Category Archives: Supplier Report

Supplier Report: 1/12/2018

The tech industry is still dealing with the fallout of the Spectre and Meltdown bugs as companies scramble to patch the vulnerability.

A consequence of such hasty actions is that the patches are 1.) introducing new bugs, 2.) breaking some AMD-powered computers, and 3.) most computers that are patched will see permanent performance impact.

There is a rumor that IBM is looking to reduce global services headcount by another 10,000 employees as news of a new CFO is announced.

To complete this wonderful news cycle, it seems that Boston might be the front-runner to host Amazon’s HQ2.

Acquisitions

  • Verizon acquires autonomous threat detection startup Niddel

    Niddel’s primary product, Niddel Magnet is a subscription service that uses machine learning to locate infected or compromised machines inside an organization. It works completely autonomously and doesn’t require customers to generate their own code, rules, searches or even any kind of content.

    “Using machine learning to improve information accuracy significantly reduces false positives and significantly improves our detection and response capabilities,” Alexander Schlager, Verizon’s executive director for security services explained in a statement. Those capabilities were one of the primary reasons the company made the acquisition.

    https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/05/verizon-acquires-autonomous-threat-detection-startup-niddel/?ncid=rss

  • Google acquired Redux, a U.K. startup focused on audio and haptics

    Alphabet, the umbrella corporation of Google, Inc. etc., has quietly acquired a UK-based startup called Redux, reports Bloomberg.

    Redux was founded in 2013 out of Cambridge, and built technology that uses vibrations to turn surfaces of phones or tablets into speakers or provide haptic feedback.

    The acquisition is reflected on Crunchbase, and in confirmed transfer of shares within U.K. regulatory filings. Google has made no mention of the acquisition as of yet.

    https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/11/google-acquired-redux-a-u-k-startup-focused-on-audio-and-haptics/?ncid=rss

  • Accenture: Large-scale agency M&A is ‘not our game’ as we have ‘amazing momentum’

    However, Pierre Nanterme, the chairman and chief executive of Accenture, gave a strong signal on his most recent quarterly earnings call that he is not interested in large-scale M&A.

    “This is not our game at Accenture,” he said in response to a question from a Wall Street analyst about whether Accenture Interactive might make “larger deals, rather than tuck-ins”.

    Nanterme explained: “Our game is to drive organic growth on top of acquisitions of very specific companies with very specific and differentiated capabilities.

    “And then what Accenture is offering to these companies we’re acquiring is our unique access to the best brands in the world and our unique geographic footprint.”

    https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/accenture-large-scale-agency-m-a-not-game-amazing-momentum/1453907
    Accenture to acquire Germany based visualization firm Mackevision

    Accenture has entered into an agreement to acquire Germany-based Mackevision, a leading global producer of 3D-enabled and immersive product content. The acquisition will add visualization capabilities to Accenture Interactive’s digital services portfolio – strengthening its ability to create compelling, next-generation customer experiences and industrial, extended reality applications. The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions. Financial terms of the transaction are not being disclosed.

    https://techobserver.in/article/enterprise-it/accenture-acquire-germany-based-visualization-firm-mackevision

Artificial Intelligence

  • Japanese scientists just used AI to read minds and it’s amazing

    But the scientists from Kyoto developed new techniques of “decoding” thoughts using deep neural networks (artificial intelligence). The new technique allows the scientists to decode more sophisticated “hierarchical” images, which have multiple layers of color and structure, like a picture of a bird or a man wearing a cowboy hat, for example.

    “We have been studying methods to reconstruct or recreate an image a person is seeing just by looking at the person’s brain activity,” Kamitani, one of the scientists, tells CNBC Make It. “Our previous method was to assume that an image consists of pixels or simple shapes. But it’s known that our brain processes visual information hierarchically extracting different levels of features or components of different complexities.”

    https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2018/01/08/japanese-scientists-use-artificial-intelligence-to-decode-thoughts.html

Cloud

  • Why Oracle can’t buy its way to success in the cloud wars

    For such modern cloud applications, Oracle proves a poor fit. Not only does the company offer a comparatively malnourished catalog of cloud services compared to leading vendors like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, even its former strengths become weaknesses in the brave new cloud world. For example, one of its best selling points—vertical scale—proves its Achilles Heel in modern application infrastructure, where horizontal scale at levels simply impossible in an Oracle environment becomes the norm.

    Oracle’s immediate answer seems to be to stick to its old game plan, leveraging its legacy database to broker a role in modern workloads. It’s not working. As Rishidot Research’s founder and chief research advisor Krishnan Subramanian has called out, “[Oracle] needs to shore up higher order services…to compete effectively with AWS and Azure. They cannot just rely on their database service as the path to cloud success and they need to compete with AWS on the breadth and depth of higher order services.”

    https://www.techrepublic.com/article/why-oracle-cant-buy-its-way-to-success-in-the-cloud-wars/

Datacenter

  • Intel reveals possible slowdowns from ‘Meltdown’ processor fix

    Your personal computers will be less than 10 percent slower after you install the Spectre/Meltdown fix, Intel has revealed in a blog post. Intel has come to that conclusion after assessing the performance changes in computers using 6th, 7th and 8th Generation Intel core processors with Windows 10. Systems equipped with 8th generation (Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake) chips and SSDs will be the least affected, with the expected impact being less than 6 percent. Devices using the 7th Gen Kaby Lake-H mobile processors will be around 7 percent slower, while the performance impact on systems with the 6th Gen Skylake-S platform is approximately 8 percent.

    Depending on how you use your computer, you may not even notice a difference. Based on Intel’s benchmark results, though, you will notice some slowdown if you browse the web and use applications, and it’s safe to say that most people do. Obviously, if you use your computer for heavy applications, the slowdown will be more noticeable.

    https://www.engadget.com/2018/01/11/intel-reveals-meltdown-processor-benchmark-slowdown/

Software/SaaS

  • Why Microsoft’s Cosmos DB may displace AWS’s cloud databases

    While Oracle, MySQL, and Microsoft SQL Server stand supreme at the top of the database heap, their cloud competitors have been gaining steam—and fast. It’s probably not yet accurate to say that databases like DynamoDB and Azure Cosmos DB are gaining ground on the old guard, given that Oracle remains more than 100 times as popular as Cosmos, for example. But for new applications largely born in the cloud, these cloud-first databases dominate.

