John Battelle raises $50 million as AOL snatches away his prize

Owen Thomas · 04/15/08 05:20PM

For once, tech publisher John Battelle has timed a bubble just right. With Wired, where he was a founding editor, he was too early; with The Industry Standard, the tech weekly which crashed and burned early in this decade, a bit too late. But with Federated Media, he's proved his dealmaking prowess. He's all but nailed what we hear is $40 million to $50 million in venture capital for the online-ad network , on a $200 million valuation. And this right before AOL bought Sphere, a blog search engine which, by a rough count, serves more than half of the pageviews Battelle sells to advertisers.

Is Craigslist worth $5 billion?

Owen Thomas · 04/03/08 05:40PM

Disgraced stock analyst Henry Blodget pauses to dream up a fantasy valuation for Craigslist, and comes up with $5 billion. The numbers he relies on are faulty, starting with Craigslist's revenues. Blodget relies on a recent report by Classified Intelligence, which pegs its revenues for 2008 at an estimated $81 million. That's extremely low; insiders tell me the real figure for last year was in the range of $100 million to $150 million.

Jon Fisher desperately wants you to know he sold a company to Oracle

Nicholas Carlson · 03/31/08 03:40PM

Meet Jon B. Fisher, former CEO of three software companies, including security firm Bharosa. In the clip above, Mark Cannice of the University of San Francisco asks Fisher if he regrets selling Bharosa to Oracle. Fisher does not. He tells us, "Bharosa returned 6X to investors in 3 years." Given Bharosa raised $2 million and that a company at its stage typically sells 25 percent of the company to outside investors, figure Fisher sold to Oracle for maybe $48 million. It's decent bank, but we're starting to wonder if Fisher — not a Bharosa founder — didn't get enough equity for himself before the sale.

Microsoft exec Bob Muglia set to win $1.6 million bet against stock

Owen Thomas · 03/31/08 03:20PM

When insiders sell, most market watchers take it as a sign that the wheels are coming off. What to make, then, of Microsoft SVP Bob Muglia's latest stock move? Muglia, a stalwart cheerleader for Microsoft's Windows Vista, owns 6.7 million Microsoft options rendered worthless by the drop in its stock price. But he also has a sure way to profit from the slumping price. Last October, Muglia wrote a call option requiring him to sell $1.6 million worth of Microsoft shares, but only if the stock hit $32.50. The option expires on April 18; unless Microsoft shares rise dramatically in the next two weeks, Muglia's set to pocket whatever money he made selling the option. A wise move, except for the appearance of betting against his employer.

Paying taxes is for the little people who earn wages

Owen Thomas · 03/28/08 02:40PM

Disgraced stock analyst Henry Blodget has found a new reason to fawn over the Valley's billionaires: Jerry Yang, Steve Jobs, and Larry and Sergey pay themselves $1 salaries. Hank, haven't you heard that there's a crisis in Social Security? The $1 salary is the perfect combination of tax dodge and publicity stunt. Jerry, Steve, and the Google boys pay 6 cents of their buck towards Social Security, and a penny for Medicare. Those taxes aren't charged on investment income — the kind generated when a founder sells his shares. "It would be nice if we started to see the same gesture from chief executives in the rest of corporate America," writes Blodget. Sure, if you want to make sure the rest of us get nothing when we retire.

Hong Kong tycoon doubles Facebook stake as employees eye exits

Owen Thomas · 03/27/08 04:40PM

Li Ka-shing, the Hong Kong telecom billionaire, has upped his stake in Facebook, investing another $60 million in the social network. His new total: $120 million, or half of Microsoft's stake. The valuation: Still $15 billion. All the cash flowing into Facebook has gotten some Facebookers thinking about selling. CEO Mark Zuckerberg remains too cash-poor to buy his own house, but a handful of employees are cashing out.

Amid stock downturn, Google's execs its biggest winners

Jackson West · 03/25/08 04:20PM

Shareholders watched Google shares plummet by nearly $300 since peaking last fall. Those investors will hardly be reassured by the cheery news in Google's newly released annual report and proxy statement. The company did earn $13.29 a share, and Valley job-seekers also benefitted: The company added over 6,000 full time employees to its payroll last year. But who's raking in the cash? Not founders Larry Page or Sergey Brin, who only receive equity as income. CEO Eric Schmidt took home a salary of $480,000, slightly less than last year. CFO George Reyes — whom the company is actively trying to oust from his comfortable perch— took home millions in salary and stock last year, as did senior vice presidents Jonathan Rosenberg, Omid Kordestani and Alan Eustace. Here's how they scored:

Ashley Dupre makes $204,000 from Web music sales

Nicholas Carlson · 03/15/08 06:26PM

Ashley Alexandra Dupré, the call girl whom Eliot Spitzer knew as "Kristen," sold her song 300,000 times on online music store Amie Street. The site, a Jeff Bezos investment, sold the songs for $0.68 on average, putting Dupré's total around $204,000, the New York Post reports. Update: Amie Street's charts indicate Dupré's songs have been merely listened to 419,718 times, suggesting the Post's numbers might be off a bit. Either way, throw in a $1 million offer from Hustler, an ad campaign for something to be called Vodka #9 and a movie deal, and Dupré stands to make between $2.5 million to $5 million from the Spitzer scandal.

