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/// The Commodore Shareholder Movement Online Conference
This is a heavily edited transcript of a capture of a live chat which
took place in the Amiga Zone on Portal on the evening of Sunday,
Nov. 28, 1993. The subject was the Commodore Shareholders Movement
and the guest speakers are introduced below. The conference took the
form of a Q&A session
The conference lasted approximately two hours in real time. Most all
of the superfluous chit chat, hellos and g'byes have been removed to
make it easier to read.
User groups, non-commercial BBSes, public FTP sites, and Amiga Report
online magazine have our explicit permission to republish this transcript
in its entirety only. - Harv Laser, AmigaZone Sysop
------------[ Edited Transcript Begins Here]------------
Harv: Tonite we have another special guest chat. Our guests tonite are
Marc Rifkin and Mike Levin, the spokesmen of the Commodore
Shareholders Movement. You may or may not be aware of their
efforts over the last year or so. If not then tonite you will
learn what this is all about. If so this will be your chance to
find out their plans and ask them questions.
Without any further rambling, it's my pleasure to introduce
Marc R. Rifkin and Mike Levin, of the CSM. Gentlemen, the floor
Mike&MarcCSM: Hello everyone. Thanks for being here tonight. We
are here to answer your questions about who we are and what
we're doing... Most of what we're about is answered in our Q&A
document and Survival Kit, for those who haven't seen it.
We'll answer your questions in person. But first, we have one:
Who here considers themselves a part of the CSM?
(Three people responded)
DMcCoy: Is owning stock a prerequisite? If not, I do. If so, I'll buy
Mike&MarcCSM: Owning stock is NOT a prerequisite.
Harv: Before we start taking questions, I have a poll. If and only if you
own any CBM Int'l stock, please state "Yes" and the # shares you own
if you're willing to say.
Harv: Yes, 20
soft-logik: Yes, 600
DeckApe: Yes, 30
drchip: Yes, 500
harsh: Yes, 600
Mike&MarcCSM: Yes, 540
Harv: Be advised that you can visit *any* stockbroker and buy just 1 or 2
shares. And ask to hold the certificates yourself. The broker
will take a small fee. The stock will cost you less than $4 per
xterm: Ok, have you two been doing anything directly with Little Irv & Mehdi?
Mike&MarcCSM: We've sent certified letters out to both of them. No response
so far... Mike talked to both in person at the 1991
PKB: Be honest. Are you haveing any real effect at CBM?
Mike&MarcCSM: Yes. In 1991 we had a great effect. CD32 and the
1200 are in part the results of our efforts... We are now
trying to make an ongoing relationship with the management...
So that we are not limited to just speaking at shareholder
meetings... We have the support of everyone we have spoken
to across the board.
Harv: Please explain how CD32 and the 1200 are in part the results of
Mike&MarcCSM: At the 1991 meeting, Mike described products he felt needed
to be developed... They both had the promise of success like
that of the C64... CD32 and the 1200 match those
NES-Bill: 1. How many people are involved in the movement so far?
2. How many shares does that represent?
3. What makes you think that it is enough to make any real
difference to how the company is run?
Mike&MarcCSM: 1. Over 500 people have stated their support...
2. About 200 shareholders...
3. Most of the shareholders are also customers. Their
opinions are the most valuable to Commodore.
We can identify with about 1% of the company ownership.
There are 33 million shares. All CBM directors have 20%
Teletran: You've mentioned the upcoming shareholder meeting in the
text files, but when iis it?
Mike&MarcCSM: We called CBM last tuesday. Hock Tan (Shareholder
Relations) is never available... His secretary said the
meeting was not being held that week (when it has been
held in previous years).
DMcCoy: Not having owned stock before, is there a minimum amount required
before one can be taken seriously?
Mike&MarcCSM: No, everything counts.
Harv: Okay.. I have a couple questions. #1 - Your earlier texts mentioned
that you wanted our proxies so you could nominate new people to the
board, yet later you seemed to have backed off on that saying that
you were going to work with existing management. Please explain.
Mike&MarcCSM: We do still want proxies... We have not closed off that
option but working with the management is more aligned with
what we really want to achieve, which is to restore Commodore
to a position of leadership in the industry.
Harv: #2 - Do you have any reason to believe that Gould is or is not going
to avoid shareholders by holding the annual meeting in the Bahamas
rather than in New York as they were for many years? And, are you
guys willing to go to the Bahamas if required?
Mike&MarcCSM: Mike went to the Bahamas in 1991 and we are prepared to go
Harv: #3 - What about Al Haig? I and many others would like to see him
off the board. What are your thoughts on this? (Yes, this is the
same Al Haig who used to be the Secretary of State and shows up
on political talk shows all the time).
Mike&MarcCSM: Al Haig probably does some good for Commodore as far as
favors. We could probably suggest some better Directors.
