MediaFile

Bob Rubin: Wall Street? America needs Sesame Street

Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin was so worried about the current state of political discourse that he went to a billionaire buddy to try to get him to bankroll a TV show, but the deep-pocketed friend turned him down.

Rubin told conference-goers at the Aspen Ideas Festival that both he and former deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott had approached a friend Rubin declined to name. Their idea, which he told Reuters after the event was never developed, was to appeal to the public the same way “Sesame Street” appealed to youngsters.

But the friend, busy with other projects, said no.

Rubin still believes the media could do more to explain issues, particularly when it comes to the fiscal crisis.

“There’s been a massive communications failure  by your party” in explaining budget issues, on-stage interviewer and Reuters digital editor Chrystia Freeland said.

“There’s been a massive communications failure by your profession,” Rubin shot right back. The two joshed for a few seconds about whether the blame should be 50-50 or 80-20.

Tech wrap: Myspace sale saga nears end

An investor group involving Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is in final talks to take a controlling stake in News Corp’s social network site Myspace, according to a source familiar with the matter. Kotick’s involvement is personal and nothing to do with Activision at this stage, the source said.

News Corp, which paid $580 million for Myspace in 2005, had hoped to do a deal valuing Myspace at about $100 million, but sources said it was unlikely to achieve that target.

Major U.S. banks came under growing pressure from banking regulators to improve the security of customer account information after Citigroup became the latest high-profile victim of a large-scale cyber attack. While Citigroup insisted the breach had been limited, experts called it the largest direct attack on a major U.S. financial institution, and forecast it could drive momentum for a systemic overhaul of the banking industry’s data security measures.

Tech wrap: EBay sues Google in mobile payment war

EBay and its online payment unit, PayPal, sued Google and two executives for stealing trade secrets related to mobile payment systems, highlighting the growing battle between companies vying for a major stake in what has been described as a $1 trillion opportunity. The two executives, Osama Bedier and Stephanie Tilenius, were formerly with PayPal and led the launch on Thursday of Google’s own mobile payment system in partnership with MasterCard, Citigroup and Sprint.

The personal information of more than 283,000 customers at Honda Canada was breached, the company confirmed on Friday. The company said the stolen data included names, addresses, vehicle identification numbers and in some cases financing account numbers, but was not the type that would typically be used for identity theft or fraud.

Sony said it will start restoring its PlayStation videogame network in Japan and elsewhere in Asia on Saturday, more than a month after a massive security breach leaked personal details on tens of millions of accounts. Sony also said it plans to testify before U.S. lawmakers at a hearing on data security in Washington on June 2 to address the breech.

Tech wrap: Microsoft backs Ballmer

Microsoft’s board stood behind CEO Steve Ballmer, defending its longtime leader after influential hedge fund manager David Einhorn touched off a debate by calling for his dismissal. The fund manager, who made his name warning about the financial health of Lehman Brothers before the investment bank’s collapse, accused Ballmer on Wednesday evening of being stuck in the past, launching the sharpest attack yet by a high-profile investor against the company’s leadership.

Google and four bank and telecom partners unveiled “Google Wallet” and “Google Offers”, taking U.S. shoppers a step closer to paying by waving their mobile phones at the checkout counter. Designed to work as an app on Android phones, it hitches a ride on MasterCard’s “PayPass” technology, which lets shoppers tap cards for payment. Google has signed up retailers including Macy’s, American Eagle Outfitters and Subway to blend the service with loyalty programs and discount offers.

Google, MasterCard, Citigroup, First Data and Sprint will make the service available this summer to people in New York and San Francisco.

Today in Music: EMI to be put out of its Terra Firma misery soon?

ColdplayWe’re all a little tired of writing about the imminent demise of EMI, home to the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Coldplay and Robbie Williams,  simply because it hasn’t happened in all  the years of writing it.

Well, the storied British music company might disappear in March if its private equity owner Terra Firma trips an upcoming debt covenant test. Even before that happens the UK’s Observer paper says EMI could be “within weeks”of being owned by Citigroup, to whom Terra Firma owes a truck load of cash with which it used to buy EMI in 2007. It says Terra Firma founder Guy Hands is exploring an option to exit before the March deadline.

And in a sign of Terra Firma’s increasing desperation as the debt deadline nears it appealed a US court decision that dashed its hopes for compensation from Citigroup as my colleague Simon Meads writes here from London. Terra Firma had tried to claim late in 2009 that Citigroup duped it into overpaying for EMI.

from DealZone:

Stress-Test Expertise

NEWYORK-SPITZER/It seemed only a bit odd that media star Arianna Huffington was the guest host on CNBC the day the all-important stress test results were due. Not to play down her credentials in media or commentary circles, but where were the celebrated bank analysts, the corporate chieftains and the investment gurus who so routinely enjoy a dose of the limelight on America's Business Channel?

Wasn't this the perfect day for a newsmaker rather than a news talker? The Huffington Post founder has been a good reality check on market cheerleaders who live on CNBC, but on Stress-Test Thursday, the less-than-casual viewer expects insiders with insight. It tasted like something strange and exotic had made its way into the DealZone coffee machine.

Then disgraced former New York Governor and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer joined the fray, and the slightly odd became surreal. Spitzer, who casually noted he was invited to the show (hint, hint), gave a spirited view from the nosebleed seats, far back from the federal policymakers' bench.

One big, happy, musical family

Hey, Madonna meet Miley Cyrus. Jay-Z, these are the Eagles. You all could be one big happy family. Sort of like the Brady Bunch.  Or the Partridge family!

Only, however, if merger talks talks between Ticketmaster Entertainment and Live Nation result in a deal — and if that deal isn’t blocked by regulators worried about too few power players in the ticket  

Here’s what we reported: A source briefed on the matter told Reuters that talks are at an advanced stage, but could still fall apart over issues such as management control.