From: Sally Khudairi (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Dec 27 2000 - 20:36:05 PST
A week ago, David Wetherell was receiving feedback [St. Sebastian-style]
from furious investors that included -- booing, "Why are you still in
charge?" inquiries and oh-so-contructive criticism: "You may be a visionary,
but you may not be so expert at running and operating companies"
Today, the word is out that a COO search* is open...coincidence, as I drove
by CMGi [Patriots] Field this evening en route to my brother's house. Seeing
that they won't have to pay anything towards the $114 million until 2002,
and that Wetherell believes that naming rights can be gained if the company
is by then, all seems OK.
Wetherell: "If it turns out that branding is not a good thing for CMGI we
can sell that."
*I can't confirm this as it's taking more than 10 minutes for the new
cmgi.com site to open. Sigh.
CMGI looking for COO to help with turnaround
GMT Dec 27, 2000, 02:00 PM | ET Dec 27, 2000, 09:00 AM | PT Dec 27, 2000,
San Francisco - Pioneering Internet incubator CMGI told shareholders
attending its annual general meeting, held the week before the holidays,
that it is looking for a chief operating officer.
The search is telling. The investment vehicle, based in Andover,
Massachusetts, is bidding to remake itself as a self-sustaining operating
company now that the rout of Internet stocks on Wall Street is shutting off
its historical money-earner - selling stock in its constituent companies on
the public markets.
Nevertheless, the move might be viewed as a little late in the day. It is
four months since the company pirouetted from Internet incubator to
self-styled 'Internet operating and development company,' distancing itself
from a business model that had assumed pariah status among investors.
At the press conference held to herald this shift, executives pledged that
by mid-2001 they would wring operational profits from four of the five
business units they had arranged the firm's holdings into. To this end, CMGI
committed itself to jettisoning straggling businesses, pruning costs and
searching for synergies among its constituent companies - the obvious
province for a COO from the word go.
Such apparent tardiness was not the only question facing CMGI chairman and
CEO David Wetherell during this week's grueling meeting with 370 hostile
investors in the chintzy setting of downtown Boston's Westin Copley Place
Hotel. The event was very different from last year. With CMGI's stock
soaring near an all-time high of $163.50 per share, the main pressure then
came from coping with the crush of investors clamoring for Wetherell's
autograph as he basked in acclaim for his investment acumen. This time,
Wetherell drew shareholders' ire for presiding over a share price that had
plunged a precipitous 96% by year-end, taking with it many investors'
savings, if some of Wednesday's testimonies are to be believed.
Perhaps shareholders can take comfort from the fact that, at $6 a share,
there is not much further for their investments to fall. The ebullient
Wetherell, meanwhile, reminded them of the similar toll wrought by the
dot-com downturn on CMGI's competitors, such as Internet Capital Group. "If
we were the only company that was down like we are, I'd probably resign," he
said. "But we're not."
In fact, with $1.9bn in cash and publicly traded securities, CMGI has enough
in its coffers to bankroll operations for the next 30 months, he pointed
out. This will do little to placate investors though. After all, investors
bought CMGI's shares to get a slice of the next big thing, not to sit out an
assortment of Web-hosting and advertising businesses inching toward meager
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