTV), Inc., 50 percent of GSN, LLC, 100 percent of FUN Technologies and 100 percent of Liberty Sports Holdings, LLC (three regional sports nets.) It also will be responsible for $2 billion in debt incurred when Liberty acquired its majority interest in DirecTV last spring.

New NYT.com GM Denise Warren: Tip-toeing Into Aggregation With Guarded Optimism — As if heading advertising for the New York Times (NYSE: NYT) Media Group wasn’t tough enough in this climate, Denise Warren is taking on the role of GM of NYTimes.com as the site fends off increased challenges from competitors and the economy. Warren has been chief advertising officer of the NYT Media Group for three years and has been with The New York Times Company for 20 years. As she settles into the GM job vacated by Vivian Schiller, who exited after being named CEO of NPR, Warren tells paidContent that she has been able to maintain her optimism. For example, despite the temptation to suspend new initiatives and wait until a more supportive ad market returns, Warren has faith the NYTimes.com’s new experiments with aggregation will deliver. In particular, she’ll be taking a close look at recently unveiled Times Extra feature and the current beta test of Times Widgets, which lets readers create custom apps for RSS feeds from various news sections. While the NYTCo has a lot more plans along those lines, Warren concedes that the economy will likely force the company to scale other experiments back a bit. “One of the unfortunate things about this downturn is that you can’t do all the things you’d like to, whether it’s your personal life or your professional life,” Warren says. “You have to watch that budget. You can only do the things that are really important. But in a way, these constraints that we’re operating under can help focus you.

Google Quietly Tries Brokering Deals With ISPs To Get Priority Access — Congress has failed to pass legislation regarding so-called “Net Neutrality,” and now the issue is again top of mind as Internet providers seeking preferential treatment; network operators considering a tiered approach, and once-staunch defenders beginning to soften their stance on the matter. This time, it appears Google (NSDQ: GOOG), which has been traditional a huge advocate of network equality and openness, is working behind the scenes with major cable and phone companies to get its Internet traffic prioritized, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

CBS Relaunching TV.com; Hoping Finally To Become A Video Player; Aiming Beyond Hulu, Not At It — CBS Interactive is relaunching TV.com, hoping to transform the well-named site known for its TV-related community and user-generated content into a serious video destination, paidContent has learned. The full-scale relaunch with new content partners is slated for January but the cosmetic changes will start this week with a new look and logo, according to sources familiar with the plans. TV.com is among the assets CBS (NYSE: CBS) picked up with its $1.8 billion acquisition of CNET last summer. (The other notable non-brand domains: News.com, MP3. com and Radio.com). Despite having the ultimate url and folding in some video through agreements first with CBS and then with Hulu, CNET missed multiple opportunities to grab early advantage. Now it’s playing catchup with a number of competitors, including Hulu and newest challenger Sling.com.

Lycos Europe Opts For Liquidation, $66 Million Paid Back To Shareholders — Lycos Europe shareholders voted to liquidate the business at an extraordinary general meeting at a hotel in Amsterdam this morning. They also nodded through management’s strategy to sell its domain registration business, shopping portal and Danish website as going concerns. Shareholders will get €50 million ($66.72 million) returned to them on December 19 – not a bad Christmas present, but the price per share of €0.1605 ($0.21) is vastly less than its opening high of about €24 (now $32) in 2000.

Facebook Opens Paris Sales Office As Part of European Expansion — What does Facebook want for Christmas? A greater foothold on the European ad market by the looks of things: the social network is set to open a sales office in Paris as part of plans to grow across Europe, according to Mad.co.uk. The site’s commercial director for EMEA Blake Chandlee has unveiled the office’s first employee Damien Vincent who has defected from MySpace France where he was head of sales. Facebook claims to have 6.1 million users in France and to have just reached the one million mark in Switzerland, adding to its 130 million users worldwide. Facebook translated the site into French in April and saw an immediate traffic boost, but it still trails in France to the Skyrock social net, which has more than 12 million users. In August Chandlee was behind moves to double the site’s UK sales and marketing staff to about 40. There are more than eight million UK users but according to Nielsen Online suffered a slight dip at the start of 2007 from a peak of 8.5 million.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 11, 2008 by Dave Liu

