Archive for Informa

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2008 by Dave Liu

Yahoo’s New Board To Meet Next Week — Yahoo’s newly reconstituted board will meet for the first time next week, giving activist investor Carl Icahn his first chance at seeing the company workings from the inside, reports WSJ. The two other Icahn-supported board members, Frank Biondi and John Chapple, will also be there at the meeting this Tuesday. WSJ says it is not yet clear if Icahn will show up personally. At the meeting, the board members will get an update on the still-ongoing talks between Yahoo and Time Warner/AOL (NYSE: TWX), and a possible combination. For now any talks are on a slow burner. Also, for sure, the Google-Yahoo advertising partnership and potential regulatory issues will be discussed.

Facebook Plotting Beacon’s Full Return? Users Continue Rebellion Against Redesign — While the number of Facebook users that have signed up to protest the social net’s redesign represents only a fraction its 100 million members, the movement continues to gain attention. Over the past few months, dozens of groups have popped up on Facebook to voice displeasure at the changes. As USAT notes, one group has attracted 1 million members. The changes include separating members’ profile info into different areas of the site. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that he’s seen this kind of thing before—such as when the site first introduced the “news feed” feature two years ago. And it doesn’t appear as though the protests are going to lead to any mass defections. But one change that did quickly blow up in the social net’s face was last year’s Project Beacon ad program. A number of reports in the past week indicate that Facebook might be reviving Beacon.

Microsoft Rushes To Defend Display Ads; Now If Only Marketers Would, Too — As recent online ad spend reports have shown, the display business has been having a tough year—and this past week’s market shocks suggest it’s only going to get worse. Companies like AOL (NYSE: TWX), Yahoo and Microsoft have made big bets on display taking off, and the pain of display’s decline could become acute. Microsoft, for one, feels enough is enough, and is stepping up efforts to convince advertisers to consider display, WSJ reports. Microsoft says it can prove that display is a better motivator of consumer behavior than search. The company plans to present its data, which was compiled by its ad serving unit, Atlas Institute, to agencies in round of upcoming meetings. While Microsoft has a search ad business too, it is more dependent on display sales. That said, the company says that the Atlas’ research on display began two years ago, long before it bought the ad serving firm. While Microsoft hopes its numbers will convince advertisers, the company has been oddly silent about promoting it publicly and in detail.

China’s Focus Media To IPO Its Allyes Internet Ad Business; Valued At $1-$1.5 Billion? — Chinese advertising firm Focus Media is primarily engaged in the out-of-home market, but it does have a fast-growing, internet business that it acquired just last year for $300 million… And now the company plans to do a spinoff of the unit (Allyes Online Media Holdings) via an IPO. The company said in a release this morning that it would commence the IPO following an F-1 filing and “as market conditions permit”, which could be a while. The internet business at Focus is hot. In August the company said revenue grew 201 percent in the quarter, accounting for $76.1 million of the company’s total $211.7 million in revenue. Given this growth and the market’s longstanding love of all things Chinese internet, it’s no surprise that the company would want to take this business out from under the parent company’s umbrella.

Informa Bid Collapses; Consortium Could Not Raise More Cash — The leading bid for Lloyd’s List B2B publisher and Datamonitor operator Informa has been scuppered by the state of the financial markets. Providence, bidding with Blackstone and Carlyle, offered 450p per share (£1.9 billion), but the trio said they were unable to get financing to fund a higher offer. Informa will now be betting it can weather the economic storm – its shares closed 32 percent below the offer price yesterday at 342p. With so many other B2B outfits in play right now, it’s testing times. Reed Elsevier said in August its planned divestment of Reed Business Information could take place as early as October.

Sugar, Inc. Launches Blog Platform With Retail Rev Stream — An interesting move from Sugar Inc. following its mid-summer course correction with NBC Universal … the blog network opened its publishing platform to its readers today with OnSugar beta promising “sweet & simple publishing.” The concept: give users the tools to do what the Sugar pros do, increase engagement and add to revenue starting with retail links served up with the new blogs. CEO Brian Sugar said the move doesn’t preclude a Sugar ad network but this and other recent actions suggest that Sugar is still focused on realizing its own potential as a network.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , on September 8, 2008 by Dave Liu

Zillow, Newspapers Launch Real Estate Ad Network; Looking To Each Other’s Strengths — Last fall, 11 newspaper publishers agreed to let real estate upstart Zillow.com carry the real estate listings from their 282 papers. Now, the Zillow Newspaper Consortium, which includes Hearst and Lee Enterprises (NYSE: LEE), and the price-comparison site are launching a real estate ad network with the right to sell ads on each other’s sites. The newspapers can sell Zillow, with national traffic averaging some 5 million uniques monthly, while VC-funded Zillow can target local real estate users and sell some additional national inventory across the newspaper sites. Other publishers involved include Media General (NYSE: MEG) , Inc.; MediaNews Group, Inc.; Morris Communications Company, Philadelphia Media Holdings; and The E.W. Scripps (NYSE: SSP) Company. Newspapers include The Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and the San Jose Mercury News. This is not to be confused with the Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) Newspaper Consortium, although many members are the same. Both efforts are among the many newspaper-web experiments as national sites try to go local and publishers look for online ad growth.

