Microsoft seems to be hinting at a post-consumer product existence when they announced they were shuttering their Groove service. It seems like Google is slipping into the current Microsoft spot with their line of consumer focused Chromebooks and smartphones, while Microsoft becomes the new IBM by servicing the enterprise?
Oracle was all over the place this week. Larry Ellison took shots at Amazon again while announcing AI functions within their product set. Oracle is also confident they will take the lead in the cloud by helping companies keep costs flat. Oracle might be keeping their female employee’s salaries flat as their board is rejecting requests to undergo a gender pay study.
Apple, Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft purchased companies over the last week, giving the M&A section a much needed boost.
- Apple quietly acquired computer vision startup Regaind
This is Apple’s standard statement to confirm an acquisition. From what I understand, Apple acquired Regaind earlier this year. The company had raised a bit less than $500,000 (€400,000) from Side Capital.
Regaind has been working on a computer vision API to analyze the content of photos. Apple added intelligent search to the Photos app on your iPhone a couple of years ago. For instance, you can search for “sunset” or “dog” to get photos of sunsets and your dog.
In order to do this, Apple analyzes your photo library when you’re sleeping. When you plug your iPhone to a charger and you’re not using your iPhone, your device is doing some computing to figure out what’s inside your photos.
- Toshiba Strikes $17.8 Billion Deal to Sell Semiconductor Unit
On Thursday, the Japanese conglomerate said that it had signed an almost $17.8 billion deal to sell its memory chip business to Bain Capital and other investors. Now, the question is whether the deal can withstand the legal talons of Western Digital.
Toshiba said in a statement that it would sell to a holding company called Pangea, which was founded explicitly for the sale. The sale, which comes after an acrimonious auction marked by confusion and reversals, could give Toshiba a booster shot to recover from billions of dollars of losses from its American nuclear power unit.
Pangea is buying Toshiba with around $1.9 billion from Bain Capital and $240 million from Japan’s Hoya. South Korea’s SK Hynix will pay $3.50 billion while U.S. investors, including Seagate Technology, Kingston Technology, Apple, and Dell Technologies will pitch in $3.7 billion. Loans will account for another $5.3 billion of Pangea’s funding.
- Amazon has acquired 3D body model startup, Body Labs, for $50M-$70M
TechCrunch has learned that Amazon has acquired Body Labs, a company with a stated aim of creating true-to-life 3D body models to support various b2b software applications — such as virtually trying on clothes or photorealistic avatars for gaming.
One source suggested the price-tag Amazon paid for Body Labs could be $100M+. However a second well-placed source suggested it’s closer to $70M than $100M — so we’re pegging it at between $50M and $70M.
- Microsoft acquires social virtual reality app AltspaceVR
At a special event today in San Francisco, Microsoft announced that it has acquired social VR app AltspaceVR.
The virtual reality social networking app allows users across headset and web platforms to join 3D chat rooms to play games, watch videos and attend events.
- IBM Set To Acquire Sydney-Based Digital Consultancy Firm
Computing giant International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) is set to acquire the Sydney, Australia-based digital consultancy firm, Vivant Digital. The digital consultancy firm uses technology, data and behavioral science to assist clients in coming up with a business strategy and the acquisition is thus meant to bolster IBM iX, the digital transformation agency of IBM. Terms of the deal, which is expected to close before the year ends, were not disclosed.
The Sydney-based digital consultancy firm was started in 2008 and with a specialty in distribution industries and financial services, some of its clients include Australia Super, Qantas, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank. Currently the workforce of Vivant consists of between 50 and 70 workers who are located in both Melbourne and Sydney. Some of the employees will have be laid off though the exact number has not been determined.
- Oracle adds AI development service to platform offerings
Zavery says Oracle is trying to make it easier for customers to build AI applications. “What we find with these frameworks and tooling, is that it’s not easy to set up as an integrated offering, and the evolution is happening so fast that it’s tough to keep up with what you should be using in terms of APIs around that.” The service is designed to alleviate those issues for developers.
