Supplier Report: 10/6/2017

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.

Acquisitions

  • 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.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/29/apple-quietly-acquires-computer-vision-startup-regaind/

  • 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.

    http://www.electronicdesign.com/industrial-automation/toshiba-strikes-178-billion-deal-sell-semiconductor-unit

  • 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.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/03/amazon-has-acquired-3d-body-model-startup-body-labs-for-50m-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.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/03/microsoft-acquires-social-virtual-reality-app-altspacevr/

  • 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.

    https://www.baystreet.ca/stockstowatch/2291/IBM-Set-To-Acquire-Sydney-Based-Digital-Consultancy-Firm

Artificial Intelligence

  • 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.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/02/oracle-adds-ai-development-service-to-platform-offerings/?ncid=rss

Cloud

  • 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.”

    http://www.zdnet.com/article/ge-picks-aws-as-preferred-cloud-provider/

  • 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.”

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/02/aws-fires-back-at-larry-ellisons-claims-saying-its-just-larry-being-larry/

  • 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.”

    https://siliconangle.com/blog/2017/10/02/oracle-ceo-mark-hurd-spending-flat-cloud-way/

Datacenter

  • 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.

    https://www.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2017/10/03/infinidat-worth-1-6b-after-goldman-investment-of.html

  • 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.

    https://www.pcworld.com/article/3230486/windows/microsoft-why-its-consumer-services-could-be-doomed.html
    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.

    https://tech.slashdot.org/story/17/10/02/2010241/microsoft-shutters-groove-music-will-move-users-to-spotify

Software/SaaS

  • 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.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-21/apple-s-global-web-of-r-d-labs-doubles-as-poaching-operation

  • 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.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/microsoft-is-oracle-real-competitor-not-amazon-2017-10

  • 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.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/aol-instant-messenger-to-sign-off-1507301951
    Interesting timing due to last week’s podcast.

Security

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.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/whole-foods-discloses-data-breach-1506636659

  • 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.”

    http://www.businessinsider.com/microsoft-ceo-satya-nadella-regret-sacrificing-privacy-for-security-2017-9

  • 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.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/yahoo-triples-estimate-of-breached-accounts-to-3-billion-1507062804

Other

  • 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.

    http://diginomica.com/2017/09/29/old-new-outsourcing-re-invented-accenture/

  • 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.”

    https://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2017/09/29/oracle-gender-pay-gap-data-shareholder.html

  • 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.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/eu-orders-luxembourg-to-recoup-almost-300-million-from-amazon-1507109839

Photo: Meiying Ng

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News You Can Use: 10/4/2017

  • Tech Firms Find Washington Isn’t So Hands-Off Anymore

    It was already a tough year for Silicon Valley in Washington, where lawmakers have been pushing proposals that could roil the industry, including measures on net neutrality, privacy and liability. The industry’s standing suffered again in the past week when lawmakers laid plans for public hearings to examine whether Facebook and other social-media platforms were used by foreign governments during the 2016 campaign to manipulate the U.S. election. Lawmakers also signaled they are considering new legislation to address online spending by foreign adversaries—a potential blow to the firms’ cherished freedom from close government oversight.

    “This is a Wild, Wild West,” said Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, about the possible need for more controls on internet companies.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/tech-firms-find-washington-isnt-so-hands-off-anymore-1505473201

  • How startups can avoid Bodega’s PR disaster

    The first article published about Bodega read almost like a Silicon Valley parody. It highlights a few things people feel is wrong with the tech community right now; Bodega comes across as a tone-deaf company that got the thumbs-up from some of the Valley’s most respected investors for a seemingly absurd idea with a culturally insensitive name. It represents a confounding and out-of-touch approach to disruption; if you missed the headline, it’s “Two Ex-Googlers Want To Make Bodegas And Mom-And-Pop Corner Stores Obsolete.”

    Just a few hours after launching, Bodega received a lashing on Twitter, and the headlines came to resemble this one from The Washington Post: “Bodega, an ‘unmanned pantry box,’ has already become America’s most hated start-up.”

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/15/how-startups-can-avoid-bodegas-pr-disaster/?ncid=rss

  • How to solve problems like a designer
  • Invited To Lunch With Your Boss’s Boss? Here’s Exactly What To Do

    Another smart move for lunch with a senior leader is to give an example of how the company is helping you grow. Don’t just share details about your job duties or favorite projects you’ve worked on, though. Discuss a highlight from a company “extra” that you felt was valuable, like a training program, an offsite event, etc.

