Facebook and Zynga: Discouraging Pre-IPO Share Sales
Facebook and Zynga Game Network have begun levying fees of $2,500 and $6,000, respectively, on private sales of company shares, a move legal experts say is meant to discourage employees and investors from unloading their stock before an initial public offering. Zynga Chief Executive Officer Mark Pincus said in April that the maker of popular online video games was considering imposing limits on transactions, citing concern over leaks of inside information. One reason private companies discourage such sales is that the SEC requires those with more than 500 shareholders to disclose financial data that some companies would rather keep private until they pursue an IPO.
General Motors: Defending the Volt's Status
GM is defending the green credentials of its low-emissions Chevrolet Volt against accusations that the vehicle is a hybrid and not a true electric car as billed. The auto industry press says the $41,000 Volt, which will go on sale in November, should be classed as a plug-in hybrid because it sometimes uses gasoline to power the wheel system. GM says it has declined to share details of the car's technology because it is awaiting patent approvals.
Gap: Scrapping its Redesigned Logo
Gap (GPS) shelved plans to introduce a new logo after hundreds of people left disparaging comments about the redesign on the company's Facebook page. The clothier posted an image of the new logo on its website on Oct. 4 and had intended to roll it out in marketing campaigns starting next month. The change was meant to underscore the brand's evolution from "classic, American design to modern, sexy cool," according to a Gap spokeswoman. The retailer, which has suffered declining sales at North American stores for six straight months, will stick with it's 20-year old look for now.
Alibaba and Microsoft: Teaming Up On a New Search Engine
China's No. 1 e-commerce player, Alibaba, has joined forces with Microsoft (MSFT) to launch a new Internet search engine service called Etao, challenging the dominance of market leader Baidu. Alibaba, of which Yahoo! owns about 40 percent, released Etao for public testing on Oct. 9. The site uses Microsoft's Bing technology and aims to drive traffic toward Alibaba's retail website, which has seen its market share fall into the low single digits. In related news, the former chief operating officer of Baidu (BIDU) was appointed vice-president of Taobao on Oct. 12.
News Corp.: U.K. Media Hopes to Halt BSkyB Bid
U.K. newspapers including The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian have joined the BBC in asking the government to block a bid by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (NWS) to acquire the 61 percent of British Sky Broadcasting group it doesn't already own. They say the takeover of the country's biggest pay-TV operator would give News Corp. too much control over British media outlets. In June, News Corp.'s $12.8 billion bid for BSkyB was rejected as too low. A final price won't be negotiated until regulatory approval is received.
On the Move
— Blockbuster (BBI): Search launched to replace Jim Keyes as CEO
— Eastman Kodak (EK): Antoinette P. McCorvey appointed CFO
— Lazard (LAZ): Former JPMorgan Cazenove CEO Naguib Kheraj named deputy chairman