SourceCast: Episode 96: Talking Turkey

Since it is a holiday week and IT news was not-so-warm-and-fuzzy, I decided to take a break from AI and cloud and go deep on the procurement of…turkey. Those birds have to get to your dining room somehow and this week we learn exactly how that happens.

I am also pleased to say this week’s episode features a special guest.

Photo: Andrea Reiman

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Supplier Report: 11/17/2017

Oracle is trying to make it harder for Chinese firms to purchase U.S. companies by supporting bills that expands the power of the Committee on Foreign Investment.  Meanwhile the rumors of Amazon’s Chinese exit have been greatly exaggerated… the company had to sell off certain assets to comply with Chinese law.

Mashable is about to be purchased by Ziff Davis, leaving some to ponder the viability of digital media.

The viability of the Oath (formerly Yahoo and AOL) is in question with reports of over 500 employees being laid off (4% of their workforce).

Acquisitions

  • Mashable Agrees to Sell to Ziff Davis for Around $50 Million

    The price is approximately one-fifth of the company’s $250 million valuation based on its last investment round in March 2016.

    It is a troubling sign for the broader outlook for digital publishers, particularly those that have embraced the “pivot to video” strategy in an effort to lure more lucrative video ad sales.

    Bloomberg earlier reported that Mashable was close to an agreement to sell to Ziff Davis. Ziff Davis is a subsidiary of J2 Global Inc. and owns brands such as PCMag, IGN, Everyday Health and Offers.com.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/mashable-agrees-to-sell-to-ziff-davis-for-around-50-million-1510863283

Artificial Intelligence

  • Oracle’s Mark Hurd: When companies claim they’re in A.I., ‘most of the time it’s just nonsense’

    Most of the time, when companies claim they’re in the business of artificial intelligence, “it’s just nonsense,” Oracle CEO Mark Hurd said Tuesday.

    “Everybody in [Silicon] Valley’s saying they’re in AI,” Hurd told CNBC’s Jon Fortt during an NYSE Fireside Chat.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/14/oracles-mark-hurd-when-companies-claim-theyre-in-ai-most-of-the-time-its-just-nonsense.html

  • A mirror exposes AI’s inherent flaws in ‘Untrained Eyes’

    Kaino and Williams wanted to reveal how something as seemingly innocuous as a Google search can expose algorithmic bias. Kaino points out that searching for “man” on Google Images surfaces page after page of white men in business suits, looking confidently into the camera, while a search for “woman” brings up a grid of white women in various stages of undress. Untrained Eyes sheds a light on issues of representation, forcing the viewer to confront how a computer, and by extension, an unknown programmer, sees them.

    https://www.engadget.com/2017/11/09/untrained-eyes-engadget-experience/

Cloud

  • Amazon Web Services denies reports of China exit, confirms some asset sales

    No, AWS did not sell its business in China and remains fully committed to ensuring Chinese customers continue to receive AWS’s industry leading cloud services. Chinese law forbids non-Chinese companies from owning or operating certain technology for the provision of cloud services. As a result, in order to comply with Chinese law, AWS sold certain physical infrastructure assets to Sinnet, its longtime Chinese partner and AWS seller-of-record for its AWS China (Beijing) Region. AWS continues to own the intellectual property for AWS Services worldwide. ‎We’re excited about the significant business we have in China and its growth potential over the next number of years.

    https://www.geekwire.com/2017/reports-amazon-web-services-exiting-china-selling-local-partner-300m-deal/

  • Companies will waste over $10 billion in cloud spending in the next year

    “Cloud providers claim they are getting better at helping companies save some of their cloud spending. For example, AWS recently claimed it saved AWS users $500 million by alerting customers when they are overpaying,” says Kim Weins, VP of cloud cost strategy at RightScale. “Unfortunately, this is just a drop in the bucket. RightScale has seen that companies waste, on average, 35 percent of their cloud spend. This equates to $6.4 billion in annualized wasted cost for AWS alone. For the top three public cloud providers (Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform), this represents annualized waste of $10 billion.”

    RightScale points out some ways in which enterprises can control their cloud costs. Forty percent of instances are sized larger than is required for the workload and could be resized — and therefore made cheaper — without impacting performance of the application. Each oversized instance is wasting 50-75 percent, resulting in 11-16 percent of all cloud spend being wasted.

    https://betanews.com/2017/11/13/company-cloud-waste/

  • IBM makes 20 qubit quantum computing machine available as a cloud service

    IBM has been offering quantum computing as a cloud service since last year when it came out with a 5 qubit version of the advanced computers. Today, the company announced that it’s releasing 20-qubit quantum computers, quite a leap in just 18 months. A qubit is a single unit of quantum information.