McClatchy Going Private? CEO Pruitt Resigns Controlling Interest In Family Trusts — The McClatchy Co. CEO Gary Pruitt has stepped down from four trusts owned by the McClatchy family—leading to speculation that McClatchy might be looking to go private, first picked up by Alan Mutter and then by E&P reported. An earlier story in the Sacramento Bee, which is owned by McClatchy, detailed that Pruitt removed himself as a co-trustee of four separate McClatchy family-owned trusts. The trusts hold 12.5 million Class B shares, or 80 percent of the voting stuck in The McClatchty Co. Elaine Lintecum, McClatchy’s treasurer, tells SacBee that Pruitt is stepping aside because of “governance issues.” The company feels that it would be better to “break up the roles” and that Pruitt shouldn’t be wearing “so many hats.” Lintecum also says that the move isn’t a precursor to McClatchy going private, something that has been rumored for some time. Pruitt’s responsibility for the trusts has been assumed by Leroy Barnes Jr., a non-family member who has been a McClatchy director for eight years.

Google-Yahoo Ad Tie Up: Ad Trade Body ANA Opposes Deal; “Limits Choices” — The Association of National Advertisers, which represents big ticket consumers advertisers such as Procter & Gamble, General Motors, Apple and others, has sent a letter to the Department of Justice opposing the recent Google-Yahoo search advertising pact. In the letter, posted on its site, Bob Liodice, President and CEO, ANA, mentioned the organization’s opposition to the deal. It says that ANA came to its conclusions after “a comprehensive, independent analysis, which included input from the Board’s members and face-to-face discussions with Google and Yahoo”.

Microsoft’s Help Wanted: Head Of Advertising Needed, Possibly A ‘Palin’ — Since the departure of Kevin Johnson as president of Microsoft’s Platforms and Services Division in July, it’s pretty clear that the company is in need of an advertising head. AdAge handicaps some possible contenders, with one unidentified source telling the mag that Microsoft needs a “Palin”—namely, an unexpected choice similar to Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s surprise pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. Some of the names being bandied about include: Brian McAndrews, Yusuf Mehdi, Dan Rosensweig, Jonathan Miller.

Informa Rejects Lower Takeover Offer, Wants More Money — The story of the sale of B2B publisher and Datamonitor owner Informa got longer last night after it rejected a total £3.2 billion ($5.57 billion) bid from a three-way consortium of Providence Equity LLP, the Carlyle Group and Blackstone. The trio offered £1.87 billion ($3.25 billion) but would also have to take care of the company’s £1.2 billion ($2.09 billion) of debt. The 450p-a-share offer “significantly underalues” Informa chairman Derek Mapp said, in a company statement that wastes no time reminding that the consortium – before Blackstone replaced Hellman & Friedman this week – originally offered 506p per share.

RealNetworks Launching DVD Ripping Service; Will It Make Any Ripples? — DVD ripping software have been around for the longest of times, but this is a more mainstream attempt at it, and continues RealNetworks’ (NSDQ: RNWK) efforts to stir up the pot a bit: later this month it is launching a new software called RealDVD, which will allow Windows users to easily make a digital copy of an entire DVD, along with all the extras on it. It will cost $30, which will probably be a big barrier in adoption. The idea is to allow users to make backup copies for their personal use on laptops.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2008 by Dave Liu

comScore Revs Up 34 Percent; Net Income Soars — Shares of internet measurement firm comScore are spiking hours after the company reported another very healthy quarter. Excluding the impact of the M:Metrics acquisition, revenue was up 34 percent to $27.8 million and adjusted income more than doubled to $2.57 million. Including M:Metrics, revenue was up 38 percent and EPS would have been $.06 per share. Meanwhile the company is still winning customers, netting 64 in the quarter, bringing its total to 1,013. International revenue is still small at $4.1 million, but it grew at a 75 percent clip, and accounts for for 14 percent of the total. With M:Metrics factored in, the company is calling for revenue of $119-$120 million, a few million ahead of current estimates.

