What If…Media Consolidation Is A Good Thing? (part 4)

As part of our continuing look at deals that should or should not have happened (or will or will not happen), we offer:

  • Microsoft & Forethought – You have to go way back to know the name Forethought. The company was founded in 1983 and become Microsoft’s first acquisition. Their objective was to develop an object oriented bit-mapped software application which was originally launched as Presenter and later re-named PowerPoint.  An interesting footnote is this company also obtained a license from MSFT to publish a Mac application called Nutshell that soon became the very popular Filemaker software.
  • Verizon & AOL – When this deal was first announced, there were many explanations for the value it would unlock: content plays like HuffPo; AOL’s advertising platform and associated tools (programmatic and otherwise); technologies to expand Verizon’s IoT ambitions; even the 2 million customers that were still paying AOL $20/month for dial-up service (really?!?).  Fortune Magazine wrote an excellent article on the topic. One outcome has clearly been the launch and rapid expansion of the Go90 platform. The latest rumor is Tim Armstrong, AOL’s CEO has been asked to explore a potential acquisition of Yahoo which, for all their challenges, still has over 1 billion people using their sites and services.
  • DirecTV and AT&T – Last July (2015), the FCC signed off on this mega-merger creating the nation’s largest pay TV operator. The new entity reached over 26 million customers, surpassing Comcast. The companies pitched their usual “it’s good for customers” angle. Yes the FCC did impose a number of conditions including requirements that AT&T increase its fiber-broadband service, offer super-fast gigabit service to eligible schools and libraries within its footprint, provide discounted Internet service to low-income households and count its own video services under any broadband data caps. However, as a DirecTV customer, all I’ve seen so far is a rate increase.
  • Twitter and ??? – This one is hard to resist. The stock price is sagging despite a YoY revenue increase of 60%. Jack Dorsey and our friend Adam Bain are looking to speed up the release of new products. Their “moments” feature was released to high expectations in 2015. They’ve found more ways to monetize the user experience. They recently named Leslie Berland (from American Express) as their new CMO. Many people, this writer included, are intrigued about the upside potential of Periscope. Despite these and other moves, speculation about an eventual sale is still running rampant. So who could be a potential buyer? SK Ventures’ Paul Kedrosky suggests the winner could come from a collection of companies including Google, Microsoft, Apple or Asian investors like Weibo and Softbank. Others have suggested Facebook or Alibaba could be the acquirer. Still others think this could be a private equity play for a company like Silver Lake or Apollo Global.

Tell us what you think by posting a comment in the box below.