Bebo founders earn $595 million, enough to buy a haircut

Nicholas Carlson · 03/14/08 03:00PM

Michael and Xochi Birch met in a London pub back in 2005. Later, the pair decided to launch a social network from their San Francisco living room. About 40 million people signed up and two years later, AOL plunked down $850 million to buy the site. The Birches, who reportedly owned a 70 percent stake in the company, walk away with $595 million. Our advice for the first few dollars spent, below.

Filthy rich Matt Mullenweg calls rival "dirty"

Owen Thomas · 03/11/08 12:00PM

Automattic, Matt Mullenweg's blog-tools startup, is readying an upgrade to its WordPress software this week. Anil Dash of Six Apart took the occasion to let WordPress users know they can upgrade to his company's Movable Type instead. It's a move straight out of Oracle's handbook. But Mullenweg freaked out, calling the post "desperate and dirty." Dash responded by charging Mullenweg with "slander." Some are under the delusion that this nerdfight is about software. It's not. It's about money.

Mark Zuckerberg is the world's youngest billionaire

Jordan Golson · 03/06/08 12:12PM

Number 785 on the Forbes Billionaires list is one Mark Zuckerberg. Forbes estimates his net worth at $1.5 billion — a far cry from the $5 billion we pegged him at last year — but still a nice chunk of change. (We've since learned the actual number is $4 billion; he owns 27 percent of Facebook.)

Salesforce.com execs cashed out $678 million and you haven't

Jordan Golson · 02/29/08 05:40PM

Within an hour and a half this afternoon, we received a pair of "tips" slamming insiders at Salesforce.com for "looting" the company by exercising stock options. They both link to Salesforce's insider-trading chart which shows that insiders have cashed in more than $678 million in stock. That's roughly 10 percent of the company's $7 billion market capitalization, but our tipsters didn't pause to do that math. One writes:

Owen Thomas · 02/20/08 02:50PM

How much will Yahoo's new severance package cost Microsoft, or any other acquirer? As much as $3 billion. [Silicon Alley Insider]

John Riccitiello should just get himself fired

Mary Jane Irwin · 02/12/08 09:00PM

Curious: It's in Electronics Arts CEO John Riccitiello's best interest to get the company's board replaced, or the company sold. If only he were working at Yahoo, Microsoft would have a much easier time of things. EA has penned a "Key Employee Continuity Plan," a nice little safety net for its executives. If Riccitiello is fired without cause after a change in corporate control, he would receive $2.3 million. And 18 months of health coverage. God knows insurance can be expensive.

Yahoo's $160 million fails to produce another Mark Cuban

Nicholas Carlson · 02/12/08 01:00PM

Yahoo admitted it bought online-video distributor Maven Networks today. It turns out Maven founder and CEO Hilmi Ozguc made out better than we thought. Yahoo said it bought Ozguc's company for $160 million, not the $150 million originally reported. All that on just $30 million in funding. Which is good, Hilmi, but if you'd held out for just another $5.5 billion, maybe you could buy a basketball team, learn to dance and complain when reporters don't do what you tell them to do, too.

Yahoo founders made $1.6 billion today and you didn't

Jordan Golson · 02/01/08 05:58PM

Yahoo founders David Filo and Jerry Yang own 80,833,066 and 54,110,564 shares of Yahoo, respectively. At Microsoft's offer price, the pair have made almost $1.6 billion since yesterday's close and stand to cash out more than $4 billion total if the deal goes through. More amazing? Ousted CEO Terry Semel stands to cash out more than $650 million — not a bad reward for reviving Yahoo and then running it into the ground. We doubt the scurrilous, unfounded rumors that Semel is a Scientology OT 6, but it would explain a lot. Here's our chart of the top Yahoo shareholders and how much their Yahoo's holdings are worth at Microsoft's price.

Is John Donahoe worth $25 million?

Owen Thomas · 01/29/08 05:50PM

eBay's new CEO, John Donahoe, got a hefty payoff just for taking the job. Docu-Drama reports that his total take comes to $25 million, including a $15 million "promotion bonus" in the form of options and restricted stock. Then there's outgoing CEO Meg Whitman, who made a half-billion dollars in stock sales over her tenure, including $100 million in the past 5 months. Whitman gets free office space and secretarial services, and as a special advisor, she stays on the payroll — which means her options will continue to vest. Handy, considering so many of them are underwater.