Teletran: I assume that Commodore legally HAS to let the shareholders know
when the meeting is? Also, Can they stretch it out like they
did the 4Q & 1Q '94 reports? GA.
Mike&MarcCSM: We've written to the SEC. Their position is that
as a "foreign private issuer," Commodore is not subject to the
U.S. proxy laws. This means that they probably do not even need
to announce the Shareholder Meeting. The five directors make a
quorum. The shareholder meeting can be held in secrecy. It
would be contested by shareholders, but that would be after the
soft-logik: Do you think Commodore has a future? Given the
pressures of the industry that have even hurt companies like
Apple? Can yet another proprietary operating system have a
place? Do you advocate Commodore supporting UNIX? Focusing only
on game machines?
Mike&MarcCSM: YES... CD32 can become a C64-like success. This success can
be used to carry the Amiga product line forward by sinking
profits back into R&D and turning the Amiga into a machine
which can compete despite whatever machines are out there.
DeckApe: 1) Is CBM a subsidiary of Commodore Ltd?
2) Is CBM completely held by C= Ltd?
3) What kind of response have you gotten so far to your request
for a show of support?
Mike&MarcCSM: CBM is a wholly owned subsidiary by Commodore Ltd.
Harv: CBM = Commodore Business Machines. They (in West Chester PA) are
the USA mfg and sales USA HQ office. There is also a CBM Canada,
and many other countries, all subsidiaries of Commodore Int'l
Ltd. a Bahamian company :)
DeckApe: I take it that means we can't buy stock in CBM (which I assume
is a U.S. company?)
Harv: You can only buy stock in Commodore Int'l. Ltd., the Parent.
Mike&MarcCSM: We receive about a dozen E-Mail messages, a half
dozen faxes and a handful of calls every week. We've spoken to
almost every major Amiga developer and distributor. We have
everyone's support in spirit, and the shareholders and
customers support in practice.
xterm: Ok, my question -- do any major corporations have a stake in C=
anymore besides the Big 5 and the "little people"? Who?
Mike&MarcCSM: Yes... Prudential Securities and over 70 other financial
institutions according to the last Nelson Directory. Only
Irving Gould owns a controlling interest in shares.
DocPierce: I was wondering a few things. Is there anything that non
shareholders can do? How much does stock cost and where is
a good place to go? How far do you have to go to accomplish
your goal in terms of "you're 50% there, 75%, etc"?
Mike&MarcCSM: Non shareholders can state your support for the
CSM publicly in letters to Commodore and the Press, on
electronic nets and turn this media event. Harv mentioned
already how to get stock (contact a broker or your bank, it
should be less than $4 a share). We are 50% of the way to
achieving our first objective which is to initiate ongoing
cooperative efforts with Commodore officers.
DocPierce: Can you provide us with addresses and names to write to?
DeckApe: FYI: I recently purchased 20 additional shares of stock - I paid
$3.25 a share, and the broker only cost me $11. As of Wednesday,
C= was trading at 3-3/4 a share.
Harv: Anyone can buy stock. Call any broker. I use Paine
Webber but there are many big name ones. You can buy 1 or 2
shares. Make SURE you tell the broker "I want to hold the
certificates myself". The broker will do the trade for you,
will tell you what he bought at and you will have x days to pay
Mike&MarcCSM: We will put out a text file with all of the places
to contact. Start with your favorite magazine.
SkyPilot: I have 3 questions:
1. Can the CD-32 be used as a cd-rom.
2. What development is progressing with an AAA machine
3. How serious is Commodore about staying in business?
A basic no-show at Comdex?? I will be going to WOC.
Harv: #1 is not really covered by this chat. #2 - See the Dave Haynie
transcript in the library (text files, near the bottom).
Mike&MarcCSM: We cannot answer for Commodore, but we are serious about
them staying in business.
Harv: Commodore had a booth booked at Comdex but turned it over
to Centaur at the last moment. Commodore does plan to have a
booth at CES/Vegas Jan 5-9 to unveil CD32 to the full USA market.
harsh: Clearly the Amiga is a competitive machine, but the current Commodore
leadership doesn't seem to get it. What specifics will you propose
to them to put Commodore back on the map?
Mike&MarcCSM: First, Appoint a new officer capable of acting as
President and CEO of Commodore. Then forge relationships with
the Commodore community. Then carry out strategies to direct
your (the customers) enthusiastic evangelism. And establish a
feedback system (eg., Harv) to measure success.
soft-logik: Do you guys have any idea why Commodore stock didn't
fall through the floor after the financials were released
showing the company with a negative book value?
