Netflix readily accepts Icahn's business advice

With billionaire activist-investor Carl Icahn now owning a 10 percent stake in the streaming-video company, Netflix is ready to listen to what he has to say.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
Carl Icahn

After Carl Icahn snapped up a 10 percent stake in Netflix, which caused a 15 percent jump in the company's stock shares yesterday, the streaming-video company announced that it's ready to listen to Icahn's business advice.

"We have many shareholders, now including Mr. Icahn, and we're always open to their perspective on how to build on our success," a Netflix representative told CNET in an e-mailed statement.

Icahn's history as an investor is full of high-profile proxy fights and tussles with management. In recent years, he has fashioned himself as an investor activist. Yesterday, he pulled a surprise move, which was disclosed in an SEC filing, and bought 5.54 million shares of stock in the company, plus call options, for $168.9 million.

In remarks filed with the announcement, Icahn suggested that Netflix is undervalued. But rumors have abounded that Icahn may be pushing for Microsoft to acquire the streaming-video company. In a line from the SEC filing, Icahn said he believes "Netflix may hold significant strategic value...for larger companies."

Netflix may be playing polite with Icahn to avoid any tangles like what happened to Yahoo in 2008. At the time, Icahn owned about 5 percent of Yahoo stock and strongly urged a Microsoft deal. In the process he worked to oust Yahoo's board of directors and replace them with his own slate. Eventually Yahoo settled with Icahn, giving him and two others seats on Yahoo's board. However, he left Yahoo's board in 2009, selling off massive quantities of stock.