Monthly Archives: March 2012

Yahoo’s Only Chance: A Merger With Twitter


William A. Foster, IV

Enemy of my enemy is my friend. – Proverb

Yahoo recently filed a lawsuit against Facebook to the dismay of pretty much everyone in the tech industry. It reeked of a desperate attempt by Yahoo to take attention off the reality that they have yet to figure out how to remain a relevant company since Google came on the search scene, why it can not seem to figure out its own management issue, and is in the midst of major shareholder revolt. Again.

Then, there is the loveable new but not so new kid on the block Twitter who launched in 2006 and caught fire with well over 100 million users that pump out over 340 million tweets a day. The company produced $140 million in revenue and had a valuation of approximately $8.4 billion toward the end of 2011. However, even with such a strong valuation the business model at Twitter still leaves much to be desired from an investor’s standpoint to believe the company could grow sizable revenues over time. The company has had its own share of musical chairs in management primarily because of its inability to figure out its business model but there is no denying its management has been with the platform and its growth. While things seem settled with co-founder Jack Dorsey taking the helm (again) there is still an air of uncertainty if this company can produce sizable revenue growth expected out of a young company based simply off its ad revenue. I believed then and I believe now that the boat Twitter truly missed was charging its business and non-profit organization users for accounts.

All that leads up to why these two companies need each other. Yahoo is completely absent as it were in the social media space and could use a more visionary management team which I believe Twitter has. Twitter on the other hand needs a stable source of revenue and a way to monetize users toward products it can actually sale with growth. Something Yahoo has with the likes of Yahoo Travel and other products. Offering specials to its users that could easily spread like wildfire given Twitter’s application of the ‘Retweet’  which is a unique feature that neither Facebook or Google has found a way to mimic. This would allow the new company to have a diverse mix of ad and product revenue. Both companies weaknesses would be offset with the others strengths which is exactly what a merger is suppose to create. The company indeed would put Facebook & Google on notice. Finally, the tables would be turned and the move could potentially spark off a much needed consolidation arms race of the tech social media space. Pinterest anyone?

Disclaimer: There is no ownership of any of the companies mentioned in this article by myself, my business, or my family as of this article’s publishing.

Mr. Foster is the Interim Executive Director of HBCU Endowment Foundation, sits on the board of directors at the Center for HBCU Media Advocacy, & President of AK, Inc. A former banker & financial analyst who earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics & Finance from Virginia State University as well his master’s degree in Community Development & Urban Planning from Prairie View A&M University. Publishing research on the agriculture economics of food waste as well as writing articles for other African American media outlets.

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Master Government List of Federally Funded R&D Centers (FFRDCs)


There are 39 Federally Funded Research & Development Centers. There are none that are controlled by an HBCU or HBCU related entity. Some universities have set up “subsidiary” entities to manage their involvement in some of the FFRDCs  listed below.

These entities are funded by the federal tax pool that we all pay into. Yet, we are not represented at all institutionally in appropriation of any of these funds. Essentially leaving African Americans to pay into the federal tax pool but locked out of taking any of it out and paying into another community’s benefit.

Source: National Science Foundation

HBCU Money™ Business Book Feature – The Tragedy of Great Power Politics


A decade after the cold war ended, policy makers and academics foresaw a new era of peace and prosperity, an era in which democracy and open trade would herald the “end of history.” The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, sadly shattered these idyllic illusions, and John Mearsheimer’s masterful new book explains why these harmonious visions remain utopian. To Mearsheimer, great power politics are tragic because the anarchy of the international system requires states to seek dominance at one another’s expense, dooming even peaceful nations to a relentless power struggle. Mearsheimer illuminates his theory of offensive realism through a sweeping survey of modern great power struggles and reflects on the bleak prospects for peace in Europe and northeast Asia, arguing that the United States’s security competition with a rising China will intensify regardless of “engagement” policies. “This is the definitive work on offensive realism.”—Choice

The Shake Up At OWN


By William A. Foster, IV

In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail. – Cassius Longinus

There appears to be a storm brewing on the horizons at OWN. Maybe, it could even be described as a hurricane. SNL Kagan yesterday reported that OWN, the 50/50 partnership between Oprah Winfrey’s HARPO & Discovery Communications, is hemorrhaging money. In 2011, the network posted a loss of $107 million and is expecting to post a 2012 loss north of $142 million. It is cliche but “OWN, we have a problem.”

OWN this week shook the place up by releasing 30 people and letting go of Rosie O’Donnell. This probably still won’t resolve OWN’s ratings issues. Oprah Winfrey is learning that there is a ocean of difference between operating a one hour program and being responsible for twenty-four hours of programming. The short-term answer has been more Oprah. She has been interviewing the likes of Lady Gaga and Bobbi Kristina Houston. The latter coming shortly after her mother’s death which seemed to leave a bit of a bad taste in some people’s minds and leaving the network still searching for its strategical footing.

It appears both HARPO and Discovery overestimated just how much Oprah Winfrey people really wanted. There is the reality that when Oprah Winfrey backed Presidential Candidate Barack Obama and promoted a controversial religious book that her ratings started a steady decline among her conservative viewership. Ms. Winfrey and Discovery were banking that she would be riding a wave of popularity into their new partnership. Her decision to abandon her apolitical and neutral stances on political and religious topics apparently cost her more viewers than they thought. Up until that point she was essentially Teflon on sensitive issues but those issues were rarely if ever political or religious, which are more divisive than your typical hot button issues.

I’ve made the argument previously that Oprah Winfrey would do well to become a NFL Owner and work out a deal to feature her team on OWN. Whatever the solution is however, let’s hope the leadership at HARPO figures it out quickly or we could see Discovery dissolve the partnership and network. HARPO’s ownership at 50% is the largest current African American owned stake in a network and its potential failure would be a serious setback in our need for more not less institutional ownership.

Disclaimer: There is no ownership of Discover Communications by myself, my business, or my family as of this article’s publishing.

Mr. Foster is the Interim Executive Director of HBCU Endowment Foundation, sits on the board of directors at the Center for HBCU Media Advocacy, & President of AK, Inc. A former banker & financial analyst who earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics & Finance from Virginia State University as well his master’s degree in Community Development & Urban Planning from Prairie View A&M University. Publishing research on the agriculture economics of food waste as well as writing articles for other African American media outlets.

HBCU Money™ B-School: Federally Funded Research & Development Centers


Federally funded research and development centers, or FFRDCs, are unique independent nonprofit entities sponsored and funded by the U.S. government to meet specific long-term technical needs that cannot be met by any other single organization. FFRDCs typically assist government agencies with scientific research and analysis, systems development, and systems acquisition. They bring together the expertise and outlook of government, industry, and academia to solve complex technical problems.

FFRDCs work in the public interest and operate as strategic partners with their sponsoring government agencies to ensure the highest levels of objectivity and technical excellence. They are typically managed by a university or nonprofit parent organization in accordance with statutory and regulatory rules.

First established during World War II, FFRDCs operate in the industries of defense, energy, aviation, space, health and human services, and tax administration. There are currently more than 40 different FFRDCs funded by the government.

Source: The Aerospace Corporation