The speculation that Palm might sell itself several months ago to an investment company or competitor has finally run its course. This morning, Palm announced
that it has brought on private equity firm Elevation Parters (you know, the one founded by U2's Bono) to help run the business for $325 million. Elevation gets 25% ownership of Palm for its money, as well as two seats on the board. Is this the precursor to a brighter future at Palm
?Here's the skinny. Palm
is reorganizing, and in a big way. As part of the partial sale, former Apple exec Jon Rubinstein is taking on the executive chairman role to help manage the flagging smartphone maker. What's exciting is that Rubinstein ran Apple's iPod
division for a while, so he has experience with small gadgets. Further, if Palm's shareholders approve the deal, Elevation will put two of its people on Palm's board. They are Fred Anderson, Apple's former CFO, and Roger McNamee, a co-founder of Silver Lake Partners, which was one of the firms rumored to be buying Palm several months ago. Two current Palm board members, Eric Benhamou and D. Scott Mercer, would have to vacate their seats to make room for the Elevation team members.
Well, this is good news, in a way. Just last week, Palm showed off a new product, the Foleo, to heavy skepticism from the mobile community. This move shows that Palm knows that it needs a shake up at the very least. And this is probably a better idea than an outright sale of the company in whole to a private firm or, worse, a competitor.
I had been thinking about the long-term consequences of Palm selling itself to companies like Motorola or Nokia, and while there were definite pluses, I was having a hard time envisioning what was at the end of the tunnel. Re-badged products wouldn't have done anyone any good.
Hopefully by bringing in some experienced techie guys who have a slightly different perspective than the Palm insiders do, they'll be able to kick-start Palm back into high gear. Or at least a higher gear. Cause dang, Palm sure been coasting in neutral for a while.
There was no word on whether or not each Palm product released henceforth would be pre-loaded with U2's entire library of music.