The big news this week is Microsoft purchasing LinkedIn. It has been less than a week since the news broke and I am already sick of the press guessing about “Microsoft’s grand plan”.
The Dell/EMC merger is starting to show stress marks with EMC employees. EMC is already starting to reduce staff to prepare for the acquisition and now EMC employees are starting a “pop up union” in Boston to eliminate non-compete-clauses.
IBM is having some tax trouble in India, labor issues in Canada, and real estate problems in Buffalo (maybe). But they are getting in the self-driving car game.
- IBM Watson takes on diabetes
IBM has made two announcements around research projects. The first is a joint project between IBM Research and Maccabi Healthcare. This will take six years of research from IBM, including a predictive model it released last year, and combine that with Maccabi Healthcare’s anonymised diabetic patient database which covers 20% of the Israeli population.
The goal is to create a predictive model to help with the early detection of diabetic retinopathy which leads to blindness. By using the two bodies of research the project teams want to deliver personalised healthcare plans for sufferers. This will include predicting the need for eye tests and how often they should take place based on the severity of the diabetes.
The second research project is with the American Diabetes Association. IBM is to help the ADA ingest its extensive repository of data into IBM Watson. The initial target is to build a diabetes advisor for both patients and healthcare workers based on the biggest set of data in the world.
- India casts tax net over IBM again
India has been embroiled in tax rows over the last few years with Vodafone, Nokia, Shell and Cairn Energy, all of which face billions of dollars in back tax over issues ranging from capital gains to transfer pricing.
With foreign investors accusing the government of a lack of clarity in its tax enforcement , the Income Tax Department appears to be delaying action against IBM India. With this latest claim, IBM India could be liable for more than $1 billion in back taxes, including penalties and interest.
- IBM says Buffalo plans unchanged
IBM Corp. denied Tuesday that it is freezing its investment and hiring at the data analytics and technology services center in Buffalo while federal prosecutors continue their investigation into the state’s Buffalo Billion economic development program. The New York Post reported Tuesday that the company had decided to “cease all new investments and additional hiring’’ until the investigation is completed. “The story is untrue,” an IBM spokesman said.
- Victory for IBM employees in Bromont
In a historic judgment made public yesterday, Judge François P. Duprat of the Superior Court of Quebec ordered IBM Canada to pay more than $ 23 million to a group of 451 employees and former employees of its plant inBromont, Quebec. Judge Duprat ruled that IBM could not go back on a promise made to employees to pay them a bridge benefit upon early retirement, benefit they were about to become eligible to receive.
- Watson is getting in on the self-driving game…
Olli, which can carry up to 12 passengers, taps into four Watson APIs (Speech to Text, Natural Language Classifier, Entity Extraction and Text to Speech) to interact with its riders. It can answer questions like “Can I bring my children on board?” and respond to basic operational commands like, “Take me to the closest Mexican restaurant.” Olli can also give vehicle diagnostics, answering questions like, “Why are you stopping?”
- IBM and The Weather Company announce Deep Thunder
The Weather Company is already able to analyse over 100 terabytes of third-party data daily and its regional model are currently being used by businesses around the world to get accurate guidance on the weather and weather related events. The new models that will form Deep Thunder were all designed by IBM and were created with business in mind. They especially excel at hyper local forecasts at a 0.2 to 1.2 mile resolution.
- Why Microsoft Is Spending $26 Billion on LinkedIn
The core idea is to draw on more data to boost productivity and make both LinkedIn and Microsoft more essential to the workday. But whenever personal data is the lifeblood of a business plan, privacy concerns emerge. Nadella said that “nothing will get connected or linked without users opting in” but also extolled the potential of applying machine learning to user data in order to generate more recruitment leads and help sales forces drum up more business. Bosses will also have a clearer view of who employees are talking to and how they’re spending their time.
Microsoft’s Massive LinkedIn Deal Is a Sign of Something Dangerous
The deal highlights one crucial way in which our market system is no longer serving the real economy. Why would a cash-rich firm like Microsoft go into debt and cause ratings agency Moody’s to put it on a possible downgrade list? Because it will save around $9 billion in U.S. taxes by doing so. Debt is tax deductible, and borrowing will save Microsoft money relative to bringing overseas cash back home and paying the U.S. corporate tax rate on it.
