08 December 2007

Macrovision acquires Gemstar, a more aggressive IP policy ahead

Associated Press reported this week about Macrovision's (MVSN) acquisition of Gemstar. MVSN CEO Fred Amoroso commented:

"There is a transformation of home entertainment going on and we want to give consumers the ability to find in and easily across a variety of devices"

Actually the leap of logic required to understand that statement has to do with the fact that MVSN has been steadily acquiring IP and treating it more strategically. Wall Street is valuing the transaction based on Gemstar’s existing revenue streams, a big part of which is the TV Guide magazine, which is a printed weekly magazine of TV listings in the US that has been around forever. Macrovision has utterly no idea what to do with this business, as even its CEO admitted during the analyst call for the acquisition, and it is considered – even by magazine publishing industry standards -- a dying business that has not adapted to the times.

CEO Fred Amoroso didn't provide any definitive answers in a conference call with analysts, saying he didn't know much about publishing and needed more time to assess how TV Guide could fit into his strategy. Fred doesn’t know anything about publishing – his background is accounting/consulting. This is why the stock tanked. It’s a visceral reaction to the long legacy of TV Guide.

More importantly, Gemstar has and EPG (electronic program guide) business – technology and IPRs (patents). Because of Gemstar's declining TV Guide business, their potential as a "patent troll", holding many patents on (e.g) EPG (electronic programming guides) makes it a powerful player in the IPR market.

We are betting that MVSN is preparing to launch a series of very aggressive patent assertion moves both in the US as well as in Europe. This is not something that it can bake into its revenue projections for Wall Street, nor is this the kind of thing that the typical Wall Street analyst understands how to include in his “turn the crank” formula for valuing acquisitions. Ergo, Wall Street tanked both companies’ stocks on the announcement.

As to potential targets for Gemstar's (or better: MVSN) more aggressive approach on IPR: be aware and prepared.

2 comments:

R. Lubert said...

I agree with your take on the MSVN/Gemstar deal. This is especially bad news for music technology company Gracenote - I pity their investors.

IPEG said...

Maybe I used the term "patent troll" too casually, see my today's new post