Twitter hospitalisation, clandestine patent talks and Michael Malone cashes in

Monday, 03 September, 2012

Welcome to the week in IT, in which we take a look at some of the more interesting stories from the last week.

First up, we have the hospitalisation of Australian media personality Charlotte Dawson, following a series of vicious exchanges on Twitter. While at first glance this might seem silly, even trivial, Dawson is said to have had a long history with depression - and mental illness is not a trivial matter.

The incident highlights some wisdom that’s been floating around for a while, applicable to any persons or organisations looking to get heavily into social media: take it seriously and don’t take it personally. A slip-up on Twitter could easily turn into a publicity scandal for a company or something more serious for an individual - as Dawson has found out.

Or, as social media strategist Laurel Papworth said: “Never feed the trolls.”

Clandestine talks

In a world where litigation rules, and so much of interorganisational conflict is decided by lawyers, it comes as somewhat of a surprise that the CEOs of Google and Apple have apparently taken it upon themselves to sort out the companies’ recent patent disagreements.

Google CEO Larry Page and Apple CEO Tim Cook have reportedly been engaged in private conversations regarding Apple’s recent patent war with Samsung (and, by extension, Google itself). A jury recently awarded Apple more than a billion US dollars as part of the disagreement, so if anyone was in doubt, there clearly is a lot of money riding on this one.

Naturally, the sources for this intel are “people familiar with the matter” - so it’s hard to say exactly how much merit we should give this news.

Malone makes millions

Lastly, we have the news that iiNet’s founder and Managing Director, Michael Malone, offloaded more than four million shares in the ISP last week, netting himself a cool $13 million in the process.

Specifically, Malone sold more than four million of the around 18 million indirect shares he holds through an investment vehicle, Perth Internet Pty Ltd. As a result of the sale, Perth Internet’s stake in iiNet dropped from 11.9% to 8.7%. Malone still has another 18 million iiNet shares in his own name - an 11.2% stake in the company.

The move is interesting because it could spell further consolidation of Australian ISPs. iiNet itself purchased Internode late last year, and Mitchell Bingemann, IT writer at The Australian, mused that Malone’s sale might nudge TPG owner David Teoh towards making a bid for iiNet.

What further consolidation would mean for consumers remains to be seen.

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