    This matters because, as Gartner analyst Thomas Bittman has written, there’s a pronounced (and accelerating) shift from private datacenters to public cloud environments: “New stuff tends to go to the public cloud, while doing old stuff in new ways tends to go to private clouds. And new stuff is simply growing faster.” Not just a little bit faster, either: We’re talking about a 20X growth rate for the public cloud versus a 3X growth rate for private datacenters, by his analysis. Of course, legacy workloads dwarf these new cloud-friendly applications, but that won’t be true for long.

    https://www.itworld.com/article/3245808/database/why-microsofts-cosmos-db-may-displace-aws-cloud-databases.html

  • Barry Padgett Appointed as New SAP Ariba President

    SAP announced two leadership changes Thursday, with Alex Atzberger moving to president of SAP Hybris and Barry Padgett taking over the helm at SAP Ariba, according to a press release. SAP Hybris solutions “comprise the omnichannel customer engagement and commerce business at SAP” and include offerings for commerce, marketing, sales, service and revenue. Padgett, who joined SAP through the acquisition of Concur, will focus on the oversight of SAP’s business network strategy as Ariba’s new president.

    “Positioning these proven leaders, both with deep customer empathy and a business vision rooted in a beautiful customer experience, will have a tremendous, positive impact for customers worldwide,” said Robert Enslin, member of the Executive Board of SAP SE and president of Cloud Business Group, SAP. “The business acumen and expertise both Alex and Barry bring to their respective roles, coupled with the engineering innovation agendas already underway, will greatly advance SAP’s leadership pursuits in the areas of procurement, customer engagement and commerce.”

    http://spendmatters.com/2018/01/09/afternoon-coffee-barry-padgett-appointed-new-sap-ariba-president-whole-foods-places-new-limitations-suppliers/

  • Signal Partners With Microsoft to Encrypt Skype Messages

    The newest Skype preview now supports the Signal protocol: the end-to-end encrypted protocol already used by WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google Allo, and, of course, Signal. Skype Private Conversations will support text, audio calls, and file transfers, with end-to-end encryption that Microsoft, Signal, and, it’s believed, law enforcement agencies cannot eavesdrop on.

    https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/01/skype-finally-getting-end-to-end-encryption/

Security

  • Intel Fumbles Its Patch for Chip Flaw

    Intel is quietly advising some customers to hold off installing patches that address new security flaws affecting virtually all of its processors. It turns out the patches had bugs of their own.

    The glitch underscores the complexity of Intel’s challenge as it scrambles to fix the unprecedented vulnerabilities, which were disclosed more than a week ago.

    In a confidential document shared with some customers Wednesday and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Intel said it identified three issues in updates released over the past week for “microcode,” or firmware—software that is installed directly on the processor. The updates are separate from patches produced by operating system companies such as Microsoft Corp.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/intel-warns-its-patches-for-chip-flaws-are-buggy-1515715212

  • AMD Hits a Snag Over Patch for Chip Flaw

    Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday said some customers found their AMD-powered computers were unusable after applying the latest security patches for the Windows operating system.

    On an online support page, Microsoft said it would “temporarily pause” sending updates to some devices running AMD processors. After investigating, the software giant said it found “some AMD chipsets do not conform to the documentation previously provided to Microsoft.”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/amd-hits-a-snag-over-patch-for-chip-flaw-1515528197

  • Oracle app server hack let one attacker mine $226,000 worth of cryptocoins

    These attackers aren’t stealing data from victims, however—at least as far as anyone can tell. Instead, the exploit is being used to mine cryptocurrencies. In one case, according to analysis posted today by SANS Dean of Research Johannes B. Ullrich, the attacker netted at least 611 Monero coins (XMR)—$226,000 dollars’ worth of the cryptocurrency.

    The attacks appear to have leveraged a proof-of-concept exploit of the Oracle vulnerability published in December by Chinese security researcher Lian Zhang. Almost immediately after the proof of concept was published, there were reports of it being used to install cryptominers from several different locations—attacks launched from servers (some of them likely compromised servers themselves) hosted by Digital Ocean, GoDaddy, and Athenix.

    https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2018/01/hackers-turn-weblogic-peoplesoft-servers-into-cryptocoin-miners/

Other

  • China Swats Jack Ma’s Ant Over Customer Privacy

    Chinese internet regulators scolded the country’s leading mobile-payments company for compromising its customers’ privacy, putting pressure on firms to better protect personal data in a society subject to heavy state surveillance.

    The Cyberspace Administration of China said Wednesday that it had summoned representatives of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. affiliate Ant Financial Services Group to dress them down for automatically enrolling users in its credit-scoring system.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-swats-jack-mas-ant-over-customer-privacy-1515581339

  • IBM names James Kavanaugh as CFO

    IBM chief financial officer Martin Schroeter will move to a new role and will be replaced by company veteran James Kavanaugh, effective immediately.

    Schroeter, who has been with the company for more than 25 years and has been finance chief for the last four years, will become senior vice-president for global markets.

    His replacement, Kavanaugh, joined IBM in 1996 from AT&T and is currently a senior vice-president heading IBM’s transformation efforts.

    While the announcement was unexpected, the logic behind the move is not and Kavanaugh would be a logical replacement for Schroeter, said Stifel analyst David Grossman.

    https://www.itweb.co.za/content/j5alrMQgae9vpYQk

  • IBM reportedly will reassign 30,000+ staffers in services division and possibly cut 10,000 jobs

    According to a report in The Register Thursday, IBM is planning to reassign more than 30,000 staff from its Global Technology Services division, which primarily offers hardware and infrastructure consulting services, to other roles within the company.

    That amounts to about 30 percent of GTS’ overall staff, who are set to be “productively redeployed,” according to a leaked document (pictured). About 10,000 of the affected staff are said to be based in the U.S., The Register added.

    The staff reassignments, expected to take place later this year, could ultimately see about 10,000 jobs lost through “attrition,” with no plans to replace departing employees. However, the overall head count could be even higher, as a document leaked to The Register shows that 5,000 staff have yet to be assigned new positions, which means they could ultimately be laid off. And of those that have been reassigned, some may only be moved to “short term” positions, said one unnamed employee.

    https://siliconangle.com/blog/2018/01/11/ibm-reassign-30000-staff-gts-division-10000-jobs-lost/

  • Amazon could be leaning toward Boston for new HQ2

    Boston has already been floated as a prime candidate for the new HQ2 because it is one of the U.S. cities where Amazon has research and development operations. Amazon, according to The Business Journals, has almost 1,000 workers in Boston who focus on Amazon Web Services, Audible, Alexa and speech-recognition software. Later this year, the opening of its Fort Point office will add 900 employees to the company’s Boston ranks.

    https://www.constructiondive.com/news/amazon-could-be-leaning-toward-boston-for-new-hq2/514674/

Photo: Robert Szadkowski

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Supplier Report: 1/5/2018

Here we go again… there is another security flaw that could impact almost all connected computers.  This time the issue is at the CPU kernel level and it could take some time to completely correct.

Amazon is one of the companies impacted by this flaw, but on the bright side, their bets on home speakers, video and music services, and grocery stores are paying off. The company also seems to be making progress on ridding themselves of Oracle software internally and in their service offerings.

And last but not least, Google is saving billions of dollars in another off-shore tax shelter plan.