IAC/InterActiveCorp to make multiple buys under USD 100m — IAC/InterActiveCorp., the New York-listed internet company, plans to engage in multiple buys, reported the Wall Street Journal. The report, part of a story looking at the company’s second quarter results, cited IAC chief executive Barry Diller as saying the company plans to use USD 1.3bn in dividend payments from its spin-off to make multiple buys. According to the report, Diller said the deals will each be under USD 100m and if it can’t find good targets it will return cash to shareholders. Source: Wall Street Journal

Dubai Group, Blackstone Eye Informa — The Blackstone Group has teamed up with Investment Corp. Dubai to bid on UK media group Informa PLC (LSE: INF), according to The Financial Times. Earlier reports had an alternate consortium of Carlyle Group, Providence Equity Partners and Hellman & Friedman, but today’s FT story says that Hellman & Friedman has walked away.

Cobalt Rolls Out Search Tools — Cobalt has developed a new set of paid search marketing tools under its PowerSearch automotive advertising platform. The tools, which are based on search traffic research and ongoing auto industry trends, offer clients new keywords and bidding strategies to capitalize on consumer interest in parts and services, as well as financing. The ads can run across Google, Yahoo and MSN.

Interpublic Makes HUGE Bet On Digital Marketing — Taking a majority stake in online agency HUGE, Interpublic Group has bolstered its digital marketing capabilities. The deal gives Interpublic an interactive shop that specializes in building sophisticated, transactional Web sites for clients such as JetBlue, IKEA, Scholastic and Time Warner Music Group. Its clients’ sites together generate $3.5 billion in annual revenue and draw more than 120 million visitors a month.

IAC: Search Ads Hold Up, While Display ‘Spotty’; Looking At All Deals, But Will Be Selective — For its last call as a single company, all five CEOs and their CFOs are on IAC’s conference call. Kicking off the call, Diller noted that it’s not even worth talking about Old IAC anymore, in part because it’s almost gone, but really because “It’s just too much complexity and information.” That statement speaks as much to the company’s conference calls and earnings releases as it does to the whole notion of Old IAC: ‘just too much complexity’. Hence the breakup. Right now the company doesn’t have precise timing on the split, except that it will be “very soon”. Diller said he hoped to talk about all five companies on the call, and that he didn’t want New IAC to hog the time, but almost every question was on New IAC (NSDQ: IACI). At a couple of points, Diller, from the position as a shareholder in each company, took the job himself to ask questions of the other CEOs.

Amazon Launches Online Payment Services — In a move to rival eBay’s PayPal and Google’s Google Checkout, Amazon launched on Tuesday two online payment services, Checkout and Simple Pay. The difference in the two is that Checkout provides capabilities to support real time shipping, tax calculation, promotions and other tasks like cancellations and shipment tracking, while Simple Pay enables customers to use payment information already on file.

Digital Media M&A

Posted in Deals, Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2008 by Dave Liu

Amazon Acquires Fabric.com — US retail giant, Amazon, has acquired online fabric store Fabric.com in a bid to further its range of products. The deal, which was closed for undisclosed terms, will see Amazon expand its current selection of sewing, craft and hobby items in the US with patterns, fabrics and sewing accessories. “Over the years, we’ve seen a growing interest in this segment from our customers,” says the VP of Amazon.com’s home and garden division, Chris Nielsen, speaking about the acquisition. Fabric.com CEO, Stephen Friedman adds: “We now have the opportunity to significantly expand our breadth of inventory, as well as benefit from the technology, fulfillment and customer service expertise of Amazon.com.”

Microsoft Acquiring Semantic Searcher Powerset For $100 Million: Report — Well if it can’t get Yahoo’s search business… Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) will acquire semantic search engine Powerset for more than $100 million, according to Matt Marshall at VentureBeat. His exact language is that the company “has agreed to acquire” the company and that it will be announced next month. SF-based Powerset has been something of a media darling, despite the fact that it hasn’t taken off yet. In 2006 it raised a $12.5 million first round from Foundation Capital and The Founders Fund, as well as various angels, including Esther Dyson and PayPal founder Luke Nosek. Despite years of interest in “semantic” or “natural language” search, this area is a long way from proving that it works much better than current search technology. VentureBeat also reports that its first round valued the company at $42.5 million, so this wouldn’t be a huge win for the investors. But given the uncertainty of this area, and the cash requirements of an independent search engine, this might’ve looked like a pretty attractive outcome.

