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Liveblogging the Herbalife investor webcast

Hedge fund manager Bill Ackerman says Herbalife is a pyramid scheme and has bet $1 billion on its fall. Hedge fund manager Dan Loeb begs to differ and has bet $350 million that the stock will rise in value.

Herbalife is under a lot of pressure at the moment. The L.A.-headquartered nutritional supplements maker has been accused of being a pyramid scheme by hedge fund manager Bill Ackman. 

He's betting more than $1 billion that the company won't be around for much longer. Other hedge fund guys, like Dan Loeb, are taking the other side of that bet, countering Ackman's short position by buying up Herbalife stock and betting on its continued success.

Herbalife is doing a webcast for investors and analysts in New York this morning. This is the first time the company will be explicitly responding to Ackman's pyramid scheme charge, which he laid out late last year. I'm liveblogging the webcast so check back for updates. (All times are West Coast, by the way, as I'm in Los Angeles).

6:02

CEO Michael Johnson is up. He's proud. Talking products and public health. Confident about the future. Call's news of recent weeks "misinformation." He says it's created "confusion and doubt" and is here is present the facts and mentions Pershing Square, Ackman's hedge fund, for the first time. And he says half a dozen Herbalife executives are going to speak today. So this could go for a while. One photo is worth "at least 100 PowerPoint slides" he says — a joke about Ackman's 343 slide takedown of the company.

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Why are Dan Loeb and Bill Ackman fighting over the future of Herbalife?

Hedge fund manager Bill Ackerman says Herbalife is a pyramid scheme and has bet $1 billion on its fall. Hedge fund manager Dan Loeb begs to differ and has bet $350 million that the stock will rise in value.

Herbalife has a headquarters in downtown Los Angeles, is incorporated in the Cayman Islands, is run by CEO Michel Johnson, a former Disney executive, and has been in business for more than 30 years. It did $3.5 billion — yes, that's billion — in net sales in 2011, has 6,000 staff employees and three million — that's million — independent distributors worldwide.

And since late last year, it's been under assault by Bill Ackman, who runs Pershing Square Capital Management, a New York hedge fund. Just before Christmas 2012, Ackman conducted a three-hour presentation is which he worked through 343 PowerPoint slides (see it here and add to Business Insider's over three million page views for the post) and laid out the case that Herbalife is a pyramid scheme. Ackman has set a target price for the company's price of zero. 

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Was outgoing Hulu CEO Jason Kilar fed up with Big Content?

Hulu is one of those companies that stands squarely between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. CEO Jason Kilar stepped down on Friday.

Brian Stelter and Amy Chozick make the case on the New York Times' Media Decoder blog that Jason Kilar's exit from Hulu had a lot to do with the suits who own TV networks:

Mr. Kilar’s announcement did not come as a complete surprise. At times during his tenure he has clashed with the owners on Hulu, exemplifying the divide between new, disruptive modes of distribution like the Internet and the more traditional operations at major media companies. As the owners pulled back on the amount of ABC, Fox and NBC programming it provided to Hulu, the Web site invested in original, made-for-the-Web programming to fill the gaps and attract attention.

The last time it looked as if Kilar would exit Hulu, it was when Yahoo was coming off an executive scandal, with activist shareholder Dan Loeb of the hedge fund Third Point agitating for both board-level and CEO changes. 

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FAQ: Everything you need to know about the Variety sale to Jay Penske

Variety-Homepage

The 107-year-old Hollywood trade magazine has finally been sold, to the publisher who owns competing Deadline.com. The reported $25-million price tag has been called a "fire sale."

After months of negotiation, Variety finally sold to Jay Penske's PMC, for a reported $25 million. That is more than four times the iconic entertainment trade publication's anticipated 2012 profit of $6 million. On the one hand, Penske, a budding media mogul, adds a major name brand to his stable, which also includes Deadline and Movieline. On the other, Variety is a big-time turnaround challenge, with yearly revenues that have been chopped in half since 2006. Former owner Reed Elsevier had been interesting in getting rid of it for a while.

You have questions. We have answers.

Q: Who is Jay Penske?

A: He's the son of Roger Penske, an American auto-racing and auto-entpreneurship legend. The 33-year-old has been assembling a minor media empire under the Penske Media Corp. umbrella, including the aforementioned Hollywood/entertainment websites, as well as auto site OnCars (the apple doesn't fall far from the tree) and Engadget/Gizmodo gadget-website competitor BGR. He also owns an IndyCar racing team, Dragon Racing — and he and his brother had a little trouble with the law on Nantucket island over the summer. He became the top bidder late last month when billionaire businessman Ron Burkle and Avenue Capital, a hedge fund, both balked at the $25 million asking price.

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New CEO Marissa Mayer is a huge hire for Yahoo

FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Dinner New York City

Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Time Inc.

Marissa Mayer speaks onstage at the FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Dinner New York City. The 37-year-old was named CEO of Yahoo today.

One thing's for sure about newly named Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer: no one will question the Stanford computer science grad's credentials, as they ultimately did those of Mayer's predecessor, Scott Thompson, who had exaggerations in his resume that were revealed by activist Yahoo shareholder Dan Loeb earlier this year.

Mayer actually ups the ante on engineering cred: the 37-year-old was Google's first female engineer, as well as one of the first 20 employees hired (she was in fact number 20). She can't, however, repeat that achievement in the Yahoo C-suite: she follows Carol Bartz (ousted last September) as the second woman to hold the top job.

This move has taken the tech world by surprise ("shock" might be a better word). It was widely expected interim CEO Ross Levinsohn would get the nod, given that he seemed to have Loeb's support. In this respect, the naming of Mayer is earth-shattering, and it comes on the heels of rumors that she had been passed over for advancement at Google, even though she had been standing in for co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin at public events and in the media. Mayer ranks right alongside Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg as powerful women in Silicon Valley go.

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