Archive for Quadrangle

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2008 by Dave Liu

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.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2008 by Dave Liu

Microsoft Beats Quadrangle To Buy Research Firm Greenfield For $486 Million; Selling Off Most Of It — In a complex and slightly confusing transaction, Greenfield Online, the online market research and surveys company, which earlier this week rejected a bid by media PE firm Quadrangle, is now being bought by an unlikely buyer: Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), for about $486 million, $60 million more than the previous bid. MSFT is paying through a cash tender offer for $17.50 per share for the Wilton, Conn-based firm, as opposed to Quadrangle’s $15.50 a share bid.  BUT, as part of this buyout, Microsoft will sell off what Greenfield is best known: its online surveys division, and will only retain its European comparison shopping services part. Greenfield, through its Greenfield Online and its European Ciao comparison shopping websites and affiliate networks, collects, organizes and sells consumer opinions in the form of survey responses to marketing research firms and end users. It was founded in 1994, among the first such online survey firms, and current CEO Albert Angrisan is the former COO and president of survey biggie Harris Interactive.

MySpace Passes Yahoo In Display Impressions — MySpace owner Fox Interactive Media has overtaken Yahoo as the top display advertising property in the U.S., according to new data from comScore. In June, 56.8 billion display ads were viewed on the News Corp. company’s sites, giving it a 15.2% share of the total U.S. display market. Yahoo, meanwhile, served 53.1 billion display ads in the same time period, accumulating a 14.2% share. The data represents a rather big change from May, when Yahoo was still top of the display pile with a 15.9% share, compared to FIM’s 13.5%. Dow Jones points out that the June data will raise fresh concerns about Yahoo’s ability to grow its online advertising business. “It’s a continuation of this trend that eyeballs are going to other places on the Internet, and advertisers are recognizing that,” Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said. “It’s a step in the wrong direction for where Yahoo wants things to go.”

Veoh Decision A Boon for YouTube — Analysts and legal eagles watched with a keen eye as Judge Howard Lloyd of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled on Wednesday that Veoh did its part to protect copyright holders, thus qualifying for “safe harbor” protections under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Adult entertainment company Io Group alleged that the online video provider had not done enough to stop users from uploading unauthorized clips of its adult sex films. “The DMCA was intended to facilitate the growth of electronic commerce, not squelch it,” Judge Lloyd said. The DMCA protects publishers from being held accountable for the content uploaded by their users, as long as they make it clear that uploading copyrighted material is prohibited, and swiftly comply with official takedown notices. TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington noted that it’s also helpful to have fingerprinting technology in place to detect copyrighted material, in addition to lots of non-infringing content (Veoh only received takedown notices on 7% of its content).

U.S. News’ College Report Online Revenues in Seven Figures — So says U.S. News & World Report president Bill Holiber, talking about the relaunch of its America’s Best Colleges online portal, in an interview with Folio. Its flagship franchise list saw about 15 million page views in the last one week, and online revenue around the story is up 500 percent. “We’re well into seven figures just online for this story,” he said. The publisher has sold major online ad packages on the site to Dell and Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) Office Student. Meanwhile, the print edition of the mag is still bleeding: ad pages fell 30.2 percent and estimated ad revenue drop 26.1 percent, according to Publishers Information Bureau figures. It is dropping its weekly frequency to a bi-weekly by next year, and recently formed a new U.S. News Media Group, in an effort to develop more franchises beyond the weekly under it.

WPP Digital Leverages Global Production System — WPP’s digital investment and operating arm WPP Digital has established a global digital production hub to distribute work among its stable of digital agencies. The objective of the new outfit, Deliver, is to better leverage WPP’s existing production capabilities in Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and South Africa in a “distributed model,” according to Neal Prescott, CEO of Deliver.

Wikileaks To The Highest Bidder — The initial idea behind Wikileaks was to publish secretive documents from “oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East,” but the reality has been exposing Swiss banks, Mormons and Scientologists. However, now that the site has started selling secrets at auction, the bigger fish are swimming closer to the harbor. Apparently, a senior official inside Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s administration has some dirt for sale. But the documents aren’t really for sale, per se. Whoever wins the right to the information will only have a set period of time to make use of it before it becomes public. In this case, the leak in question is a series of emails from a senior aide to Chavez, which may or may not contain incriminating information.

