IBM is coming under fire by Jefferies and competitor OpenText over their AI success (or lack of it). Jefferies says IBM customers are suffering from complicated implementations and OpenText claims that their AI platform is better and cheaper.
Google is hoping to leverage AI technology to make the world a better place. And what better way to improve the world than to buy a small AI company in India (…that does have a social focus).
Meanwhile Verizon made the world a slightly worse place by announcing a security breach that could impact up to 14 million customers.
Google’s new AI acquisition aims to fix developing world problems
While Halli Labs is still in its infancy, the company’s founder — Pankaj Gupta — is a data scientist who has worked at Twitter as well as defunct Indian Airbnb competitor Stayzilla. Google buying AI firms is hardly shocking news, but the tech giant’s focus on expanding into developing markets is what separates this from other recent acquisitions. With Google previously introducing region-specific offline versions of apps and even installing Wi-Fi into Indian train stations, the tech behemoth has already shown its interest in making life easier for the country’s growing population of internet users.
End-to-end IT services company DXC Technology has acquired Tribridge, a software services and cloud solutions company, and Concerto Cloud Services, ribridge’s hybrid solutions and advisory services affiliate. Under the purchase agreement, effective on the date of acquisition, Tribridge has been renamed Tribridge, a DXC Technology Company. Concerto Cloud Services will go to market as DXC Concerto. Financial terms of the purchase were not disclosed. Tribridge is one of the largest independent integrators of Microsoft Dynamics 365.
Micro Focus’s executive chairman has dismissed a sharp drop in the technology company’s shares as investors nervously approached its huge takeover of Hewlett Packard’s software division.
The FTSE 100 group’s share price fell by 8.1pc despite its full-year results being in line with market expectations, with shareholders wavering ahead of the $8.8bn (£6.8bn) acquisition of HP Enterprise Software, an arm of the US tech giant.
The takeover, which is due to go through on September 1, will be one of Britain’s biggest ever technology deals, with the HP business accounting for more than half of the combined company’s revenues.
Microsoft to use AI to assist the blind, fix bias, and rescue the planet
In order to make sure that further developments are pursued in the proper fashion—accessible and inclusive to everyone—Microsoft also noted that it is working on an Ethical Design Guide for AI product development, based on CEO Satya Nadella’s 10 principles for AI development.
“As technology that uses AI gets smarter, we want to ensure that we take a responsible approach to our progress – and one that will ultimately provide the most benefit to our customers and to society as a whole,” Shum said at the event.
Jefferies gives IBM Watson a Wall Street reality check
Jefferies pulls from an audit of a partnership between IBM Watson and MD Anderson as a case study for IBM’s broader problems scaling Watson. MD Anderson cut its ties with IBM after wasting $60 million on a Watson project that was ultimately deemed, “not ready for human investigational or clinical use.”
The MD Anderson nightmare doesn’t stand on its own. I regularly hear from startup founders in the AI space that their own financial services and biotech clients have had similar experiences working with IBM.
The narrative isn’t the product of any single malfunction, but rather the result of overhyped marketing, deficiencies in operating with deep learning and GPUs and intensive data preparation demands.
Kisner compiles his own estimates for Watson and finds them “somewhat disappointing for investors,” with IBM in the best scenario “barely recouping its cost of capital.”
“From an EPS perspective, it seems unlikely to us under almost any scenario that Watson will generate meaningful earnings results over the next few years,” he writes. “In our Base case, Watson and associated “pull-through revenue” contributes 3% to Consensus EPS in 2019; in the Bull case, it’s still only 5%.”
OpenText launches Magellan, an AI platform aimed at IBM’s Watson
OpenText is using an open source approach with Magellan with integration with Apache Spark and MLlib, a machine learning library. “We are combining the strengths of OpenText and the open source community,” said Adam Howatson, chief marketing officer at OpenText.
Magellan’s approach will be to enable customers to leverage open source intellectual property and algorithms as well enabling companies to build their own models. Howatson added that OpenText’s Magellan platform will have a lower price point, be available as an appliance and be available on premises or via the cloud.
In a press conference following the announcement, Channelnomics asked Barrenechea how opportunities Magellan enables for resellers differs from those enabled by IBM Watson. The CEO responded by saying that while he’s doubtful of the idea of robots resulting in the loss of IT jobs, buying IBM technology may yield a different result.
“I do think you lose your job if you buy IBM, and it’s our mission to crush that theme,” Barrenechea said. “That old adage ‘If you buy IBM you won’t lose your job’, I think, is dead. They are locked into their little swim lanes, and opening up insights into all those transactional systems is going to be very hard for them. It’s certainly proving to be massively expensive.”
The CEO claimed that IBM Watson’s information lake is a “swamp of data”, adding that Magellan is different in its centric applications, focus on automation, AI and APIs and integration between transaction and AI system.
