- OYO (the next WeWork?)
- … SpaceX
You can learn about what activist investors do through following news: there was a time when Carl Icahn bought shares in Apple and convinced them to start paying dividends, and Paul Singer of Elliott Managemenet had a long standoff with Argentina which even involved SpaceX.
Retail and institutional investors can perhaps do some passive participation by taking similar positions to the giants and letting them do all the work. You can try following those catalysts. These funds don’t always succeed. This is not an investment advice.
Elliott vs Twitter’s CEO
Some very big activist investor developments recently - Elliott wants to replace $TWTR’s CEO:
Is Paul Singer, who runs Elliott, a fan of Professor Galloway?
Surely, Paul read Scott’s blog posts? Is the CEO Africa-bound while running two companies?
Elliott has a new fund
Last year, we learned that Elliott Management built a new fund:
Elliott vs Softbank (WeWork, OYO, etc):
The $40 billion hedge fund, one of the most powerful activist investors, has a $3 billion stake in the company and is trying to push for changes after SoftBank’s bet on start-ups such as space-sharing firm WeWork soured.
But, a number of these SoftBank-backed startups, including OYO, Wag and Fair.com, have undergone layoffs as of late. In total, more than 7,300 people have lost their jobs across 12 privately-held SoftBank-backed companies in the past four months, according to a CNN Business tally based on company sources, media reports, and company filings.
Parallels to WeWork aren’t hard to draw. Both Oyo and WeWork secured rich paper valuations in private financings led by SoftBank. Both had charismatic cofounder-CEOs who wowed Son with their vision and ambition. Both spent heavily on new locations and racked up losses amid frenzied global expansion. Oyo even dabbles in co-working.
“Oyo is a WeWork in the making,” says Santosh Rao, head of research at New York-based Manhattan Venture Partners. “They need to slow down and pull back.”
Elliott managers must’ve read this and thought - this is bonkers:
Vision Fund portfolio companies sometimes seem to suffer from an overabundance of vision. Until Dave Grannan, co-founder and CEO of Light Labs Inc., a camera startup in Redwood City, met with Son in Tokyo and then again in Woodside in early 2018, he hadn’t considered developing his imaging technology into a new way for autonomous vehicles to navigate. “That idea came directly from Masa,” he said in an interview last year. The concept helped Light get $121 million in funding in July 2018, with SoftBank leading the way. As was customary with many of its investments, the capital would come in tranches, with subsequent funds dependent on meeting sales and growth targets. Light pivoted to the autonomous car market, as Son had advised. About half of Light’s employees were laid off in July, when the company eliminated its original smartphone-camera technology to help stem losses.
Elliott’s historic $2.4 billion win
And the fund is perhaps known for its 15-year litigation with Argentina over the sovereign debt default and treatment of bond holders:
… After the country defaulted on $80bn of debt in 2001, Elliott and a group of hedge funds rejected the government’s debt restructuring offer and sued for full repayment. The gambit, which involved the attempted seizure of an Argentine frigate and two SpaceX contracts, proved successful. More than a decade later, Elliott collected some $2.4bn from the country after striking a deal with reformist president Mauricio Macri.
More on the company and its long list of “greatest hits”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elliott_Management_Corporation
The other bunch
Other known names in activist investing you may have read about on CNBC:
- Dan Loeb: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_S._Loeb#Yahoo! (Yahoo CEO appointment)
- Carl Icahn: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Icahn#Proxy_battles_and_technology_positions:_2010–2015 (Apple - dividends, PayPal spinoff)
- Bill Ackman: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Ackman
Sidenote: Elliott owns Barnes & Noble? https://finance.yahoo.com/news/elliott-completes-acquisition-barnes-noble-121500434.html