Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Yahoo's Yang steps down as CEO

As a previous post on this blog had mentioned, the Yahoo-Google-Microsoft drama will not end so easily. The number of twists and turns this story has been taking are pretty dramatic, and forms a soap opera worthy of spinning into a hard-balled corporate story. For a matter of many months now, it has seemed clear that Yahoo does not have what it takes to challenger Google and Microsoft in the online space; the only logical path forward was to tie up with another party and then make a pitch to fight for the top. However, when Microsoft made its bids for Yahoo in order to form a much stronger team to challenge Google, it was the Yahoo Board led by Yang which played hardball, pitching for more money.
This was a traumatic situation for shareholders, since the Yahoo stock was around half the offer price, and here was this company offering a pretty good deal for shareholders. And then you have the Yahoo management refusing this deal, or finally holding out for a higher offer that never came. And then, the collapse. The Yahoo share, which was quoting close to $20 during this offer period, is now quoting around $10. Yang made promises during this period, and they have not come true, probably the reason why he is stepping down now:

Shares of Yahoo Inc soared nearly 15 percent on Tuesday on hopes that the departure of Jerry Yang, its embattled chief executive, would clear the way for a deal with Microsoft Corp. Yahoo announced late on Monday that Yang, whose leadership had come under growing criticism from shareholders after he failed to agree to a deal with Microsoft, would step down from his role as soon as the board finds a replacement.
Analysts said Yang's decision to step down is a sign that the board was frustrated with his efforts to turn around the company, which he co-founded. Yang took on the CEO role in June 2007. "Jerry's resignation as CEO reflects failed promises he made while fighting off Microsoft's offers, and the board's displeasure with his go-it-alone strategy," wrote Jefferies & Co analyst Youssef Squali in a research note.

Yahoo's board must be hoping that this new management decision may lead to re-starting of discussions with Microsoft, even though Microsoft is not likely to offer above $30 now. And given the collapsed deal with Google (due to anti-trust), Yahoo would most likely die down rather than reach a top position on its own.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sinowal Trojan: Stealing financial information for 2 years +

In the recent past, there has been a lowering of the apparent threat level of Trojans, it almost seems like people have taken them for granted. Well, here is news that should make you reconsider, should remind you that if you are unprotected, then there are many dangers out there that could affect your financial status:

RSA FraudAction Research Lab has discovered log-in information for about 300,000 online bank accounts and 250,000 credit and debit card accounts that have been gathered by a cybercrime gang over the past three years using the Sinowal Trojan. "This may be one of the most pervasive and advanced pieces of crimeware ever created by fraudsters," according to a blog entry posted Friday from RSA, EMC's security unit. The Sinowal Trojan infects computers without the owner knowing it by surrepticiously planting itself onto the computer while the owner is Web surfing in an attack dubbed a "drive-by download."
The Trojan is programmed to execute when the victim visits a particular banking or financial Web site; it is triggered by more than 2,700 specific URLs, according to RSA. The malware then inserts additional fields into the victim's browser prompting the victim to type in information such as PIN and Social Security number, which the Web site itself does not ask for.

This was truly a dangerous Trojan. Imagine being undetected for so many years, especially when the trade of user financial information is now manipulated by criminal gangs. With greater internet usage, the transfer of money is now much quicker and money can vanish from one place to another in no time at all. Further, there are a large number of people who would fall prey to such attacks and have their financial information revealed.

A paper vanishes from the printing area - Christian Science Monitor

For many years now, it has been predicted that the online news arena will continue to have rapid growth, and giving new credence to the phrase, 'a zero sum game', this will also result in a decrease in the number of print newspapers out in the market. This has been happening to some extent, not with the shutting down of major print media publications, but with a decrease in the classifieds and advertisements. However, now there is a clear marker to the extent of this change. The Christian Science Monitor, a 100 year daily, is shutting down and will take on a internet only avatar.
They are offsetting this to some extent with the introduction of a new weekly physical edition, but it is not the same as having a thriving daily print edition. With this event, many other newspapers and media companies (especially ones that have shareholders) will be weighing the impact of this news and wondering as to when their turn will come:

Stop the press, it’s finally happened. A national American newspaper, with an illustrious 100-year publishing |history and seven Pulitzer prizes, has gone totally digital. Last week, the Boston-based The Christian Science Monitor announced its decision to shift its daily news business entirely on to the internet. In April of next year, The Christian Science Monitor, a newspaper begun in 1908, will stop printing its newspaper and will, instead, invest all its daily news resources into its enhanced, advertising supported www.CSMonitor.com website.
A hundred years later, the internet publishing platform, with its instant global reach and shrinking technology costs, has turned the news business upside down. In today’s online world of instant publishing, where news junkies are hooked on up-to-the-minute information and commentary, a daily newspaper, printed or otherwise, is quickly becoming both a cultural and economic anachronism.

This is indeed a major event, and will be heralded as a major indicator to the massive growth of the internet platform and point out the print version to be an anachronism.