Workday finally pops for a PaaS – 10 questions it needs to answer
In an unusual move, Aneel Bhusri Workday CEO took to the company’s blog to announce an intention for Workday to offer a platform upon which partners can extend the core Workday applications.
If we take the example of Salesforce, that company has never had intentions of entering certain verticals or, for that matter, certain horizontals but by offering a platform (Force.com) upon which developers can knock themselves out, Salesforce has spawned a multi-billion dollar ecosystem from which it too benefits. The most immediate examples that spring to mind are Apttus in CPQ, FinancialForce in financials and Rootstock in manufacturing, all of which are built upon Salesforce’s PaaS.
The $67-billion deal closed last September, so the new partnership is still in its very early stages, but early indications are that the arrangement hasn’t yet fared well, said Will Mitchell, a professor of strategic management at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.
“It doesn’t mean that he can’t turn it around, but it better happen fast,” Mitchell said of Dell Founder, Chairman and CEO Michael Dell.
Dell’s losses have actually only grown since the EMC deal went through. The company lost $1.5 billion In the first quarter of fiscal 2018, which ended in May. In the same quarter the year prior, Dell lost $139 million.
HPE wants to grow again, announces new products and services to do it
Whitman said that, according to IDC, more than half of enterprises have, or are considering bringing workloads back on-prem from the public cloud, thanks to what she referred to as the cloud cliff.
“The cloud is absolutely the right choice for certain applications and use cases,” she said. But at some point, “they hit what we call the cloud cliff, where either for reasons of control, security, performance or cost, the platform they went with is no longer the best option.” That’s when moving to a hybrid environment makes sense.
While HPE has spun off its enterprise services into DXC, it still retains a robust technology services organization. Now branded Pointnext, HPE says it “helps customers harness the power of hybrid IT, real-time data and analytics, and mobile solutions to enhance customer experiences, create and deliver new digital product and services, and improve core operations at unprecedented speed and efficiency.”
Given the low level of blockchain maturity in general, as well as specific IBM blockchain projects (more on these in the succeeding sections) being in their initial stages, it is too early to assess revenue from specific solutions. However, given the traction that IBM’s cloud-as-a-service offering seems to be getting with over 400 client engagements, blockchain has the potential to become one of the fastest-growing sources of revenue starting in 2017, when many of the first IBM enterprise applications are scheduled to roll out.
Google has paid professors whose papers, for instance, declared that the collection of consumer data was a fair exchange for its free services; that the company didn’t use its market dominance to improperly steer users to Google’s commercial sites or its advertisers; and that it hasn’t unfairly quashed competitors. Several papers argued that Google’s search engine should be allowed to link to books and other intellectual property that authors and publishers say should be paid for—a group that includes News Corp, which owns the Journal. News Corp formally complained to European regulators about Google’s handling of news articles in search results.
Microsoft CIO Jim DuBois departs amid layoffs; Kurt DelBene named chief digital officer
DuBois was on sabbatical and decided to leave Microsoft as part of the reorganization of its global sales staff, which also includes thousands of job cuts. DuBois was named CIO in 2013, and he had been with Microsoft since 1993, where he worked in a variety of roles, mostly focused on information technology.
Kurt DelBene is stepping up to fill the void of DuBois’ departure under his new title of chief digital officer. DelBene currently focuses on corporate strategy, and his new role will also see him working closely with core engineering teams across the company as well as IT. DelBene will also oversee the company’s digital transformation efforts.
Microsoft’s Calibri font is at the center of a political scandal
Pakistan’s government is in trouble. And its fate may hinge on a Microsoft font. Judicial investigators probing the financial assets of the country’s Prime Minister and his family allege his daughter (and apparent successor) forged documents to hide her ownership of overseas properties. How did they reach that conclusion? The documents from 2006 submitted by Maryam Nawaz (daughter of PM Nawaz Sharif) were in the Calibri font. That font, according to the investigation team’s leaked report, wasn’t publicly available until 2007.
Accenture handed $26M in Centrelink payments system overhaul
Accenture Australia has been granted just over $26 million by the Government for the provision of systems integration services as part of the Department of Human Services’ landmark Centrelink payments system overhaul.
Accenture’s latest purchase order for the project, the contract terms of which run from 26 May to 28 February 2018, was awarded via the Department of Human Service’s ‘Systems integrators for the provision of services related to WPIT [Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation]’ procurement panel, according to tender documents.
Microsoft is looking to reduce their sales force by 3000 heads in order to streamline cloud sales. Several reports are stating that this is not a cost cutting move by Microsoft, but rather a refocus.
Some news outlets are questioning IBM’s understanding of potential problems widespread AI implementation could cause. IBM’s position of AI acting as job-enhancers instead of an instrument of elimination is coming under fire.
More stories of inappropriate behavior of Silicon Valley leadership are making the news. It this really a systematic cultural issue or perception caused by a handful of bad people?
