Napster won't rule out a sale

In a letter to shareholders, the struggling music service notes it is still employing an investment banks and is exploring "strategic alternatives" to staying public.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy

Beleaguered online-music pioneer Napster announced to shareholders in a letter Friday that it's still employing investment bank UBS and may be positioning itself for "strategic alternatives" to keeping the company public--i.e. a sale.

The letter was sent on behalf of Napster's board in order to urge shareholders to not vote for three activist candidates for the board. "The press release recently filed by the dissident group appears to imply that your board is not willing to consider a sale of the company," the letter read. "This is not true."

The board additionally recommended that in place of the dissident candidates, shareholders re-elect existing board members Richard Royko, Philip Holthouse, and Robert Rodin.

Napster was the original name in digital music, and a notorious one at that. The free peer-to-peer service was silenced after a high-profile court battle. Its attempts to resurface as a legitimate subscription-based music service just haven't gotten it back on top, and the addition of 6 million DRM-free MP3s would've been more impressive, if Amazon MP3 weren't doing the same.

Napster's letter to shareholders insisted that the proposed new board members would lead the company in a wrong direction. "The dissident group's nominees have no relevant experience in the digital-music industry, have no public-company board experience, and the dissident group has not put forth any substantive plan for how their nominees will enhance value for our stockholders, if elected to the board," the letter read.