The Fruit Basket? It’s From Carl Icahn, Sir.
The Googles of the world, they are the Custer of the modern world. We are the Sioux nation. They will lose this war if they go to war. The notion that the new kids on the block have taken over is a false notion.”
Lousy historical analogies aside, Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons’s ill-conceived comment on the current media landscape was in some ways an apt one. After all, one could say that Time Warner has long been an organization with “too many chiefs and not enough Indians.” Too many working parts, too, according to some who’d like to see the company sell off a few, before Google and Co. commandeers its primary advertising supply and forces it onto a reservation on the south bank of the Missouri.
In a note to clients this morning, Pali Research analyst Richard Greenfield said that the time has come to break Time Warner apart. “It is time for the complexity of Time Warner to come to an end,” Greenfield wrote, suggesting the company consider divesting itself of ts publishing segment or AOL, which Greenfield describes as “unfixed.” “We believe the board and management have had long enough and must act over the next 12 months to radically reshape Time Warner–with its upcoming board (late July) likely to begin laying the groundwork for change,” he continued. “The synergy between Time Warner’s divisions is limited at best; sometimes even creating the risk of destroying value at one division to help another.”
Interesting, eh? Maybe Carl Icahn, the billionaire financier who unsuccessfully tried to force a breakup of Time Warner last year, didn’t misread shareholder sentiment so much as act on it prematurely. Makes you wonder what the topic of conversation was when Parsons and his top deputy, Jeff Bewkes, lunched with Yahoo chairman and former CEO Terry Semel at Allen & Co.’s Sun Valley media and technology conference last week.