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Caldera The Almighty Buck

Baystar Confirms Microsoft Behind SCO Investment 468

Posted by michael
from the peeling-the-onion dept.
Bruce Perens writes "Business Week has confirmed that Microsoft arranged the Baystar investment in SCO. A managing partner of Baystar says the call wasn't from Gates or Ballmer. But it wouldn't have to be, would it? Obviously, there's more investigation to do." Reader skreuzer writes "Yahoo Finance is reporting that SCO announced that the company's board of directors has authorized management, in its discretion, to purchase up to 1.5 million shares of SCO's common stock over the next 24 months. SCO has approximately 14.4 million shares of common stock issued and outstanding. Any repurchased shares will be held as treasury stock and will be available for general corporate purposes." Newsforge (which is also part of OSDN) is also following the story.
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Baystar Confirms Microsoft Behind SCO Investment

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  • by Lord Grey (463613) * on Thursday March 11, 2004 @11:55AM (#8532076)
    Well, this certainly flies in the face of at least one previous report [eweek.com], doesn't it? From that linked article:
    Blake Stowell, SCO's director of communications, acknowledged that the leaked memo is real.

    But, Stowell claimed, pundits had mischaracterized the memo's context. "We believe the e-mail was simply a misunderstanding of the facts by an outside consultant who was working on a specific unrelated project to the BayStar transaction and he was told at the time of his misunderstanding. Contrary to the speculation of Eric Raymond, Microsoft did not orchestrate or participate in the BayStar transaction."

    Responding to the allegations, a Microsoft spokesman said: "The allegations in the posting are not accurate. Microsoft has purchased a license to SCO's intellectual property, to ensure interoperability and legal indemnification for our customers. The details of this agreement have been widely reported and this is the only financial relationship Microsoft has with SCO. In addition, Microsoft has no direct or indirect financial relationship with BayStar."

    (Emphasis mine.)

    Golly gee, I wonder what they're trying to hide? Anyone?

    • by stephenisu (580105) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:05PM (#8532201)
      In the state of underhanded tactics that MS has been known to use (I mean, they are a large corp, you don't get THAT big without playing dirty, or being free), I am not at all surprised. Next thing you know, they are gonna give free copies of Office to people who influence buying for their companies....

      /Obvious tag needed
    • Well I'm convinced. If a Microsoft spokesman said they have "no direct or indirect financial relationship with Baystar" and Stowell (SCO) said "Microsoft did not orchestrate or participate in the BayStar transaction."...

      Then:

      1) They must be telling the truth.
      2) This must mean they had no involvement in the SCO suit.

      ??!?!?

      Golly gee, can I have another hit off that crack pipe?
    • by falonaj (615782) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:08PM (#8532236) Homepage
      Contrary to the speculation of Eric Raymond, Microsoft did not orchestrate or participate in the BayStar transaction.

      Well, if a Microsoft representative called Baystar from his private phone during a holiday, then it was technically not Microsoft who orchestated this.

      I wonder if Microsoft could be sued at all for unfair competition if Bill Gates chose to openly fund SCO shares from his private money?

      • by Danse (1026)

        It wouldn't matter who made the call or when, as long as the money came from Microsoft. If it came directly from BillG himself, then it still wouldn't matter would it? He's the head cheese of Microsoft, and his money comes from Microsoft too, doesn't it?

        • No one is suggesting that the money came from Microsoft. Microsoft brokered the deal - they arranged for Baystar to give SCO the money. That way they could truthfully claim that they were not the source of SCO's money.
          • " No one is suggesting that the money came from Microsoft."

            Not yet. If people keep digging I bet they will find the body sooner or later. Why would a bank make a 50 million dollar investment just because MS said so? Doesn't that seem weird to you?
      • by RoLi (141856)
        Probably not, but Microsoft isn't afraid of lawsuits (and why should they?), they are afraid that people see through all the SCO-mess as a meaningless FUD-campaign.
      • by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:26PM (#8533173) Homepage
        Well, if a Microsoft representative called Baystar from his private phone during a holiday, then it was technically not Microsoft who orchestated this.

        Nonsense. If a Microsoft representative calls up SCO on Christmas eve from pup someplace in Christchurch while wearing a pink tutu, and that person has their cell phone signal bounced off of the solar reflectors on the Mars rover, relayed through several satellites and sketchy third world telephone exchanges, bounced through sever P2P nodes and then piped into the PBX of the Mormon church, if that person is representing the interest of Microsoft at the request of superiors, then yes, technically Microsoft "orchestrated this."

        • by taumeson (240940) * on Thursday March 11, 2004 @02:29PM (#8533937)
          The Microsoft "representative" was an executive...and executives are empowered to make decisions for the company they are an executive of, no matter the time of day or whether or not they're in the office. Think about how many deals get made on golf courses, etc, and that'll give you an idea about when executives are able to conduct business.
      • by cyanics (168644) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:35PM (#8533306) Homepage Journal
        Lets pose a hypothetical situation:

        SCO starts wins over IBM, Linux becomes illegal.

        Microsoft, who is now apparently backing SCO, aquires SCO in a take-over. Microsoft now owns the rights to UNIX and a significant portion of Linux.

        How can it be a monopoly, if there is no competition?
      • by SillySlashdotName (466702) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:58PM (#8533596)
        Well, if a Microsoft representative called Baystar from his private phone during a holiday, then it was technically not Microsoft who orchestated this.

        Wrong. If an employee, in the preformance of assigned duties or at the direction of their employer - or even just with the knowledge of the employer, or if the employer SHOULD HAVE KNOWN - performs an illegal act, the company is responsible. In addition, the company does not lose their liability if the employee is told to wait until a non-working day and use a phone other than their office phone.

        If the employee, on their own, with no knowledge or approval, or expectation of approval of their employer did whatever evil and nefarious act, then the employer is not responsible or liable.