Microsoft To Buy Portuguese Mobile App Firm, MobiComp — Microsoft has agreed to buy Portuguese mobile app developer MobiComp for an undisclosed sum, marking its latest push into the mobile software industry. Founded in Braga, Portugal, in 2000, MobiComp develops mobile applications, including a backup service and tools to create and share content. The 40-strong private company claims to be profitable and counts Vodafone, MTN and Nokia among its clients. 

eBay Acquires Media-Sharing Firm VUVOX — eBay has quietly acquired media-sharing and mash-up firm, VUVOX. The deal – which was closed for undisclosed terms – will see VUVOX integrated into eBay, allowing users to embed VUVOX media tools into their personal listings. VUVOX’s staff will join eBay’s design and development teams in California, says eBay employee Richard Brewer-Hay on the auction site’s official blog eBay Ink.

Nokia Buys Location-Based Social Network Plazes — Nokia is acquiring location-based social network Plazes for an undisclosed sum, pursuing its expansion into the mobile services and location sector. Plazes will remain in Berlin and join Nokia’s services unit which includes staff from gate5, a navigation firm that Nokia acquired two years ago. The acquisition follows Nokia’s announcement last month that it expects to sell 35m GPS-enabled phones this year.

Liberty Media Acquires Party Site Celebrate Express For $31 Million — Another e-commerce buy for Liberty Media… this time it is buying out small, publicly traded Celebrate Express, a party supply retailer, for $31 million. At $3.90 per share, the deal represents a 69 percent premium over the company’s $2.30 closing price. Celebrate Express, which traded in the $20s just a few years ago, operates under such brands as Birthday Express and 1st Wishes. The new company will be attributed to the Liberty Interactive Group, and it will be combined with Liberty’s BUYSEASONS business, which operates in the same area. Liberty has made a number of deals for e-commerce companies, including its taking a major stake in BodyBuilding.com and outdoor retailer BackCountry.

Providence And Carlyle Confirm Takeover Talks With Informa — UK publisher Informa is negotiating an all-cash sale to a consortium led by Providence Equity Partners and the Carlyle Group and including Hellman & Friedman. Based on Informa’s stock value on Fri (20 Jun), the firm is worth GBP1.85bn (USD3.65bn), which would make the takeover one of the largest deals in the history of UK publishing industry. However, the bidders say talks are “at an early stage” and there is “no certainty” that they will eventually make an offer.

The Orchard Buys TVT Records Out of Bankruptcy — The Orchard, the digital music label, has bought out TVT Records after a New York bankruptcy court declared its bid the winner on Thursday. The company will gain control of TVT’s catalog, artist contracts and physical record distribution infrastructure, but will not receive holdings in its music publishing subsidiary.

Getty Images Shareholders Approve PE Buyout — Getty Images, the Seattle based images and multimedia giant, has a shareholder approval on its $2.1 billion sale to private equity firm Hellman & Friedman. About 75 percent of the shares represented at the shareholder meeting were in favor of the deal, representing 96 percent of the votes cast.

Fandango acquires Movies.com from Walt Disney — Fandango, the nation’s leading moviegoer destination, today announced that it acquired Movies.com, a leading movie content site previously owned by the Walt Disney Internet Group, a unit of The Walt Disney Company. The synergy of these two well-established and popular movie sites, both launched in 2000, will create new opportunities for exhibitors, studios, advertisers and other partners to reach the movie-going audience, and will provide additional information and entertainment for moviegoers. Fandango’s advertising sales force will represent both sites with a wide variety of advertisers.

IPC Media To Acquire Mousebreaker Website — IPC Media, the UK magazine publishing arm of Time Warner, is to buy Mousebreaker, a gaming website, the Financial Times reported. IPC declined to comment on the deal size, according to the newspaper. The item appeared alongside an article about Yell Group. The deal could take place today (24 June), the report said. The deal size is believed to be in the in the range of GBP 1m (EUR 1.27m) to GBP 10m, according to the report.

Travel Social Network WAYN Admits To Takeover Talks — Travel social network WAYN has held talks with unnamed suitors over a possible takeover, the firm’s chief executive tells StrategyEye. CEO Peter Ward reveals he has met a number of interested parties, but says WAYN wants to grow its business further before selling itself. “We have had a lot of inbound interest and we have met with many other companies,” says Ward. “We believe that to maintain our positioning and grow the business from now holds a lot more value for us than to sell.” However, he acknowledges that selling the platform is definitely part of the firm’s long term strategy, without disclosing a timescale.

Social Media Ad Firm ViTrue Buys Rival UGENmedia — ViTrue, the social media ad firm backed by Comcast and Turner Broadcasting, has acquired competitor UGENmedia for an undisclosed sum. Founded in 2006 by former DoubleClick executives, UGENmedia helps clients develop, deploy and distribute social media marketing programs. Atlanta-based ViTrue says the deal will enhance its ability to offer turnkey social media solutions while providing a strategic New York presence.