Acquisitions

  • Microsoft acquires Avere Systems, file-storage vendor for Windows and Linux

    Microsoft announced intentions to buy the Pittsburgh, Penn.-based vendor on Jan. 3 for an undisclosed amount.

    Avere has developed file system and caching technologies designed to speed access to compute and storage in hybrid environments. Avere provides NFS and SMB file storage for Windows and Linux clients running in the cloud, hybrid, and on-premises environments.

    http://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-acquires-avere-systems-file-storage-vendor-for-windows-and-linux/

  • How FANG Stocks Left the Media Business Snakebitten: A 2017 Retrospective

    But media moguls aren’t taking all this lying down; to defang FANG, they’re fighting with fire. They are remaking their companies in the same mold as their tech rivals, first by striking the deals necessary to scale into a group of fewer but bigger businesses that can at least approach the size of a quartet boasting a combined market capitalization of $1.9 trillion. They are also pivoting toward their rivals’ style of data-driven streaming direct to the consumer. As Murdoch summed it up in the wake of the Disney deal, “Silicon Valley is spending tens and tens of billions on entertainment programming,” he told NPR. “So it makes sense to bulk up the entertainment side, so that we’ve got a company that can go direct to consumers in a big way.”

    Nothing defined the media sector more in 2017 than the mergers and acquisitions that have been the order of the day to appease an increasingly skeptical Wall Street. In addition to the Fox-Disney stunner, there was the $14.6 billion union of Discovery and Scripps completed in November. More such deals seem inevitable next year, such as the potential for Shari Redstone to engineer the reunion of CBS Corp. and Viacom. Maybe someone in Silicon Valley will finally buy one of the content companies as well.

    http://variety.com/2017/digital/news/fang-facebook-amazon-netflix-amazon-2017-1202645607/

  • Inside the Eccentric, Relentless Deal-Making of Masayoshi Son

    Chris Lane, an analyst with Sanford Bernstein, says about eight in 10 of the investors he talks with are skeptical of Son. They see him as a solid telecom operator who is taking enormous risks with his investments and has demonstrated no special skill in technology investment. Lane sees clear evidence of that disbelief: SoftBank’s stock in Alibaba and other assets are worth more than 19 trillion yen after subtracting all its debt, but SoftBank’s market cap is only 9.8 trillion yen. It’s like your neighbor having a suitcase stuffed with $1 million in cash, but you’ll only pay him $500,000 for it because you think he’ll lose the rest on the way to your house. Critics not only don’t believe Son can pick the next Alibaba; they’re convinced he’s going to squander what he already has.

    “If you think of this as a telco making unrelated investments and likely to lose money, then maybe the discount is right,” Lane says. “If you think this is a sophisticated technology investment firm with a strong track record, then this is an unbelievable opportunity.”

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-01-02/inside-the-eccentric-unstoppable-deal-making-of-masayoshi-son

Artificial Intelligence

  • China emerges as a hotbed for artificial intelligence (thanks JD!)

    The rapid growth of AI in China can also be partly attributed to government support. Beijing laid out a development plan in July to become a world leader in AI, aiming to build a domestic AI industry worth at least 1 trillion yuan (around $1.5 billion), according to a government document. Chirag Dekate, research director of high-performance computing for Gartner, thinks China is getting into AI for the long haul. “The U.S. is driving AI innovation across the spectrum, in software and hardware,” said Dekate in an interview with Investor’s Business Daily. “Early use cases and early adopters are happening more in the U.S. than any geography in the world. But China is looking at it from a marathon perspective.”

    https://digiday.com/marketing/china-emerges-hotbed-artificial-intelligence/

Cloud

  • The CPU catastrophe will hit hardest in the cloud

    But privilege escalation is much scarier in the cloud, where the same server could be working for dozens of people at once. Platforms like Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud let online companies spread a single program across thousands of servers in data centers across the world, sharing hardware the same way you’d share an airplane or a subway car. Collective hardware isn’t a security problem because even when different users are on the same server, they’re in different software instances, with no way to jump from one instance to another. Spectre could change that, letting attackers steal data from anyone sharing the same chip. If a hacker wanted to perform that kind of attack, all they’d have to do is start their own instance and run the program.

    Cloud services are also a lucrative target for anyone hoping to cash in on Spectre. Lots of midsize businesses run their entire infrastructure on AWS or Google Cloud, often trusting the platform with sensitive and potentially lucrative information. Bitcoin exchanges, chat apps, even government agencies all keep passwords and other sensitive data on cloud servers. If you’re running a modern web service, there’s simply no other choice. If someone did set a new exploit running on a cloud instance, there’s no telling what kind of data might shake out.

    https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/4/16850120/meltdown-spectre-vulnerability-cloud-aws-google-cpu

Software/SaaS

  • Facebook has a 100-person engineering team that helps advertisers build tools and infrastructure

    You’d expect any digital media business to offer some degree of technical support to its biggest advertisers, but the solutions engineering team is actually building products.

    For example, it was involved in creating Facebook’s dynamic ads format (where ads show different products to different users based on their activities and interests). Mehta said dynamic ads were first inspired by the complaints of an advertiser he was meeting with in Hamburg, Germany, and he then worked with the Facebook Ads team to create a prototype, eventually leading to a more polished product and broader availability.

    It’s probably safe to say that not every client meeting leads to a new ad format — sometimes Mehta’s team is just helping advertisers understand how to use their existing tools in a more effective way. But that other option, working with the rest of Facebook to build something new, is also on the table.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/12/29/facebook-solutions-engineering/?ncid=rss

  • Amazon and Salesforce are reportedly making ‘significant progress’ moving away from Oracle technology

    Salesforce is developing its own alternative to Oracle’s database, while Amazon is moving toward open-source technology called NoSQL, sources told The Information. If Amazon and Salesforce could move away from Oracle, it could be proof that other big businesses could, too, one consultant told The Information.

    Oracle’s database technology, as well as the coding language Java, have been the market standard in many industries since at least the 1990s, as one of the first databases to support “http” technologies online.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/02/amazon-salesforce-moving-away-from-oracle-technology-report.html

Security

  • Kernel panic! What are Meltdown and Spectre, the bugs affecting nearly every computer and device?

    In modern architectures, there are inviolable spaces where data passes through in raw, unencrypted form, such as inside the kernel, the most central software unit in the architecture, or in system memory carefully set aside from other applications. This data has powerful protections to prevent it from being interfered with or even observed by other processes and applications.

    Meltdown and Spectre are two techniques researchers have discovered that circumvent those protections, exposing nearly any data the computer processes, such as passwords, proprietary information, or encrypted communications.

    Meltdown affects Intel processors, and works by breaking through the barrier that prevents applications from accessing arbitrary locations in kernel memory. Segregating and protecting memory spaces prevents applications from accidentally interfering with one another’s data, or malicious software from being able to see and modify it at will. Meltdown makes this fundamental process fundamentally unreliable.

