Monthly Archives: February 2011

John Gapper

Time Warner’s dismissal of Jack Griffin as the head of its magazine division Time Inc. is a cautionary tale about egotism in creative organisations. The lesson is that creatives are expected to be like that but business-side executives are not.

Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner’s chief executive, was admirably clear about why he asked Mr Griffin to step down. Mr Griffin was upsetting a lot of people in an organisation where executives are expected to rub along with editorial types. Read more

Some very important questions are raised by the proposed merger of the Deutsche Börse and NYSE Euronext, but Chuck Schumer, a New York senator, has zeroed in on the most trivial one: its name.

John Gapper

Thanks to Senator Chuck Schumer’s absurd intervention to try to make sure “New York” comes first, the biggest controversy over the proposed merger of Deutsche Börse and NYSE Euronext is what to call it.

Some highly paid consultants will soon be on the job, but FT readers should be able to save some money by coming up with something suitable. I am awarding a bottle of champagne for the best suggestion (two if it is actually adopted). Read more

John Gapper

Apple’s new regime for subscriptions to newspapers, magazines and books on the iPad will take many publishers aback but the most interesting standoff is with Amazon.

The two companies have been battling for supremacy on electronic tablets, with Apple’s adoption of the 30 per cent “agency model” having already undermined Amazon’s e-book price regime on the Kindle. Read more

John Gapper

Nokia’s disappointing announcement this morning of a “strategic alliance” with Microsoft to create a “third ecosystem” in mobile phones put me in mind of the old Stealers Wheel song Stuck In the Middle with You:

Well I don’t know why I came here tonight,
I got the feeling that something ain’t right,
I’m so scared in case I fall off my chair,
And I’m wondering how I’ll get down the stairs,
Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you.

Nokia, which used to dominate the global mobile phone market when there was hardly any such thing as a smartphone, has found itself in the worst place of all – stuck between cheap phones made in Shenzhen, and the high-margin Apple iPhone.

 Read more

It is a tribute to the poise of Arianna Huffington that when faced on CNBC with the pertinent question – why did she and her fellow investors take almost all their money from AOL’s $315m acquisition of the Huffington Post in cash rather than AOL stock? – she did not bat an eye.

John Gapper

Stephen Elop of Nokia surely wins the Lucy Kellaway prize for blunt speaking in a corporate memo when he warns that the Finnish company has a “burning platform”.

There are lots of things to admire in the memo in terms of clarity and the willingness of the new chief executive to spell out publicly exactly how dire Nokia’s crisis has become: Read more

John Gapper

Sergio Marchionne of Fiat and Chrysler has got himself into a fine mess with one appearance in San Francisco on Friday in which he managed to scandalise two governments simultaneously.

One of his sallies was foolish as well as offensive. Describing the finance offered by the US and Canadian governments to keep Chrysler afloat with taxpayer money as “shyster” loans was an absurd comment (for which Mr Marchionne has apologised).

To state the obvious, Chrysler would have collapsed in 2009 without those loans and no-one else apart from the US government was willing to make them. I still question whether it was a good idea at all.

The fact that it charged interest on behalf of taxpayers was the least it could do, and Mr Marchionne, who as I previously noted enjoys being the centre of attention, was silly to bite the hands that fed him. Read more