Posts Tagged ‘AOL’

Media Navel Gaze

The Week Unpeeled

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post last week for $250 million, a surprise to many including The New York Times, which had just published a big feature on the paper’s publisher, Katharine Weymouth, who remains as publisher and whose family has owned the paper for eight decades.  The Post had served as advisor to Amazon on designing the Kindle so Bezos was no stranger to management (and now being called a press baron – FT). No surprise though for all the media-covering-the-media coverage and stories of storied publishing families who have relinquished control:  Chandlers of the LA Times  and Bancrofts of The Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, The New York Times was quick to announce that it is not for sale, even though it did sell The Boston Globe to the owner of the Red Sox, highlighting newspaper ownership today is really a who’s-on-first game.  Interesting graphic in The Times over the weekend showing the value of recent sales with Tumblr dwarfing others at $1.1 billion.

Elsewhere:

  • On the online news front, AOL announced that it was closing or finding partners for 400 out of its 900 Patch news sites, following in the footsteps of many major news outlets in saying the local online news model does not work;
  • The London whale, the ex JP Morgan trader who was tied to billions of losses for the bank, resurfaced amid reports that he will likely not face charges;
  • The bank also found itself as a target of  Justice Department probe;
  • Amid expectations for big withdrawals, SAC Capital reportedly may also be announcing layoffs sometime soon; and
  • The Dow ended its six-week winning streak to close down 1.5 percent for the week at 15,425 (although still up 18 percent for the year). End of Story
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The Week Unpeeled

The end of August ended with a bang on all fronts except the jobs front as the month turned out to be one of the “newsworthiest” in a long time, from the earthquake and hurricane on the East Coast to Murdoch to Jobs to Syria to London riots to S&P downgrades to the debt-ceiling debate to BachmanPerryRomney to wild market rides. Get the pic.  More recently and elsewhere:

  • Bad Labor Day News: The jobs picture dimmed considerably with zero new jobs created in August, the first time in a year when no jobs were added to the economy;
  • Focus now is on President Obama’s speech on jobs, scheduled for Thursday (after PR nightmare scheduling fights with the GOP);
  • Obama appointed Princeton economist Alan Krueger to be head of his Council of Economic Advisor, someone familiar to CJP when he worked with us on developing a proposed index for one-time client Adecco;
  • The US sued to block the $39-billion AT&T/T-Mobile merger (which is being argued about whether it will help or hurt the jobs picture);
  • The US also sued 17 mortgage institutions that sold loans that turned bad to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac;
  • WikiLeaks cables were leaked; and
  • For the month, the Dow declined 529 points to end at 11,240 (September is usually the worst week for stocks, so stay tuned).

Tech Blogger to Become Investor

Interesting businesss/journalism/gray area story last week when Michael Arrington of TechCrunch fame announced plans to start a venture-capital fund to invest in Silicon Valley start ups, even ones he and staff may cover as bloggers. The $20-million fund raises obvious questions about conficts of interest. TechCrunch’s somewhat new owner, AOL, said Arrington will take a new role at the site, hire a new managing editor and continue to report to Arrianna Huffington (maybe not to ruin the perfect mashup of reporting lines and names). CJP

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AOLThere is an episode from The Simpsons (S9 E14, for the fact-checkers out there) called Das Bus wherein Homer starts up his own home-based Internet business called Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net because he’s tired of everyone making money off of the Web except for him.

In the show’s climax, Bill Gates shows up at the Simpson home to “buy him out” which consists of Bill Gates’ “enforcers” destroying Homer’s office and breaking a bunch of stuff.  “I didn't get rich by writing a lot of checks,” Gates offers as the key to his success on the way out the door.  The moral: never mess with the alpha dog.

Over the last several months, we've seen AOL Media take a decidedly different approach to attempt market domination.  It has written several very large checks in what looks like an effort to achieve market domination in the media supply business.  High profile purchases of the Huffington Post and TechCrunch, among others, seemed to indicate that AOL was making a concerted effort to control the news stream, if such a thing were attainable.