Baidu acquires natural language startup Kitt.ai, maker of chatbot engine ChatFlow
China’s search giant Baidu has made another acquisition to continue its push into artificial intelligence, and specifically to help it carve out a place for itself as a platform for developers who want to create chatbots and other services based on natural language technology.
Baidu has acquired Kitt.ai, a profitable startup based out of Seattle that has developed a framework to build and power chatbots and voice-based applications across multiple platforms and devices (presumably named after this Kitt).
Rather than produce self-driving cars itself, Baidu is banking on the open-source platform to “export its technology capability and integrate resources” for a “win-win situation” as artificial intelligence is set to reshape the entire car manufacturing industry, said Lu Qi, chief operating officer of the Nasdaq-listed Baidu.
Cisco is relieved the FTC stepped in to protect it from its competitor
The problem is Broadcom makes a lot of chips for all sorts of networking products, and one of its big customers is Cisco. Right from the start, Broadcom said it would sell off Broadcom’s general networking equipment business. It didn’t want to give the impression that it was competing with its customers. It wanted Brocade for its storage business.
But Cisco wasn’t exactly comfortable with that idea and the FTC agreed. Broadcom proposed one more restriction: it said it would also “firewall off” the chip-making unit working with Cisco products from Brocade. It agreed that any information about the chips it manufacturers for Cisco cannot somehow find their way into the hands of the Brocade unit, to be used to compete against Cisco.
A critical weapon in this war is natural language processing, a form of artificial intelligence. NLP enables machines to accurately understand the human voice, make sense of personal requests, and form credible answers. Amazon leads with Alexa, Google is a close second with Google Home, and Microsoft’s entry is Cortana. Apple’s perpetually annoying and undependable Siri has fallen behind.
“The crux of its argument is that IBM knows more about AI and about economics than the ‘fearful prophets’ and that any mention of risks is a dangerous, Luddite fallacy,” said Russell.
On the economics of employment risks, Russell pointed to several “fearful prophets,” including Nobel laureates Robert Shiller, Mike Spence, and Paul Krugman; Klaus Schwab, head of the World Economic Forum; and Larry Summers, former Chief Economist of the World Bank and Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton. “I don’t think one can dismiss their arguments with ad hominem insults,” said Russell. As these thinkers have taken great pains to point out, the pending automation revolution is poised to eliminate countless jobs and displace workers.
“We have the sci-fi depictions of sentient networks that will turn against us, but the problem is, we’ve already built something way too complex for us to be able to manage as a society,” according to Wendy Nather, principal security strategist at Duo Security. “This is a very shaky foundation that we have to clean out and redo.”
Salesforce ‘Einstein’ AI can tell when people are angry in texts and emails
The Einstein Intent tool allows programmers to understand the intent of customer inquiries, which could make it easier to automatically route leads, escalate service cases or personalize a marketing campaign through a custom app. This could be particularly useful for prioritizing customer service inquiries.
Traditional keyword-based tools have trouble with complex wording or sarcasm, but this tool is designed to deal with these.
Microsoft reorganizing its sales organization around cloud strategy
Bloomberg reported Friday that Microsoft will cut some jobs and move others around in a reorganization directly impacting two separate divisions of the company. The Worldwide Commercial Business group, led by Judson Althoff, and the global sales and marketing group, led by Jean-Philippe Courtois, will be affected by moves that Bloomberg called “some of the most significant in the sales force in years.”
The exact number of layoffs is unclear, though they will hit staff in offices around the world, this person said. Microsoft more than 121,000 employees at the end of March, the last time the company disclosed its head count.
The job cuts amount to less that 10 percent of the company’s total sales force, and about 75 percent of them will be outside the U.S., the company said.
“Microsoft is implementing changes to better serve our customers and partners,” a Microsoft spokesperson told CNBC. “Today, we are taking steps to notify some employees that their jobs are under consideration or that their positions will be eliminated. Like all companies, we evaluate our business on a regular basis. This can result in increased investment in some places and, from time-to-time, re-deployment in others.”
This chart shows how painful the shift to cloud computing is for IBM and Oracle
The two technology vendors are set to lose out considerably in IT budgets over the next three years as the result of the shift to cloud, according to the June AlphaWise/Morgan Stanley CIO report. CIOs expect that 46% of their workloads will be in the cloud by the end of 2020, while only 34% will be on-premise.
Between now and then, the 100 US and European CIOs surveyed expect to decrease spending on IBM by 13%, and to decrease spending on Oracle by 11%.
Europe Is Becoming a Bigger Problem for Silicon Valley
Just Friday, Germany approved new legislation imposing €50 million fines on social-media companies that fail to quickly remove hate speech and terrorist content—over strident opposition from Facebook Inc. and other tech companies, which advocate self-regulation to tackle those problems. That step followed the €2.42 billion ($2.76 billion) fine that the European Union’s executive arm levied this week against Alphabet Inc.’s Google for abusing its dominance as a search engine.