        In this case, if a person identified themselves as a Microsoft representative to BayStar and in some way gave BayStar the idea that Microsoft was interested in BayStar doing a deal with TSG, and BayStar, acting on the belief that it was in fact a Microsoft representative and a Microsoft request, entered in to the deal with TSG, then Microsoft IS technically "orchestrating this."

        I wonder if Microsoft could be sued at all for unfair competition if Bill Gates chose to openly fund SCO shares from his private money?

        Interesting thought. The answer is "No, to a point."

        If B.G. buys stock on the open market, he is buying from some other individual that owned the stock. D.McB. might like that - especially if he is buying the stock from D.McB. - but TSG (the company) would derive no benefit from the transactions.

        Up to a certain point he doesn't even have to declare his stock ownership (I believe it is around 5% of outstanding shares) - and it would take a much larger number of shares to actually be able to manipulate the actions of the company.

        The BayStar transactions, on the other hand, directly funded the further operations of TSG - including the attacks on Linux (and Linus) which seen to be in line with (and possible intended to further?) Microsofts' interests.

        Remember that there are things that a free marke company CAN do that a MONOPOLIST CAN'T do. This would seem, in my opinion, to be one of those things...
    • by goombah99 (560566) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:17PM (#8532361)
      I have a litmus test to propose. but first some analsis. Why would a tanited recommendation from Microsoft be useful to baystar? I can understand from baystars position why they might invest in SCO for their own selfish reasons: if they are a company that specializes in high-risk high-reward investments then the SCO investment can be argued logically as a win for SCo would have a huge payback. You might disagree on the odds but well that's their bussiness and the odds*payoff actually is not so bad looking.

      But why would microsoft recommending SCO be a useful thing to baystar? Microsoft supposedly has no financial dealing with baystar so there's not "favor" to be granted here. And Microsoft obviously had a vested interest in giving the advice and I'm sure baystar was smart enough to see through that--so the advice would have no tangible use.

      KEY point: The most benign explanation is that they were merely bringing it to baystars attention and presumbaly did so to many other companies. The key test is then: did they or did they not call hundreds of other speculative investment houses in hopes of convincing one with this long shot advice?

      If they did not do so with many other companies then why did they think they had any standing to cold call baystar and give tainted advice? If they just called baystar alone then its very fishy. they must have promised other tangibles. Such as investing in companies baystar recommended back or promising cash influxes and supprt for the lawsuit.

      • This is an interesting point. I won't need to ask others to mod you up.

        My guess is that there is a chain of "buddies" that connect the two companies. This deal was closed over a beer (...or a soda in Utah). This connection will be impossible to find or prove. We will also never be able to discover overtures to other "speculative investment houses" because of a similar lack of paper trail.
        • by mbkennel (97636) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:46PM (#8532736)
          E.g.: Hey Baystar, go invest in this loser trog company to fight our battles, and when we need to do some investment banking transaction or investment, we'll make sure you can get a sweet part of the deal with a really big commission.

          Or, Steve and Bill said they'd put alot of money in your hedge funds if you work on this little problem of ours.

          Nothing written of course.

          it doesn't take too much imagination to think of plenty of reasons.
      • by jeabus (703419) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:17PM (#8533072)
        It doesn't matter which, or how many, investors they contacted. MS is not in the investment analysis business, they're in the software business. The only real question is why is MS seeking investors for SCO? SCO is a competitor after all. Is MS also seeking investors for Apple and Red Hat?
    • by Nexus7 (2919) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:28PM (#8532496)
      Spake Blake Stowell:
      "Contrary to the speculation of Eric Raymond, Microsoft did not orchestrate or participate in the BayStar transaction."

      This if I understand correctly is commercial speech. I wonder how the judges in the many instances of barratry that SCO has indulged in will like the fact that SCO is trying this in the court of public opinion, influencing juries, and all of that with bare lies. Not clear either how the so-called business channels that get all indignant and prissy over Martha Stewart can barely get themselves worked up to even report this. C'mon folks, this is a good and evil story like no movie ever seen.
      • by BiggerIsBetter (682164) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:13PM (#8533024)

        C'mon folks, this is a good and evil story like no movie ever seen.

        No it isn't. To most business-minded folks, MS isn't evil - it's the pinnacle of corporate success. This is just how the game gets played. If it's illegal then sure it might get press, but just being dirty scoundrals isn't enough to get anyone interested.

    • by fishbonez (177041) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:29PM (#8532513)
      "Contrary to the speculation of Eric Raymond, Microsoft did not orchestrate or participate in the BayStar transaction."

      "Microsoft has no direct or indirect financial relationship with BayStar."

      Those two statements are very close to lies but may just be deceptive statements that omit very important facts. I say this because it actually appears that Paul Allen orchestrated the SCO investment. I say this because:

      1. Paul Allen is a former member of the board of directors of MS and the second largest shareholder. Paul Allen now serves as a senior strategy advisor to top Microsoft executives [microsoft.com].
      2. Paul Allen is one of the largest investors in BayStar Capital [wired.com].
      So Paul Allen is in a position to advise and influence both MS and Baystar. He also has significant financial holdings in both companies. There is no tinfoil hat necessary to draw this connection.
      • by goombah99 (560566) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:43PM (#8532682)
        The above poster is totally correct. Here is a link to the PDF file [baystarcapital.com] from Baystar's own website. On page 3 of this there is a chart showing the top ten investors in Baystar. Number one on this chart is Vulcan Ventures which has 1.8 billion dollars invested in Baystar!!!!
        • by youngsd (39343) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:34PM (#8533293)

          If you actually read the PDF, you will see that you (and Wired, for that matter) are jumping to conclusions. The chart showing Vulcan Ventures (and Microsoft, for that matter) is a chart of data from PlacementTracker showing the overall number of PIPE deals. The vast majority of which have nothing to do with Baystar. This paper is Baystar's way of convincing people that PIPE transactions are a good thing.

