The Federal Trade Commission is investigating two more mergers in the fast-growing online-advertising industry.
The FTC is conducting antitrust reviews of Microsoft Corp.’s $6 billion bid for aQuantive Inc. and Yahoo Inc.’s $680 million deal for the 80% of closely held ad-exchange operator Right Media Inc. it didn’t already own, lawyers close to these deals said. The FTC already is investigating Google Inc.’s $3.1 billion bid for DoubleClick Inc.
Ars points out where Google Video, eclipsed in our consciousness by YouTube, is heading.
Following Google’s acquisition of YouTube in 2006, many questions emerged about the future of Google’s own video service. These questions were largely answered early this year, when Google expanded its video service to include YouTube search support and revealed plans to expand video search functionality to support a broad assortment of other sites as well. These plans are now coming to fruition as the scope of the Google Video search index broadens to cover content hosted outside of the company’s web empire.
Has Steve peaked? My pal Heilemann asks in this week’s NY Magazine.
Yahoo Inc. said Terry Semel will step aside as its chief executive and be replaced by co-founder Jerry Yang, as the Internet icon attempts to regain investor confidence.
Mr. Semel, a former Hollywood executive who joined Yahoo in 2001, will remain chairman in a non-executive role. The Sunnyvale, Calif., company also expanded the duties of Susan Decker, who was recently named the head of the company’s advertising business, and named her its new president.
Yahoo Inc. Chairman Terry Semel ended his six-year stint as chief executive officer Monday and will hand over the reins to co-founder Jerry Yang in the Internet icon’s latest attempt to regain investor confidence.
Semel, 64, will remain chairmain in a non-executive role.
Besides naming Yang as its new CEO, Yahoo appointed Susan Decker as its president. Decker, who had been recently promoted to oversee Yahoo’s advertising operations, had widely been seen as Semel’s heir apparent.
What is that vision? A Yahoo! that executes with speed, clarity and discipline. A Yahoo! that increases its focus on differentiating its products and investing in creativity and innovation. A Yahoo! that better monetizes its audience. A Yahoo! whose great talent is galvanized to address its challenges. And a Yahoo! that is better focused on what’s important to its users, customers, and employees.
The past year has obviously not been an easy one for us. But we’ve taken important steps to address the challenges we face, and we’re starting to realize some of the benefits – especially with the successful launch of Panama, which continues to receive positive feedback from advertisers and is exceeding our expectations. By the way, that’s directly attributable to the operational excellent mentality Terry has instilled and is a clear sign one of his most critical initiatives is succeeding.
As I said earlier, Tennessee got me thinking a lot last week, in particular about music as the canary in the coal mine of the entire Internet economy. I started imagining a major event in the business, and I wrote the below (entirely fiction) just to see how it felt. In fact, I wrote 2600 words of fiction last week. I’m finding it a really interesting way to work out some of the knottier issues in this industry. I might start doing more of it.
Here’s a piece of it:
October 17, 2007 (San Francisco/Dow Jones) In a surprise move today that has the entertainment industry buzzing, Sony Chairman Howard Stringer announced that his company was encouraging its entire stable of musical acts to release their music freely on the Internet, effectively immediately. The company said it would release the masters, or original recordings of the artists’ work, back to the creator, and ask only that the artists work in good faith to find the best method for freely sharing the newly unencumbered work.
Once a crown jewel in a company now struggling to find its footing in a new economic regime, Sony’s music business has languished recently, and executives increasingly have blamed the Internet for the decline. Stringer’s announcement marks an about face for the media giant, and potentially a harbinger of things to come in the film, publishing, and other intellectual property-driven media businesses.
Stringer’s announcement follows that of EMI Chairman Eric Nicoli, who in the Spring announced all EMI music would be sold without DRM, or digital rights management software, which effectively controlled distribution of music in the new medium and slowed the natural discovery of music by potential fans.
“We have to find new models, it’s clear the old ones are not working,” Stringer announced. “And the only way we’ll find them is to let the music find them for us.”
Asked by reporters what models Stringer thought might develop, he pointed to marketing partnerships, advertising, touring, and merchandise. “We didn’t do this without studying the landscape,” he said. “We noticed the bands that shared their music had much higher alternative revenues. In fact, we realized many of them didn’t need a record label at all. The question becomes, then, what do they need, and how can we be of service to them?”
“Sony is now artist-driven,” he declared.
Sony’s stock dropped sharply on the announcement, but then picked up and closed even for the day. Analysts were uncertain about the impact of Stringer’s move, as the recording division had not been a significant addition to margin for several years. In fact, unders Stringer the division became “sort of like a bag of rocks bumping against the company’s flanks,” said Josh Keegan, an analyst for JP Morgan Securities. “Everyone was noticing it.”
Bonnaroo and Memphis have my head spinning, stories bumping around asking to be let out. But for now, back to search. First up: the WebGuild is offering $200 off their conference later this month, which I cannot attend but sounds great. More info here…
I got a chance to spend 24 or so hours in Memphis before Bonnaroo. I’d never been. But I was lucky enough to have guides.
My buddy Martin texts me a number as I’m leaving Orlando, Memphis bound. “Call Dallas” was the word, Dallas being the man who would be at the airport ready to take me to my destination, the vibrantly decomposed studio of Jim Dickinson and his boys Cody and Luther, who form two thirds of the North Mississippi All Stars. They were recording together, on the family farm 35 minutes or so outside Memphis in the North Mississippi woods. Dallas was going to take me there.
I rang Dallas while still on the tarmac. It’s been quite some time since I’ve had walking around time. You know, the kind of time where you land somewhere foreign, you know one guy maybe, or bump into someone, and that person takes you to another world. It’d been years since I’d been to Tennessee. The place lived in my mind as legend, mostly through music. And I’d never been to Memphis.
“Travel. Dallas,” he answers.
Dallas, I tell him, John.
“Alright. I’m five minutes from the airport. You on the tarmac?” Gentle, like bourbon on new ice.
Yes, I say.
“I’ll be at the top of the escalators as you come out. I’m dressed like a tourist, got a panama hat. And a badge.”
I knew I’d like Dallas.
After the obligatories (hotel, beer, ice, food), we drove across the Mississippi and headed south for a while, the highway cutting through woods and rolling farmland. Dallas regaling me with stories of the land as we tooled along in his Chevy wagon – the one with the same engine as the 1994 Corvette – same transmission, too. Thirty minutes and we took a left, we’re in low folds of resting grassland, punctuated by high elms – were they elms? – draped in kudzu. Were it not for agriculture, this would be impassable land.
Fourth driveway at the left, Cody had put a red bandana on the mailbox. We hit a dirt road, then we pass one, and another single wide. Someone might live there. Then again, someone might not. But nothing felt out of place.
A quarter mile down a clearing, and a mowed field, crowned by forty-foot kudzu skirted woods. In the field, to the left as we entered, an Airstream, seen better years, but still proud. And past it, as we pan to our right, a Chevy Grand Torino, maybe 1974, rusting but again, nobly. Immediately to its right is a 1990 or so 280Z, sweetly clenched in a decades long conversation with mother nature. We had arrived at a good moment, as Mother Nature had figured out a way to claim the old car, namely by pushing a six-foot-tall blackberry shoot – tall and straight as any tree – impossibly through the hood, and dead center to boot.
Then I saw the studio.
Reader Jack Lail, who my damn Typekey issues prevented from commenting, sent me this:
My paper, The Knoxville News Sentinel, has a producer blogging and Twittering at Bonnaroo. Check Lauren Spuhler’s coverage out.
And check out the
She’s got some great stuff up already!
Cool, thanks Jack!