- GE picks AWS as preferred cloud provider
“Adopting a cloud-first strategy with AWS is helping our IT teams get out of the business of building and running data centers and refocus our resources on innovation as we undergo one of the largest and most important transformations in GE’s history,” Chris Drumgoole, GE’s CTO and Corporate VP, said in a statement. “We chose AWS as the preferred cloud provider for GE because AWS’s industry leading cloud services have allowed us to push the boundaries, think big, and deliver better outcomes for GE.”
- AWS fires back at Larry Ellison’s claims, saying it’s just Larry being Larry
When Oracle chairman Larry Ellison announced his company’s new autonomous database product at the Oracle OpenWorld conference keynote, he took several minutes to disparage AWS, one of his chief rivals in the cloud market. As market leader, Amazon stands firmly in Ellison’s crosshairs, but AWS took exception to his comments, and decided to issue a public rebuke.
“Yeah, that’s factually incorrect. With Amazon Redshift, customers can resize their clusters whenever they want, or can scale compute separately from storage by using Redshift Spectrum against their data in Amazon Simple Storage Service and pay per query for just the queries they run,” the spokesperson told TechCrunch.
They went on to berate Ellison, saying, “But, most people know already that this sounds like Larry being Larry. No facts, wild claims, and lots of bluster.”
- Oracle CEO Mark Hurd: IT spending is flat, and cloud is the only way out
On top of that, Hurd (pictured) said in returning to a theme he has sounded before, Silicon Valley has contributed to IT’s difficult situation by making too many piece parts that it leaves customers to cobble together — with increasingly unsatisfactory results, such as the recent massive Equifax data breach, partly blamed on the company’s inability to patch problems in critical software quickly.
“Tech innovation and customer adoption happening faster than IT can keep up,” he said, given that many companies still depend on 20-year-old systems and apps, requiring 80 percent of their budgets to be spent on maintaining them rather than adding more innovative technologies. “We’ve told customers to put all this complexity together. That complexity has driven to this very difficult environment to maintain and to innovate.”
- Infinidat worth $1.6B after Goldman investment of $95M
Data storage company Infinidat Inc. has raised $95 million from a growth equity wing of Goldman Sachs, indicating that the 6-year-old company continues to find traction in a market where others have stumbled recently.
The Series C round, led by Goldman’s Private Capital Investing division, valued Infinidat at $1.6 billion, according to the company. TPG Growth, which had valued Infinidat at $1.2 billion in a $150 million round two years ago, also participated.
- Why the Internet is worried that Microsoft’s consumer services are doomed
It’s not an idle question. Every cancelled consumer product—the Zune music player, Windows phones, the Microsoft Band—resurfaces the same angry protest: Doesn’t Microsoft care about consumers?
If “care” means app development, yes: Both the Zune and Groove Music Pass evolved into reasonably good services, even if few used them. If “care” refers to marketing, though, you already know the answer: In general, no. And if you follow the money—which in this case, comes mostly from Microsoft’s enterprise businesses—that’s most likely the real reason why no Microsoft consumer service can feel completely safe.
Microsoft Shutters Groove Music, Will Move Users To Spotify
Microsoft announced today that it will soon shutter both its Groove Music Pass streaming service and the ability to purchase songs and albums in the Windows Store. The biggest surprise isn’t that the service never took off, it’s that Microsoft has partnered with Spotify to move all its Groove Music Pass customers over to Spotify.
- Apple’s Global Web of R&D Labs Doubles as Poaching Operation
Nothing unusual about that for a company that spends $11 billion a year on R&D. Look a little closer, however, and you’ll notice that many of these labs are located near companies with a strong record in mapping, augmented reality and other areas Apple is pushing into. In several cases, these companies lost employees to Apple not long after the iPhone maker came to town. Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment.
- Larry Ellison loves to rail against Amazon but this analyst says Microsoft is the real enemy
“Microsoft is their big competitor,” says Larry Carvalho, lead analyst on platform-as-a-service at IDC.
Amazon may be a giant in the cloud world but Microsoft is a bigger threat to the types of big business customers that Oracle depends on.
