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from Breakingviews:

Alibaba triangular dealmaking adds to IPO quirks

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By John Foley
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Powerful insiders are the norm in internet companies. Alibaba’s tie-up with a digital TV company adds an extra twist. The Chinese e-commerce group, which is planning a U.S. listing, has signed a three-step deal with China’s Wasu Media that looks a little too clever for comfort.

The agreement to make and distribute content, announced on April 9, has logic. The two companies, both based in the city of Hangzhou, already make television set-top boxes together. Jack Ma, Alibaba’s colourful founder and chairman, has long talked of creating culture for China’s masses.

The financing of the deal is less logical. Alibaba will lend 6.5 billion yuan ($1.05 billion) to its co-founder Simon Xie at an 8 percent interest rate. He is investing the cash in a new vehicle, co-owned by Ma and another internet mogul, Shi Yuzhu. That vehicle in turn is investing in Wasu, in return for a 20 percent stake.

from Felix Salmon:

Wonkonomics

My article on the wonk bubble, at Politico, came out not only at the same time as the launch of Vox.com, but also, coincidentally, with the release of comments from both Michael Wolff and Marty Baron on the same subject.

Baron is much more constructive and optimistic than Wolff, but he shares with Wolff a certain skepticism when it comes to what Ezra Klein, in particular, is doing. It’s worth quoting Baron at some length:

from Felix Salmon:

Michael Lewis’s high-speed journalism

My full review of Flash Boys is now up at Slate. Tl;dr: he’s right for the wrong reasons. HFT is a bad thing, but not because it rips off small investors.

There’s a separate question worth asking, though: why is this book weaker than Lewis’s other books?

from Felix Salmon:

Against beautiful journalism

Have you seen that site's gorgeous new redesign? Every article has a nice big headline, huge photos, loads of white space, intuitive and immersive scrolling, super-wide column widths -- everything you need to make the copy truly sing.

I'm over it.

Part of this is because I have a long-standing soft spot for ugly. It's easy, of course, for a web page to become too messy, too noisy -- especially when the mess and the noise is mostly ad-related. On the other hand, I grew up in a culture where today's journalism is tomorrow's fish-and-chips wrapper, and where in general journalism isn't taken nearly as seriously as it is in the US. That's healthy, in many ways, and it encourages a lightness of touch, as well as a gleeful let's-try-everything approach, and a general feeling that the publisher won't be offended if you stop reading this and start reading that instead.

from Felix Salmon:

Trish Regan, Einhorn apologist

Ever since the story first broke, more than five weeks ago, that David Einhorn was suing Seeking Alpha, the Israeli financial website has been very, very quiet on the topic. Sometimes they have simply failed to respond at all to requests for comment (including mine); other times, as with Andrew Ross Sorkin, a spokesman will formally decline to comment.

So it was a big deal when Seeking Alpha president David Siegel appeared on Bloomberg TV today, and answered Trish Regan’s questions about the Einhorn lawsuit. Or, at least, it would have been a big deal, if Regan had actually bothered to ask him any of the obvious questions. Like, for instance, whether he’s going to fight it, or what he thinks of the merits of the case.

from Jack Shafer:

It’s an ad, ad, ad, ad world

The last place you'd expect to discover a map to navigate the future of the content-advertising landscape would be a book about the golden age of radio. But damn it all to hell, there it is on the concluding 12 pages of Cynthia B. Meyers' new book, A Word From Our Sponsor: Admen, Advertising, and the Golden Age of Radio.

Not to discourage you from reading Meyers' first 281 pages about the co-evolution of broadcasting and advertising before excavating her new media insights, but this is one of those books that demands to be read backwards -- conclusion first, historical arguments and research later. In Meyers' view, advertising is not something appended to radio and TV broadcasts or shimmied into the pages of newspapers and magazines. Advertising has been both the dog wagging the tail and the tail wagging the dog, sometimes occupying points in between, its symbiotic relationship with popular media forever ebbing and cresting. And while the past never predicts the future, this book gives readers a peak around the media future's corner.

from Breakingviews:

Alibaba film deal adds to China internet frenzy

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By Robyn Mak
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Alibaba’s latest deal shows the extent of investors’ frenzy for China’s internet. The e-commerce giant announced on March 11 it had agreed to buy 60 percent of Hong-Kong listed ChinaVision for $804 million. The film group’s market value promptly soared to almost $5 billion. Star-struck investors are too easily excited.

from Felix Salmon:

Satoshi: Why Newsweek isn’t convincing

I had a 2-hour phone conversation with Leah McGrath Goodman yesterday. Goodman wrote the now-notorious Newsweek cover story about Dorian Nakamoto, which purported to out him as the inventor of bitcoin. At this point, it’s pretty obvious that the world is not convinced: in that sense, the story did not do its job.

from Breakingviews:

When denials can be as instructive as the truth

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By Rob Cox
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Denials can be as instructive as truths – and if not, they can be at least more entertaining. On Thursday a fellow fingered as the father of bitcoin rejected a report he founded the crypto-currency. In the shadowy world of virtual money, such confusion may not be so surprising – nor matter. Not so with the bizarre defiance of $2 trillion “Bond King” Bill Gross.

from Felix Salmon:

The Satoshi Paradox

Newsweek wanted a scoop for its relaunch cover story, and boy did it deliver: it uncovered the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of bitcoin. Who then promptly came out and denied everything. Which means that one of the two is wrong: either Nakamoto is lying through his teeth, or Newsweek has made what is probably the biggest and most embarrassing blunder in its 81-year history.

But before we try to work out what the answer is, it’s important to separate out the various different questions:

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