    Spectre affects Intel, AMD, and ARM processors, broadening its reach to include mobile phones, embedded devices, and pretty much anything with a chip in it. Which, of course, is everything from thermostats to baby monitors now.

    https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/03/kernel-panic-what-are-meltdown-and-spectre-the-bugs-affecting-nearly-every-computer-and-device/
    Cloud infrastructure vendors begin responding to chip kernel vulnerability

    “We’re aware of this industry-wide issue and have been working closely with chip manufacturers to develop and test mitigations to protect our customers. We are in the process of deploying mitigations to cloud services and are releasing security updates today to protect Windows customers against vulnerabilities affecting supported hardware chips from AMD, ARM and Intel. We have not received any information to indicate that these vulnerabilities had been used to attack our customers.”

    https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/03/cloud-infrastructure-vendors-begin-responding-to-chip-kernel-vulnerability/?ncid=rss

  • Intel was aware of the chip vulnerability when its CEO sold off $24 million in company stock

    But while the public is just being informed about the security problem, tech companies have known about it for months. In fact, Google informed Intel of the vulnerability in June, an Intel representative told Business Insider in a statement.

    That means Intel was aware of the problem before Krzanich sold off a big chunk of his holdings. Intel’s CEO saw a $24 million windfall November 29 through a combination of selling shares he owned outright and exercising stock options.

    The stock sale raised eyebrows when it was disclosed, primarily because it left Krzanich with just 250,000 shares of Intel stock — the bare minimum the company requires him to hold under his employment agreement.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/intel-ceo-krzanich-sold-shares-after-company-was-informed-of-chip-flaw-2018-1

Other

  • Amazon did a lot of funky stuff this year and it’s paying off

    The bet paid off, with AWS now on track to generate more than $10 billion annually. More importantly, that $10 billion annually comes with a pretty healthy margin — though, over time, that margin may slip down. For the time being, though, it’s an impressive business compared to the razor-thin profits that Amazon might generate from its retail operations and a good data point as its media services like video or music start to play out.

    And, as usual, recurring revenue is a story that Wall Street loves. Amazon is a company that people will often tell you not to bet against, and its stock is up more than 50 percent on the year thanks to an array of businesses that all appear to be showing growth and the company’s recent-ish ability to turn a profit. Amazon can thank AWS a lot for that.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/12/29/amazon-did-a-lot-of-funky-stuff-this-year-and-its-paying-off/?ncid=rss

  • Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund Makes Monster Bet on Bitcoin

    Relatively few mainstream investors have bought large sums of bitcoin, scared off by concerns about cybersecurity and liquidity, as well as more mundane fears of investment losses. Even some of those who do own it are cautious about speaking too publicly, lest they draw the attention of hackers.

    The recent price plunge has also spooked some. On Dec. 22, the prominent investor Michael Novogratz said he was delaying launching a crypto-focused hedge fund for outside investors, stating “we didn’t like market conditions for new investors.” South Korea announced last week it would crack down on cryptocurrency trading, an ominous sign given that the country at one point accounted for as much as one-fourth of global bitcoin trading activity.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/peter-thiels-founders-fund-makes-big-bet-on-bitcoin-1514917433

  • Google used a popular tax trick to shelter $19.2 billion

    Newly published Netherlands regulatory filings show that Google shielded €15.9 billion (about $19.2 billion) in 2016 using the popular “Dutch Sandwich” tax trick, saving it about $3.7 billion in taxes. The maneuver involves shifting revenue from an Irish subsidiary to a Dutch firm with no staff, and promptly moving the funds to a Bermuda mailbox owned by another Ireland-listed company. And this practice isn’t slowing down — Google moved 7 percent more cash through this approach in 2016 than it did a year earlier.

    https://www.engadget.com/2018/01/02/google-dutch-sandwich-tax-maneuver/

 

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Supplier Report: 12/29/2017

Amazon is still hustling late into the year. They announced the acquisition of wireless camera company Blink. There is also more information about Amazon’s plans to get into online advertising… Google and Facebook should be concerned.

Uber gets another life-line as SoftBank purchases a 30% stake in the company.

Microsoft is making a push to replace traditional passwords with bio-metric solutions like iris scanning. It does sound less complicated, but there is something about having a IR laser blasting my eyeball that fills me with unease.

Acquisitions

  • Amazon buys Blink wire-free connected camera startup

    Amazon has acquired Blink, the wireless security camera company that launched back in 2014 and then subsequently closed a million-dollar Kickstarter campaign. The deal was announced today, and for the moment will see Blink continue to operate as-is, with no changes to the company’s line-up. That includes the recently announced Blink Video Doorbell.

    https://www.slashgear.com/amazon-buys-blink-wire-free-connected-camera-startup-22512665/

  • SoftBank Succeeds in Tender Offer for Large Stake in Uber

    SoftBank Group Corp. won its bid to buy a major stake in Uber Technologies Inc. at a steep discount to the company’s previous valuation in a deal that gives the world’s biggest tech investor sway over the most valuable U.S. startup.

    Uber investors and employees tendered shares equal to about 20% of the company in an offer by a SoftBank-led consortium that values Uber at $48 billion—a roughly 30% discount to its most recent valuation of about $68 billion, people familiar with the matter said.

    The group will end up acquiring slightly less: SoftBank itself will own about 15% of Uber, and other members of SoftBank’s bidding group will get a stake of around 3%, one of the people said.​ ​

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/softbank-succeeds-in-tender-offer-for-large-stake-in-uber-1514483283

Artificial Intelligence

  • What Amazon’s Alexa economy pays the people building its skills

    Wilson unexpectedly joined a new Alexa economy, a small but fast-growing network of independent developers, marketing companies and Alexa tools makers. They’re working to bring you voice-activated flash briefings, games and recipes through Amazon’s Echo speaker, Alexa’s primary home. By doing so, they hope to define the 3-year-old Alexa platform and make money from voice computing’s surging popularity.

    Two years ago, there wasn’t nearly as much to do on Alexa and the market for making Alexa skills was worth a mere $500,000. Now, with more than 25,000 skills available, the market is expected to hit $50 million in 2018, according to analytics firm VoiceLabs. That’s dwarfed by the mobile app economy, with global sales of over $50 billion, but Alexa is growing at a far faster rate.

    https://www.cnet.com/news/amazon-alexa-economy-echo-speaker-google-assistant-siri/

Cloud

  • Amazon is planning a push into digital advertising in 2018, challenging Google and Facebook

    Digital advertising was a $209 billion business globally in 2017, according to media buying research firm Magna Global. And it’s only increasing: The company predicts the industry will grow 13 percent to $237 billion next year. The U.S. is currently the most lucrative market, where advertisers spent $40.1 billion on digital advertising during the first half of 2017 alone, according to digital ad industry group Interactive Advertising Bureau.

