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  • This post originally appeared on The Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation (SIRF) website and was written by Keith Larsen. SIRF provides in-depth financial investigative reporting for the common good.

    You may not remember where you were on March 20, 2000, but it’s a very safe bet that a man named Michael Saylor does. More than 14 years later, and it’s likely still fresh in his mind because it’s not every day that one incurs what is the greatest single-day hit to personal wealth in capital market history.

    That day, as the CEO and majority shareholder of software company MicroStrategy Inc. (MSTR), whose clients now include Facebook (FB) and Starbucks (SBUX), Saylor lost $6.1 billion of his reported $15 billion fortune.

    Saylor’s historic loss was a result of MicroStrategy’s price per share freefalling $140 in a single day after the price fell to $86.75 from the previous day’s close of $226.75.

    The stock price's sharp decline was the result of a major restatement of MicroStrategy’s

    Read More »from MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor and his all expenses paid world
  • With Amazon.com (AMZN) on the cusp of entering the smartphone market, investors shouldn’t get too caught up in the razzle dazzle of the new handset.

    Sure, it’s rumored to include a cool new 3-D display, along with cutting-edge specifications. But it’s also likely to be sold at a price that is merely breakeven, doing little or nothing to directly improve Amazon’s bottom line. And most of Amazon's prior hardware offerings have taken little or no market share away from leaders such as Apple (AAPL) and Samsung (005930.KS).

    The real story for investors is more likely to be what else is announced at Amazon's event in Seattle on Wednesday. Will the phone be accompanied by a new kind of cheaper monthly data plan, an innovative mobile payments system or a wider expansion of the company’s “Mayday” personal assistance service? Appealing new offerings could attract a lot more customers – and profit – than the phone itself.

    A crowded market

    The existing smartphone market isn’t all that appealing.

    Read More »from Amazon investors should look beyond the phone
  • HP CEO Whitman wins over a major skeptic

    Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) CEO Meg Whitman has dazzled investors with her cost cutting and right sizing efforts, but this week she offered something even more tantalizing: a potentially game-changing new technology.

    HP unveiled an entirely reimagined computer architecture, which it calls “the Machine,” designed to help big customers like corporations and universities better handle the massive data sets now becoming commonplace. The device uses a completely new memory technology dubbed “memristors” and faster internal communications pathways using beams of light.

    But the machine, cool as it sounds, is still just a research product, with HP admitting it will deliver all of the various components as products on a timeline that stretches out until 2020.

    How did it get that less-than-descriptive name? “When we first started developing it, we wanted to be very careful not to call it a server, workstation, PC, device or phone, because it actually encompasses all of those things,” HP said in a blog

    Read More »from HP CEO Whitman wins over a major skeptic
  • Amazon (AMZN) sells a significant portion of all books sold in the United States but a much smaller portion of all movies. So what to make of the news that Amazon is using similar tactics as it negotiates with a major book publisher and a leading Hollywood studio?

    The answer, of course, is that the popular narrative of a monopolistic bully throwing its weight around isn’t quite right. Rather, it’s just another turn of the screw in the perpetual struggle to divide up the loot between retailers and suppliers.

    Amazon attracted intense (and even some pretty nutty) criticism starting last month after it began under-stocking current titles and stopped taking pre-orders on future titles from publisher Hachette. The two are locked in negotiations over the terms of future sales, with neither side providing any details.

    Crying monopoly

    Amazon critics cried monopoly because, even though Hachette is one of the five largest publishers of consumer books, Amazon is the biggest seller. It accounted

    Read More »from Amazon adds lower movie prices to battle over books

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