Yahoo Board Receives Letter From Ivory Investment Management Urging Salvage Of Microsoft Deal — Ivory Investment Management LP, one of Yahoo’s largest stockholders with 21.4 million, or 1.5% of the shares outstanding, today proposed in a letter to Yahoo’s Board of Directors that the company salvage a deal with Microsoft “and not miss another value maximization opportunity.” Noting Microsoft’s renewed interest, Ivory proposed that the company sell its search business to Microsoft, with Microsoft becoming the search provider for all Yahoo properties. Under the Ivory proposal, Microsoft would own and operate the combined search platform, with Yahoo becoming an affiliate that retains 80% of the revenue generated through searches on its own site. Finally, Microsoft would become the search engine for Yahoo’s existing search affiliates. We believe a search deal with Microsoft could deliver value to Yahoo shareholders of USD 24-29 per share, or more than double yesterday’s closing price of USD 12.19.” Ivory stated in its letter that it believed Yahoo could “receive more than USD 15bn upfront from Microsoft for its search business and increase EBITDA by more than USD 500m per annum.” “On an after-tax basis, the USD 15bn payment from Microsoft would be USD 9bn for Yahoo shareholders, leaving Yahoo with USD 21.2bn of cash and investments (up from USD 12.2bn today) and annual EBITDA of USD 2.4bn (up from the midpoint of current guidance of USD 1.9bn ). Applying a 5x EBITDA multiple on the “new Yahoo” would result in a value of USD 24 per share. If Yahoo were to go a step further and deploy the USD 9bn in new cash for its own shares at a USD 16 offer price, it could reduce its share count by 40% which would leave the remaining shareholders with a stock approaching USD 30 per share (amazingly close to the original bona fide bid from Microsoft).”

CBS Interactive To Merge CBSNews.com and CNET Newsrooms; Some Layoffs — CBS Interactive, under pressure to cut costs after what now seems like an even more costly acquisition of CNET, is announcing some more restructuring tomorrow, we have learned from reliable sources late tonight, and as part of it, will be merging CBSNews.com and CNET newsrooms. Not clear: if it is merging the two main websites CBSNews.com and News.com. As a result of this merger, there will also be some layoffs, but we couldn’t figure out the extent of those.

Time Warner Cable Split Still On Track For Early 2009 — Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes says the Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) spinoff “is on track to get executed in early 2009. … We don’t see any problems really from any side of the transaction.” That should mean an $11 billion payout for all shareholders is still on the way—including $9 billion for parent Time Warner (NYSE: TWX). It also means a return to a content-centric company. Bewkes is the lunch speaker at the UBS Global Media and Communications conference.

Bewkes On AOL: Will Do Whatever Creates Most Value; Needs To Be ‘Fairly Soon’ — Updated: Looking for clarity when it comes to Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) and AOL? So are we—Time Warner is exploring just about every variation you can imagine when it comes to AOL, based on the exchange CEO Jeff Bewkes just had with UBS moderator Aryeh Bourkoff, who asked the questions in just about every way possible. The short answer: “I’d like to get it resolved, meaning clear… so AOL can be seen and valued… We need to do it fairly soon and we’ve been working hard on it.” And, no, he won’t translate “fairly soon” into a real time frame. Bewkes isn’t complaining about operations and said if AOL were a TV network, “he’d say the ratings are up. ” But, he admitted to investors, ad sales are not up the same way and have been disappointing to us and to you.” AOL’s performance is further hampered by being “essentially in third place” and not a market leader. “Because of that, even though some excellent work is being done on cost cuts, programming and traffic,” AOL’s value is being lost. The questions: what would be the improvement in economics from a combination and would the result be “reasonably as good or better” than TW can do with any other option?

RBI Sale Cancelled; Reed Elsevier Still Wants To Sell It In Medium-Term — The verdict is in and the answer is: no sale. Reed Elsevier (NYSE: RUK) has announced that its torturous, nine-month campaign to sell the B2B magazine division is over. Reed announced to the stock market this afternoon that it has “terminated discussions with potential bidders” and that due to the poor economic outlook, shareholders would get more value by the company hanging on to the Farmers’ Weekly and Variety publisher. RBI now remains separate business and will be run by RBI UK CEO Keith Jones as overall CEO of the company.

