Internet news/analysis in brief (EBAY, HOLL, REDE, TWX)

by: David Jackson

  • Time Warner (ticker: TWX) CEO Dick Parsons is considering spinning off AOL if its new portal strategy fails, according to Fortune Magazine (paid subscription required). Quotes from Dick Parsons:
"If this doesn’t work, then you start to think about AOL much differently. You start to think about AOL in somewhat the same way I think about the cable company—we’d have access to the platform, but it would have its own currency to go out and do acquisitions or other deals. We’d have to find a way to maximize the value for our shareholders."

"If you ask anyone with any sense who has the best collection of media assets, it’s Time Warner, and Murdoch comes in a solid second."

  • eBay (ticker: EBAY) announced that it has acquired English classifieds site and Spanish classifieds site Comment: What else do you do if you're generating a ton of cash and you dominate the auction business? Move into an adjacent but similar business - in this case classifieds. Follows previous eBay classifieds purchases and its acquisition of a stake in Craig's List.
  • Online gift retailer Red Envelope (ticker: REDE) reported a wider loss due to decreased margins and higher operating expenses.
  • Seth Goldstein, founder of Internet research company Majestic, outlined two possible causes of The Coming Internet Advertising Crisis: Eliot Spitzer continues his probe of Internet advertising practices, and/or the Justice department investigates Google for monopolistic behavior. (This is the latest post in his excellent series on Internet advertising.)
  • (26.5% owned by Hollywood Media, ticker: HOLL), unveiled its new web site. The company touted faster search and improved checkout and personalization, but didn't mention that the new site also carries more advertising. Meanwhile, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of The Sith broke all advance online ticket sales records. Comment: and Fandango have the online movie tickets market carved up between them, so they're a natural venue for studios to advertise movies. (Full disclosure: at the time of writing I'm long HOLL.)
  • The NY Times announced that it will start to charge for some of its online content; the instant reaction was that water flows around an obstacle (via Susan Mernit). The Times also pondered an affiliate program, and Brad Waller expressed scepticism.

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