Hottest activist investing news from around the web this week

We thought readers might enjoy some of the hottest stories in the activist investing community this past week. The excerpt below is from our weekly newsletter (sign up here) that we sent out earlier this week.

JASON CALACANIS @jason of (and notable angel investor and entrepreneur) uses his personal blog to take activist investors to task as Wall Street calls for Twitter CEO Dick Costolo’s head.

“Seriously, sometimes I think ‘Activist investor’ is French for “has no f-ing clue how complex this sh@#4t is” — Firing Dick Costolo from Twitter would be a huge mistake

JUSTIN FOX @foxjust discusses the potential dwindling of activist investors/returns over the next several years at Bloomberviews. But notes there’ll always be a need for them as they’ve been around in some shape or form for hundreds of years.

“Activist managers are still a tiny part of the investment landscape; their percentage of hedge-fund assets under management appears to be in the single digits” — Ackman, Icahn and Their Pals Are Keepers

KAITLIN UGOLIK @kaitlinugolik announces this year’s InvestPitch winner over at Institutional Investor. Spotlight Funds Management won this year’s InvestPitch stock pitching competition (put on by Institutional Investor and SumZero) with a long call on Staples. “

Hedge fund manager Terry Lally’s gamble on Staples came in the money after activist investor Starboard Value hinted to the market that a merger may be in the cards” — InvestPitch Winner’s Long Shot On Staples Pays Off

MICHAEL CARNEY@mcarney of Pando gets in on the activist fray (an interesting move). But the Pando editor takes a stab at calling out activist investors, with a lot of piggybacking on Calacanis’ defending of Yahoo and Twitter CEOs. To be clear: Twitter is not amidst an activist battle — the calls for Dick’s firing is just Wall Street rumble. Yahoo is the target of an activist, Starboard Value.

With Yahoo, the story is a little more complicated and convoluted than Carney presents. His says that Mayer needs more time for a turnaround and points to the rise in its stock price performance as verification that Yahoo is doing just fine.

Meanwhile, the true crux of the activist campaign at Yahoo isn’t any of those things — it’s more an issue with financial engineering — scary term I know. But a cash-rich split of Yahoo’s Alibaba or Yahoo Japan stakes, versus tax-efficient, is a matter of billions of dollars in tax bills. Look for more from us on this later this week.

“What the current activist attacks on Yahoo and Twitter have in common is that they are being led by groups who don’t understand how to build successful technology, at either the product or the company level.” — Memo to activist investors: Unless you understand tech, you’ll do more harm than good

Originally published at on January 15, 2015.

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