Tag Archives: Google

The new rules of M&A attraction

BRUCE WASSERSTEIN was probably the most famous mergers and acquisitions (M&A) banker on Wall Street in the 1980s and 1990s. Yet “Bid ‘em up Bruce”, who died in 2009, was ambivalent about his trade. The best rainmakers were capable men, he once wrote, but dealmaking also attracted “hustlers and swaggering mediocrities”. And whereas takeovers made the business world more dynamic, they also led to “pain, dislocations and blunders”.

Whether dealmaking is sensible is once more an important question, because M&A are back with a vengeance, after a lull following the financial crisis. Worldwide, $3.6 trillion of deals have been announced this year, reckons Bloomberg, an information provider, approaching the peak reached in 2007. In pharmaceuticals (see article) and among media firms the activity is frantic. Deals worth more than $10 billion are again common. America and Britain, with their open markets for corporate control, account for a disproportionate share of the action. So do cross-border deals, which have risen from a sixth of activity in the mid-1990s to 43% today.

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2014 Was an M&A Bonanza for the Ad Tech World

Consolidation has long been predicted in the advertising technology market, and based on the M&A activity of 2014, the deal-making appears to be well under way.

In January, Facebook snapped up video ad firm LiveRail for an estimated $400 million. Yahoo spent more than $200 million on mobile ad firm Flurry in July and then agreed to acquire video ad network BrightRoll for $640 million.

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Microsoft, Yahoo Upgrades Shows Snowden Won, Obama Failed

According to Bloomberg,

Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden succeeded where President Barack Obama couldn’t — getting Microsoft Corp., Google Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. to upgrade computer security against hackers.

The companies are adopting harder-to-crack code to protect their networks and data, after years of largely rebuffing calls from the White House and privacy advocates to improve security. The new measures come after documents from Snowden revealed how U.S. spy programs gain access to the companies’ customer data — sometimes with their knowledge, sometimes without — and that’s threatening profits at home and abroad.

“These companies actively fought against numerous mechanisms that would have mandated far more secure data,” Sascha Meinrath, director of the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation in Washington, said in a phone interview. “Now they are paying the literal price.”

While Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook Inc. provide data to the government under court orders, they are trying to prevent the NSA from gaining unauthorized access to information flowing between computer servers by using encryption. That scrambles data using a mathematical formula that can be decoded only with a special digital key.

The NSA has tapped fiber-optic cables abroad to siphon data from Google and Yahoo, circumvented or cracked encryption, and covertly introduced weaknesses and back doors into coding, according to reports in the Washington Post, the New York Times and the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper based on Snowden documents. He is now in Russia under temporary asylum.

‘Government Snooping’

Microsoft is the latest company considering measures to ensure the protection of customer data and strengthen security “against snooping by governments,” according to Brad Smith, general counsel for the Redmond, Washington-based company.

Microsoft’s networks and services were allegedly hacked by the NSA, the Washington Post reported Nov. 26. Documents disclosed by Snowden suggest, without proving, that the NSA targeted Microsoft’s Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger services under a program called MUSCULAR, the newspaper said.

“These allegations are very disturbing,” Smith said in an e-mailed statement. “If they are true these actions amount to hacking and seizure of private data and in our view are a breach of the protection guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.”

Smith didn’t provide details about what the company is considering doing.

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Silicon Valley Nerds Seek Revenge on NSA Spies With Coding

According to Bloomberg,

Silicon Valley Nerds Seek Revenge on NSA Spies With Super Coding (Bloomberg)

Silicon Valley Nerds Seek Revenge on NSA Spies With Super Coding (Bloomberg)

Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. are fighting back against the National Security Agency by using harder-to-crack code to shield their networks and online customer data from unauthorized U.S. spying.

The companies, burned by disclosures they’ve cooperated with U.S. surveillance programs, are protecting user e-mail and social-media posts with strengthened encryption that the U.S. government says won’t be easily broken until 2030.

While the NSA may find ways around the barriers, the companies say they have to assure users their online connections are secure and data can’t be grabbed when transmitted over fiber-optic networks or digitally stored.

Microsoft Corp. is convinced it must “invest in protecting customers’ information from a wide range of threats, which if the allegations are true, include governments,” Matt Thomlinson, general manager of trustworthy computing, said in an e-mail. He didn’t provide details.

Internet companies including Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple Inc. are trying to distance themselves from news reports that they gave the agency data on electronic communications of Americans and foreigners or have lax security.

While the companies are trying to prevent the NSA from gaining unauthorized access to their data, they say they comply with legal court orders compelling them to provide the government information.

The NSA has tapped fiber-optic cables abroad in order to siphon off data from Google and Yahoo, circumvented or cracked encryption, and covertly introduced weaknesses and back doors into coding, according to reports in the Washington Post, the New York Times and the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

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Microsoft CEO Candidate Elop: to Mull Windows Shift?

According to Bloomberg,

Former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop (Bloomberg)

Former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop (Bloomberg)

Stephen Elop, a candidate to replace Steve Ballmer as Microsoft Corp.’s chief executive officer, would consider breaking with decades of tradition by focusing the company’s strategy around making the popular Office software programs like Word, Excel and PowerPoint available on a broad variety of smartphones and tablets, including those made by Apple Inc. and Google Inc., said three people with knowledge of his thinking.

Elop would probably move away from Microsoft’s strategy of using these programs to drive demand for its flagship Windows operating system on personal computers and mobile devices, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the 49-year-old executive hasn’t finalized or publicly discussed his analysis of the business. Most of Microsoft’s software has been tied to running on Windows.

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Microsoft To Buy Nokia’s Device Business in Deal Worth $7.17 Billion

Microsoft To Buy Nokia’s Device Business in Deal Worth $7.17 Billion

Nokia devices (http://www.gsmarena.com)

All Things D’s Ina Fried reports that Microsoft announced late Monday that it is buying the majority of Nokia’s cell phone unit for 3.79 billion Euros ($5.0 billion) and spending another 1.65 billion Euros ($2.18 billion) to license Nokia’s patent portfolio for a total of 5.44 billion euros ($7.17 billion).

Once the deal is done, a number of Nokia executives will join Microsoft including Stephen Elop, a former Microsoft executive seen as among the top contenders to replace CEO Steve Ballmer. Also set to join Microsoft are Jo Harlow, Juha Putkiranta, Timo Toikkanen and Chris Weber.

For now, Elop is stepping aside as Nokia CEO to become executive VP of devices and services. Nokia Chairman Risto Siilasmaa will serve as interim CEO.

“For Nokia, this is an important moment of reinvention and from a position of financial strength, we can build our next chapter,” said Siilasmaa “After a thorough assessment of how to maximize shareholder value, including consideration of a variety of alternatives, we believe this transaction is the best path forward for Nokia and its shareholders.”

The move is a clear sign that Microsoft believes it can and must succeed in the phone business and that it cannot afford to leave the success in the hands of a partner–even one like Nokia that had bet its future on Microsoft’s phone software.

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Google weighs alliances with private equity; shift to Web costs Oracle sales

Google weighs alliances with private equity; shift to Web costs Oracle sales

Google, actively on the lookout for acquisitions, is for the first time considering forging alliances with private-equity firms to help it structure deals.

Buyout firms can assist an acquirer by providing needed financing or advice on how a target could be restructured or carved up after a deal closes. While Google may invest cash to get a return on the investment, it may also take part in a deal to acquire an asset, said Don Harrison, mergers and acquisitions chief.

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