They’re feuding at Live Nation

madonna.jpgThings have gotten tense over at Live Nation. An internal feud at the concert promoter could end with Chairman Michael Cohl resigning.

The Wall Street Journal says Cohl is currently negotiating his resignation, having fought with Chief Executive Michael Rapino for weeks over so-called “360 deals.” In such deals, Live Nation gives superstars hefty upfront payments in exchange for financial rights in nearly all their business. Think Madonna and U2 and Jay-Z.

It seems, according to the reports, fairly simple: Cohl wants to sign more of these deals and Rapino wants the pace of these signings to slow; the board tells them to work out their differences; Cohl heads out the door.

Still, there is the fundamental question of whether these “360 deals” are good business or not. As the New York Times points out, the “deals were expensive for Live Nation – a reported $120 million for Madonna and $150 million for Jay-Z – spurring many industry executives and analysts to debate whether the company was paying too much.”

While Cohl could be gone as soon as next week, it will take some time to sort through which executive had it right.

Sorting through the spending figures

calculator.jpgSurprise, surprise! Online advertising spending appears to have slipped quarter-to-quarter, the first time that’s happened in three years, according to a new report.

Before pulling your hair out, keep in mind that first quarter online advertising spending rose 18 percent from the year ago period – it’s just that it slipped from the fourth quarter,  according to the IAB. So while still robust, it seems that online advertising isn’t impervious to the economic troubles gripping the United States.

Another report, this one by PricewaterhouseCoopers, takes a longer view of advertising in new media. It finds that advertising tied to digital and mobile media will account for 24 percent of the growth in the media and is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 19.5 percent to 2012.

Google victorious?

nascar.jpgBack in May, we reported that Google was in the driver’s seat when it came to Microsoft and Yahoo’s on-again, off-again merger talks. Well, Thursday’s news suggests that Google has crossed the finish line — in first place.

Yahoo turned down what sources said was a $35/share offer from Microsoft for a 16 percent equity stake, choosing instead to seal a search advertising deal with Google for up to 10 years.

While Yahoo estimated a $250 million to $450 million boost to cash flow in the first year of the Google deal, and said the annual revenue opportunity was $800 million, Wall Street was skeptical.

Yahoo and Microsoft, or, when is dead really dead?

When Microsoft first said it was ending talks to buy Yahoo, many people thought, “well, that’s the end of it.” Zombie movie fans, on the other hand, know that a dead body can get up and walk again. And walk again it did!

But you have to believe The New York Times when it says you can lay the corpse to rest. And that’s just what the Times Dealbook said about Yahoo and Microsoft on Thursday evening:

The talks are dead. Really, this time they are dead. Yahoo is preparing to announce that it has ended its talks with Microsoft over a search-related deal as well as the sale of the entire company, people involved in the discussions said. Yahoo is expected to move forward with an advertising pact with Google as early as today, these people said. How did we get to this point?

Got game? Microsoft, Harrah’s want it to Surface

Microsoft said on Wednesday that casino chain Harrah’s Entertainment Inc is the second customer to deploy Surface, the company’s coffee-table-shaped computer that responds to touch.

Harrah’s installed six Surface tables at the iBar “ultralounge” at its Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Unlike AT&T, the first company to deploy Microsoft Surface at a handful of its stores, Harrah’s has developed its own applications for the machine.

The most interesting is a new “FHarrah’s Surfacelirt” application. Since each Surface comes with a video camera, bar patrons can communicate or “flirt” with people at other tables. It seems like a pretty fun application, although one has to wonder why it has taken so long to become a product. After all, this was an idea conceived in the 1990s by none other than Miss Janet Jackson. Check out this video for proof.

Icahn to Yahoo’s board: Shame on you

icahn2.jpg The heat is definitely on at Yahoo.

As though it weren’t under enough pressure, the board now has Carl Icahn warning them that they will be held personally liable for approving a controversial employee severance plan.

Oh, and shareholders suing the company now want a speedy trial related to failed merger talks between Yahoo and Microsoft, saying they would like to get to court before the company’s August 1 annual meeting.

Here’s the upshot of the fight over the severance plan: Shareholders suing the company argue that the board is free  to reorganize Yahoo’s work force as it sees fit without fear of triggering the severance benefits.

Apple’s new iPhone: It’s almost time

apple.jpgIt’s almost time, at least we’re pretty sure it’s almost time. Come Monday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs is widely expected to introduce a new iPhone at the company’s developers’ conference.

Early buzz is that the new iPhone will be faster and accompanied by support for corporate e-mail, which should help expand the gadget’s audience to the business world. Apple has declined to comment on what Jobs will announce, but speculation can be found just about anywhere on the web.

Rather than spending hours today reading through all the rumors, check out TechCrunch, which gives a good roundup of the iPhone chatter.

Yahoo to Microsoft: No, No, No

yangthinking.jpgDetails of the backroom dealings between Microsoft and Yahoo from an investor lawsuit were unsealed by Delaware Chancery Court Judge William Chandler on Monday.

The document adds some color to what we already know, including a history of rebuffing offers dating back to 2007, criticism over the size of Yahoo’s severance plan by its own consultants and Yahoo’s recently hired CTO.

Notes by a Yahoo participant from a phone call between CEO Jerry Yang and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Ballmer also appear to indicate that Yang quickly rejected Microsoft’s January 2008 overtures, as his predecessor Terry Semel did a year before (at the far higher price of $40).

Bleeding purple or just bleeding?

yahoo1.jpgYahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang says Microsoft just isn’t interested in a full merger these days.

His comments, his most extensive to date on the Microsoft merger drama, back up what had been the talk around town — that chances of a full-fledged merger between the two had dimmed considerably. Yang, however, did signal his company remained open to a potential deal.

“We did not walk away from that proposal. Microsoft did,” Yang said during an on-stage interview at the D: All Things Digital conference.

Breaking up is hard to do – Yahoo’s Yang

Yahoo_YangGetting jilted by your girlfriend. That’s how Yahoo’s Jerry Yang described the falling out with Microsoft mid-negotiations during the most highly anticipated session at D: All Things Digital conference.

How does it feel being left at the altar?
From AllThingsD’s live blog:

Yang: It’s like when you break up with your girlfriend in high school. It very quickly becomes he-said/she-said. I don’t want to look back. But I think we both understand that there is a tremendous amount of power in a combination like the one Microsoft proposed.

Despite the public drubbing for driving Microsoft away, Yang maintains he’s still the best person to lead Yahoo. And not just because he bleeds purple.