    This can help you demonstrate that you appreciate what the company is doing to invest in your career, without taking a deep dive into the specifics of your role. Remember, your goal is to build a rapport, not deliver a scorecard. He probably doesn’t want that kind of detail, but he does want to know you. And above all, he wants to know that you want to know him. If you don’t give the impression that that’s the case, you’ll miss your chance at developing a potentially valuable mentor inside your organization.

    https://www.fastcompany.com/40470150/invited-to-lunch-with-your-bosss-boss-heres-exactly-what-to-do

  • Is This Hotel an Airbnb Killer?

    A study last year from Morgan Stanley projected that 25% of leisure travelers and 23% of business travelers will have used Airbnb by the end of 2017, up from 12% for both groups of travelers in 2015. The report found Airbnb was a common substitute for hotels: 49% of Airbnb users said they had substituted Airbnb for a traditional hotel stay in the past year.

    With Public, Mr. Schrager said he aims to better compete with Airbnb on nightly rates and offer superior amenities such as bars and other places to socialize. While cutting staff costs for hotel operations, Mr. Schrager’s new concept fuses a sprawling bar and restaurant operation onto the property, deriving revenue and profits from amenities that are meant to attract a much larger crowd than just the hotel’s guests.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/is-this-hotel-an-airbnb-killer-1505473207

Photo: HB Mertz

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SourceCast: Episode 89: The Chat App Wars

I have mentioned my disdain for Google’s chat client strategy on several episodes of SourceCast. This week I go deep on the topic, providing my thoughts on the current state of Google’s Allo and Duo products and use my transition to Slack to disprove that Google is a technological monopoly.

Photo: Justin Main

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Supplier Report: 9/29/2017

It was a very unstable week…

Equifax’s CEO is stepping down, Google is implementing organizational and policy changes in the wake of the EU ruling, HPE is cutting another 5,000 jobs, and we found out that Alexa is not HIPAA compliant… oh and IBM bought another Israeli company.

Acquisitions

  • Google Cloud acquires cloud identity management company Bitium

    Google Cloud announced today that it has acquired Bitium, a company that focused on offering enterprise-grade identity management and access tools, such as single-sign on, for cloud-based applications. This will basically help Google better manage enterprise cloud customer implementation across an organization, including doing things like setting security levels and access policies for applications working across their Cloud and G Suite offerings.

    Bitium was founded in 2012, and targets both mid market and larger enterprise customers,. It’s been offering a single-stop solution for managing Google Apps, Office 365, social network, CRM, collaboration and marketing tools, while ensuring organizations remain compliant with security standards.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/26/google-cloud-acquires-cloud-identity-management-company-bitium/?ncid=rss

  • SAP buys customer identity management firm Gigya for $350M

    SAP, the German enterprise software giant, today announced an acquisition to strengthen its hybris e-commerce division. It has acquired Gigya, a firm that helps online properties manage customer identities and profiles. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed officially, but our sources tell us it is for $350 million.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/24/sap-is-buying-identity-management-firm-gigya-for-350m/?ncid=rss

  • IBM acquires Israeli company Cloudigo

    IBM has acquired Israeli data centre company Cloudigo, Globes reported. No financial details were disclosed but the acquisition was for a small amount, according to sources close to the deal. Cloudigo is building next-generation data centre infrastructure and networking services.

    IBM Watson and Cloud Platform general manager John Considine said in a blog on IBM’s website that IBM had acquired a high-performance team focused on advanced networking technology that moves the networking function from the server to the edge, increasing data centre efficiency.

    https://www.telecompaper.com/news/ibm-acquires-israeli-company-cloudigo–1213172

Artificial Intelligence

  • Microsoft Aims to Make Business AI Cheaper, Faster, Simpler

    The new product, a customer-service virtual assistant, is designed to let people describe problems in their own words and respond with suggestions drawn from user manuals, help documents and similar materials. Users can request a human agent, in which case the bot will try to assist the customer-care representative. Managers can view a dashboard overview of the results.

    The bot is one of what Microsoft says will be a series of customizable programs running on the company’s Azure cloud-computing platform. The programs, called Dynamics 365 AI solutions, will draw on basic AI capabilities such as natural-language processing as well as a trove of data and algorithms from Microsoft’s Bing search engine, productivity apps and LinkedIn network.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/microsoft-aims-to-make-business-ai-cheaper-faster-simpler-1506344400

  • Analysis: Amazon Alexa’s biggest healthcare problem? It’s not HIPAA compliant

    Alexa, Amazon’s voice technology, creates ample opportunity for physicians and health systems. For example, it could be used as for a remote patient monitoring or to help physicians transcribe notes during patient visits.

