Shaun Currie, CFA
Helix Investment Research • 10 Comments
Sep. 19, 2013, 9:20 AM
- Cisco (CSCO) has been started at Underperform by Credit Suisse. Shares -0.8%.
- Groupon (GRPN) has been upgraded to Buy by Stifel. Morgan Stanley upgraded Groupon earlier this month. Shares +4.2%.
- GT Advanced (GTAT) has been upgraded to Buy by UBS a day after rallying on a Cannacord note and an iPhone 6 rumor. Shares +9.3%.
- AOL has been upgraded to Buy by Topeka. Shares +3.1%.
- VMware (VMW) has been started at Buy by Janney.
- Rogers (RCI) has been upgraded to Outperform by Macquarie.
Sep. 18, 2013, 9:30 AM
- USA Today reports Google (GOOG) is looking to replace the cookie, that age-old means of tracking a user's online activity (and, among other things, delivering targeted ads), with a home-grown anonymous tracker called AdId.
- Google would reportedly provide AdId to advertisers and 3rd-party ad networks, with the goal of creating an industry standard, and is said to believe the tracker gives users more control over their privacy than cookies.
- Still, rivals and others could be wary of a solution that gives Google, already the 800-lb. gorilla of online ads, even more industry power. Interactive Advertising Bureau counsel Mike Zaneis argues a company in control of such a tracker could have the power to "severely undermine billions of dollars in digital ad spending" on a whim.
- The report comes as Apple, Mozilla, and Microsoft (previous) show measures of support for a default "Do Not Track" browsing option that limits the value of cookies. AOL, ValueClick (VCLK), and YUME are among the ad network/tech providers that could be affected by Google's reported plans.
Sep. 6, 2013, 5:08 PM
Aug. 30, 2013, 2:04 PM
- Microsoft (MSFT) and Google (GOOG) are moving to sue the U.S. government for the right to release more information on the companies' involvement in NSA surveillance programs. Microsoft's outspoken General Counsel Brad Smith wrote today that, with negotiations with the NSA having broken down, Microsoft will move forward "in the hope that the courts will uphold our right to speak more freely." A Google spokesperson: "there is still too much secrecy around these requests."
- The Guardian reported last week that the NSA had "paid millions of dollars to cover the [PRISM compliance] costs of major internet companies." The tempest of public attention escalated yesterday, after The Washington Post reported that the U.S. government will pay $278M during the fiscal year to telecommunications firms for clandestine access to their networks.
- At stake is consumer perception (and business) of what degree of privacy can be expected from the services provided by tech companies. Microsoft, Google, Apple (AAPL), Yahoo (YHOO), Facebook (FB), AOL, Twitter, and Reddit have all moved to distance themselves from the NSA scandal.
- It appears that major tech companies believe transparency is a better option than leaving users to fill in the blanks for themselves.
Aug. 16, 2013, 12:41 PM
- According to Jim Romensko, AOL (AOL -1%) CEO Tim Armstrong stated on a 9-minute CC this morning 40% of Patch's workforce (480 people) is being laid off.
- Both Romensko and Poynter's Andrew Beaujon report AOL plans to shutter/consolidate 20% of Patch's 900+ sites. From the looks of things, the 60% of sites said to have "real traction" will be kept, and another 20% said to have "significant traction" may need partnerships to stay afloat.
- Sources tell AllThingsD's Peter Kafka AOL is trying to "find other media companies to operate some underperforming Patch sites." Armstrong reportedly mentioned on the CC he has talked with media companies about Patch sites.
- The CC apparently ended without another event requiring an apology.
- Previous: AOL Patch layoffs, site shutdowns
Aug. 15, 2013, 2:05 PM
- Kara Swisher reports Yahoo (YHOO -2.5%) and AOL (AOL -1.9%) have reached a settlement over Yahoo's plans to hire former AOL ad sales chief Ned Brody to be its North American ad sales chief.
- Brody left AOL in April with plans to join Yahoo, and Swisher reported at the time the companies could go to court on account of Brody's non-compete agreement. She now reports Yahoo gave AOL "some sweeteners" to get it to relent.
- Brody will have his work cut out for him: Yahoo's display ad sales fell 11% Y/Y in Q2 in spite of leadership changes and new ad formats. Yahoo is betting major ad tech investments will help right the ship.
- Separately, AdWeek reports new AOL acquisition/video ad tech provider Adap.tv is "rife with suspect ad inventory" such as "autoplay ads that appear below the fold" and "straight-up bogus ad impressions generated by bots." One Web fraud researcher "found at least 30 percent of Adap.tv’s traffic to be bot-driven."