    Although Amazon doesn’t break out revenues from its advertising business, eMarketer estimates Amazon was the fifth-largest digital advertiser in the U.S. in terms of revenue this year. Still, it makes up a little more than 2 percent of the market. It’s leagues below industry leaders Google and Facebook, which take home more than 70 percent combined, according to a recent estimate from analysts at Pivotal.

    But advertisers have been searching for a third large competitor in order to lower prices and force Google and Facebook to be more open about sharing user data. Amazon could be a major player, if only based on the sheer volume of consumer insights it has thanks to its robust e-commerce business.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/26/amazon-digital-advertising-push-in-2018.html

Software/SaaS

  • Oracle: A Classic Case Of Cannibalization

    If cloud computing is classified as a disruptor, Oracle (ORCL) is definitely the flag bearer for the incumbents that are being disrupted. One of the pioneers of the information technology industry, Oracle had conceded its dominance to the likes of Amazon (AMZN) and Microsoft (MSFT) in the cloud computing space.

    Although Oracle’s total cloud revenues were up 60% in 2017 and have more than doubled in the last two years, they are at best substituting for the decline in its traditional revenue streams – software, hardware, and services. Revenues of new software licenses were down 32%, hardware revenues were down 34%, and service revenues were down 21% in the last five years. Hence, the total cumulative growth in revenues over the last five years is merely 1.64%. In fact, sales in 2017 were marginally lower than that in 2015 and 2014. Despite the scrimpy growth rates, the stock is up over 90% since May 2012. Shareholders are rewarded generously by increase in dividends and share repurchase programs over that period as well.

    https://seekingalpha.com/article/4134078-oracle-classic-case-cannibalization

  • Goldman is reportedly getting into bitcoin and crypto trading

    The bank is said to be in the early stages of setup, which means hiring and figuring out the logistics, including how the bank will hold the assets and keep them secure. The ultimate goal, Bloomberg claimed, is to begin trading by June 2018.

    “In response to client interest in digital currencies, we are exploring how best to serve them,” the bank told Bloomberg in a statement.

    The move would make it the first major bank to embrace trading bitcoin and cryptocoins, which have surged in value in 2017, with bitcoin itself getting close to the $20,000 mark before falling this week. It’s current price is $14,633, according to Coindesk, a huge jump on $998 on January 1 2017.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/12/21/goldman-bitcoin-crypto-trading/?ncid=rss

  • Blockchain Pumping New Life Into Old-School Companies Like IBM

    That’s creating new opportunities for some of the old warships of the technology world, companies like IBM and Microsoft Corp. that are making the transition to cloud services. And products that had gone out of vogue, such as databases sold by Oracle Corp., are becoming sexy again.

    “All of these things will get a new life because of blockchain,” said Jerry Cuomo, vice president of technology for IBM Blockchain. “Our sales team loves blockchain because a customer that is buying blockchain rarely walks out of the store with just blockchain. They walk out with multiple things in their cart.”

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-26/blockchain-pumping-new-life-into-old-school-companies-like-ibm
    I am sharing this article because it is a great example of media bias. “All of these things will be new life” because nobody is buying IBM software and Oracle DBs.

Security

  • Microsoft says it’s time to kill the traditional passwords system

    Windows Hello allows users to log in with their iris, thus the new system is slightly better than the passwords. In a blog post, Bret Arsenault, corporate vice president for Microsoft and chief information security officer highlighted the reason why it’s time to kill the traditional passwords system.

    According to Microsoft, Windows Hello is more convenient and easier to use. The software giant also claims that at least 70 percent of the Windows 10 users with biometric-enabled devices prefer Windows Hello over the password authentication system.

    “We are encouraging users to try it, and see for themselves that it is easier to use than passwords. I think one of the fears that people have is that new technology is just going to be more complicated, and not realize that we’ve pushed to make it simpler and better,” says Rob Lefferts, director of program management for Windows Enterprise and Security at Microsoft.

    https://www.windowslatest.com/2017/12/28/microsoft-says-time-kill-passwords-sucks/

Photo: Tristan Gassert

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Supplier Report: 12/22/2017

Twas the Supplier Report before Xmas and I have to admit…
I didn’t predict Google’s announcement of the step-down of Eric Schmidt.

On to other things that you should know…
Apple confirmed they made your phone slow.

Here, at the end of the fourth term…
Oracle and Accenture bought out two firms.

And finally, our friends at Comcast and AT&T…
Are rewarding their employees financially.

This bonus is a result of the FCC…
Making changes to how we access content digitally.

Acquisitions

  • Oracle to Buy Australian Software Maker Aconex

    Oracle Corp. has struck a $1.2 billion deal to buy an Australian project-management software provider, the latest leg in its push to take on Amazon.com Inc. and others in selling cloud-computing services.

    The California-based software company on Monday said it had entered a binding takeover agreement after offering 7.80 Australian dollars ($5.96) cash a share for Aconex Ltd., valuing the Australian company at A$1.6 billion.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/oracle-to-buy-australian-software-maker-aconex-1513551593

  • Accenture acquires Irish creative agency Rothco

    Accenture has entered into an agreement to acquire Rothco, a full-service creative agency. Located in Dublin, Rothco will boost Accenture Ireland’s creative capabilities and those of Accenture Interactive as an experience agency in Europe. Thanks to acquisitions including Brand, Karmarama and Australia’s The Monkeys, among a great many other creative agencies, Accenture Interactive is now thought by many to rank as one of the world’s biggest digital agencies, leading to the creative wing delivering high-profile end-to-end solutions for global brands including Pearson publishing, although their actual size and influence is still a matter hotly contested by advertising industry heavyweights such as WPP.

    https://www.consultancy.uk/news/15070/accenture-acquires-irish-creative-agency-rothco

Artificial Intelligence

  • Accenture CEO: Company’s ‘Evolving’ its Digital Business to Take Advantage of AI

    To that end, he said, “going forward, Accenture Digital will be focused on three big areas: Accenture Interactive, Accenture Industry X.0 and Accenture Applied Intelligence.” As part of the strategy, Accenture Interactive will work with CMOs to help brands “transform the customer experience,” he said, adding the company is “strengthening our end-to-end marketing capabilities for CMOs by investing to scale intelligent marketing operations.” That capability “combines platforms, analytics and artificial intelligence to run marketing campaigns as a seamless managed service,” he said.

    http://www.mesalliance.org/2017/12/21/accenture-ceo-companys-evolving-digital-business-take-advantage-ai/

    “Accenture Industry X.0″…reminds me when everything was “xtreme” in the late 90’s…kewl marketing terms bra

  • Youngest IBM Watson Programmer Says Do Not Be Afraid of Artificial Intelligence

    The youngest IBM Watson Programmer, Tanmay Bakshi says that the leaders today should not be afraid of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Tanmay and his sister Tanvi, talk to host Kimberli Lewis, of Leadership Beyond Borders on VoiceAmerica’s Business channel, about why AI is important now and for our future.

