Sirius XM Is Headless for Halloween


Mel Karmazin is moving on. Sirius XM Radio's (NAS: SIRI) iconic CEO will leave the satellite-radio provider come February.

This may not come as much of a surprise to those who watched Karmazin and Liberty Media (NAS: LMCA) CEO Greg Maffei spar verbally last month, but it's a significant development nonetheless.

Karmazin was the master architect of the merger between Sirius and XM that created a monopoly in satellite radio. He's been a beast in milking synergies and squeezing costs, transforming Sirius XM into a consistently profitable juggernaut. Sirius XM's stock did decline during Karmazin's overall tenure, but it's still been one of the market's biggest winners since bottoming out three years ago.

A few years ago, skeptics argued that satellite radio was a transitory technology. The success of Pandora (NYS: P) and Spotify would crush Sirius XM as smartphone adoption rates grow, giving drivers more options beyond terrestrial and satellite radio. Well, Internet radio continues to grow in popularity, yet Sirius XM keeps hitting new subscriber milestones.

"Who will be Sirius XM's CEO come 2013?" That was the first of four questions I asked last week. Karmazin will be missed, but he is certainly leaving whoever steps up in a great position to succeed. At least now Sirius XM can go ahead and succumb to Liberty Media's move to take majority control of the company and spend the next few months picking out Sirius XM's new chieftain.

Running of the bulls
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