One factor in the policing has been tech firms’ disruption of traditional industrial giants in Europe. In response, many legacy players have lobbied for new rules and tougher enforcement against the interlopers—and found open ears. European telecom firms, angry about seeing their revenue from text messages undercut by chat apps, were among the first to advocate new legislation to mandate a “level playing field.”
Amazon Plans to Join Red Hat and GE in Boston’s Hottest Tech Hub
Seattle-based Amazon, a giant in retail and cloud computing, will take 150,000 square feet former warehouse right by the Fort Point Channel, which separates Boston from South Boston, according to the report.
This week, Red Hat (RHAT) officially launched a new engineering lab and briefing center in South Boston. And part of the reason Progress Software bought Kinvey, an application development specialist, is to use that company as a downtown Boston center. Progress, itself, is based in the Boston suburbs.
Dave McClure resigns as general partner of 500 Startups funds
Dave McClure has resigned as a general partner of all funds and entities managed by 500 Startups, the seed investment group he founded in 2010, Axios has learned. The move comes after several women accused McClure of inappropriate behavior.
I made advances towards multiple women in work-related situations, where it was clearly inappropriate. I put people in compromising and inappropriate situations, and I selfishly took advantage of those situations where I should have known better. My behavior was inexcusable and wrong.
Samsung Reduces Its Global Workforce Due To Restructuring
Samsung, one of the largest electronics company in the world, was forced to reduce its global workforce due to the restructuring of its business operations in China, based on company data. The data shows that the electronics giant has reduced the number of its employees in 2016 by 5.2 percent, from 325,677 down to 308,745. In its South Korean home base, Samsung has cut down its workforce by 3.8 percent and is now down to 93,204 while it slashed the number of its employees abroad by 5.8 percent and is now currently 215,541. It was in China where the largest workforce reduction was implemented in 2016 where the labor force was slashed down by 17.5 percent and is now down to just 37, 070. However, the North and South American workforce experienced an increase in employee numbers by 8.5 percent, and now count 25,988 employees.
There is another ransomware threat that has been unleashed upon unsuspecting corporations. “Petya” is even more focused on locking down corporate infrastructure than predecessor “WannaCry”.
IBM is recovering nicely from their WhatsApp loss a few weeks back. They are finally scoring some blockchain wins on Wall Street, they are working on an AI super computer with the Air Force, and they landed (pun intended) a cloud contract with American Airlines.
The EU is hitting Google with a $2.7B fine over anti-trust concerns at the same time the company announced they aren’t scanning your email for personalized ad targeting anymore. Google also announced they are removing medical records from search results because… that was a thing apparently?
SoftBank’s $100 billion vision fund eyes quantum computing
SoftBank Group Corp.’s $100 billion Vision Fund is scouting for possible investments in quantum computing, an experimental science being researched by companies such as Google and IBM to succeed current computer processor technology. Shu Nyatta, who helps invest money for the fund, said the group wanted to find and back the company whose quantum computing hardware or software that runs atop it would become the “de facto industry standard.” “We are happy to invest enough to create that standard around which the whole industry can coalesce,” Nyatta said, speaking during a panel discussion at a conference on quantum computing in Munich Thursday.
Sprint Enters Into Exclusive Talks With Charter, Comcast On Wireless
One arrangement that has been considered is for Charter and Comcast to invest in improving Sprint’s network in exchange for favorable terms to offer wireless service using the carrier’s network, the people said. Such a deal could involve the companies taking an equity stake in Sprint, some of the people said. The cable companies already have such a network-resale agreement with Verizon Communications Inc., but the Sprint deal could provide much better terms.
Apple has acquired SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI), an eye-tracking firm, MacRumors reports.
The German company, which was founded in 1991, has done significant work in eye-tracking research with proprietary eyeglass hardware while also working on consumer-focused applications like eye-tracking for virtual reality. Last year, the company announced it had created an eye-tracking development kit for the HTC Vive VR headset.
Microsoft To Acquire Cloud Cost Optimization Vendor Cloudyn
Microsoft said the acquisition fits with its commitment to provide customers with the tools they need to govern their cloud adoption and realize the strategic benefits of a global, intelligent cloud system.
In April Calcalist, an Israeli business web site, said Microsoft and Cloudyn were discussing an acquisition for between $50 million and $70 million.
The Air Force and IBM are building an AI supercomputer
IBM and the USAF announced on Friday that the machine will run on an array of 64 TrueNorth Neurosynaptic chips. The TrueNorth chips are wired together like, and operate in a similar fashion to, the synapses within a biological brain. Each core is part of a distributed network and operate in parallel with one another on an event-driven basis. That is, these chips don’t require a clock, as conventional CPUs do, to function.
The cloud can be configured to use GPU accelerators for machine learning algorithms. GPU is a form of accelerated computing that allows graphic processors to supplement traditional processors on complex calculations – such as those involved in machine learning and algorithm training. GPUs break the previous barriers that limited parallel processing of AI applications.