          None of which is to say that Vulcan and/or Microsoft don't invest through Baystar -- just that this PDF says nothing about it.

          -Steve

      • by Elektroschock (659467) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:05PM (#8532947)
        As far as I know is Microsoft obliged not to enter the UNIX market due to earlier agreements. The downward spiral of SCo may affect Microsoft as well. When Sco's management would go to jail because of license fraud it will probably affect Microsoft managers too.

        Scosource Gregory Blepp (hired from SuSe) was many times very close to break the injunctions on the German market. If SCO tried to sell licenses or spread FUD at CeBIT, Hanover the rapid response would be to report the offence to the police and let them put the managers in jail.
    • BayStar and M$ (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:08PM (#8532975) Homepage
      Actually, the second item, Microsoft has no direct or indirect financial relationship with BayStar, is probibly technically true. At this point.

      If I "suggest" to someone that they invest in something that I have no finantial interest in (SCO), that "suggestion" does not create a finantial interest. At this time.

      I speculate that M$ "suggested" to BayStar that sometime in the future, perhaps, maybe, the software giant might possibly make some kind of investment in BayStar, of course totally unrelated to any investments BayStar might have made in SCO, hint-hint-wink-wink...

      What's funny is that a few months ago when all us paranoid tin-foil hat folks where saying M$ had their fingers all over this, people said "go back in your basement, way too much illuminati, blaw, blaw, blaw..."

  • by GMontag (42283) <<moc.gatnomyug> <ta> <gatnomg>> on Thursday March 11, 2004 @11:56AM (#8532083) Homepage Journal
    A managing partner of Baystar says the call wasn't from Gates or Ballmer. But it wouldn't have to be, would it?

    Nope, it would not have to be a "tip-top" person, just has to be a Principal or someone with delegated authority from a company officer to be valid. This is not anything uncommon at all.

    Yahoo Finance is reporting that SCO announced that the company's board of directors has authorized management, in its discretion, to purchase up to 1.5 million shares of SCO's common stock over the next 24 months. SCO has approximately 14.4 million shares of common stock issued and outstanding. Any repurchased shares will be held as treasury stock and will be available for general corporate purposes.

    This is nothing new, odd, illegal, unethical or strange either. It is a common business practice of publicly traded firms.

    Now, the underlying story is where the problem sits, not with the scenery.
    • by BigFire (13822) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:03PM (#8532173)

      This is nothing new, odd, illegal, unethical or strange either. It is a common business practice of publicly traded firms

      Not when they're a couple of quarters away from insolvency. Stock buyback usually occurs when a company with low stock price have too much money on hand and no viable avanue of investement available.

      SCO qualified 2 out of 3 catagory, but they most definately do not have too much cash on hand.
      • Part of me is wondering who they are going to buy the stock back from.

        Boise is due 400,000 shares.

        If Baystar/RBC provide some or all of it, it's a sweetheart deal where SCO redeams Baystar's investment, costing them nothing (they are just making shares up), and then buys them back, writing off the same expense twice.

        Baystar/RBC get their money, and SCO gets yet another chance to cook the books.
        • This is a repost from the Yahoo SCOX board [yahoo.com]. Apparently, there is a clause in the PIPE deal agreement that says SCO cannot buyback shares, but they can buyback employee shares.

          So, unless we are about to see another SEC document modifying the PIPE deal, then this 1.5 million announcement is either BS to prop the stock price or SCO is about to reward a bunch of insiders:

          Restrictions on the A1 Pfd
          by: thwackamole 03/11/04 11:49 am
          Msg: 108276 of 108282

          Going along with a previous poster's comments, it app
      • by k98sven (324383) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:34PM (#8532577) Journal
        Not when they're a couple of quarters away from insolvency. Stock buyback usually occurs when a company with low stock price have too much money on hand and no viable avanue of investement available.

        SCO has $50 million from the BayStar deal, with a redemption condition if the stock goes below ~$8.50 for 25 consecutive trading days.

        In light of that, initiating a buyback-scheme when the stock started dipping close to this mark is completely expected. Losing the BayStar investment is a much bigger loss than what it'd cost SCO to keep the stock price inflated.
        • SCO has $50 million from the BayStar deal, with a redemption condition if the stock goes below ~$8.50 for 25 consecutive trading days.

          Mod parent up. That is exactly what is going on. That's why they initiated the buyback.
    • by cmoss (14324) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:07PM (#8532222)
      They say that they are initiating a buyback because the stock is a good value.

      This confilicts with the fact that ALL recent insider trades are sells.(after exercising options)

      • by SubtleNuance (184325) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @02:31PM (#8533963) Journal
        Well, it makes complete sense. Use SCO capital (from MS) to buy SCO stock. Increase SCO stock price. Sell your own shares. You couldnt have MS pay money DIRECTLY to the SCO principles could you? I mean, really, running SCO into the ground with this obviously un-winnable ANTI-GNU/Linux crusade would mean that the SCO board would be purposefully destroying SCO -- they'd end up in Jail for not properly administering SCO.

        This is a perfect method of actually paying SCO directors to destroy SCO* for the benefit of M$.

        *not that SCO really had a chance w/ x86 unix -- GNU/Linux is going to dominate ALL Unix in short order.
    • by vinsci (537958) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:09PM (#8532249) Journal
      Yahoo Finance is reporting that SCO announced that the company's board of directors has authorized management, in its discretion, to purchase up to 1.5 million shares of SCO's common stock over the next 24 months. SCO has approximately 14.4 million shares of common stock issued and outstanding. Any repurchased shares will be held as treasury stock and will be available for general corporate purposes.

      This is nothing new, odd, illegal, unethical or strange either. It is a common business practice of publicly traded firms.

      It would certainly be unethical if it's just the Canopy Group's way of transferring money from SCO to Canopy, in exchange for soon-to-be worthless SCOX shares. That's not unlikely, seeing what kind of deals Canopy has done with the companies they own in the past.