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The Week Unpeeled

Ahead of Valentine’s Day on Monday, love -- or at least mergers – were in the air, with AOL announcing plans to buy the HuffPo blog for $315 million (or 30 times projected Ebidta!); Deutsche Borse AG was talking to NYSE Euronext about combining (Wall Strasse!), and reports over the weekend said that the NYSE would have management control; Nokia and Microsoft are forming an alliance to take on the smartphone market; and London and Toronto stock exchanges are looking to hook up.

Elsewhere:

  • President Obama unveiled his budget package and pledged to cut $1.1 trillion over the next decade
  • Borders is expected to file for bankruptcy as early as early this week;
  • The Daily supposedly posted a picture of “the most powerful women in Hollywood,” but many deny that the screenshot through the window of the car was NOT Nikke Finke;
  • “Fit fun classy guy” Rep. Chris Lee from New York resigned from Congress after he was exposed for above-the-belt exposure on Craigslist as single (he’s not) and looking (now for a job);
  • And kinda in the same vein, an opera about Anna Nicole Smith opens in London this week at the Royal Opera House;
  • Meanwhile, the Dow closed at a 2-1/2 year high Friday at 12,273.

Crowdsourcing and Tahrir Square

Egypt dominated headlines all week and all weekend, with President Hosni Mubarak stepping down after 18-days or stepped-up opposition pressure amid expectations that other Arab nations may see similar conflict (or as seen on Twitter: “First Tunisia. Now Egypt. What’s next? Check Facebook.”); Although obvious at this point, it’s worth emphasizing the strong influence social media had on this revolution, even spearheaded in large part by a social-media executive, Google employee, Wael Ghonim. In the aftermath, it’s clear that Facebook and Twitter served as the accelerators, helping demonstrators push the pedal on the revolution or to crowdsource the overthrow at Tahrir Square. Watching the revolution from CNN and Twitter and CNN watching Twitter, social media also seemed to accelerate diplomacy, keeping steps ahead of the administration on responses. The test now comes to see what role social media plays in rebuilding democracy, more important but less glamorous and maybe a less Tweetable activity.

CJP Remains Ahead of the Curve

Last week, the Verdana font was made part of MoMA’s design collection and now word from The Wall Street Journal over the weekend on a front-page feature: “Orange Crush: Fall in Love with the Color of the Moment.” WAY been there, done that.  CJP

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The Midweek Unpeeled

This is certainly turning out to be the week of musical chairs in media and business with a host of unions and separations hitting the tape:

  • Big Item: AOL acquires Huffington Post for $315 million
    (doesn’t that seem kinda small nowadays?);
  • Two columnists departures reported at The New York Times Sunday Magazine (last week but still worth mentioning): Randy Cohen from “The Ethicist” and Deborah Solomon from “Questions for.”  Cohen was replaced by Ariel Kaminer, the paper’s “City Critic” columnist; no replacement named yet for Solomon;
  • Keith Olbermann, formerly of MSNBC”s “Countdown,” is joining Current TV (founded by Al Gore), reportedly to launch a prime-time program a la Countdown;
  • Jeff Fager, the executive producer of “60 Minutes,” was named chairman of CBS News, and Sean McManus, president of CBS News and Sports, moved to chairman of Sports. More interesting, David Rhodes, formerly head of TV for Bloomberg News, was named president of CBS News, his first move to network;
  • The New York Stock Exchange announced that it is talks to be purchased by the German exchange, meaning 11 Wall Street would be foreign owned (reportedly at 60%);
  • The London and Toronto stock exchanges are in talks to merge, a combination that would dominate in the mining/natural resource world; and
  • A Picasso sold for $36 million (boom times!)

At Last! Disappearing Ink for Texting

A little too late for the recent insider traders but maybe just in time for Lindsay, TigerText, which was featured this month in The Wall Street Journal, is a new messaging service that allows users to text free from their smartphones and know when their messages have been delivered, read, and then control when it gets deleted from their phone and the recipients. Untraceable communications will no doubt be the one of the next big must-have apps and will no doubt save many of us loads of embarrassment. Next up?  Disappearing Page Six items. CJP

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