IBM, Cornell University To Use Artificial Intelligence To Make Dairy Safe
By sequencing and analyzing the DNA and RNA (genetic code) of food microbiomes, researchers plan to create new tools that can help monitor raw milk to detect anomalies that represent food safety hazards and possible fraud.
While many food producers already have rigorous processes in place to ensure food safety hazards are managed appropriately, this pioneering application of genomics will be designed to enable a deeper understanding and characterization of microorganisms on a much larger scale than has previously been possible.
Much of the conversation about machine learning taking jobs focuses on the future, but Microsoft boasted its cloud service has already managed to claim one human’s position. The Custom Decision Service, which the company introduced at its Build conference last month, took over at one of Microsoft’s customers, according to Jennifer Chayes, a distinguished scientist at the company’s research arm.
“One of the startups, they were really pressed for funds, got rid of their one data scientist because this worked so much better than their data scientist,” she said during an on stage interview at a Bloomberg event in San Francisco today.
Oracle CEO Mark Hurd: ‘We’re different than Amazon’
“We’re different than Amazon. Amazon offers infrastructure, and they started in infrastructure. We’re a differentiated intellectual property company. We make applications. We make platforms, databases, Java, business intelligence, analytics, machine-to-machine capability embedded in those applications,” he said.
“I would guess a quarter of the world’s infrastructure has a piece of Oracle IP running on top,” said Hurd.
American Airlines taps IBM once again for ‘massive’ cloud shift
The airline industry has struggled to modernize its infrastructure, and as a result has suffered a number of recent computer failures. By moving to the cloud, AA hopes to avoid similar problems while also improving the customer experience, business processes and communications.
Once the airline is migrated off its legacy infrastructure, it can rely on IBM as its services provider to ensure applications stay running. With more bandwidth, and dedicated infrastructure staff, AA will hopefully not have to deal with large-scale and damaging outages.
“A key near-term debate among investors is whether the anticipated release of a new mainframe can help IBM achieve a back-end-loaded second half.”
Mainframes are just 3% of total revenue, and 2% of profit, he notes, annually, but the whole “platform” of a mainframe, including storage, software, support contracts, and services that go with it, were nearly a quarter of IBM’s revenue last year, and 40% of profits.
If mainframe sales “decline steadily” in coming years,” it could hurt profit: “if mainframe is ~40% of company profits, and mainframe hardware falls in half over the next 15 years (about a 4% decline per year), this would negatively impacting IBM’s installed base of mainframes by about 25%, and impact mainframe profits by potentially 30%.”
‘Petya’ Ransomware Hits At Least 65 Countries; Microsoft Traces It To Tax Software
Like WannaCry, the Petya ransomware demands a $300 bitcoin payment to retrieve encrypted files and hard drives. As of Wednesday morning Eastern time, the account had received around $10,000. But in a move that has caused some controversy, German email company Posteo blocked the email address the Petya hackers were using to confirm ransom payments. While some cybersecurity experts have praised the approach, others note that users whose files are held hostage have now lost their sole point of contact.
WannaCry was largely undone by the discovery of a “kill switch” that could shut it down. No such kill switch has been found so far with Petya, and experts are still working to find a way to stop it.
IBM landed a big win in the race to sell blockchain to Wall Street
IBM has been selected to build a new blockchain-based international trading system for a consortium of global banks, a major win for the tech giant in the race to sell blockchain to Wall Street.
The contract is a significant win for IBM as it means the tech company’s blockchain platform — dubbed Hyperledger Fabric — will be used to build the system. That likely means lucrative servicing contracts for IBM and may make banking execs more likely to commission more Hyperledger-based products and services once they’re familiar with the system.
Wait… doesn’t IBM have a strategic partnership with Box to do the same exact thing? Box must be doing something right to have all these companies doing their sales work for them.
Other (aka the Google section)
Google Slapped With $2.7 Billion EU Fine Over Search Results
Antitrust experts and tech executives say that question arises in areas where tech giants have introduced major innovations—like Google’s search engine—that become gateways to the internet. EU regulators worry that tech firms, by inserting themselves into such a key role of funneling and directing consumer traffic, could take unfair advantage.
Yelp, Oracle and News Corp have signed a letter supporting EU action against Google
Seven U.S. companies and industry groups have signed a letter in support of the European Union fining Google more than $1 billion for allegedly favoring its own shopping service over others in search results.
Google begins removing private medical records from search results
The leaking of private medical records can be extremely damaging to the victims, both financially and emotionally, with future prospects affected and private lives of the vulnerable exposed. Given that Google’s indexing system will capture anything that’s publicly accessible on the internet, leaks such as those created by an Indian pathology lab which uploaded more than 43,000 patient records in December, including names and HIV blood test results, can be particularly damaging.