      That might even count as inisidertrading, depending on circumstances we can't know about, so chances are it's illegal, too.

      I guess they could defend themselves by saying it's been common knowledge for a long time that SCO is about to go out of bussiness. Of course, then they'd have been lying about their bussiness prospects... Oops!

    • by mefus (34481) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:12PM (#8532276) Journal
      Someone on groklaw.net the other day suggested they might do something like this in the very near future, as they were nearing the "support" point in their continuing stock decline.
    • This is nothing new, odd, illegal, unethical or strange either. It is a common business practice of publicly traded firms.

      I don't know about unethical or illegal, but it is certainly odd. A buyback occours only when the company feels that the share prices are too low. Now if the prices are low now, they certainly were low a few months back at 50 cents or so. What has changed between now and then which causes the values of the company to grow 18 fold? Even if we assume SCO's lawsuit has merit now, we mu
    • I picked up this little tidbit from Thwackamole on the SCO Yahoo Forum [yahoo.com]

      So long as any shares of Series A-1 Preferred Stock are outstanding, the Corporation shall not take any of the following corporate actions (whether by merger, consolidation or otherwise) without first obtaining the approval (by vote or written consent, as provided by the DGCL) of the Majority Holders:

      (v) redeem, repurchase or otherwise acquire, or declare or pay any cash dividend or distribution on, any Junior Securities. Notwithstand
  • by monstroyer (748389) * <devnull@slashdot.org> on Thursday March 11, 2004 @11:56AM (#8532085) Homepage Journal
    Anyone still denying that FUD isn't an instituted marketing practice of Microsoft, even after being convicted of monopolist practices, can now bow their head in shame.

    Business Week is in no way a Linux Zealot and even they confirm that Microsoft enjoys competing on a level far removed from technical innovation.

    What was to happen at the end of these shenanigans? Once the lawsuit is over, where does SCO expect to get it's money? It's not like Microsoft will continue to invest in them once this crap is over.

    And does this come out of the MS advertising budget? Any advertising against our competitors is good PR? There is no way MS could re-coup anything from this other than FUD points. Where's the incentive to profit?
    • by molarmass192 (608071) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:08PM (#8532230) Homepage Journal
      Once the lawsuit is over, where does SCO expect to get it's money?

      Dude, SCO doesn't have a long term continuity plan! McBride and his cronies are all set to cash out about this time next year. Once McBride flys the roost he'll probably turn around and sue SCO himself for something like he typically does. The stockholders will be the ones left holding the bag in the end and it's why I still can't understand why SCO isn't a penny-stock.
      • by dnoyeb (547705) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:14PM (#8532306) Homepage Journal
        Dude, next year? Everyone but McBride has been selling their shares like nobodies business. The only thing we are waiting on is McBride to sell his. I think he had some restriction on selling, but I believe that is far gone by now.

        SCO is not a penny stock because SCO is a quality marketing (FUD) machine. SCO is not a software company. Once you accept that, their situation makes sense.

        As for the stock holders, the majority of them are institutions at this point. Slight majority though. The stock is so illiquid who could afford to be in it but big players.
    • by njdj (458173) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:16PM (#8532341)
      There is no way MS could re-coup anything from this other than FUD points. Where's the incentive to profit?

      Are you serious? Destroy Linux, and the only current threat to the Microsoft monopoly is gone. Every time a company buys Microsoft instead of installing Linux because of fear of lawsuits, that's more profit for Microsoft. Microsoft had every incentive to fund the SCO lawsuits.

      IANAL, but I'd like to see a lawyer comment on whether Microsoft could be convicted of conspiracy to violate antitrust laws.
  • ...but rumours abound on Wall Street, that Lucifer, LLC, may secretly be behind the entire arrangement. "We can't confirm it", said one source who wished to remain very anonymous, "but we know that with soul trading trending upward, it can only be that Lucifer, LLC is on a buying streak." He continued, cautiously, "It seems, though, that the souls Lucifer is getting aren't of the highest quality."

    Ironically, a spokesperson for Lucifer, LLC, could be reached, and did indeed comment. "Oh, yes, we're snatching up all the souls we can. There's only two companies in this space right now, and being half of them, we're trying to beat out Heavenly Productions, LP. If they hadn't sunk so much capital into, and gotten so much great PR from that new movie, we might have been able to grab several more souls during the deal. We're betting, though, that soon enough, there will be promises that need to be kept, and then executives of 'certain companies' will be ready to sign their souls over."

    When pressed, the spokesperson would divulge nothing further about the companies, except that one of them was in a desert\, and the other in a dreary woodland area. "All I can say is that it doesn't seem to bother these execs, since they seem to have chosen areas much like our [Patent Pending] HELL world."

    Heavenly LP, privately held, had no comments. Lucifer LLC was up slightly on the day.
  • now... (Score:5, Funny)

    by domenic v1.0 (610623) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @11:57AM (#8532093)
    if only microsoft would invest that time and money into their security initiative.
    • Re:now... (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No, it's all a misunderstanding... We thought they meant "Security Initiative", but what they *really* said "Securities Initiative".
  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @11:57AM (#8532099) Homepage
    Is there any potential for a counter-suit here? This really seems like unfair behavior on Microsoft's stifle competition via a proxy corporation who'll do their dirty work for them. I hope someone can mount a counter-suit on behalf of the Linux community, and somehow defeat the MSFT legal juggernaut.
    • by Rich0 (548339) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:30PM (#8532524) Homepage
      I wonder if you can pierce the corporate veil here.

      The money given to SCO is probably a significant chunk of their total equity now - I don't know offhand how much ownership it purchased, but you might make the argument that SCO is a front for Baystar. Next you need to look at the contributions that Baystar got from MS and how big they are relative to the equity of that company. If you can show that SCO is acting as an indirect-front for MS, then you can probably sue MS for resulting damanges.