Mike&MarcCSM: There are several ideas. Buying activity
propping the stock value up... Speculative purchasing by
investors... Reports of European CD32 sales... And the stock
being considered as "bottomed out." GA
xterm: [btw -- Ken Dyke of C= quoted me 70,000 CD32s moved as of last week]
Harv: You guys indicated in your last .txt posting that you
would be reducing your roles in CSM. since you've been the
driving force, what's gonna happen next. Are successors in
place? Or what's the deal?
Mike&MarcCSM: We are working on successors. We'd like to talk
to anyone here who is interested.
DeckApe: #1: Please explain (for those ignorant like me) what exactly
gives Irv "Controlling Interest".....
#2: Who is your potential candidate for Prez/CEO of
C=? What are his/her qualifications?
Mike&MarcCSM: Irving has 20% or 6 million shares. No one else
has over 1 million. We have spoken to several people including
those in the Amiga community. No one there can risk the
involvement (risk to their own business). We have now settled
on an electronics industry veteran. We can say that he as been
the President of several large companies. His name is not
widely known. (not a celebrity).
DonM: 1. I'm just a full-time electronic tech and
part-time airplane driver. I've never news media'ed anything in
my life. Any suggestions?
2. What signs, if any, do you see of C= not getting finances
because of recent posted loss? GA
Mike&MarcCSM: 1. Write to editors of any magazines you think
appropriate. State things in your own words and get lots of
other to do the same. Also think television, radio and
Harv: Write to New Media magazine. They claim Amiga coverage but
generally blow their nose on us. Also write Compute and demand
they reinstate the Amiga edition.
Mike&MarcCSM: So long as Commodore is selling product and has a
positive cash flow, they can always get more money. (Prudential
extened their loan to January).
SteveX: It sounds like everybody is counting on CD32 to save
Commodore. We keep hearing that they are rolling off the
production lines, and they are selling all they can make.
20,000 a week is the number we keep hearing. My question is
whether or not they are making any money on these things. If
they make 20,000 a week all year, that's a million machines, and
if they make $50 on each machine, that's $50 million in sales -
but if they only make $5 on each machine, then it's only 5
million in sales for the whole year (since they don't seem to be
making anything else). What do you think? If they're betting
the farm on CD32, they better not be selling it as a loss leader!
Harv: (Haynie said the C= factory in philippines has 4
production lines, 3 are making CD32 and the fourth makes mainly
4000s or whatever they have orders for)
Mike&MarcCSM: According to our numbers, Commodore has a 25%
profit margin and should have made about $150 million by now on
SteveX: 25% profit margin at that low US retail price? It seems
like a double-speed CD-ROM drive, 2 meg of ram, power supply,
case, and all that should cost more than what they are selling
Mike&MarcCSM: Commodore's greatest ability is producing high value machines
at low cost.
DeckApe: My question: should we ease up on the mismanagement angle or hit
it full force?
Mike&MarcCSM: It has to be dealt with, we want Commodore to
accept a new officer at their level who can manage the company
competently. He has to be given enough leeway so that he
wouldn't be afraid of being fired. GA
harsh: Assuming that Commodore has its meeting tomorrow and chooses to ignore
you completely and keeps things going as usual, how will you change
Mike&MarcCSM: Give the story to the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, Forbes,
Business Week, Time, and everyone else.
JWolf: Any idea how to get CBM to get companies to acknoledge the Amiga and
port their software?
Mike&MarcCSM: Commodore would need to build a strong corporate
identity, increase the user base and potential markets and offer
the right incentives to software developers including developer
loans and cooperative advertising.
DeckApe: mentioned a while back that he thought Irv owned Prudential.
True or false?
Mike&MarcCSM: False. Medhi Ali used to work for Prudential and probably
still represents their interests.
colins: I have no doubt that CBM can compete on the low-end with a machine
like CD32. If marketed correctly there is no reason it can't be the
next Sega or Nintendo. Whether it will or not remains to be seen.
But, in what markets do you believe CBM can competein the mid and
high-end categories, with their existing technologies?
Mike&MarcCSM: Video, interactive communication, workstations, home
computers, and just about anything else - the Amiga is the
most versatile computer.
DeckApe: Laptops? (Hint!)
Mike&MarcCSM: We believe strongly in an Amiga laptop!
Harv: Thus endeth the formal portion of tonight's chat. Thanks to Marc
Rifkin and Mike Levin for their time, their answers, and the work
they've put into the CSM. Be sure to get their latest text file
out of our text files library near the bottom. "CSMKIT.LHA".
Mike&MarcCSM: Also, watch the next issue of Amazing Computing!
Harv: And go buy a few shares of Commodore Int'l, kids. It won't cost you
much, and it will give you a vote in the company's present and
future. Call any stock broker. Tell him you want to buy a few
shares of CBU and you want to hold the stock certificates yourself.
To learn all about the CSM, get "CSMKIT.LHA" out of the text files
library here and read it. And act on it.
------------[ End of Transcript ]-----------