- AOL has already had a tumultuous week. CEO Tim Armstrong was forced to apologize to a Patch employee he fired on the spot during last week's layoff announcement, after the employee took a picture of him.
Aug. 9, 2013, 11:04 AM
- It's a day of reckoning for AOL's (AOL) long-struggling Patch local news unit. CEO Tim Armstrong has confirmed "hundreds" of Patch's 1.3K workers have been laid off, including division chief Steve Kalin, and that 400 of Patch's 900+ sites will be shuttered or partnered with other sites.
- Bud Rosenthal, a former Yahoo exec and until now the head of AOL's dial-up ISP ops, is Patch's new CEO.
- Jim Romensko recently reported up to 500 Patch employees will be cut. The layoffs follow more modest 2012 job cuts, and a promise by Armstrong Patch will be profitable by year's end.
- Patch's history of big losses, along with the inherent challenges of scaling a business based on running and selling ads on hundreds of "hyper-local" news sites, has made it a frequent target of criticism, including from thwarted AOL activist investor Starboard Value.
- The layoffs come shortly after AOL significantly expanded the scope of its growing online ad ops by acquiring online video ad tech provider Adap.tv for $405M.
Aug. 7, 2013, 7:25 AM
- AOL (AOL) says Adap.tv provides a "unified yield management platform" for advertisers and Web site publishers for planning, targeting, ad serving and measurement.
- Adap.tv's revenues have grown over 100% over the past three years, and it has been widely adopted by major advertisers and publishers. (Previous) (PR)
Aug. 7, 2013, 7:07 AM
- AOL (AOL): Q2 EPS of $0.35 misses by $0.08.
- Revenue of $541.3M (+2% Y/Y) beats by $1.64M. (PR)
Aug. 7, 2013, 12:05 AM
Aug. 6, 2013, 5:30 PM
Aug. 2, 2013, 7:00 PM
- TechCrunch and Valleywag report AOL has laid off employees within its HR, video production, and AIM teams.
- AOL has carried out a string of layoffs (I, II, III) in recent years, as it tries to cut costs within both its cash-cow dial-up ISP business, and underperforming areas within its online media/ad ops.
- Q2 results arrive on Wednesday.
Jul. 19, 2013, 1:36 PM
AOL (AOL -0.1%) hires Bob Lord, most recently the CEO of online ad agency Razorfish, to be the new head of its AOL Networks online ad unit. AOL Networks covers several different ad network/tech units, and has become a growth driver for AOL. Lord replaces Ned Brody, who recently left AOL and will likely end up at Yahoo once a dispute over his non-compete agreement is resolved. Separately, AOL has formed a partnership with giant ad/PR agency Publicis (a former employer of Lord's) to help advertisers create/deliver live ads across AOL's properties and ad networks. Q1 results are due on Aug. 7. (Adap.tv rumor)| Jul. 19, 2013, 1:36 PM
Jul. 18, 2013, 3:54 PM
AOL (AOL -0.1%) has made a $375M-$425M offer to buy online video ad tech provider Adap.tv, BI sources (sometimes accurate, sometimes not) report hearing. AOL has been trying to flesh out its ad tech product line, as part of its efforts to become less dependent on its declining/cash-cow ISP business. The company's Advertising.com ad tech unit bought ad retargeting services firm Buysight in December. Tremor Media (TRMR +3.6%), another online video ad tech firm, recently had a disappointing IPO.| Jul. 18, 2013, 3:54 PM
Jul. 15, 2013, 1:29 PMTim Stevens, editor-in-chief of AOL-owned Engadget, is out. Marc Perton, the head of gdgt (recently acquired by AOL), will run Engadget while a search commences for a permanent replacement. Stevens' departure comes two months after AOL announced a big shakeup for its Patch local news unit, and five months after the company hired former Martha Stewart Living/Gilt Group chief Susan Lyne to head its online media brands (Huffington Post excluded). | Jul. 15, 2013, 1:29 PM | 1 Comment
Jul. 9, 2013, 4:30 PMCiti launches coverage on the Internet services space after the bell. Google (GOOG), Amazon (AMZN), Yahoo (YHOO), AOL, and eBay (EBAY) have been started at Buy, Netflix (NFLX), Facebook (FB), LinkedIn (LNKD), Yelp (YELP), and Zillow (Z) at Neutral, and OpenTable (OPEN) at Sell. OPEN -4% AH. | Jul. 9, 2013, 4:30 PM | 1 Comment