      If give a friend $100k to "take care of somebody for me", and they give a friend $80k to "take care of this problem", and then my problem disappears from the face of the earth, the police can come after me. If I set up 12 layers of shell companies and went through them, I'm still on the hook. RICO laws and all that - the gangsters were trying to avoid getting caught with this kind of stuff since the start of the last century. The laws are there.

      I would think that the best bet for prosecution would be from the state antitrust lawsuits against MS. While most have settled regarding past offences, I'm sure that this settlement doesn't cover future offences.
  • Not bad (Score:5, Funny)

    by the Man in Black (102634) <.jasonrashaad. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday March 11, 2004 @11:57AM (#8532101) Homepage
    "LIAR! LIAAAAAAAAAAAAAR!" -- Carol Kane, The Princess Bride

    While I understand that this isn't illegal as such, isn't it an SEC violation?
  • by the_flatlander (694162) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @11:58AM (#8532114)
    With their legal proceedings floundering, they've fallen to cynical stock market games in an effort to shore up their sagging fortunes.

    (Have you watched their stock making a run at zero over the course of the week?)

    The Flatlander

  • by robpoe (578975) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @11:59AM (#8532120)
    The evil empire will stop at nothing until it achieves world domination. But, unlike SCO, the do not want to get their hands dirty - they want to appear as the benevolent kingdom...But would stop at nothing to hire professional (or in SCO's case - unprofessional) hit men to rid the world of the evil competition...

    Oh well, move along - nothing to see here..

    But at least we didnt have to wait until 3:56 PM for our SCO fix..

  • by Neuropol (665537) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @11:59AM (#8532134) Homepage
    it's all a corporate powerplay. ms and sco need to get over themselves and get back to the task at hand. computing.
  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:00PM (#8532141) Homepage Journal

    Mr. Goldfarb is trying to look like an honest man while distancing himself and Baystar from MS and SCO. He readily admits that "senior executives" from MS phoned him but won't name names. He's scared. Leaked documents and an unmanagable conspiracy of silence are forcing him to admit to snippets of truth which paint him and the firm in the best possible light.
  • I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shrykk (747039) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:02PM (#8532166)
    I don't understand. SCO, crappy dying company, takes millions-to-one shot on a huge payoff (or was praying for IBM to settle). Retarded but plausible. But why would Microsoft want to back such a chancy scheme? Bad publicity when the case fails must more than make up for the FUD they've managed to spread.
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Penguinisto (415985) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:12PM (#8532271) Journal
      ...because "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

      It doesn't take science to figure out that a company with $40bn in idle cash and nothing better to do with it would have no problems with tossing some of that dough into throwing its competition under a cloud of doubt.

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 1s44c (552956) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:15PM (#8532323)
      Your right.

      Microsoft would gain a lot of SCO was proved right. But they must have had their legal team look at the situation and report that SCO was just wasting its time.

      The best Microsoft can hope for is to spread FUD.
      The worst Microsoft could see is the GPL reinforced in court, and a hell of a lot of bad PR for their company.

      It's a bad deal from Microsofts point of view.
      Microsoft didn't get where they are now though bad deals.
      • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tres (151637) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:43PM (#8532691) Homepage
        It says a lot about just how worried the MSFT corporate entity is about competing against Free software.

        Microsoft needed a stalling tactic. Two years away from the next-gen OS, security problems riddling their current offerings, and Linux is picking up steam. They absolutely needed something like this. It may have been a "bad deal," but I'd say MSFT was never looking to profit from this investment.

        If SCOX had actually won a case, it would have been a bonus, but that wasn't the point of the investment. MSFT wouldn't want anything out of this but to put off adoption until they could fill the gap left by their current offerings.


    • "But why would Microsoft want to back such a chancy scheme? Bad publicity when the case fails must more than make up for the FUD they've managed to spread."

      Because they face no real consequences? They've never had to pay any reasonable penalty for their behavior. Giving away free copies of MS products?!? That's a marketing expense, for cryin' out loud! "Allowing" hardware resellers to add something to the desktop? Oooooh! The pain! Make it stop!

      So what, exactly, does MS have to lose with even such a b

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by isn't my name (514234) <slash@threenort h . c om> on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:35PM (#8532595)
      MS signaled this back with Halloween VII [opensource.org].

      Interestingly enough Halloween VII was making the rounds in Sept/Nov. 2002. It was in August 2002 that SCO brought in Morgan Keegan [threenorth.com] to try to find cash for them--and it was likely Morgan Keegan who both brought Boies on board and negotiated the original "license" deals with SUN and MS.
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GSloop (165220)
      Think of a drowning man.

      He'll drown you too in his fear when you try to rescue him. Doesn't matter that if he drowns you, he drowns himself too - he's irrational.

      IMHO, MS really is scared. They really don't have a lever to use to defeat Linux.

      You can't buy them out. You can't give it away free, and beat them on price. (Linux IS free, and as a bonus, the source code is included.)

      MS knows the power of "Free" - that's what got office in the door - OEM bundles of free office suites. Free inclusion of IE etc
  • SCO stock price (Score:5, Insightful)

    by falonaj (615782) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:03PM (#8532170) Homepage
    It seems obvious that SCO's announcement to buy back shares is just another way to raise their stock. But I doubt that many potential investors will trust this announcement - it is very unspecific with such a two year time span. At least during the version trading hour today, the stock didn't exactly jump too high up [yahoo.com].
    • it's about SEC (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wotevah (620758)
      I think it is more of a preemptive reaction to the SEC investigation rumours. So that later they could say that they genuinely believed in this, otherwise why would they plan to buy 1.5 million shares.
  • Nail 'em! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Orien (720204) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:03PM (#8532178)
    I hope they finally get nailed on this one. I knew that insider trading would never stick because 1) they sold off a bunch of stock, but the price has only gone up so it wasn't a "sell before it drops" ploy ala Martha Stewart. 2) It was easy enough to say they were low on cash and sold the stock to get equity. Now this whole scandle seems a lot more viable. Let the witch hunt begin!
  • About stock. (Score:5, Informative)

    by mindstrm (20013) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:05PM (#8532203)
    There is a common misconception out there that stock price directly affects a company... it does not.

