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May 18, 2012
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Facebook IPO features best and worst of capitalism

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By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Facebook’s initial public offering on Friday showcases the best and worst sides of capitalism. Execrable puffery accompanies the entrepreneurial achievement of transforming a dorm-room project into a company worth over $100 billion in just eight years. Poor corporate governance, Silicon Valley cronyism, breathless pundits spewing misinformation, bankers in hoodies and manic investors are all on display. And yet the flip side of such indulgence is worth admiring. 

Wall Street’s premier event of the year turned into an outright circus, including a 30-minute delay for the shares to start trading on Nasdaq despite considerable anticipation of the mega-volume that ensued. At its most benign, otherwise serious thinkers about capital markets devoted unthinkable amounts of time publicly debating whether founder Mark Zuckerberg’s casual dress was a slight to investors while financiers cravenly sucked up to the 28-year-old. But there’s a darker side to the hoopla, too. 

May 18, 2012

Breakingviews: Facebook IPO features best and worst of capitalism

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)

By Robert Cyran

NEW YORK, May 18 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Facebook’s initial public offering on Friday showcases the best and worst sides of capitalism. Execrable puffery accompanies the entrepreneurial achievement of transforming a dorm-room project into a company worth over $100 billion in just eight years. Poor corporate governance, Silicon Valley cronyism, breathless pundits spewing misinformation, bankers in hoodies and manic investors are all on display. And yet the flip side of such indulgence is worth admiring.

May 14, 2012

Apple’s TV quest probably could do with some help

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are his own.)

By Robert Cyran

NEW YORK, May 14 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Apple’s (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile, Research)
opportunity in TV is pretty obvious by now. The simplification
of frustrating and complex on-screen guides and remote controls
is a task ripe for the gadget king, and one that Steve Jobs
indicated to his biographer he had tackled. And while Apple
isn’t known for big acquisitions, smaller, targeted ones have
helped in past conquests. The scope of the TV market also would
seem to lend itself to some outside help.

May 14, 2012

Yahoo needs more than a revolution at the top

By Robert Cyran

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) – Yahoo (YHOO.O: Quote, Profile, Research) needs more than a revolution at the top. The dysfunctional internet firm is much like a failing country. It has been mismanaged and suffers from bureaucracy and an increasingly uncompetitive business model. It even had, until recently, a dictator for life in founder Jerry Yang. Third Point’s successful shareholder revolt promises a fresh start, but fixing Yahoo won’t be simple. The firm is plagued by many ills.

To be sure, the $18.5 billion group can now try to move on after the departure of chief executive Scott Thompson, who admitted to embellishing his resume with a non-existent computer science degree and is also reported to be suffering from cancer. Moreover, there’s finally promise that Yahoo may address a core problem: its complacent board. It is replacing its chairman, too, and three directors including Third Point chief Dan Loeb will join the board.

May 9, 2012
via Breakingviews

Boardroom gamblers roasted by their own hubris

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By Robert Cyran

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

Someone should have told Robert Stiller and William Davis to wake up and smell the coffee. The top two board members of cup-of-Joe maker Green Mountain were removed from their posts on Tuesday by their fellow directors after having to sell stock in the company during a quiet period to meet margin calls. The fate of Stiller, the company’s founder and chairman, and Davis, its lead independent director, should serve as a lesson to all.

May 3, 2012
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Dependence on Facebook spreads beyond its users

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By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Dependence on Facebook spreads far and deep. It’s not just social networking junkies that have grown reliant on Mark Zuckerberg’s website creation, which on Thursday filed a new version of the prospectus for its impending initial public offering. Businesses such as online gamer Zynga have been created on its back. Bankers are pegging their careers on floating the firm. And the state of California needs the IPO to help close its yawning budget gap.

Apr 30, 2012

Microsoft gives Barnes & Noble a big brother lift

By Robert Cyran

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) – Microsoft (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research) has given Barnes & Noble (BKS.N: Quote, Profile, Research) a big brother lift. The bookseller’s Nook e-book reader ambitions looked a day late and many dollars short. Microsoft’s $300 million injection changes that and is more than a one-time hand up.

Barnes & Noble said in January that it might separate its fast-growing Nook business from its ailing bricks-and-mortar stores. Figuring out how to do the split wasn’t straightforward, however. The online division, which bears the cost of developing the Nook, lost $102 million last quarter. Moreover, e-reader sales are heavily promoted in stores.

Apr 25, 2012
via Breakingviews

It’s too soon to be doubting Apple

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By Robert Cyran

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

It’s too soon to be doubting Apple. Fears over a slowing U.S. smartphone market and chip problems sent investors scurrying in April, when the company’s shares tumbled by over 10 percent. But the iPad maker smashed expectations yet again, almost doubling profit in the latest quarter. The trends powering Apple – China, rising margins and the halo effect – still have legs.

Apr 16, 2012
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3D printing deal enhances sector depth illusion

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By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Making physical items from digital files is a hot technology – maybe too hot if the market reaction to the acquisition of privately held Objet by Stratasys is any guide. Despite few synergies and an odd poison pill, the buyer’s shares rose nearly 25 percent, mainly on potential revenue synergies. But the future isn’t quite here yet.

Apr 13, 2012
via Breakingviews

Review: “Idea Factory” produces a few of its own

By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

How does innovation happen? That’s the question Jon Gertner tries to answer in “The Idea Factory,” his history of Bell Labs. For fifty years, AT&T’s industrial lab pumped out a series of astonishing new products, including communications satellites and radar, as well as Nobel-prize winning ideas such as the transistor – and garnered prestige for its parent company. Gertner outlines how brilliance, contradictions, chance and steady hands make fertile soil for research.

    • About Robert

      "Robert Cyran, U.S. tech columnist, joined Breakingviews in London in 2003 and moved four years later to New York, where he continues to cover global technology, pharmaceuticals and special situations. Robert began his career at Forbes magazine, where he assisted in the start-up of the international version of the magazine. Before working at Breakingviews he worked as a market researcher and reporter covering the pharmaceutical industry. Robert has a Masters degree in economics from Birmingham University and an undergraduate degree from George Washington University."
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