Why Microsoft Wanted LinkedIn
That’s where LinkedIn comes in. Announcing the acquisition, Nadella made it clear that he’s buying the social-networking company because he believes it can improve Microsoft’s existing cloud-based services. Microsoft wants LinkedIn for its rich, detailed data about companies’ workers, which it hopes to bake into Microsoft services like Outlook and Skype, to make those services more engaging. One slide in the companies’ presentation to investors shows a woman using Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana, ahead of a meeting with someone named Sam. Cortana tells her what it knows about Sam, based partly on his LinkedIn profile: “You and Sam both went to the University of Washington and you both know Cindy Smith. Good news, the Huskies won last night’s game. Do you want to look at Sam’s profile?” As he showed the slide, Nadella told investors, “Just imagine you’re walking into a meeting, and Cortana now wakes up and tells you about the people you’re meeting for the first time, but tells you all the things that you want to know before walking into meeting someone.”
Salesforce.com Lost LinkedIn Bid to Microsoft
Salesforce.com’s offer price isn’t known, but Brent Thill, an analyst at UBS Group, said purchasing LinkedIn would have been a stretch for the company, which makes web-based software for salespeople. The price Microsoft paid is nearly half of Salesforce.com’s $55.9 billion market capitalization.
Storage: Dell | EMC | Infinidat
- What to Look for When Dell-EMC Closes
While the two companies have widely varied and mostly complimentary products and services, there are likely to be a lot of redundancies that will lead to layoffs. EMC has already announced it is laying off people as part of a restructuring plan ahead of the deal. Dell has sold off and IPOed major assets it acquired over the past decade, such as Perot Systems and SecureWorks.
But as the companies continue to align their businesses, it is likely we’ll see more positions eliminated. Securities filings by EMC indicate layoffs are ongoing and will continue through the end of 2016.
- Why EMC Employees Are Forming a ‘Pop-Up’ Union to Take Down Noncompetes
Johnson said the group formed this spring because employees may have extra leverage with Dell’s pending acquisition of EMC and some of the snags that it has hit. The group is gathering signatures from current and ex-employees on its website, and it’s expected to vote to certify itself with the National Labor Relations Board later this summer.
- Microsoft’s big LinkedIn purchase puts the pressure on Google to respond
Google will have to answer — particularly since one product Microsoft said LinkedIn will assist with is Cortana, its artificial intelligence-powered personal assistant. AI is a linchpin feature that Google is using with its enterprise software sales pitch. Google’s AI is widely considered best in the industry; but with LinkedIn’s data, Microsoft could have a critical edge in its offering that trumps Google.
Why does Google HAVE to answer? There is an excellent chance that MS overpaid for LinkedIn, should google rush in and overpay for another company to further complicate the holdings they currently have?
- Why Twitter could be attractive to an enterprise tech vendor
Nevertheless, Twitter could be valuable to a few companies due to its unique characteristics. Twitter’s ability to gauge public sentiment, become a breaking news venue and broadcast information easily could make it the eyes and ears for an artificial intelligence system or an analytics suite. Simply put, data matters.
- Everybody wants to buy SalesForce… including Oracle?
As of the most recent quarter, Oracle had about $51 billion in cash, which is good because Salesforce isn’t cheap. Its shares trade around $82, up 4% for the year to date compared with a 1.2% rise in the S&P 500. It has a market cap and enterprise value of around $55 billion through Monday’s closing price. But buying Salesforce would bring Oracle $2 billion in cash.
Both companies offer enterprise software for sales and other functions, and Oracle is racing to catch Salesforce in with its subscription-based software. At the same time, both companies would complement each other’s weakness.
Larry Ellison takes cloud fight to Jeff Bezos
Still, Ellison says Oracle has a “fighting chance” to be the first software-as-a-service (SaaS) company to $10 billion in revenue, which would mean beating Salesforce. Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz said on the call that based on a 64 percent increase in deferred revenue and 38 percent jump in billings, “we are now growing faster than both Salesforce and Workday in every way.”
Thill, who has a buy rating on Oracle shares, isn’t buying the argument. Salesforce, the leader in SaaS, is expected to generate revenue this year of well over $8 billion and says it has a contract backlog of $11 billion.
- Oracle misses 4Q profit forecasts
On a per-share basis, the Redwood City, California-based company said it had net income of 66 cents. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, were 81 cents per share.
The results fell short of Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 15 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 82 cents per share.
Photo: Charles Forerunner