    If I purchase a milliion shares of SCO on the open market, SCO does not see a PENNY of that money. The only time SCO sees money from the sale of stock is when SCO issues NEW stock into the market.

    So.. if the stock price goes up, it's good for a company, in that they can issue more stock, and get more capital without giving away such a large piece of the pie.

    However, microsoft buying a million shares of SCO would not by itself fund sco at all.... unless they bought those shares FROM SCO, which it doesn't sound like they are doing.

    • Re:About stock. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Fnkmaster (89084) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:15PM (#8532328)
      Baystar did a PIPE deal with SCO. See here [businessfinance.com] for an explanation of PIPEs. This is when a private equity firm infuses capital to a publicly traded company by acquiring newly issued securities directly from the company at a discount to the current market price - not buying them on the open market. So the Baystar deal DID infuse money directly to SCO, though you're correct that the market price and open market transactions don't directly affect day to day operations of the company and don't directly feed cash into the company's coffers.


      Of course, a good market price makes it much easier to raise more money in a follow-on public offering, PIPE or other kinds of transactions.

    • Re:About stock. (Score:5, Informative)

      by gfxguy (98788) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:17PM (#8532354)
      That's somewhat misleading...

      If the company is holding 50% of it's stock in reserves, and the stock price doubles because there is a perception that the stock is desirable, they've just doubled the value of their reserves.

      Moreover, all the executives who own stock in the company have more reason to keep up the fight, because they will personally gain.
    • Re:About stock. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tjwhaynes (114792) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:20PM (#8532398)

      If I purchase a milliion shares of SCO on the open market, SCO does not see a PENNY of that money. The only time SCO sees money from the sale of stock is when SCO issues NEW stock into the market.

      Ahh but if SCOG buys SCOX stock, say at a low price during a profound slump in their share price and does so in a manner as to not cross the written words in the SEC constraints on such purchases then you can get into fun with the accounting department.

      Now - you only buy back stock if you

      • have surplus cash
      • believe that the current share price will be exceeded in the future and you can make money by selling that stock later.
      • or you wish to be able to write off a loss against tax by playing games with your own stock.

      Yes - a company doesn't benefit directly from swings in its stock price, but it can benefit by trading in that stock. Even when that goes sour, clever accounting practices can help you recover that loss in other ways. I haven't peered too closely at SCOs recent manoevres but I seem to remember that any dip in share price allows them to record the conversion of the Series A convertible stock deal with Baystar as income. So you can have it both ways.

      Cheers,

      Toby Haynes

  • by 4b696e67 (670803) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:06PM (#8532216)
    It has been long speculated on here that Microsoft was bankrolling SCO. Now with proof, lets hope that this MS/SCO FUD about the Linux source is seen for what it is by the corporations and most of all the courts.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:09PM (#8532243)
    Paul Allen is an investor of Vulcan Capital, and they invest in Baystar. There's your connection.
  • by Channard (693317) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:09PM (#8532248) Journal
    .. I get the same 'nefarious ties' feeling that I do reading about one of Scientology's front groups, eg Narconon etc.
  • by Gannoc (210256) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:10PM (#8532254)
    (Score:-1, Flamebait)
    by Gannoc (210256) on Thursday March 11, @10:59AM (#8532136)

    With Bush in office, you don't have to worry about the communists keeping microsoft from making money.


    This isn't flamebait, it is bitter, pessimistic political commentary. I have plenty of Karma to burn...
  • by miskatonic alumnus (668722) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:14PM (#8532305)
    Someone linked to this on Groklaw a few days ago. Anyone who's played Steve Jackson's "Illuminati" will get a kick out of it: SCO/Illuminati [userfriendly.org]
  • by patrixx (30389) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:17PM (#8532366)
    The ability to run Linux without Linux!
    (http://www.sco.com/products/lkp/faq.html)

    Linux Kernel Personality FAQ
    For UnixWare 7

    What is the Linux Kernel Personality?

    The Linux Kernel Personality (LKP) is a feature of the UnixWare 7 operating system which enables the installation and the direct, native execution of Linux(R) applications. The primary attributes of LKP are:
    Exploit the power and scalability of the UnixWare kernel to run Llinux applications. the Linux Kernel Personality contains most of the RPMs required to execute native Linus applications, but it does not include a Linux kernel.
    Applications compatibility: Linux applications install and run without modification. UnixWare 7 customers now have a powerful tool to assist in the migration from Linux to UnixWare.
    UnixWare 7 feature availability: Linux applications can benefit from the features and options available for UnixWare including a journaling file system, RAID support, and increased scalability, security and reliability.
    Versatility: Users can dynamically choose either environment, Linux or UnixWare 7 or mix both, as needed.

    Didn't SCO suspend its Linux product line?

    Yes. The Linux products were suspended due to intellectual property issues associated with Linux. The LkP feature doesn't contain a Linux kernel, and therefore to the best of our knowledge, there should be no infringement issues. If the prior statement were proven inaccurate, SCO would take appropriate steps. In the meantime, the LKP feature is available to assist customer migration from Linux.

    Why is The SCO Group(R) doing this?

    SCO recognizes that many customers want to migrate away from Linux, but can't afford to disrupt their day to day operations, nor can they afford the engineering resources to port and test the Linux applications in a UnixWare environment. The Linux Kernel Personality addresses all of these concerns. Native Linux applications runs unchanged on UnixWare, which provides the following benefits to the customer:
    Customers can asses using UnixWare in their environment without making costly application program changes.
    Customers who want to migrate to UnixWare, but some of the source code for critical applications they need to continue to run is no longer available.
    Customers are considering migration to UnixWare but are concerned about the risk of changing both the operating system and the application at the same time.

