The producers of VH1’s program Best Week Ever won’t be calling on Tivo headquarters anytime soon. As far as weeks go, these last few were probably some of the worst for the Alviso, California-based firm. In the span of roughly two weeks, the CEO and president resigned, and the company’s stock price fell almost 20 percent.
Those sensing the company’s demise ratcheted up their critiques.
“Who will buy Tivo for scrap?” asked Kevin Werbach, a tech analyst and professor at Wharton, on his blog.
From a purely financial perspective, it’s premature to write an actual obituary for the company. In the most recent quarter, the company still had $88.5 million in cash on hand, with $7.3 million in debt.
But on Friday, the company acknowledged that its most recent quarter – one that saw a major ad campaign aimed at boosting its subscriber numbers during the holiday season – didn’t exactly set the world on fire.
Faithful hoped that the $50 million, holiday media blitz and the unit’s $99 price tag would vault the company into the pantheon of must-have gifts in November and December. Instead, the company reaffirmed its previous guidance for between 200,000 and 275,000 new subscribers, which many found to be a great disappointment.
Tivo investors, perhaps fearing far worse, actually drove the stock up on the news, perhaps used to the company reporting bad news, and fearful that the company would do far worse than it had previously forecast.
Maybe the soft bigotry of low expectations isn’t such a bad thing after all.
Even analysts who believe the company has a shot to survive offer figures that aren’t exactly inspiring.
“The perception out there is that Tivo is going from 100 to 0,” says Daniel Ernst, an analyst with Hudson Square Research. “I wouldn’t write them off just yet.”
Ernst points to his projection of Tivo’s “20 basis point” growth in the fourth quarter, which means the company went from 39.2 percent of the market to 39.4 percent.
Not exactly the rocket-like projection expected from a $50 million marketing initiative.
Others who have faith in the technology but not necessarily TiVo have a much harsher view of TiVo’s future.