    Tanmay, one of the youngest cloud computing developers in the world, has been programming since he was 5 and now, at the age of 14, he is building applications engineered to augment human capabilities.

    The Bakshi family immigrated from India to Canada, when both Tanmay and Tanvi were young children. These two Generation Z-ers, talk about what it was like to immigrate, how education and learning is important and why AI is an opportunity not a threat.

    http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/3603688
    Programming AI at 14… I need to re-evaluate how I spend my time.

Cloud

  • Why an (unofficial) anti-Amazon alliance is a very good thing

    Amazon is going to take a lot of effort to stop. Even the three other gargantuan tech companies are in danger of being overwhelmed, as Amazon spends more on R&D than any other company on the planet.

    The risk isn’t that we see more squabbles between competing streaming platforms or hardware availability limits, it’s that the efforts to stop Amazon are so late that retail is dominated by one player with so many network effect positives it’s almost impossible to compete.

    The Big Four look like they’ll be overshadowed by one big player: Amazon. Scott Galloway’s new book The Four is invaluable extended reading on this subject.

    All of this is a U.S.-centric view though – Chinese online retailing behemoth Alibaba has a market cap of $450 billion and on the back on China’s continuing rise, could have the muscle to fight Amazon. Both are currently competing to tap India’s emerging ecommerce market.

    https://www.androidauthority.com/why-an-unofficial-anti-amazon-alliance-is-a-very-good-thing-822092/

  • Cloud Price Comparison: AWS vs. Azure vs. Google

    The charts below show how AWS, Azure and GCP stack up for Linux and Windows instances of various sizes and commitment contracts. And to make the charts a little easier to read, the lowest cost in each category is green, the second lowest is yellow, and the most expensive is pink.
    Linux:

    Windows:

    https://www.datamation.com/cloud-computing/cloud-price-comparison-aws-vs.-azure-vs.-google.html

Datacenter

  • IBM Enters Quantum Computing Business with First Paying Customers

    In addition to JPMorgan Chase, Daimler AG, and Samsung, the first customers include JSR Corporation, Barclays, Hitachi Metals, Honda, Nagase, Keio University, Oak Ridge National Lab, Oxford University, and University of Melbourne. All of them will be will be able to tap into IBM’s 20-qubit quantum computer, which the company installed in November. A 50-qubit system, which is currently just a prototype, will be offered to customers in a future version of the platform.

    Each of the initial clients will use the opportunity to research and develop quantum computing applications related to their area of expertise. In the case of JP Morgan Chase, the company will focus on how the technology can be applied to financial services applications, including trading, portfolio optimization, asset pricing, and risk analysis.

    https://www.top500.org/news/ibm-enters-quantum-computing-business-with-first-paying-customers/

Software/SaaS

  • Acquision of SAP to Ariba (not much of a headline tbh)

    Automation of the fundamental procedure of any supply chain is vital, however it’s insufficient. To gain power of your supply chain and your spending, you have to move your point of view from the procedure to the master plan. What’s more, you have to find an innovation accomplice that can help. An accomplice who can enable you to supplier how you can work together with your providers, who comprehends the complexities of dealing with a solid supply chain, and who can interface all aspects of your obtaining procedure over your whole business while giving your providers an approach to better oversee and grow theirs.

    SAP Ariba coordinates the whole purchasing process over your whole association. When you associate with Ariba Network, you interface with a huge number of providers crosswise over immediate and indirect cost categories.

    http://nbherard.com/business/acquision-of-sap-to-ariba/38270

Other

  • Eric Schmidt stepping down as Alphabet’s executive chairman to become a ‘technical advisor’

    “Larry, Sergey, Sundar and I all believe that the time is right in Alphabet’s evolution for this transition,” he said in the statement. “The Alphabet structure is working well, and Google and the Other Bets are thriving. In recent years, I’ve been spending a lot of my time on science and technology issues, and philanthropy, and I plan to expand that work.”

    Schmidt joined up with Google in 2001, stepping into the role of CEO at the behest of founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, after stints at Sun Microsystems and Novell. Around the time of the company’s 2004 IPO, the trio reportedly pledged to work together for another 20 years.

    Of course, Schmidt handed the baton to Page in 2011. Four years later, when Google restructured to form Alphabet, Page became its CEO, with Sundar Pichai stepping in to take over Google.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/12/21/eric-schmidt-stepping-down-as-alphabets-executive-chairman-to-become-a-technical-advisor/?ncid=rss

  • Cloud revenue helps Oracle beat earnings forecast this time, but outlook tanks shares

    Oracle said it earned a profit of nearly $3 billion before certain expenses such as stock compensation, or 70 cents a share, up 14 percent from a year ago. Revenue rose 6 percent, to $9.62 billion. Analysts had expected an adjusted profit of 68 cents a share on revenue of $9.57 billion. Traditional on-premises software brought in the vast majority of revenue, at $6.3 billion, up 3 percent. But the portion from new software licenses was flat at $1.35 billion, making growth in cloud revenue crucial.

    Software-as-a-service applications saw growth of 55 percent, to $1.1 billion, while infrastructure as a service, the base-level computing and storage services that compete with public cloud leaders such as Amazon Web Services Inc. and Microsoft Corp.’s Azure, grew only 21 percent. That’s well behind the growth rate of the leaders. But Catz added that the cloud revenue includes older hosting revenue that’s slowing, masking higher growth in newer-generation cloud computing.

    https://siliconangle.com/blog/2017/12/14/cloud-revenue-helps-oracle-beat-earnings-forecast-just-not-enough-investors/

  • Apple: Yes, we’re slowing down older iPhones

    The tech giant issued a rare statement of explanation on Thursday, saying that it has used software updates to limit the performance of older iPhones and prevent them from shutting down unexpectedly.

    Tech analysts and angry customers have reported in recent days that operating system updates had caused older iPhones to slow considerably, with some suggesting that Apple could be using the tactic to encourage fans to buy new phones.

    Apple insists the updates were made with a different goal in mind: It said the performance of lithium-ion batteries degrades over time, which can sometimes cause phones to suddenly shut down in order to protect their components.

    http://money.cnn.com/2017/12/21/technology/apple-slows-down-old-iphones/

  • AT&T, Comcast giving $1,000 bonuses to hundreds of thousands of workers after tax bill

    Telecom giant AT&T was quick to respond to news of U.S. tax reform, announcing it would give some employees bonuses once the legislation is signed into law.

    AT&T said in a press release Wednesday that it would give more than 200,000 of its U.S. workers who are union members a special bonus of $1,000. The company also increased its capital expenditures budget by $1 billion in the U.S.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/20/tax-reform-reaction-att-is-giving-bonuses-to-200000-employees.html

  • Uber Is a Taxi Service, the E.C.J. Rules, in Major Setback for Firm

    In the decision, the court determined that Uber, which connects drivers with riders through a smartphone app for payments, “must be regarded as being inherently linked to a transport service.” The 28 member countries in the European bloc will have to regulate “the conditions under which such services are to be provided,” the court added.