Google now has all the data it needs, will stop scanning Gmail inboxes for ad personalization
Google won’t stop showing ads in Gmail, though, and it’s worth noting that given how much the company already knows about all of its users, it just might not need these additional signals from Gmail. And maybe they even turned out to be relatively useless or even detrimental for ad performance.
Toshiba misses self-imposed deadline for chip unit sale, sues Western Digital
On one hand, Tsunakawa lambasted the Western Digital at the shareholders meeting, saying it had been interfering in the sale. But the head of Toshiba’s chip unit also said the Japanese company was prepared to make concessions and hoped to resolve the dispute as soon as possible.
Toshiba argues that Western Digital’s bid for the memory unit presents anti-trust issues and is too low in price.
Western Digital has said it offer meets the 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) minimum demanded by Toshiba – a figure that appears to match the amount offered by the preferred bidder.
It feels like Amazon is taking over the world – they are buying Whole Foods, they are Gartner’s #1 IaaS provider, they are building a new cloud region in Hong Kong, and they managed to get Wal-mart so mad that the ol’ mart is banning suppliers from doing business with AWS.
I guess it’s good to be the king?
Red Hat is thinking about the future as they grow their services business while Oracle beat market expectations and had quite the stock rally.
Amazon to Buy Whole Foods for $13.7 Billion
Amazon.com Inc. said on Friday it would buy Whole Foods Market Inc. for $13.7 billion, including debt, instantly transforming the online giant into a major player in the bricks-and-mortar retail sector it has spent years upending.
The acquisition, Amazon’s largest by far, gives it a network of more than 460 stores that could serve as beachheads for in-store pickup and its distribution network. It would make Amazon an overnight heavyweight in the all-important grocery business, a major spending segment in which it has struggled to gain a foothold because consumers still largely prefer to shop for food in stores.
Tokyo Takes Lead in Toshiba Chip-Unit Sale Over China Fears
The Japanese government-led group wasn’t the highest bidder, according to people briefed on the bids. Taiwan-based iPhone assembler Foxconn Technology Group, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. , was ready to offer more, but Japanese government officials said its large China operations raised the risk that technology would leak.
Toshiba said the Japanese government-led plan is the “best proposal, not only in terms of valuation, but also in respect to certainty of closing, retention of employees, and maintenance of sensitive technology within Japan.”
SAP Ariba and IBM – Global Strategic Alliance to Deliver Cognitive Procurement Solutions
Inside Microsoft’s AI Comeback
Indeed, Microsoft first rolled out its developer tools for bots in the spring of 2016, as did other large tech companies like Facebook. They were billed as a replacement for apps, and many stakeholders really wanted that to be the case. By last spring, most people used the same small group of apps on their smartphones; the promise of bots was that developers and brands could reach new users again, much like they could in the early days of mobile via the app store. But users didn’t play along. And the deep learning that enabled bots to perform the equivalent of magic was improving faster than a paradigm for how to use them could evolved. “Bots are like apps before the file menu existed,” says Cheng. She explains there isn’t a common set of commands, so users are confused about where to find them and how they work. “Web pages, for example, all have back buttons and they do searches. Conversational apps need those same primitives. You need to be like, ‘Okay, what are the five things that I can always do predictably?’” These understood rules are just starting to be determined.
Wal-Mart is telling some technology companies that if they want its business, they can’t run applications for the retailer on Amazon.com Inc.’s leading cloud-computing service, Amazon Web Services, several tech companies say.
Amazon’s rise as the dominant player in renting on-demand, web-based computing power and storage has put some competitors, such as Netflix Inc., in the unlikely position of relying on a corporate rival as they move to the cloud.
As Amazon, Microsoft and Google Keep Taking Cloud Share, Rivals Are Learning to Specialize
But whereas Google was alone in the Challengers quadrant last year — everyone besides the big-3 was labeled a Niche Player — Alibaba Group (BABA) , IBM Corp. (IBM) and Oracle Corp. (ORCL) managed to break into the quadrant this year. Some of this may be due to a more lenient attitude towards ranking smaller players on Gartner’s part. But it also might say a thing or two about how each company has learned how to stand out.
IBM’s ranking appears to have gotten a boost from its efforts to create a next-gen cloud infrastructure for enterprises that relies on proprietary IBM hardware and management software. Gartner also took note of IBM’s ability to use its global footprint to set up cloud data centers in 16 countries, and the potential to use its developer ecosystem to drive adoption of infrastructure services built on top of its Bluemix platform, which initially focused just on cloud app platform (PaaS) services for developers.
Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd says you need these three things to transition to the cloud
“We historically used to write big contracts,” Hurd gave as an example. “Now we’re going to do a contract with a company that’s a startup. We’re going to go contract with Lyft for financials, but Lyft doesn’t have a procurement department. They don’t have even an IT department, per se. We can’t show up with a bunch of lawyers and a big, thick document. So we changed our process to go to ‘click to accept.’”