Gannett’s ContentOne Ties Local Content With National Ads — It’s a tougher time for newspapers, but Craig Dubow, Gannett’s chairman, president and CEO, has a basic answer for the continued existence of newspapers: consumers will always need content and advertisers will need to reach them. As for why newspapers are the best vehicles for that connection, Dubow turned, interestingly enough, not to print, but to Gannett’s web properties. In particular, Dubow, speaking with two other Gannett (NYSE: GCI) execs at the UBS Global Media and Communications (PDF) conference, touted a forthcoming program called ContentOne, which he said “will completely change the way we share content across the company, especially at the local level. It will be created using the web start-up model.” It should be up sometime in Q1. The idea is “local content on a national level,” and will use the regionally focused sites MomsLikeMe and Metromix as the foundation.

CBS Wouldn’t Buy CNET In This Market; ‘Highly Doubt’ Any Acquisitions — CBS CEO Leslie Moonves raved about the value of the CNET acquisition and the integration since the merger with CBS Interactive, but told investors he wouldn’t make the same deal today. “The CNET deal was in May….Life was very different. We would not be doing that acquisition today.” As for other acquisitions, “I highly doubt you will see us acquiring anything in the near future.”

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , on August 1, 2008 by Dave Liu

Entrepreneur Media Deal Blows Up; CEO Backs out of Sale — Entrepreneur Media, the Irvine, CA-based parent of Entrepreneur magazine, has called off the sale of its company at the last second. In a memo to employees on Thursday, obtained by Folio, Entrepreneur CEO Peter Shea announced the decision not to proceed with the sale. The company was in the process of being bought by Austin Ventures and Castanea Partners for around $160 million, and we had been reporting on the process all along. The deal was supposed to be finalized this month.

CNET On Target; Immediately Accretive; $1 Billion Interactive Revenue In Three Years — After having listened to several of these so far this quarter, conference call intros are getting pretty predictable: The economy is weak, but business is holding up, and don’t forget to look at all that cash we’re throwing off. CBS CEO Les Moonves explained that the company is taking key steps to move from slow growth to high-growth areas: Selling radio stations, buying CNET: “CNET networks was forecast to make about $450 million in revenue and $100 million in profit, and they are on track.” He added that the acquisition would be immediately accretive to cash flow and earnings, adding 2 percent to revenue and growth estimates.

ValueClick Q2 Profits Slide 6.3 Percent; Revs Up 10 Percent — Having already warned investors two weeks in advance that weakness in display advertising would mean a rough second half, online ad company ValueClick said Q2 net income was $16.5 million ($0.17 per diluted common share) down 6.3 percent from last year’s $17.6 million ($0.17 per diluted common share). Revenue for the quarter of 2008 was $163.8 million, a 10 percent rise from $148.7 million in Q207, thanks in part to a boost from MeziMedia, which ValueClick bought in July 2007.

TheStreet.com: CEO Clarke: Continued Focus On Acquisitions; Ad Market Holds Up — How did TheStreet.com manage to report a pretty solid quarter, in light of ad weakness and the market downdraft? CEO Tom Clarke chalked it up to the company’s efforts at diversifying its network, reducing its reliance on financial advertisers, expanding its subscription services (see: Nails on the Numbers, a stock options newsletter written by Lenny Dykstra) and growing its other services (Promotions.com). Going forward, expect more subscription newsletters, an investment into long-form video and a continued focus on acquisitions (prudent, of course).

Steve Case’s RevolutionHealth Hires Banker, Sale Possible — More signals that the revolution is on hold. Last month we noted that Steve Case’s ambitiously named Revolution Health was moving out of the B2B business and laying off 20 percent of the workforce. We also mentioned that the company as according various strategic options. Now there’s a report that makes this sharper: Workforce Management magazine says that Revolution has hired an investment bank to explore a possible sale or merger. The story says the company hired Morgan Stanley in the spring to help it raise capital, but that it has shifted focus.