    While not all health app developers are subject to HIPAA, covered entities and their business associates must be compliant. This means developers can, for example, train Alexa to recommend advice related to health and wellness, but not record patient’s health data in a hospital setting, according to Ms. Farr.

    Amazon acknowledged this problem at its “Alexa Diabetes Challenge” event Monday in New York City. The competition invited a series of partners to promote uses for Alexa that would benefit patients with diabetes.

    https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/healthcare-information-technology/analysis-amazon-alexa-s-biggest-healthcare-problem-it-s-not-hipaa-compliant.html

  • MIT’s new robot can put on different exoskeletons to gain new powers

    These robots could prove incredibly flexible when built at scale, and in more complex configurations. You can imagine deploying a single robot with a range of “suits” to do something like explore the surface of an alien planet, or even to chart more remote portions of our own Earth, and to switch between search and rescue tasks.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/27/mits-new-robot-can-put-on-different-exoskeletons-to-gain-new-powers/?ncid=rss

Cloud

  • Google Goes Tit for Tat With Amazon On Cloud Pricing

    Last week, Amazon made a huge change in how it charges businesses for its cloud services, saying it would start to bill on a per-second basis starting Oct. 2 instead of by the hour. Now rival Google is also going to per-second increments, but is making the change effective immediately.

    Google’s new price model is for its basic computing units (which it calls virtual machines, or VMs) as well as its container engine and a few other offerings. And the price covers all VMs whether they run Windows Server, Red Hat Linux or SUSE Linux operating systems. Amazon’s per-second pricing applies only to Linux, not to Windows. Google’s pricing on “persistant disk” storage attached to these VMs has been billed per second for quite some time.

    http://fortune.com/2017/09/26/google-matches-amazons-price-change/

Datacenter

  • Report: HPE to shed 5,000 jobs, or 10% of its staff, by year-end

    “If the reports are true, it is sad what has happened to HPE,” said Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research Inc.

    Mueller said that although HPE has successfully weathered numerous industry changes in the past, it seems to be losing out in this latest transition where the focus is on things such as artificial intelligence, big data and cloud computing.

    “At some point the writing was on the wall with the end of Helion [HPE’s OpenStack cloud product] and with the sale of the software assets,” Mueller said.

    https://siliconangle.com/blog/2017/09/21/report-hpe-shed-5000-jobs-around-10-staff-end-year/

Software/SaaS

  • Microsoft is going all in on Teams and plans to phase out Skype for Business

    Microsoft Teams, the company’s Slack competitor with deep integrations into the Office 365 apps, has seen a lot of pickup over the last few months, with over 125,000 organizations now using it in one form or another. Maybe it’s no surprise, then, that the company today announced it is going all in on Teams as its core communications platform for the enterprise.

    Until now, Skype for Business was the company’s product for this. Over the course of the last few years, Microsoft improved the Skype infrastructure to allow for better and faster text chats, calls and video conferences (though some Skype users would surely argue that the quality hasn’t actually improved all that much). But as Ron Markezich, the company’s corporate VP for Office 365 noted ahead of today’s public announcement, Microsoft Teams will evolve “as the core communications client” for its cloud-connected users running Office 365. Teams will become the “hero and primary experience for all voice, video and meetings.” Over time, Teams will replace the current Skype for Business client.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/25/microsoft-is-going-all-in-on-teams-and-plans-to-phase-out-skype-for-business/?ncid=rss

  • Micro Focus bosses in line for a £65m payout if they hit merger targets

    The executive chairman of Micro Focus could receive a payout of more than £26 million in two years’ time after the British company’s acquisition of Hewlett Packard’s software business.

    Kevin Loosemore has been granted options over 1.1 million shares in an additional share grant scheme intended to “incentivise management to deliver exceptional returns to shareholders”. The shares were worth £26.8 million at yesterday’s closing price of £24.36.

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/micro-focus-bosses-in-line-for-a-65m-payout-if-they-hit-merger-targets-6pqrkqqgg

  • IBM Is Beating Microsoft in This Emerging Tech (Hint: BlockChain)

    Moreover, the year-over-year growth of IBM’s “strategic imperatives” (cloud, mobile, social, analytics, and security) has slowed down in recent quarters, torpedoing the bullish notion that its higher-growth businesses can offset the softness of its legacy (IT services, business software, and hardware) businesses.