    The company also announced that IBM researchers had successfully built a 50 qubit prototype, which is the next milestone for quantum computing, but it’s unclear when we will see this commercially available.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/10/ibm-passes-major-milestone-with-20-and-50-qubit-quantum-computers-as-a-service/?ncid=rss
    Satya Nadella’s book mentions the increase in qubits as an important milestone for AI.

Software/SaaS

  • No Wild West here – Workday’s CEO on customer satisfaction

    In my conversations with Workday customers over the last year, customers have showered the company with praise on the company’s efforts to ensure everything goes to plan. I don’t normally include those remarks in my reports because, for me, it is a check mark for the future rather than an item that contributes to an assessment of the project. But then check what Paul Wright of Accuride said to me recently:

    To answer your specific question I think the customers are ready, willing and able to adopt all the technology coming at them. The questions were solid from the audience around the complexities they have in their business, and there were people in the session from all kinds of verticals. The PMs weren’t stumped by anyone. I heard similar stories from my guys who were in sessions around HR, prism analytics, and PaaS. My team was very impressed by how they constructed the open platform, and can’t wait to play with it, we’ve already got some apps in mind.

    https://diginomica.com/2017/11/16/no-wild-west-workday-customer-satisfaction/

Security

  • Google study shows how your account is most likely to be hijacked

    The tech titan found 788,000 credentials that were stolen via keyloggers, 12 million stolen via phishing and 3.3 billion exposed by third-party breaches within a year of investigating black markets. A total of 12 percent of the exposed records it found used Gmail addresses as a username, and seven percent of those accounts reused the Gmail password for other services, making them more vulnerable than the others.

    Howevever, since Google incorporates safety measures to prevent strangers from logging into your account, the company also saw increasingly sophisticated tools capable of collecting data other than usernames and passwords. Among the phishing tools and keyloggers Google examined, 82 percent and 74 percent, respectively, have the capability collect IP addresses. It also found tools that can collect phone numbers, as well as devices’ make and model. Hijackers can then use those info to authenticate the identities of the accounts they’re stealing.

    https://www.engadget.com/2017/11/11/google-study-hijack/

Other

  • The Oath bloodbath continues: 560 people are being laid off

    More cuts are coming to Oath. The entity that houses Yahoo and AOL is in the process of laying off up to 560 people today following Yahoo’s June acquisition by Verizon. That represents slightly less than 4 percent of Oath’s global employee count of 14,000. Among those people were staffers at Yahoo Finance in the U.K., but the cuts apparently aren’t concentrated in a specific brand or geography.

    Verizon in June completed its $4.48 billion acquisition of Yahoo’s assets, which were combined with AOL brands including the HuffPost (formerly The Huffington Post) under a new subsidiary called Oath. Oath laid off 2,100 of its staff after the deal closed, or 15 percent of the workforce.

    https://digiday.com/media/oath-lays-off-560-verizon-acquisition/

  • Oracle Wants to Make It Tougher for Chinese Firms to Buy U.S. Companies

    The bills, which were introduced last week, would expand the power of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), allowing it to review smaller investments and add new national security factors, such as exposure of Americans’ Social Security numbers, for CFIUS to consider.

    CFIUS, an inter-agency panel, reviews proposed transactions for national security concerns. CFIUS can recommend that a transaction be prohibited, but only the president can issue an order to stop or suspend a deal.

    http://fortune.com/2017/11/15/oracle-chinese-firms-buy-u-s-companies/

  • Microsoft plans a 75 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030

    By pushing its carbon neutrality plans and renewable energy commitments, the target puts the company on track to meet the goals set in the Paris Climate Agreement, and of course puts a big tick in its corporate social responsibility box.

    75 percent over 15 years is not a hugely ambitious target, especially when you consider that Microsoft has had carbon reduction on its agenda since 2009, and that despite the environmental programs it has in place, it only manages a lackluster score of C- in Greenpeace’s guide to greener electronics (breaking down to a D+ for both energy and resources).

    https://www.engadget.com/2017/11/14/microsoft-sets-unambitious-but-achievable-carbon-reduction-goal/

  • Foxconn’s Profit Down 39% Amid iPhone Production Woes

    Taiwan-based Foxconn, known formally as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., posted 21 billion New Taiwan dollars (about $695.5 million) in net profit in the three months to September, its statement showed Tuesday. That was lower than the NT$35.6 billion average estimate of analysts polled by the S&P Global Market Intelligence. The 39% decline in profit from the same period a year earlier was Foxconn’s largest drop since 2008, during the global recession, according to data from S&P.