    The European court ruling applies across the European Union, but not elsewhere. In a statement, the company said that it was already operating under the transportation law of most European countries in which it did business, and that the ruling would have little impact. It added that it would continue a dialogue with cities across Europe for its services.

    The case may provide a benchmark for countries seeking to regulate independent workers, who make up as much as 30 percent of the working-age population in the United States and Europe, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. Some worry, though, that such a group could soon become an underclass.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/20/business/uber-europe-ecj.html

Photo: Kira auf der Heide

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Supplier Report: 12/15/2017

It was a bad week. 

Net Neutrality was repealed, GE is cutting 12,000 jobs, Microsoft is reportedly underpaying women and hurting their careers, IBM is looking to eliminate more jobs, and the Amazon boon in Seattle is finally slowing down.

At least Google is slashing their machine learning prices…

Acquisitions

  • Apple is acquiring music recognition app Shazam

    One source describes the deal as in the nine figures; another puts it at around £300 million ($401 million). We are still asking around. Notably, though, the numbers we’ve heard are lower than the $1.02 billion (according to PitchBook) post-money valuation the company had in its last funding round, in 2015.

    In all, Shazam has raised $143.5 million from investors that include Kleiner Perkins, London’s DN Capital, IVP and strategic investors Sony Music, Universal Music and Access Industries (which owns Warner Music). Kleiner Perkins also invested in competitor SoundHound.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/12/08/sources-apple-is-acquiring-music-recognition-app-shazam/?ncid=rss

  • Coupa Acquires Simeno to Augment Catalog Search and Management Capabilities

    Coupa has acquired procure-to-pay (P2P) provider Simeno, extending the platform’s marketplace strategy to provide deeper and pre-integrated supplier connections and opening key markets to support continued expansion.

    Financial terms of the transaction were not immediately disclosed, though Spend Matters estimates that buying Simeno will be accretive to Coupa, based on the various metrics by which investors measure the firm today.

    http://spendmatters.com/2017/12/11/coupa-acquires-simeno-augment-catalog-search-management-capability/

  • Google, Microsoft concerned that a Broadcom acquisition of Qualcomm will benefit Apple

    Google and Microsoft are concerned about the long shadow that Apple is casting across the deal. Apple and Qualcomm are enmeshed in a number of lawsuits and the relationship between the two is so bad that Apple is said to be looking elsewhere for a new supplier of modem chips for 2018 CDMA iPhone models. Currently, Intel modem chips are used inside GSM variants of the iPhone, and that will probably remain the case next year.

    Microsoft has started to compete with the Apple iPad by producing a series of hybrid tablet/laptops that are the first Windows 10 PCs to be powered by Qualcomm chips. Google has plenty of skin in this game with the majority of Android phone manufacturers using Qualcomm chips as well. The pair are afraid that if Broadcom buys Qualcomm, the newly merged company would favor Apple over their interests. For example, Broadcom Chief Executive Hock Tan has reportedly said that he is optimistic about settling the multiple lawsuits with Apple if his company buys Qualcomm. And with Broadcom’s reputation as a cost cutter, Microsoft and Google fear that a merger will sharply curtail innovation in the industry.

    https://www.phonearena.com/news/Google-Microsoft-concerned-that-a-Broadcom-acquisition-of-Qualcomm-will-benefit-Apple_id100598

Artificial Intelligence

  • Microsoft starts own ‘AI University’ to address skills shortage

    “We try to work with them [universities] to fuel that talent pipeline,” said Bishop. “So for example we’re a major sponsor of a masters programme at Cambridge University.”

    Microsoft currently funds around 200 PhD scholarships at Cambridge University, significantly more than other companies like Google.

    “One of the things we’re trying to avoid doing is simply going into a university, hoovering up all the top professors and then just leaving tumbleweed blowing down the corridors,” he said.

    “That might be a short term fix for some companies but I don’t think it serves even the industry itself very well, let alone academia or the nation, to take that rather short term view.”

    https://mspoweruser.com/microsoft-starts-ai-university-to-address-skills-shortage/

  • Accenture’s Advice on Using AI to Succeed in the “New Business Process Era”

    There are three things to consider here. First: transformation takes time. Companies need to collect the relevant data, develop the necessary systems, and build the underpinning analytics and AI. Second: digital procurement requires investment. Fortunately, digital procurement capabilities are increasingly available as a service, which could reduce upfront investments and accelerate transformation. Finally: transformation takes vision. This is big departure from how procurement has traditionally operated. Companies need to have an internal champion who can define what the future procurement organization will look like and how the company can make it a reality.

    http://www.scmr.com/article/accentures_advice_on_using_ai_to_succeed_in_the_new_business_process_era

  • Google slashes prices for its machine learning service as AWS steps up competition

    The company has introduced massive price reductions for its Cloud Machine Learning Engine managed services. For example, customers using basic-tier compute for training a machine learning system will pay 43 percent less than they did earlier this year. Google also offered customers more clarity on what they’ll be paying for those jobs.

    Information of the price reductions was first included in a blog post that appeared briefly yesterday on Google’s website, then vanished. A representative for the company declined to comment further on the news when reached for comment.

    https://venturebeat.com/2017/12/12/google-slashes-prices-for-its-machine-learning-service-as-aws-steps-up-competition/

Cloud

  • AWS just opened another cloud computing region in China

    AWS said its China (Ningxia) Region, operated by Ningxia Western Cloud Data Technology (NWCD), is now up and running and provides customers another option to run applications and store data on AWS in China.

    Whereas in most of the world AWS owns and operates its own cloud infrastructure, in China the situation is more complicated. Chinese law forbids non-Chinese companies from owning or operating cloud computing infrastructure.

    To comply with China’s legal and regulatory requirements, AWS has formed a strategic technology collaboration with NWCD to operate and provide services from the AWS China (Ningxia) Region.

    http://www.zdnet.com/article/aws-just-opened-another-cloud-computing-region-in-china/

  • Google, Looking to Tiptoe Back Into China, Announces A.I. Center

    On Wednesday, it unveiled a small but symbolically significant move toward that end: a China-based center devoted to artificial intelligence. The move nods to the country’s growing strength in A.I., thanks to substantial government funding prompted by Beijing’s ambition of having a say in the technologies of the future.

    Google said the center would have a team of experts in Beijing, where the company has hundreds of employees in research and development, as well as other roles. The center will be led by Fei-Fei Li, who runs Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab and leads the artificial intelligence arm of Google’s Cloud business, and Jia Li, the head of research and development for the A.I. division of Google Cloud.