“Oracle is about two to three years behind Microsoft,” Carvalho tells Business Insider.
- AOL Instant Messenger to Sign Off
AIM’s fate follows the path of other older messaging platforms that have shut down in recent years including MSN Messenger in 2014 and Yahoo Messenger last year.
The move also offers reminder on how AOL, formerly called America Online, has struggled to turn its early internet dominance into leading the next generation of internet services. The chat platform grew from 13 million users in 1997 to 65.5 million users in 2000. It isn’t immediately clear how many users the platform has currently.
Interesting timing due to last week’s podcast.
Introducing a new section on the Supplier Report (sadly there are so many incidents, that it needs its own section)…
- Whole Foods Discloses Data Breach
The grocery-store chain, now part of Amazon.com Inc., AMZN said its restaurants and taprooms use a separate checkout system and information of its grocery shoppers weren’t affected. Amazon transactions were also not accessed in the breach, Whole Foods said in a statement on its website.
- Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella: We will regret sacrificing privacy for national security
Microsoft has been fighting the US government since 2014, when the justice department served the company with a subpoena for emails stored in Irish servers. Microsoft has refused, arguing that permission to access data stored abroad needs to be given by the overseas government.
Nadella said tech companies understood the need for national security, but added: “If in that context we sacrifice our enduring value around privacy, then I think as a society we will regret it.”
He called for a “new framework of laws”, which would account for the free flow of online information across national boundaries. He said current laws were created “for a different era.”
- Yahoo Triples Estimate of Breached Accounts to 3 Billion
The figure, which Verizon said was based on new information, is three times the 1 billion accounts Yahoo said were affected when it first disclosed the breach in December 2016. The new disclosure, four months after Verizon completed its acquisition of Yahoo, shows that executives are still coming to grips with the extent of the security problem in what was already the largest hacking incident in history by number of user accounts.
A spokesman for Oath, the Verizon unit that now includes Yahoo, said the company determined within the past week that the break-in was much worse than thought, after it received new information from outside the company. He declined to elaborate on that information. Compromised customer information included usernames, passwords, and in some cases telephone numbers and dates of birth, the spokesman said.
- Out with the old, in with The New – outsourcing re-invented at Accenture?
Outsourcing is rotating to The New…we are now selling more and more of those services based on automation, robotics, intelligent solutions based. We are re-inventing application services to differentiate. To some extent you can segregate the market between the players still trying to sell more harder of the legacy older classic IT, and [The New] players and we’re part of that camp. We are re-inventing this service by providing much more of the new technologies and new features to capture more growth, Our outsourcing business is double-digit and is very vibrant, [but] it’s because it does what [it does] to the New, and not because we’re trying to sell more of the legacy.
- I am just going to leave this one right here…
Oracle’s board vows to fight gender pay request
The board of directors at Redwood City-based enterprise software company Oracle says it plans to unanimously oppose a shareholder’s request for more data around gender pay equality at the company’s annual meeting in November.
Arguing against the proposal in a regulatory filing Thursday, Oracle said 25 percent of its board members were female and that each of its 75 Oracle Women’s Leadership groups internally were led by women.
Women make up 29 percent of Oracle’s global workforce, Pax World Mutual Funds says.
“The business case for gender diversity is well-established; a growing body of evidence links greater board and managerial diversity with better company financial performance,” Pax World Mutual Funds wrote in its proposal. “…Research also shows that greater gender diversity brings increased innovation, better problem solving, stimulated group performance and enhanced company reputation.”
- Amazon Must Pay $300 Million in Back Taxes, EU Says
The European Commission, the bloc’s antitrust regulator, ordered Luxembourg to recoup €250 million ($294 million) from Amazon. The sum, identified as unpaid taxes over an eight-year period, amounts to one of the largest-ever tax recoveries under EU state-aid rules.
The EU said Luxembourg had granted the e-commerce giant illegal state aid in the form of a 2003 sweetheart tax deal, prolonged in 2011, that illegally lowered Amazon’s tax payments to the Grand Duchy to the disadvantage of the company’s rivals.
Photo: Meiying Ng