    Apple hasn’t disclosed sales numbers for the iPhone X. The phone made its debut with long lines at Apple stores around the world and shipping delays of five-to-six weeks, showing that the company hadn’t ramped up production enough to meet demand. The delay had shrunk to three to four weeks in the U.S. as of Tuesday afternoon.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/foxconns-profit-down-39-amid-iphone-production-woes-1510666619

Photo: Derek Thomson

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SourceCast: Episode 95: Youtube Edition

Google made friends with Cisco and SaleForce, who in turn made friends with AWS and Facebook. Can these partnerships truly add value when the players keep shrinking?

Photo: Sneaky Elbow

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News You Can Use: 11/15/2017

  • I Learned a Lot About Strong Company Culture From Jeff Bezos — But There’s 1 Strategy I Won’t Copy

    Amazon’s culture is fairly cutthroat and trust does not run high. Every year employees are stack ranked and those at the bottom of the list are cut. In theory, it’s important to keep the bar for performance high and this is one of the ways Amazon does that. But, this practice pits employees against each other. Instead of working as teammates they compete as rivals. Trust is essential in building a healthy company. You need every person on the team to be willing to shift priorities and pitch in on initiatives that fall well outside their defined job role in order to make the company successful. You need a culture where people have each other’s backs. If you get the right people on board and align them all around a single vision, this will happen naturally.

    https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/304037

  • Don’t Struggle Always to Be the ‘Smartest Person in the Room.’ Instead, Rely on a Mentor.

    Find several mentors who share your passions. When you reach out to mentors — and aim to have more than one — look for common ground according to your passion for similar challenges and objectives. Then, when you approach these individuals, emphasize these shared passions in a letter or speech to demonstrate the potential of a collaboration.

    Don’t just ask someone generically and blandly to be your mentor; you’ll risk coming across as a “social climber.” Mentors want to be aligned with those who share similar values and goals.

    https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/304265

  • John Oliver: Economic Development (NSFW)

    Once again, I beat Mr. Oliver to the punch (Obviously I love Last Week Tonight, and just feel vindicated that we cover the same topics (and that I am a little ahead of the trend every once and a while).
  • Facebook, WeWork and others use this startup to make swag

    “People think of swag as junk but it shouldn’t be,” Swag co-founder Jeremy Parker told TechCrunch. “It could be an amazing marketing tool if it’s built right.”

    Swag.com offers products like water bottles, umbrellas, shirts, jackets, USB drives, bags and other items from brands like Patagonia, Case Logic. Once you pick the product, you upload your designs, specify how many you want printed and then wait for Swag to send you the production mockup for approval.

    Standard production time takes about 15 days while priority production takes 10 days and costs a bit more. Production doesn’t start until the customer has approved the mockup. Since Swag works directly with the manufacturer and vendor, it doesn’t have to hold any inventory.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/06/facebook-wework-and-others-use-this-startup-to-make-swag/?ncid=rss
    I really do enjoy good company swag and there is so much bad swag that I end up tossing.

  • How Facebook Figures Out Everyone You’ve Ever Met

    Behind the Facebook profile you’ve built for yourself is another one, a shadow profile, built from the inboxes and smartphones of other Facebook users. Contact information you’ve never given the network gets associated with your account, making it easier for Facebook to more completely map your social connections.

    Facebook isn’t scanning the work email of the attorney above. But it likely has her work email address on file, even if she never gave it to Facebook herself. If anyone who has the lawyer’s address in their contacts has chosen to share it with Facebook, the company can link her to anyone else who has it, such as the defense counsel in one of her cases.

    https://gizmodo.com/how-facebook-figures-out-everyone-youve-ever-met-1819822691

Photo: Jase Ess

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SourceCast: Episode 95: Tech company partnerships are confusing

Google announced several partnerships over the last two weeks that seem to conflict with other relationships they, or the other suppliers, have with each other. This prompted me to look back at some of the strategic partnership announcements over the last few years to connect the dots and see how they worked out for all parties involved.

Photo: rawpixel.com

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