Departing Kotaku writers post a farewell message to their private equity asshole boss: "Sup dude. Suck it."

Jim Spanfeller (previously) is the private equity monster whose mismanagement of various former Gizmodo sites (notably Gawker, Splinter and Deadspin) has generated endless bad press from his own employees, who have doggedly reported on every single demand that they shut up and suck it up, has now been publicly condemned in the pages of yet another of his publications -- this time, it's the gaming site Kotaku. Read the rest

Explaining the con that is private equity

Emily Stewart's private equity explainer for Vox is a great explainer on how the PE con works: buy up businesses, load them with debt, sell off their assets, slash their costs, then walk away as the house burns, leaving society to put out the fire -- all while enjoying special tax status on your gains. Read the rest

One of the world's largest private equity firms just bought one of the world's largest library ebook companies

KKR is one of the largest private equity funds in the world. Overdrive is one of the largest e-lending suppliers to the world's libraries, supplying 43,000 libraries in 75 countries. Read the rest

Private equity firms should be abolished

In his latest BIG newsletter, Matt Stoller (previously) relates the key moments in the history of private equity, from its roots in the notorious "leveraged buyouts" of the 1980s, and explains exactly how the PE con works: successful, productive business are acquired through debt financing, drained of their cash and assets, and then killed, leaving workers unemployed and with their pension funds looted, and with the business's creditors out in the cold. Read the rest

ICANN hits pause on the sale of .ORG to Republican billionaires' private equity fund

Here's what's happened: first, ICANN (the legendarily opaque US corporation that runs the internet's Domain Name System) approved a change in pricing for .ORG domains, run by the nonprofit Internet Society (ISOC) through its Public Interest Registry (PIR), allowing the registry to raise prices. The change was done entirely by staff, without board approval. Read the rest

Private equity looters startled to be called out by name in Taylor Swift award-acceptance speech

Taylor Swift has been embroiled in a terrible dispute with Scooter Braun, who acquired Swift's former label for $300m, delivering him control over Swift's first six albums. Swift says that Braun had bullied and tormented her for years, and that the owner of her original label, Scott Borchetta, had sold the label to him in order to punish Swift. Read the rest

We need to save .ORG from arbitrary censorship by halting the private equity buy-out

[The sale of the .ORG top-level domain to a private equity fund run by a bunch of Republican billionaires is a corrupt, revolting perversion. Here, my EFF colleague Mitch Stoltz does an excellent job of explaining what's at stake and how you can take action. -Cory]

The .ORG top-level domain and all of the nonprofit organizations that depend on it are at risk if a private equity firm is allowed to buy control of it. EFF has joined with over 250 respected nonprofits to oppose the sale of Public Interest Registry, the (currently) nonprofit entity that operates the .ORG domain, to Ethos Capital. Internet pioneers including Esther Dyson and Tim Berners-Lee have spoken out against this secretive deal. And 12,000 Internet users and counting have added their voices to the opposition. Read the rest

Civil society groups protest the sale of .ORG to a private equity fund and a collection of Republican billionaires

Earlier this month, management of the .org top-level domain underwent a radical shift: first, ICANN dropped price-caps on .org domains, and then the Internet Societ (ISOC) flogged the registry off to Ethos Capital, a private equity fund, and a consortium of three families of Republican billionaires: the Perots, the Romneys, and the Johnsons. Read the rest

American health care's life-destroying "surprise bills" are the fault of local, private-equity monopolies

Surprise billing -- when your urgent or emergency medical care results in massive bills that your insurer won't cover -- are a life-destroying phenomenon for an increasing number of Americans, who not only can't shop around for an emergency room from the back of an ambulance, but who also have no way to learn in advance whether their visit will generate five- or even six-figure bills. Read the rest

The poorest half of Americans have nothing left, so now the 1%'s growth comes from the upper middle class

The Fed's latest figures on American household wealth paint a rosy picture -- in the aggregate. US households now own a record-breaking $107T worth of assets! Read the rest

Davos in the Desert is back, and banks and hedge fund managers are flocking to Mister Bone-Saw's side

"Davos in the Desert" is Saudi Arabia's charm offensive aimed at global financial elites, but its launch last year was marred by its close proximity to the gruesome murder and dismemberment of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, carried out at the personal behest of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who styles himself a progressive reformer. Read the rest

Thomas Cook travel collapsed and stranded 150,000 passengers, but still had millions for the execs who tanked it

Thomas Cook is one of the oldest travel agencies in the world, operating their own flights, ships, hotels, etc, whose founders effectively invented modern tourism (listen to this excellent Stuff You Missed in History Class episode for the fascinating and fraught tale of how that happened) but a consolidation in the travel industry combined with private equity chicanery that loaded the company up with $2.1b in debt in order to pay out investors drove the company to its knees, and, last week, it finally died. Read the rest

Gawker's new owners demand right to search journalists, ban encrypted email and institute dress code

After Deadspin's Laura Wagner published an incredible, brave, detailed look at how her new private equity masters -- Jim Spanfeller/Great Hill Partners -- were running Gawker now that they'd acquired it from Univision, the company (now called "G/O Media") struck back. Read the rest

How facial recognition has turned summer camp into a dystopia for campers, parents, counsellors and photographers (but not facial recognition vendors)

The Washington Post's Drew Harwell takes a deep look at the the use of facial recognition products like Bunk1 at summer camps, in a deliciously terrible piece that alternates between Bunk1's president Rob Burns and Waldo Photos's founder Rodney Rice explaining that everyone loves this and it makes everyone happy, and counsellors, parents, campers and photographers (as well as child development experts and civil libertarians) explaining how it is just fucking terrible, which Rice dismisses as "privacy hysteria." Read the rest

Barnes and Noble's new boss is James Daunt, who rescued the UK's Waterstones

James Daunt gave up a brief career in banking and opened a small, family-owned chain of London bookstores bearing the family name (the original store, in Marylebone High Street, is literally the most beautiful English-language bookstore I've ever set foot in); in 2011, he took over management of Waterstones, the UK's last, foundering bookstore chain, and effected a miraculous turnaround by devolving purchasing to the managers who knew local tastes best, ending the practice of soliciting "co-op" payments from publishers to order in and stock massive piles of their frontlist titles, most of which would end up being returned. Read the rest

Your massive surprise hospital bills are making bank for private equity

Private equity firms like Blackstone and KKR have acquired massive health companies like Teamhealth and Emcare, which bill out doctors to the hospitals they work for, taking those doctors out of the hospitals' insurance agreements and massively hiking their fees -- that's why when you go to a hospital, even one that's covered by your insurer, you still end up with massive surprise bills for your care. Read the rest

A deep dive into Elizabeth Warren's plan to tame private equity

Yesterday, I published a brief analysis of Elizabeth Warren's plan to close the loopholes that allows private equity to defraud investors, creditors and workers to make billions while destroying the real economy. Read the rest

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