    Does LKP emulate a Linux application environment, much like lxrun?

    No, LKP is not a Linux environment emulator. An LKP installation includes the Linux application environment running on a UnixWare kernel. Unlike the LxRun environment, LKP doesn't contain an emulation layer.

    How can I install Linux applications? Do I have all the tools?

    Yes, you can install Linux applications. Linux libraries and system tools, including the rpm installer, the shell utilities, and the configuration files, are provided in UnixWare 7. The UnixWare 7 installation loads the entire (former) Caldera OpenLinux Server system, with the exception of the Linux kernel.

    How is Linux compatibility provided?

    LKP is a standard feature ofUnixWare 7. LKP and the necessary OpenLinux RPMs are part of the basic media kit.

    Do I get a full Linux distribution with UnixWare 7?

    LKP does not provide a Linux kernel. With the exception of the Linux kernel, however, the entire Linux distribution is installed in a /linux directory.

    Is the use of Linux applications transparent?

    Yes. Linux ELF binaries are treated as first class executable programs. The Linux process coexists with other UNIX processes and shares the system equally. You run with Linux shells and desktops and use familiar Linux tools and utilities. The system keeps track of your environment for you, so that Linux and UNIX functions and utilities do not collide.

    How can I access the Linux environment from UnixWare 7?

    Run
  • by presearch (214913) * on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:18PM (#8532370)
    What's cool about this is that any involvement with Microsoft, no matter how compelling
    it may seem in the beginning, is the kiss of death for the other company that gets involved
    in a "deal" with Microsoft. They can't help it. Win-Lose is the only outcome that's acceptable to M$.

    How this works out to Linux users is unknown, but SCO's fate is sealed:
    Ignominy, disgrace, failure, collapse.
  • by Chordonblue (585047) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:18PM (#8532376) Homepage Journal
    "So, SCO's claims against IBM (and the rest of the world) have turned out to be legit?"

    "No... I just saved a sh!tload of money by switching to Geico!" :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:19PM (#8532382)
    It's so nice of SCO Group to announce a buy-back program, but you'll note that these buy-backs do not have to occur on the open market.

    1. SCO Group must buy back shares from certain investors because of their stock price and the looming failure to file the PIPE registration.

    2. This is an excellent way for Canopy to liquidate its holdings in SCO Group.

    The average investor won't make a dime, and will likely be left holding the bag on this one.

  • Gates or Ballmer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LittleLebowskiUrbanA (619114) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:19PM (#8532391) Homepage Journal
    The call wasn't directly from Gates or Ballmer?

    So what?! That's like saying a Sgt in the Marines actions in Iraq weren't directly ordered by Bush or Cheney. It's what we call in the military the chain of command or maybe the commander's intent. In other words, the commander lets his troops know what he wants done and how much freedom they have accomplishing this goal.

    I believe Gates and Ballmer knew what was going on.
  • by goerge_o (761302) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:20PM (#8532397)
    Watch the trailer of the upcoming movie starring famous M$,SCO,Groklaw and others on: www.bravegnuworld.org Sums it up pretty nicely :-)
  • Conflict of interest (Score:3, Interesting)

    by voss (52565) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:29PM (#8532510)
    It would be interesting to find a shareholder of baystar that opposes the SCO investment, and get them to sue baystar for an investment that is a conflict of interest and not in the best interest of that fund.

    baystar is making investments based on outside concerns and not the fidicuciary interests of their shareholders.
  • by Spoing (152917) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:30PM (#8532531) Homepage
    1. Baystar was contacted by some executive from Microsoft Corp. about Baystar investing in SCO two months before Baystar did.

    2. The executives were not BG or SB.

    3. There was not an investment made by Microsoft through Baystar.

    OK, am I missing something or is this a non-story?

    (Yes, I think that something slimy is actually happening...though evidence of it would be good!)

  • New site logo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:30PM (#8532534) Homepage Journal
    Slashdot News about SCO. Stuff that could matter.

    SCO had done enough merits in slashdot to win its own specific (i.e. no caldera, when they had that name not were so deep in the dark side) logo, section, faq entry, exceptions in slash code and even users-optional tagline pack.

    Even when they lose their lawsuit (that seems less inminent than when all of this started) and the company is closed, buried and sold even the chairs and the pencils of it, still will be for years news about sco and their directors here (i.e. Darl McBride raped in prison, or even die in poverty, from the remember-when-we-roared dept.).

    Anyway, this story is more about Microsoft than about SCO, but well, Microsoft had the merits since the start of Slashdot and if there was nothing done about them yet, maybe never will.

  • by barfy (256323) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:40PM (#8532653)
    Why the stock buyback...

    Once there are significant amounts of short sellers vs the float, the stock price becomes essentially manipulated by the short sellers. IE, the very action chases away buyers, which forces the stock down, which causes the market makers to start selling and lowering the price to attract buyers to the shares that the shorts are selling etc etc, until the stock price is run into the ground...

    One way to short circuit that kind of activity, is to create some sort of floor in the price. A company can do this, by becoming a buyer of thier own stock at a given price. By providing buying action, the shorts are not rewarded, they stop selling the stock, and the behavior of the stock normalizes.

    There is no gaurantee this will work. Though it generally works most of the time, but it can be a war of attrition. Similar things happen with national banks and the currency market. And sometimes the banks lose after spending BILLIONS attempting to keep it from happening (Argentina, Mexico, Thailand, just to name a few).
  • So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by andih8u (639841) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:47PM (#8532744)
    He says Microsoft didn't put any money into BayStar or the SCO investment. A Microsoft spokesman says that the company has no "direct or indirect" financial relations with BayStar, but declined to comment when asked whether execs called BayStar to suggest investing in SCO.