    The Silicon Valley company, which announced the center’s opening at a software developer conference in Shanghai, cited China’s growing academic and technical contributions to the A.I. field, and said the new center would be “working closely with the vibrant Chinese A.I. research community.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/13/business/google-ai-china.html

Security

  • Kaspersky Lab is closing its Washington, DC office

    Kaspersky Lab Inc. has had a rough time with the US government this year and now Bloomberg reports that the company will be closing its Washington, DC office. However, while its government business seems to be dead in the water, Kaspersky still plans to sell to non-federal US customers and will be opening offices in Chicago and Los Angeles next year.

    In July, the Trump administration removed Kaspersky from its list of approved IT vendors and in August reports surfaced that the FBI was trying to convince companies to ditch Kaspersky’s products. These moves were a result of US government suspicions that Kaspersky funnels information from its customers to the Russian government. Best Buy pulled Kaspersky products from its shelves shortly thereafter and the US government ultimately banned federal agencies from using the company’s security software in September.

    https://www.engadget.com/2017/12/08/kaspersky-lab-closing-washington-dc-office/

  • The Bitcoin Whales: 1,000 People Who Own 40 Percent of the Market

    About 40 percent of bitcoin is held by perhaps 1,000 users; at current prices, each may want to sell about half of his or her holdings, says Aaron Brown, former managing director and head of financial markets research at AQR Capital Management. (Brown is a contributor to the Bloomberg Prophets online column.) What’s more, the whales can coordinate their moves or preview them to a select few. Many of the large owners have known one another for years and stuck by bitcoin through the early days when it was derided, and they can potentially band together to tank or prop up the market.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-08/the-bitcoin-whales-1-000-people-who-own-40-percent-of-the-market

Other

  • The FCC officially votes to kill net neutrality

    Chairman Pai trotted out the same talking points he’s been pushing since 2015. That the law that dictates the internet remain “unfettered by federal and state regulation” (that part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act is advisory, and also about porn); that the 2015 rules were “designed in the ’30s to regulate Ma Bell” (they were rebuilt from the ground up in 1996, as he explained moments earlier); that the regulations had destroyed jobs (the jobs never existed); that small ISPs were harmed (I’ve asked the ones he’s cited repeatedly and they have never explained how) — and how edge providers are a bigger threat than ISP discrimination.

    Ironically, he asked that the internet be “driven by engineers” and not “lawyers and accountants” — ironic because hundreds of prominent engineers have pointed out the technical shortcomings of the order, which is largely based on economic analysis and legal hair-splitting.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/12/14/the-fcc-officially-votes-to-kill-net-neutrality/?ncid=rss
    What’s Next:

    There are two tacks they might take. First is the possibility of using the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to undo recently instituted regulations, to nix the FCC’s plan; Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA) just announced he will do this. This is the most straightforward solution, and one the Republican Congress recently deployed in order to kill several Obama-era regulations, including the Broadband Privacy Rule. That action was particularly unpopular, and Republicans aiming to look progressive may hop on board a Democratic bill. Bipartisan talks will have to take place — this can’t be done without work on both sides of the aisle.

    A CRA repeal of Restoring Internet Freedom would be devastating to the FCC’s plans, but likely would leave intact the legislative ambiguities that gave rise to today’s issues.

    A true solution would involve amending the 1996 Telecommunications Act. The critical part of all this is the classification of broadband under Title II of the act, and if that could be accomplished by legislation — it would only take a few words — it would put an end to these questions once and for all. However, to amend a major bill is not something a minority party is likely to attempt. And with the threat of a veto hanging over them, it’s very unlikely that this will come to pass until a Democratic president is elected.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/12/14/the-fcc-just-repealed-net-neutrality-what-happens-next/?ncid=rss

  • GE is cutting 12,000 jobs

    The jobs are in the electrical power division, which makes the giant turbines and generators that the company estimates provide about one-third of the electricity produced around the world.

    GE (GE) is by far the worst-performing stock in the Dow this year, down 44%, and CEO John Flannery, who took over in August, has been trying to slash costs.

    The company says the job cuts will mostly be outside the United States. The power division’s headcount will be reduced about 18%. About 295,000 people worked for GE overall at the end of last year, but the company has cut jobs and costs throughout this year. It hopes to reduce costs by $1 billion next year.

    http://money.cnn.com/2017/12/07/news/companies/ge-job-cuts/index.html?section=money_topstories

  • Cost-hurling IBM seeks more volunteers for employment bonfire

    As revealed by us in recent weeks, IBM told staff in TSS and ISD to form Employee Consultation Committees ahead of entering a 45-day consultation to discuss ways to improve margins – i.e. by cutting jobs.

    The length of the consultation, which started on December 6, indicates at least 100 people from each of the two departments will be kicked to the curb once the period ends. Before that happens, IBM is giving employees a chance to apply to leave. Applicants that are accepted will be out on December 31.

    The ISD memo, like TSS, stated: “We are now launching an Open Voluntary Separation Programme. The programme is open to all in-scope UK IBM regular employees working in the IS Delivery business area in the UK.

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/12/08/ibm_isd_voluntary_redundancies/

  • Amazon’s Seattle hiring frenzy slows sharply; what’s going on?

    Still, the pullback is a reminder that Amazon’s frantic expansion during the last few years — contributing to a boom that nudged the city’s unemployment rate near record lows, pushed housing costs to a record high, and sparked a debate about the company’s civic role in Seattle — won’t last forever.

    The slowdown also comes as the company seeks space to expand outside Seattle. Amazon is evaluating 238 bids it received from municipalities interested in welcoming Amazon’s second, “equal,” headquarters dubbed HQ2, which the company has indicated it could begin staffing as early as 2019.

    https://www.seattletimes.com/business/amazon/amazons-seattle-hiring-frenzy-slows-sharply-whats-going-on/

  • Two New Reports Say Microsoft Overwhelmingly Underpays Women and Stifles Their Career Advancement

    The plaintiffs filed to make the lawsuit a class action at the end of October and recently released two reports that detail pervasive gender-based discrimination at the $649 billion tech company. One, by Henry Farber, an economics professor at Princeton, analyzed data on more than 16,000 employees’ compensation, age, tenure, geographic location, performance ratings, and other factors between 2010 and 2016. Faber found that women in technical roles in low- to mid-level positions at Microsoft “receive lower compensation on average, than otherwise-similar men, and this difference in pay is statically significant.” Moreover, the report finds that women in mid-level jobs at Microsoft have a statistically significant lower probability of getting promoted.

    The other study filed in the case, conducted by Ann Marie Ryan, a psychology professor at Michigan State University, found that Microsoft “does not provide clear, job-related guidance as to how to distinguish levels within a career stage for compensation decisions,” which opens doors for managers to make subjective, and potentially sexist, decisions about career advancement.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2017/12/09/two_new_reports_say_microsoft_overwhelmingly_underpays_women_and_stifles.html

Photo: Cooper Smith

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