Google Android App Store: Like iTunes, With One Big Difference — Google has unveiled its long-awaited answer to the iTunes app store for the iPhone: The Android Market, which will sell programs for the upcoming “Gphone” from T-Mobile, and every other handset that runs on Google’s mobile OS. The big difference: Apple runs it own store with a pretty firm hand. If you want in, you’ve got play by their rules. But Google has an open door policy: Developers who want to put their program on the market just register, upload, and they’re in business.

Articles of the Day

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

Microsoft’s InPrivate Could Make Ad Prospects More Private — Tech publishers and bloggers are buzzing about the impending release of a new version of Microsoft’s popular Internet Explorer browser – still the dominant tool used to access the Web – that has new privacy features that could more readily delete the browsing history and cookies of individual Internet users, making it more difficult for advertisers and publishers to track and serve ads to them. Consumer privacy experts are hailing the forthcoming release of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8 (IE8), and its so-called “InPrivate” blocking feature, but industry analysts say it could be an anathema for targeting and serving online ads.

Rumored Google, Verizon Search/Mobile Deal Signals Major Shift In Attitudes — News of Google’s potential mobile search deal with Verizon Wireless comes as no surprise to analysts who monitor the mobile search and advertising space. In fact, according to Mike Boland, senior analyst at The Kelsey Group, the deal is indicative of a huge shift in the way that mobile service carriers are starting to view technology companies, paved in part by AT&T’s groundbreaking deal with Apple for the iPhone. The deal would essentially make Google search the “on deck” option on Verizon mobile devices, and they would split any ensuing ad revenue.

NYTCo: June Numbers Signal Another Tough Quarter; Revs Fall Sharply; Internet Growth Slow — Q3 is getting off to a rough start at NYTCo… the publisher came out with July numbers showing total revenue fell 10.1 percent to $235.9 million. Ad revenue, which fell 16.2 percent, was weak across all categories. The internet, normally a “bright spot” is rapidly losing its luster: Internet ad revs at the News Media Group were up just .9 percent, hurt by weakness in online recruitment. NYTCo says growth in the current month is up in the “low double digits” helped by improved display advertising on NYTimes.com.

GfK Ends Bid For TNS—All Clear For WPP Takeover? — German audience measurement firm GfK appears to be withdrawing its bid for British research company Taylor Nelson Sofres, according to Reuters, which cited a story in Germany’s Manager magazine based on unidentified sources. GfK is said to be dropping its bid because Apax, the PE firm that agreed to help back it in the deal, began making demands for extensive control over the merger. The German company started to get cold feet last month, when UK ad holding company WPP Group began maneuvering for a hostile takeover of TNS. WPP had sent TNS a formal offer for a 264.2p-per-share offer that values TNS at £1.158 billion ($2.1 billion) – a 55 percent premium from April 28, when TNS said it would merge with GfK.

Greenfield Online Spurns Quadrangle For Higher Offer; Will Pay $5 Million Breakup Fee — Greenfield Online, a provider of online market research, says it’s nixing its sale to media PE firm Quadrangle. The company had already indicated that it received a potentially higher offer than the $426 million or $15.50 per share it was set to get from Quadrangle. The new buyer, an un-named Fortune 100 firm, will pay $17.50 for the company. Per the original agreement announced in early June, Quadrangle will get a $5 million fee for its troubles. Quadrangle could still increase its offer if it acts before August, 29. Full story —

Carat Lowers Overall Ad Outlook, Boosts Online’s — Carat has revised its global and U.S. ad spending outlooks for 2008 downward, but has slightly increased its projections for online ad spending in 2008 and 2009. In a new forecast released early this morning, Carat said it now expects the global advertising marketplace to expand only 4.9%, and U.S. ad spending to rise by 2.1% in 2008. In its preliminary forecast released in March, Carat had projected worldwide ad spending would grow 6.0% and the U.S. would rise 3.8% this year.