“That single decision, around here, is like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding,’” he added. “It’s just the way we’ve been trained, it’s what’s in our DNA.”
Taiwan’s Foxconn Eyes Seven States for $10 Billion Investment
In his remarks, Mr. Gou said Foxconn is considering roughly five states for potential investments, but a company executive later clarified that to say that seven states are candidates: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. Foxconn will work together with SharpCorp. , the Japanese electronics maker acquired by Foxconn last year, on the U.S. plants, he said.
Today, Microsoft countered Check Point’s initial analysis that 250 million computers and 20 percent of corporate networks were infected with Fireball.
“While the threat is real, the reported magnitude of its reach might have been overblown,” said Hamish O’Dea of the Windows Defender research team. Check Point said today that it has been working with Microsoft since being notified of the new analysis.
“We tried to reassess the number of infections, and from recent data we know for sure that numbers are at least 40 million, but could be much more,” said Maya Horowitz, Group Manager, Check Point Threat Intelligence.
Oracle leaps to record as cloud transition hits turning point
Oracle Corp. was late to the cloud revolution, allowing upstarts like Salesforce.com Inc. to find significant market share with software delivered over the internet, and has suffered while making an acquisition-fueled push into the space.
The Band-Aid appears to have come off Oracle’s wound, however, and the company seems assured that its healed finances will be better than ever. Investors showed belief after Oracle’s fiscal fourth-quarter earnings report Wednesday evening, sending shares that had never cracked $47 in regular trading, adjusted for splits, to more than $51 in after-hours action. If that move holds, Oracle would be worth more than $200 billion.
Former EMC Chief Joe Tucci Is Joining This VC Firm
Joe Tucci, who left his long-time gig as chairman and CEO of EMC after selling the company to Dell, is now special adviser to 83North, an investment firm focusing on European and Israeli startups.
83North, formerly known as Greylock IL, has offices in London, New York, and Tel Aviv. It has backed startups including Hybris, the German e-commerce company bought by SAP in 2013, and Israeli storage startup ScaleIO, which EMC acquired the same year.
Meg Whitman Cedes One of Her HPE Titles To This Exec
Hewlett-Packard Enterprise has promoted a 22-year veteran of the company to president. The move comes as HPE continues to sort out its businesses after a series of acquisitions, divestitures, and layoffs.
The new president, Antonio Neri, was most recently executive vice president and general manager of HPE’s Enterprise group, which sells data center servers, storage, networking to corporate customers.
Red Hat’s comeback rolls on, thanks to a surging application development business
The Raleigh, North Carolina-based company actually quickened growth in sales of subscriptions for application development tools from the pace it set in its fiscal first quarter. Application development-related and other emerging technology subscription revenues were $139 million, up 41 percent year-over-year and slightly above the previous quarter’s 40 percent growth pace. Subscription revenue for Red Hat’s core infrastructure business rose 14 percent, to $458 million, an impressive gain on top of an already large base.
Chief Executive Jim Whitehurst said Red Hat is shifting its business from being a low-cost provider of open-source alternative software to a strategic platform for cloud migration. “We’ve moved from having a seat the table with the purchasing department to having a seat at the table with the CIO,” he said. Sales of core infrastructure platforms like Red Hat Enterprise Linux and OpenStack, he added, “provides a tailwind for our other offerings.”
Flush with cash, SoftBank is starting to execute on their 300 year plan. Softbank took Boston Dynamics off of Google’s hands… if you are going to have a multi-century strategy, it makes sense to buy a robotics company.
Dell’s financials are down $1.5b as they pay off the massive debt incurred to buy EMC. Slack is taking in $500M of funding as AWS and Microsoft contemplate buying the company. Verizon has finally closed their acquisition of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer is officially gone.
SoftBank to Buy Two Pioneers in Advanced Robots From Google Parent
SoftBank Group Corp. said it would buy Boston Dynamics from Alphabet Inc. The company builds robots that can perform feats such as pirouetting and climbing stairs, highlighting the Japanese company’s long-term investment horizon.
Price and other terms weren’t disclosed.
The deal comes more than a year after the Google parent dissolved its robotics group and started seeking buyers for Boston Dynamics, the unit at the centerpiece of the program. People close to Alphabet have said the company decided to sell Boston Dynamics when it resisted developing a commercial product within the next several years.
The deal also includes Schaft, a Japanese robotics maker that achieved fame by winning a challenge held by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in 2013 for robots to perform rescue tasks.
PokitDok Acquires Pharmacy and Software Assets of Oration PBC
PokitDok, an API platform to free, secure, and unify data has acquired the pharmacy and software assets of Oration PBC. The acquisition enables PokitDok to complete support for delivery of essential commercial pharmacy benefit data, via its APIs, so organizations, providers and consumers have tools to make better healthcare and treatment decisions. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
As cars get smarter, we’re going to have to deal with all of the information our daily drives create in a way we’ve never had to bother with before. Thankfully, IBM is offering to be the middleman that represents our vehicles in the confusing new world of automotive cloud telematics. The company has signed a deal with BMW that will see the BMW CarData platform connect to IBM’s Bluemix cloud. The idea is that IBM will host and analyze your information and then pass it to third parties — with your consent — when required.
