It should have been a no brianer, and it took far too long. The Department of Justice has finally filed an Anti trust complaint against AT&T. As expected AT&T and T Mobile Parent DT are protesting.
Why do I think this is the right move when so many in government have been singing off the same free market sheet of music in support of AT&T? Simple. Wireless is not a free market. AT&T deliberately avoids playing in free markets. Rightly or wrongly, government has decided that fixed connections will have limited right of ways, and the limited wireless frequencies will be divided between a small, limited number of operators. Put simply, AT&T is the #1 land line operator, the #1 spectrum holder in most major markets and the #2 wireless carrier. I have serious doubts that the company’s current pre T Mobile structure would would get a clear pass from the Sherman Act as is. (more…)
Have a spat with a competitor? Think your IP protfolio is a tad weak? Might be your potential IP battle with Microsoft could be a problem? Well if you are Google there is a simple answer — Buy Motorola!
Larry Page, Google’s co-founder who took over as chief executive officer in April, is transforming Google into a smartphone maker to take on Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPhone and gain more clout in the wireless business. Motorola Mobility, under pressure to seek strategic changes by activist investor Carl Icahn, gives Google more than 17,000 patents the company can leverage in negotiations with competitors such as Apple.
“This is the next step in building their position in the mobile world so they can distribute Google products and services through mobile phones and tablets,” said Clayton Moran, an analyst at Benchmark Co. in Boca Raton, Florida, who recommends Google shares. “They want a success with the Android platform and this will enhance their position in the mobile marketplace, as well as defend their position through the patent portfolio.”
The article goes on to say that certain players might take a second look as to their choice of Android as a platform. Well maybe, but who you gonna play with? I would hazard that with Google preparing to own Motorola, the Symbian platform will be a dead letter. So that leaves Windows Mobile 7. Good tech, but the business partner there might be no more accomodating than Google with Android.
There could be an out for the likes of HTC — Meego. Yeah its open source, but it is a ready platform that needs some love to make it shine.
It the IT realm, consumation of this deal takes Google from an interesting new comer to industry power house in the wireless game in one move. 17000 patents on the table is nothing to sneeze at. It also totally destroys the whole argument that Motorola was going after Google for royalities. Legally one can’t sue one’s self intentionally. This also will give Microsoft some pause. Several of their wireless products use licensed Motorola IP.
This move changes the landscape at so many levels.
To give you some background, I not only play the markets but I co-founded an angel organization in Chicago that invests in start ups. We are starting to see a lot of deal flow that involve some aspect of social media. I subscribe to some angel email services from all over the country, and I see lots of companies today that want money to invade the social media space.
The answer on the bubble, it depends. I could make an argument that Facebook ($FB) at $100 billion is cheap. It is a legacy platform that other businesses are building off of. Facebook is sticky, even if you think it’s a time waster. A lot of this social media stuff just becomes background noise. There is so much of it you tune it all out and go with what you are used to. I think that is the appeal of Google+ for a lot of folks, you can tune out a lot of extracurricular noise.
Certain companies are trying to reinvent Facebook. They are riffing on specialized aspects of Facebook and compartmentalizing them. Small little apps that segment the market. Many of them are receiving money from angel investors. The bulk of them could be considered a bubble.
Companies that I like in the social media space integrate and work across platforms. They take the best aspects of social media and quantify it-or make it easier for us to interact with social media. It’s very hard to know who those companies are-or if you do invest, how they will pivot and grow. Help Scout is an example of a company that I would want to make an investment in if they applied to Hyde Park Angels. One of our companies, ReTel, developed the site favo.rs that looks really cool.
So is Carter right that social media as a internet genre in a large run up bubble that is going to pop? I can’t hazard a guess. A lot of these social platforms I don’t know how far they have gotten to date.
