Opening Bell: 8.5.08

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Big Yahoo Shareholder Says a Tally Needs a Second Look (NYT)
This is arguably the strangest turn yet -- one that's drawn all kinds of hanging chad references already -- Capital Research, a major Yahoo shareholder controlling some 15 percent of the company's stock, thinks there was a mis-vote on Friday. The basic issue. How did Yang get 85ish percent of the vote when they controlled about 15 percent and planned to vote against him. Not, not all of the CR stock was going to be voted against Yang. But most would, and that would still mean basically everyone as voted "yea". So here we go with the story that never ends. It wouldn't change the actual outcome if a voting flaw were revealed. But it could indicate much weaker confidence than the initial tally had suggested. To be continued.
Friendster Lives: New Cash, New C.E.O. and a New Strategy? (NYT)
Remember those guys? Actually they're not the also-rans everyone thought they were going to be. They're more than a footnote in history. It's just that they're not so big in the US anymore. But they're still huge in Asia, and they've just raised another $20 million to beef up in that market, plus they got a new CEO via Google.
Ex-Merrill Banker Kim Abandons Plans for Hedge Fund (Bloomberg)
Dow Kim, a well-named ex-Merrill head of trading, has abandoned plans to launch a hedge fund, after failing to secure the necessary investment. Had had been looking to raise about $1 billion for another multi-strategy shop, but that fell through, even though they'd already hired about 30 people. The article notes that Kim while at Merill pushed the acquisition of First Franklin Financial, making the company a major underwriter of subprime mortgages.
No Fun for Six Flags As Parks Face Slump (WSJ)
Admittedly, we haven't been following Six Flags much, but we're not surprised to see that the amusement park company isn't doing so hot. Let's see. For one thing, it's expensive to go to them. Two, it's a waste of time. Three, once you get there, you end up wasting a lot of time in lines. Four, you have to be around miserable brats for a day. How fun is that? And five, Las Vegas is doing badly. And Vegas is way better than some theme park with just rides and no gambling.


SpaceX Receives $20 Million Investment from Founder's Fund
More real cash for privately funded space travel, an industry so rarified that the rich can only (ad only the rich) dream about it and invest in it. Not actually do it. SpaceX has major Web2.0 cred, getting money from the Founders Fund, whose investments include Facebook, Powerset and Slide, whose principals came from PayPal.
Sirius Chief Karmazin Buys 2 Million Shares, Has 8.5 Million (Bloomberg)
Just as a show of how much he believes in Sirius XM Radio, the newly formed, post-merger satellite radio monopoly, CEO Mel Karmazin has bought 2 million shares on the open market. It's obviously a signal sent to longsuffering stockholders: "I'm with you guys". Of course, SIRI has gotten so cheap, $1.39 per share it closed at yesterday, that Karmazin isn't actually being put out or anything. He now owns 8.5 million shares
Oil falls as fears for growth intensify (FT)
For the first time in three months, oil fell below $120. It's not yet getting to the point where oil looks "cheap" by any real standards. That being said, imagine if oil dropped back into the double digits. That'd be insane. Psychologically, even $99 would look like a wild bargain, after what we've gone through.
Et Tu, Jet Blue? (peHUB)
Lots of stir yesterday about a new plan from jetBlue to start charging for pillows and blankets. And it's not trivial -- something like $9. We're kind of indifferent to this. We don't like it as much as the baggage fee, since that actually adds weight (and cost) to the flight. Sure there's some cost to providing pillows and blankets, but mainly this is about more money for JBLU (which we're fine with) than improving efficiency (which we're really into). Also, from a business standpoing, this feels pretty nickel-and-dimey.

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