Archive for Lycos

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 November 23, 2008 by Dave Liu

Ad Industry Moves Analytics Toward Forecasting Demand — Publishers looking for a method to visualize their inventory and understand the constraints of selling to advertisers will soon have an application that theoretically forecasts availability and price. The application will officially become available in January through the start-up Yieldex, a San Mateo, Calif.-based Web-services company founded in 2007 that analyzes and predicts available online advertising inventory to help optimize campaigns. Three unnamed companies have been testing the platform for six weeks.  

Microsoft, Yahoo Said To Be Hammering Out $20 Billion Search Buyout; Denied — Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) is working out a deal that would ultimately net it Yahoo’s search business for $20 billion, The Times Online reports, but has been denied outright by parties involved. If it turns out to be true, it would be complex deal with many moving parts: MSFT would initially only invest $5 billion, with the option to buy out the new unit for $20 billion after two years. Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) would continue to run its own email, messaging, display and content services businesses in the event of a buyout. Velocity Investment Group founders Jonathan Miller and Ross Levinsohn would likely lead the new search division; and they’d match MSFT’s funding with $5 billion from external investors. The new unit would end up with a 30 percent stake in Yahoo, and the external investors would have the right to appoint three of Yahoo’s 11 board directors. Senior execs at both MSFT and Yahoo have reportedly agreed on some of the terms, but the deal hasn’t been finalized—and may not be approved at all, The Times’ sources say. Now would be an opportune time to hammer out the details: Yahoo’s stock has been battered and the company is essentially functioning sans executive leadership since Jerry Yang stepped down as CEO two weeks ago.  

Icahn Increases Yahoo Holdings By Nearly 7 Million Shares — Apparently no one told Carl Icahn this was supposed to be a slow news day … the Yahoo director added nearly 7 million shares to his holdings in the company this week at an almost bargain-basement cost of roughly $67 million. According to a filing with the SEC Wednesday, various Icahn entities acquired 3,697,181 shares at $9.7988 per share Monday, 2,704,780 shares at $9.9678 Tuesday, and another 376,843 shares at $9.9988 Wednesday. That brings his total stake in Yahoo to 75.6 million shares. This last batch averaged well below one-third of the $34.75 per share Icahn suggested Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) pay for Yahoo back in June.

Lycos Europe To Shut Down After Failing To Find Buyer — It’s the end of the road. After putting itself on the auction block in April, Lycos Europe has finally conceded what had become increasingly clear – no one wants to buy the ailing portal. It confirmed Wednesday morning it will wind up its portal and its web-hosting activities. It’s now about asset stripping – the company said it still wants to sell its domain names, its Danish business and its shopping sites. As a result, Lycos Europe will give back $60 million (€50 million) to its shareholders. All subject to a December 12
shareholders meeting. As the Web 2.0 fraternity might say, “epic fail”. 

Mobile Internet Use Surges In U.K. — Mobile internet use in the United Kingdom is growing while the number of people going online via a PC is slowing, analyst firm Nielsen Online has found. Some 7.3 million people accessed the net via their mobile phones, during the second and third
quarters of 2008. This is an increase of 25% compared to a growth of just 3% for the PC-based net audience — now more than 35 million. The survey also found that the mobile net audience was younger and searched for different things. While Google remains the most popular site for those logging on via the desktop in the U.K., on mobile internet BBC News is the most visited site, with nearly a quarter of mobile internet consumers using it. Other popular sites include BBC Weather and Sky Sports.

Articles of the Day

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

Freefalling Lycos Europe Plans Cost Cuts; Clock Ticking On Sale — This one slipped through the cracks amid our crazy conference week last week… Lycos Europe has recorded another big loss, and there is no buyer in sight for the ailing portal. The site lost EUR 17.1 million ($21.5 million) in the nine months to September 30; that’s against a EUR 44.1 million ($55.5 million) profit in the same period last year. The portal says ”cost management will be further tightened in the fourth quarter” – and no wonder: overall income dipped, too, but only from EUR 58.4 million ($73.4 million) to EUR 46.9 million ($59 million), so operating costs are proving to be a big drain.

Marvel Investing $10 Million In Digital Media; First Real Returns Expected In 2011 — Marvel’s investment in digital media, including digital publication of its comic books, is costing some profit on the publishing side, Peter Cuneo, vice chairman of the board, told analysts in today’s Q3 earnings call. According to the transcript (via Seeking Alpha), Cuneo answered a question about lower publishing growth by reminding: “Remember also that we are making a substantial investment in our digital publishing effort and we’ve noted in our press release today that the out-of-pocket in 2009 we anticipate will be around $6 million for that effort. So when you look at the publishing segment as a whole, you will see a decline in the profitability.” The company has invested $2.5 million to $3 million so far this year and plans to finish at $4 million. That would bring the total digital media inv*stm*nt for 2008-09 to about $10 million.

Reed Elsevier Picks Smith For CEO; $5.8M Possible Salary, RBI Sale Top Of To-Do List — Science and business publisher Reed Elsevier has announced who will lead the company following CEO Sir Crispin Davis’ planned retirement. Ian Smith starts as CEO-designate on January 1 until Davis finally leaves in March after nine years in charge. Smith comes with chief executive pedigree – he was formerly CEO of building group Taylor Woodrow and General Healthcare Group. He will get a $1.4 million (£900,000) annual salary but, as the release says, through the company’s incentive and bonus scheme he could get an extra sum worth three times his salary – $5.8 million (£3.6 million) overall.

EA’s Troubles Could Present An Acquisition Opportunity For Big Media — Would Disney consider buying Electronic Arts? That’s the suggestion being floated by Heard on the Street’s Martin Peers at the WSJ. With EA’s stock at its lowest point in more than seven years, competitors and other media giants may decide that now is the time to try to grab the games maker. Any suitor would also gain an immediate upper-hand in the mobile space, with EA becoming the No. 1 mobile game publisher soon after it acquired Jamdat in 2006. Peers argues that Disney makes the most sense because EA’s largest assets include sports titles that would fit nicely with Disney’s ESPN cable network. It would also allow Disney to save the $200 million that it spends each year to develop its own games. Peers: “Disney would be gutsy to step up during the current economic uncertainty. But it might be better than waiting for better times and paying top dollar.”

New Yorker Launches Digital Edition; Free To Print Subscribers — At first I thought the ad in last week’s New Yorker was a mirage, a promise of a digital edition that would arrive when the magazine was published—not a week later like the print edition. And when the post-registration response was a promise to let me know when the first edition was ready, let’s say I didn’t hold my breath. Turns out the wait was much shorter than expected: the first web-based digital edition arrived in my inbox late yesterday and I finally had the chance to open it today. Exactly as promised, it’s the complete print New Yorker in digital format. (Yes, I know some of you are anti-replica but some people want the magazine experience online.) Much of the magazine already appears online but timing varies to encourage newsstand and subscription sales; the cartoons are all online via CartoonBank.com.