    Nonetheless, the increased adoption of IBM’s blockchain solutions could strengthen its older global business services and technology/cloud platform services units, and potentially expand Big Blue’s enterprise ecosystem. Investors should also remember that the vast majority of the world’s biggest banks, telcos, and retailers still use IBM services — so it has plenty of room to expand its blockchain business.

    Therefore, IBM’s lead in the blockchain market might not matter over the next few quarters, but it could widen its moat as more companies secure and streamline their businesses with blockchain solutions.

    https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/09/21/ibm-is-beating-microsoft-in-this-emerging-tech.aspx

  • Amazon Looks to Deliver Shake Shack, Chipotle Amid Food Push (app)

    Amazon has teamed up with a company called Olo, which provides digital order and pay technology to 200 restaurant brands with about 40,000 U.S. locations, potentially giving Amazon access to a slew of delivery orders. Buca di Beppo, which runs about 90 Italian eateries, is the only Olo customer so far to publicly say it will use Amazon Restaurants.

    The $1.5 trillion U.S. food market is split roughly between groceries and restaurants. Food deliveries appeal to Amazon because of the frequency of orders, putting it in constant contact with shoppers and helping it collect valuable data about their preferences even if they don’t make much, if any, money on individual transactions.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-22/amazon-looks-to-deliver-shake-shack-chipotle-in-restaurant-push

Other

  • IBM Now Has More Employees in India Than in the U.S.

    Today, the company employs 130,000 people in India — about one-third of its total work force, and more than in any other country. Their work spans the entire gamut of IBM’s businesses, from managing the computing needs of global giants like AT&T and Shell to performing cutting-edge research in fields like visual search, artificial intelligence and computer vision for self-driving cars. One team is even working with the producers of Sesame Street to teach vocabulary to kindergartners in Atlanta.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/28/technology/ibm-india.html

  • Amazon is hiring 2,000 people in New York City as the $5 billion bidding war for its new headquarters rages

    The online retail giant is hiring 2,000 more employees over the next three years at a new office in New York City. The office is part of the Manhattan West megadevelopment on the west side of Manhattan.

    The company is leasing 360,000 square feet at 5 Manhattan West, with space for its advertising, Amazon Fashion, and Amazon Web Services teams.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-hiring-2000-people-for-new-nyc-office-2017-9

  • Equifax CEO Richard Smith to Exit Following Massive Data Breach

    Equifax Inc. moved to take concrete action over its massive hack ahead of congressional hearings next week, announcing Tuesday that Chairman and Chief Executive Richard Smith would step aside while leaving the door open to compensation clawbacks.

    Mr. Smith, CEO since 2005, is being succeeded as chairman by current director, Mark Feidler, who will serve as nonexecutive chairman, Equifax’s board said. It added that Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., who was most recently Equifax’s president for the Asia-Pacific region, has been appointed interim CEO.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/equifax-ceo-richard-smith-to-retire-following-massive-data-breach-1506431571

  • SEC Draws Scrutiny for Slow Response to Hack

    The SEC’s new chairman, Jay Clayton, uncovered the extent of the hack only after he launched a wholesale review of the agency’s cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the spring, according to a statement he released this week. The SEC’s other commissioners learned about the hack in recent days. A former chief operating officer wasn’t told about the intrusion when it was detected last year.

    The pace of discovery and the way that information was disclosed is likely to increase scrutiny of an agency that in recent years has pushed financial firms to gird against attacks and urged public companies to tell shareholders about the risks of cyberintrusions. Information about the hack was included in a lengthy statement by Mr. Clayton about the agency’s cybersecurity program that was released just after 8 p.m. on Wednesday evening. The agency didn’t say when the hack occurred or what information hackers accessed.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/top-sec-officials-only-recently-learned-of-2016-company-database-hack-1506017614

  • Uber Loses Its License to Operate in London

    The decision on Friday by Transport for London, which is responsible for the city’s subways and buses, as well as regulating its taxicabs, illustrates the gravity and severity of the issues confronting Uber.

    The agency took direct aim at Uber’s corporate culture, declaring that the company’s “approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications.”

    Uber’s London license will expire on Sept. 30. But the company has been given 21 days to appeal — it immediately vowed to do so — and will be allowed to continue operating in the city during the appeal process.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/22/business/uber-london.html

  • The EU Suppressed a 300-Page Study That Found Piracy Doesn’t Harm Sales

    The report found that illegal downloads and streams can actually boost legal sales of games, according to the report. The only negative link the report found was with major blockbuster films:“The results show a displacement rate of 40 percent which means that for every ten recent top films watched illegally, four fewer films are consumed legally.”