IBM and HPE’s Server Businesses Aren’t Just Pressured By the Cloud Anymore
It also wasn’t too surprising that sales of servers designed by cloud giants and supplied by ODMs grew strongly following a Q4 lull, as the likes of Amazon and Facebook continued spending heavily on capex. IDC estimated sales of such servers, which it refers to as ODM Direct, grew 41.8% to $1.2 billion (10.4% of industry revenue). It added one unnamed cloud firm single-handedly accounted for over 10% of the 2.21 million servers shipped during the quarter.
What was, surprising, though is that both firms reported Dell, the world’s second-biggest server vendor, saw meaningful sales growth in spite of the headwinds faced by peers. IDC estimated Dell’s server sales grew 4.7% to $2.37 billion, leading its market share to rise to 20.1% from 18.3% a year ago. By contrast, the firm had estimated Dell’s server sales were roughly flat in Q4. Gartner gave Dell a 19% Q1 share, up from 17.3%.
Dell slumps to $1.5bn operating loss in first quarter in new structure
For its first quarter ending 5 May 2017, the Texas-based giant posted an operating loss of $1.5bn on revenues of $17.8bn. Dell is a private company, but still divulges its numbers, partly because it now owns VMware courtesy of its recent merger with EMC.
Dell’s Client Solutions Group saw revenue rise six per cent year on year to $9.1bn and operating income hit $374m.
Larry Ellison’s Biggest Battle: Amazon, Microsoft And SAP Grabbing Oracle Database Customers
Microsoft recently surpassed Oracle—for the first time ever—as the world’s best on-premise Operational Database System as ranked by Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for both execution and vision, according to Microsoft EVP Scott Guthrie, speaking at an investor conference late last year. So if Microsoft can match or surpass Oracle’s database quality and performance on-premise with SQL 2016, that’s a huge reassurance for customers looking to expand as well into the cloud.
Looks like HPE is getting in on the Blockchain game…
Slack is reportedly raising another $500 million — and Amazon, Google, and Microsoft might try to buy it
Swisher also reports that the massive fundraising round from Slack, which currently has about $1 billion in revenue, has attracted interest in a potential acquisition from Amazon, Google, Salesforce, and Microsoft, though no formal offers have been made. Bloomberg originally reported Amazon’s interest in a Slack acquisition, with a potential bid of $9 billion or more.
IBM’s Harriet Green named top 100 creative people for work with Watson
“I don’t much believe in artificial intelligence,” says Harriet Green, who is one of the executives helping to run IBM’s AI platform. “I believe in augmented intelligence. With Watson, we can augment capabilities that clients already have.”
“We have reached a tipping point with IoT innovation,” Green said.
“IBM Watson IoT has more than 6,000 clients and partners around the world, many who are eager to “co-innovate,” she added. IBM is investing $3 billion to prepare Watson for IoT.
This past February, Green helped IBM open its $200 million global headquarters in Munich, Germany. The center houses the Watson Internet of Things business. It is designed to drive collaboration and innovation with dozens of clients and partners in what IBM executives call “first-ever cognitive collaboratories.”
Uber just pissed off dozens of longtime employees; now they’re gunning for management
Earlier this week, at a staff meeting in San Francisco, Uber executives revealed to the company’s 12,000 employees that 20 of their colleagues had been fired and that 57 are still being probed over harassment, discrimination and inappropriate behavior, following a string of accusations that Uber had created a toxic workplace and allowed complaints to go unaddressed for years.
Yesterday, Uber fired senior executive Eric Alexander after it was leaked to Recode that Alexander had obtained the medical records of an Uber passenger in India who was raped in 2014 by her driver.
Recode also reported that Alexander had shared the woman’s file with Kalanick and his senior vice president, Emil Michael, and that the three men suspected the woman of working with Uber’s regional competitor in India, Ola, to hamper its chances of success there.
Verizon Seals $4.5 Billion Yahoo Purchase as Mayer Heads Out
The companies officially closed the $4.5 billion agreement Tuesday, following Yahoo shareholder approval last week. Yahoo properties including Sports and Finance will become part of a new Verizon unit called Oath, which is home to brands like AOL, TechCrunch and the Huffington Post. Oath will be overseen by former AOL Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong, while Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, 42, is stepping down.
Distribution will also be a factor: Soon, some of Oath’s content brands will be automatically available on the “decktop” of Verizon subscribers’ phones through its AppFlash app, for example. Verizon’s go90 mobile video app, will also become more integrated with Oath’s content properties. And entirely new mobile content brands are set to launch before the end of the year, created by Oath’s internal Factory unit.