As IBM’s plans to build the most versatile AI continues thanks to the purchase of Promontory Financial Group, their competitors are starting to get serious about AI too.
IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google are so serious about their AI plans, they are agreeing to work together to create standards and transparency. But as they buddy up, Microsoft is forming a huge team to center the company around machine learning.
- Now Disney might be interested in twitter…
All of which adds up to a persuasive case that Disney and Twitter have … some things in common. Less clear is how that justifies Disney spending more than $20 billion on a company that produces infinite PR headaches and—at the moment—zero profit. It takes a lot of hand-waving to get from “They both live-stream sports!” to “Disney should own Twitter.” A Yahoo! Finance columnist took a stab at explaining the potential synergy last week.
- Oracle buys San Mateo Marriott
The hotel was purchased through Hospitality Investment LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Oracle. The previous owner was Atrium Plaza, a limited liability company owned by Tarsadia Investments of Newport Beach (Orange County).
This is Oracle’s first hotel purchase. Larry Ellison, the company’s executive chairman, personally owns several hotels, including the Four Seasons Resort on the Hawaiian island of Lanai and the Epiphany Hotel in Palo Alto.
- IBM Announces Planned Acquisition of Promontory to Transform Regulatory Compliance with Watson
ARMONK, N.Y. – 29 Sep 2016: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced plans to acquire Promontory Financial Group, a global market-leading risk management and regulatory compliance consulting firm. Upon close, the capabilities of Promontory combined with IBM’s deep industry expertise and Watson’s cognitive capabilities will directly address the massive operational effort and manual cost of escalating regulation and risk management requirements.
Watson Financial Services is born out of IBM’s purchase of Promontory Financial Group
To make sense of this deal, you have to avoid relegating Promontory into the small box of financial services. Instead, it’s most practical to think of it as a big data company that also has a services business. While it’s true that it works with some of the largest banks in the world, it has slowly amassed a collection of regulatory and compliance data. Promontory also has a workforce that includes over 600 experts in the space.
- Salesforce tries to block Microsoft’s LinkedIn acquisition
Salesforce Chief Legal Officer Burke Norton will argue to the EU’s competition authority that Microsoft’s control of LinkedIn’s dataset following an acquisition would be anticompetitive. EU competition chief Margarethe Vestager said in January that her agency would be looking directly at whether a company’s use of data is bad for competition, and these complaints seem aimed squarely at those comments.
- Microsoft’s Satya Nadella: ‘We’re not pursuing AI to beat humans at games’
As Nadella explained, Microsoft isn’t “pursuing AI to beat humans at games,” a clear dig at Google’s AlphaGo computer which beat Korean grandmaster Lee Sedol.
Instead, he said, the company is trying to democratize information and access to intelligence to “empower every person and every institution that people build with the tools of AI, so that they can go on to solve the most pressing problems of our society and economy.”
- IBM releases DataWorks to give enterprise data a home and a brain
IBM’s new Project DataWorks is built with both Spark and IBM Watson at its core to prioritize speed and usability without sacrificing robust analytics. The best way to think about DataWorks is as a sort of Google Docs for data analytics. In practice, companies have huge data libraries that often end up in a variety of decentralized locations. IBM’s new product eats all this company data and puts it in one intuitively accessible place.
- Facebook, Google, Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft created a partnership to make AI seem less terrifying
The organization’s goals are objectively noble: to create standards for transparency, algorithmic accountability, fairness, and ethics, while teaching everyone from users to the US government how the technology works. Member companies say they’ll conduct and publish open research on these topics, and contribute financial support to further study. The frequency and content of these studies have not been solidified, and the organization isn’t launching with any initial studies or findings.
- Microsoft creates artificial intelligence, research group
Microsoft has created a 5,000-person engineering and research team focused on artificial intelligence, an effort to reposition the company to capitalize on the rapid growth of software aided by machine-learning algorithms.
- ATO awards IBM an Amazon project worth millions
The Australian Taxation Office has awarded IBM a $4 million contract to develop an electronic commerce gateway connecting the ATO with businesses.
So… Australia, who just blamed IBM for their census failure is now giving IBM a contract to migrate an application to Amazon? What!?
IBM awarded AU$7m in federal contracts amid Census investigation
With almost AU$7 million awarded to Big Blue this month alone, the ABC reported on Monday that IBM looked “increasingly unlikely” to meet the demands of an existing project that requires the tech giant to merge the Customs and Immigration computer systems by October 31.
- Microsoft signs cloud-computing pact with Adobe
Under the deal, the maker of Photoshop will use Microsoft’s network of on-demand data storage and processing power to run its web-based digital media and marketing software.
In return, Microsoft will promote Adobe’s Marketing Cloud from inside its Dynamics 365 business planning and sales software.
- IBM finds 65% of banks expect to have blockchains underway in three years
Some 15% of banks and 14% of financial market institutions interviewed intend to implement full-scale, commercial blockchain solutions in 2017. Mass adoption isn’t that far behind with roughly 65% of banks expecting to have blockchain solutions in production in the next three years.