    The study has only come to light now because Julia Reda, a Member of the European Parliament representing the German Pirate Party, posted the report on her personal blog after she got ahold of a copy through an EU Freedom of Information access to document request.

    https://gizmodo.com/the-eu-suppressed-a-300-page-study-that-found-piracy-do-1818629537

  • Google Offers Concessions to Europe After Record Antitrust Fine

    Google said the changes would be introduced early on Thursday morning, meeting a deadline to open up its shopping platform to greater competition or potentially face further fines from the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm. As a result, about a dozen shopping sites from companies besides Google could become more visible and accessible.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/27/business/google-eu-antitrust.html

Photo: Jakob Owens

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News You Can Use: 9/27/2017

  • Some Companies Are Reinventing Job Interviews In Weird (And Possibly Illegal) Ways

    Two recent examples come from the New York Times’s Corner Office series with columnist Adam Bryant. In their conversation, Don Mal, CEO of software firm Vena Solutions, tells Bryant that he asks candidates if they’d ever leave their families at Disneyland “to do something that was really important for the company.” This, Mal says, helps him understand applicants’ work ethic. Barstool CEO Erika Nardini shares that she texts candidates over the weekend to see how fast they respond. (Nardini tells Bryant that the acceptable response time, in her view, is within three hours.)

    https://www.fastcompany.com/40460395/some-companies-are-reinventing-job-interviews-in-weird-and-possibly-illegal-ways

  • Former Google Employees Allege Bias Against Women

    One plaintiffs, Kelly Ellis, alleged that she was assigned to a lower level than her similarly qualified male counterparts when she was hired as a software engineer on the Google Photos team in 2010. In the complaint, Ms. Ellis claimed she was brought in at a level typically given to new college graduates, despite her four years of engineering experience. She asked for a promotion after learning that she had equal or better qualifications than male engineers in a higher level, and after receiving “excellent performance reviews.” She said she was denied. According to the complaint, Ms. Ellis resigned from Google around July 2014 due to “the sexist culture.”

    The claims from the other two plaintiffs, Holly Pease, who managed software engineers, and Kelli Wisuri, a salesperson, follow a similar pattern where they felt their initial positions did not match their qualifications, then found it hard to catch up to male employees and move up the ladder.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/former-google-employees-file-lawsuit-alleging-gender-discrimination-1505411804

  • Will AI Result in Mass Unemployment or a New Middle Class?
  • The Second-Class Office Workers

    The contractor model offers companies lower costs, more flexibility and fewer management headaches. Workers get far less from the arrangement.

    Outside workers usually aren’t surprised when they get no paid holidays, sick days, employee-sponsored health insurance, 401(k) plan or other perks routinely offered to traditional employees at the same companies.

    What wounds more deeply are things taken for granted or barely considered at all by regular employees, outside workers often say. The work lives of contractors frequently feel like a series of tiny slights that reinforce their second-class status and bruise their self-worth. Even when contracting jobs are easy to get, they can vanish instantly, and turning contract assignments into a real career remains out of reach.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-contractors-life-overlooked-ground-down-and-stuck-1505400087

  • Growing Up with Alexa (thanks JD!)

    It’s a little worrisome. Leaving aside the privacy implications of kids telling an Internet-connected computer all kinds of things, we don’t know much about how this kind of interaction with artificial intelligence and automation will affect how children behave and what they think about computers. Will they become lazy because it’s so easy to ask Alexa and its peers to do and buy things? Or jerks because many of these interactions compel you to order the technology around? (Or both?)

    Some of that may happen. It seems more likely, though, that as with many technologies before this, the utility of digital assistants will outweigh their drawbacks. Already they’re making an incredible amount of data and computer-aided capabilities available directly to children—even those not yet in kindergarten—for learning, playing, and communicating. With Alexa, kids can get answers to all kinds of questions (both serious and silly), hear stories, play games, control apps, and turn on the lights even if they can’t yet reach a wall switch. And this is just the beginning of the kiddie AI revolution.

    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/608430/growing-up-with-alexa/
    From personal experience, once the novelty has warn off, kids don’t care about them. The article’s point about kids being frustrated because the digital assistant can’t hear them is spot on. Other than to turn on a light every once in a while, my son completely ignores Echos we have in the house.

Photo: Bench Accounting

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