    Okay, so Microsoft didn't actually put any money into it, they simply called Baystar and told them investing would be a good idea? That's a pretty thin rope to hang someone by.
  • by GreenCrackBaby (203293) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:51PM (#8532798) Homepage
    Lawrence Goldfarb, managing partner of BayStar, says that senior executives at the software giant had telephoned him about two months before the investment. Would he be interested in investing in SCO, they asked? Goldfarb wouldn't identify the executives, but says neither Chairman William Gates nor CEO Steve Ballmer were among them. He says Microsoft didn't put any money into BayStar or the SCO investment. A Microsoft spokesman says that the company has no "direct or indirect" financial relations with BayStar, but declined to comment when asked whether execs called BayStar to suggest investing in SCO.


    Help me understand this....

    You manage a fund that has $400 million available for investment. Microsoft does not put any money in your fund. Senior executives from Microsoft call you up and say "Please put $50 million into this company called SCO."

    I'm sorry, but why did the fund's managers do what they did? It doesn't add up. You do not just invest 1/8 of your available capital because some guy calls you up and says, "hey, please do this."
    • Well Paul Allen a high ranking executive in Microsoft and its 2nd largest shareholder is also the largest investor in Baystar.

      So it probably just wasn't some guy.
  • by puzzled (12525) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @12:54PM (#8532839) Journal

    See lilmissmolly0, before she is buried under a flood of stock manipulator noise:

    http://ragingbull.lycos.com/mboard/boards.cgi?bo ar d=SCOX

    This one sort of tells the story - there was an ask of $9,000.00 on SCOX yesterday close and a bid of $0.01 - definitely interesting times for the SCOX management.

    http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=SCOX&t=5d&l=on&z =l &q=c&c=
  • Riggggggght. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by digitaltraveller (167469) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:05PM (#8532949) Homepage
    I doubt it's Paul Allen.

    If (and I stress if) the senior management in question was Paul Allen, he should be going to jail. Wall Street does not take pump and dump schemes lightly and that's exactly what this is; except in this case SCO is the proxy, rather than the principle in a zero-sum game.

    MS political contributions aside, the SEC is the least likely federal agencies to bend to political pressure because their credibility is what keeps the market in check. Pissing them off is not a good move. It wouldn't have been Paul Allen, his lawyers couldn't possibly be that stupid.
  • by linuxtelephony (141049) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:05PM (#8532953) Homepage
    From the Newsgorge article:
    This will allow SCO to repurchase its shares from time to time in accordance with the requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission on the open market, in block trades and in privately negotiated transactions, depending on market conditions and other factors, the company said.

    Does this mean SCO can buy the stock options from McBride and others without having to go through the publicly traded market? Would this be a way for the execs and other higher-ups to hide their dumping of stock? In a private trade, couldn't SCO pay *more* than market value if they wanted to?

  • by rudy_wayne (414635) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:08PM (#8532981)

    If Microsoft invested $50 million in SCO, that would make sense. $50 million can buy tham a lot of anti-Linux FUD. But what does Baystar gain? When SCO loses their absurd lawsuits and disappears, so does Baystar's 50 million.

  • by ahodgkinson (662233) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:27PM (#8533189) Homepage Journal
    NOTE: In order to preserve privacy, some names have been changed.

    BayStart operator: Hello, BayStart Capital, How my I direct your call?
    Caller: Yeah. Dis is Mario. I wanna talk to da boss. Now!
    Baystar operator: One minute please.
    Goldfahnder: Hello. Goldfahnder here.
    Caller: Is dis da Boss o' BayStart?
    Goldfahnder: Excuse me?
    Caller: Are you da Boss of BaySta?
    Goldfahnder: Oh. Yes, my name is Lawrence Goldfahnder and I am the managing director of BayStart Capital. What can I do for you?
    Caller: Yeah. Dis is Mario, I'm a friend of Bill, see. And Bill told me that youze guys gotta send some money over to SCO. Got that?
    Goldfahnder: What? Who is this?
    Caller: I told you already, Mario... A friend of Bill's. Ya don't get it, do ya? Bill says that you gotta give money to SCO.. or else! Got that? Or do I gotta come over and stick your head down the toilet an' clean your ears?
    Goldfahnder (somewhat surprized): Ahm, erm. Are you suggesting that we should invest some money in SCO?
    Caller: Yeah. Jez, for a smart guy like you, you sure are dumb. You could call it investment.. or whatever. Just send over money... a lotta money... now.
    Goldfahnder (shakily): Yes, Mr. Mario. I'll see that it gets done, right away.
    Caller: That's more like it. You do that, and don't make me come over and visit you... click.

  • by Performer Guy (69820) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @02:05PM (#8533678)
    Now we can safely call SCO execs liars. It also means that SCO execs may have been caught lying to the Feds, and as Martha discovered we all know what that means.

    This may ultimately prove to be one of the more significant developments in this sordid case when it comes down to any criminal investigation.
  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich.aol@com> on Thursday March 11, 2004 @02:07PM (#8533712) Journal
    A company that invests in life sciences pouring fully one EIGHTH of their total managed fund into a FLOUNDERING software company?

    That makes NO sense... after all, when SCO dies, so do those 50 million clams...

    Unless....

    There were some back door agreement that indemnifies BayStar against total loss of that capital... say, for example, another memo were leaked that blew the whistle on such an agreement between them and a certain Redmond corporation..
  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:55PM (#8535087) Homepage
    Today's buyback announcement boosted the price of SCO stock for about an hour, between 0930 and 1030 EST. But it didn't help. Thursday's high is still below Wednesday's high, which was below Tuesday's high, which was below Monday's high. The stock is down 50% since December. [yahoo.com] and about 20% this week.

    Note, that in typical SCO style, they didn't do a stock buyback, they announced a stock buyback.

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