- Oracle’s Cloud Growth Is Impressive
Oracle’s total cloud revenue for the quarter rose 59% to $969 million. Take away the strong dollar and the rise was well over 60%. Furthermore, 750 new SaaS customers were added during the first quarter. Oracle’s cloud revenue is now making up over 11% of its revenue. Moreover, I think the pending acquisition of NetSuite (NYSE:N) will only increase Oracle’s growth in cloud computing.
- NetApp’s CEO Sees More Growth in the Year Ahead
And Kurian sees more growth in the year ahead, even though one of his biggest competitors, EMC, just completed a $65 billion merger with Dell. “The history of large mergers in the technology industry are ripe with lessons learned—they’re not easy to pull off,” he tells Fortune’s Susie Gharib. “We see this as a real opportunity to take share at least over the next couple of years.”
- Despite the Cloud, Oracle Remains the Database King
Given Oracle’s continued dominance of the database market, this process hasn’t yet begun in earnest. But cloud computing will continue to steal away on-premises customers going forward, eventually causing a major headache for Oracle. The company recognizes this threat, recently doubling down on its cloud business. It’s second-generation infrastructure-as-a-service aims to outperform Amazon’s cloud at a lower cost, giving Oracle’s on-premises customers little reason to move to an alternative cloud vendor.
- Oracle denied new trial in copyright dispute with Google over Java
A federal court in California has denied Oracle another trial in its long-standing copyright infringement dispute with Google over the use of Java code in the Android operating system.
A jury had cleared Google of copyright infringement in May this year, upholding the company’s stand that its use of 37 Java APIs (application programming interfaces) in its Android mobile operating system was fair use, thus denying Oracle up to US$9 billion in damages that it was seeking.
- The EFF calls on HP to remove DRM from its printers
In an open letter to HP Inc. President and CEO, Dion Weisler, activist Cory Doctorow calls on the company to take five steps immediately including apologizing to its customers and resorting the original functionality to its printers. HP seemingly knowingly activated the printer ink DRM under the guise of a security update, simultaneously removing features from its printers and violating the trust of its customers.
- Oracle cuts pay of top executives [somewhat bogus headline]
Co-founder and Chairman Larry Ellison received $41.5 million, a 35 percent decrease from last year. Co-Chief Executive Officers Safra Catz and Mark Hurd each received about $41 million, a 23 percent decline. The drop for the co-CEOs is accentuated by one-time stock awards valued at $9 million that they received when they were promoted at the end of 2014.
The three executives were among the 20 highest-paid in the U.S. last year, according to the Bloomberg Pay Index, which values equity awards at the end of the fiscal year, continuing a trend of generous pay for Oracle’s bosses. More than half the company’s investors have voted against its pay practices in each of the last four years, making the company an outlier. About 1 percent of Standard & Poor’s 500 companies have lost in their most recent nonbinding votes, and the average support level is 93 percent.
- Why Salesforce might be interested in Twitter
“Salesforce’s competitors are snapping up [data sources] and will integrate them into their platforms to add additional perspective and intelligence,” Brent Leary, co-founder at CRM Essentials told TechCrunch. “If this deal with Twitter happens, it’s to add a constant flow of information into their AI platform, to marry it with their transactional and customer information,” he added. That combination could provide additional data fuel for Einstein.
Why Google Needs Twitter More Than Salesforce — and What Facebook Has to Do With It
But in other circumstances there is a different way to target customers and that’s using ads based on demographics, in Google’s case that’s called display ads. With demographics essentially you can reach users who you know have an interest in what you have to offer. When it comes to this type of advertising, Facebook (FB) is king. Facebook knows your age, sex, behaviors, what you like, it knows what you like to talk about and even what you’ve said. On top of all that, Facebook buys information about its users from third parties to know even more about them.
- Meg Whitman and HP Five Years Later: Mission Accomplished?
“We haven’t done anything stupid in the last four years,” she noted on a September 2015 analyst call, “and we don’t intend to do anything stupid in the future.” (These remarks came four years and one month after HP announced the Autonomy deal.) HP insiders still refer to August 18, 2011, the date that the Autonomy deal was announced, as a dark day in the company’s history.
- Kustomer, founded by Salesforce alums, nabs $12.5M to repair customer care
A new startup called Kustomer is getting ready to come out of stealth with an aim to fix all that by rebuilding the CRM from the point of view of the customer rep. Ambitiously, it is also trying to change the general business mindset in the process. By building a platform that is easy enough for everyone to use and holistic in the data it contains, Kustomer believes that anyone in a company, not just those relegated to the CRM silo, could act as a customer service rep.
- Lenovo undergoes another big layoff round, mostly impacting Motorola
The company is at it again, and while the number is less than list time, it’s still fairly significant, primarily impacting its Motorola Mobility smartphone business. In a statement issued early today, the company is looking to downplay things a bit in contrast to its overall numbers, noting that the moves “[impact] less than two percent of its approximately 55,000 employees globally.”
Photo: Jason Blackeye