Take Twitter. Its Hot, with a cap H. But I shake my head. You look at the traffic and anywhere from a third to a half include some tiny url link. So that implies they want to say more. So why pick `that` platform to say it when the container is ill suited for the content? Eyeballs. I remember when the big I was bleeding out of the universities and going commercial email was the Hot Ticket. Then as a medium it became part of the backdrop of everyday life. The thing is it retained its usefulness. I don’t know if Twitter will.
Lets take another service, FaceBook. Me I avoid it like the plaque. The user is the only thing on sale on that platform. That reason alone I will pass. But I can see the utility of it for others. Its like a nonstop class reunion on steroids. For the most part you are free to personalize the sandbox and your message can be as long as you want.
Long term though? Many Soc Med newbies will die on the vine. I’ll put my money elsewhere.
On Thursday, Business Insider reported that China is trying to buy “a huge chunk” of Facebook.
According to the business news website, Beijing approached a fund that buys stock from former Facebook employees to see if it could assemble a stake large enough “to matter.” Moreover, Citibank is rumored to be trying to acquire as much as $1.2 billion of stock for two sovereign wealth funds, one from the Middle East and the other Chinese. Business Insider reports a third source, from a “very influential” Silicon Valley investment bank, confirms that Citi is representing China.
Should Beijing be allowed to buy a part of Mark Zuckerberg’s site? Business Insider tells us there is “little need” for concern about Chinese censors looking at the photos and postings of the 700 million people who trust Facebook with their personal online activity.
First, China’s position won’t be large. A billion-dollar investment does not buy much influence in a site expected to be worth a hundred times that when it goes public. Second, Beijing will be acquiring nonvoting stock. Third, shareholders don’t get the right to look at what’s on the site. All of these arguments from Business Insider ring true.
Yet they are all beside the point—and there are other reasons to be concerned. The business site says that “sovereign wealth funds are pretty distinct from their governments.”
Perhaps Norway’s fund is, but not China’s. The Communist Party, despite three decades of economic reform, insists on its monopoly of political power. And to maintain that monopoly, it tightly controls its own instrumentalities. That’s especially true at this moment because the Party is in the midst of the most comprehensive crackdown on society since the 1989 Beijing Spring. Chinese leaders clearly view social media as a threat to their rule, especially after seeing its force-multiplying effect in the ongoing Arab Spring protests that have toppled governments.
In short, China’s sovereign wealth fund, which is no more independent of the Communist Party than the Beijing municipal government, wants to buy a stake in the world’s most prominent social networking site because Chinese leaders want to control social media. And they hope to do that as part of their comprehensive campaign to dominate the conversation about China—not just inside the country but around the world as well.
Facebook is a cesspool for flim-flam, data mining and identity theft. Now we might have the Chinese Communist Party as part owner? Think again my friend. I really urge people to consider carefully what they put up on that site.
Nearly five months after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the once huge chain of Borders bookstores has finally found a private investment firm willing to buy it for $215 million. Alas, the buyer would also be assuming $220 million in debt from the busted bookseller.
However, while the deal has been agreed to, it’s not yet set in stone. The AP explains:
The agreement is tentative and what is known as a “stalking horse” bid for a company under bankruptcy protection. The bid will open an auction for the bookseller and its assets, so a higher bid is possible.
The deal will go before a bankruptcy court judge on July 21.
Amazing in my view. Borders is a pretty good outfit. But they have the B&M disease like many other book resellers. There are many in the publishing industry who think that there will be a golden age after the depression is over. Some how I don’t think so. The winners will be the Mom&Pop shops who got innovative and made their operations slim and trim and provided service and interests of a more regional basis. The problem is can they survive now? Most of the mass market will be direct Internet sale, ala Amazon.
Even golden hands at times can turn to lead. But MySpace will not be the last. There is no guarantee that FaceBook itself won’t someday be deprecated.
[Update] Final number for the sale was $35m. The acquirer, Specific Media, intends to layoff half of the staff of 400 upon final signing. Sharpen those resumes kiddies.