Amazon continues to eat the world. The news of the company officially creating a private healthcare consortium with JPM and Berkshire has sent investors scrambling. With few details, the world has to wait to fully understand the impact.
Add Cisco to the list of companies that knew about a major security flaw for months and didn’t tell customers. The bug impacts the company’s adaptive security appliance (ASA) and scored a 10 out of 10 on the Common Vulnerability Scoring System.
Is VMWare going to buy Dell so the company can go public again and pay down debt? Maybe?
- VMware May Buy Dell in Biggest-Ever Tech Deal
Why would Dell, which already owns 80 percent of VMware, sell itself back to the smaller company? There are a few compelling reasons.
The reverse merger would allow Dell to once again become a public company without having to undergo a fresh initial public offering (IPO). The company went private in 2013 in a $24.4 billion deal that gave ownership control to founder Michael Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners. Dell is reportedly carrying around $50 billion in debt, but going public through VMware would allow Dell and Silver Lake to sell back some of their shares publicly, both to offset the debt and to cash in themselves.
- SAP to acquire CallidusCloud, beefs out CX and LMS offerings
The deal, reported to be worth $2.4bn and funded from an unspecified mix of cash and acquisition term loan is expected to complete in Q2 FY2018 following the usual regulatory song and dance. The deal is a 21% premium on CallidusCloud 30-day weighted volume.
The press release on the acquisition focuses upon CallidusCloud’s sales performance management (SPM) solutions that Gartner rates as the leader in that segment. CallidusCloud also appears in the leaders’ segment for the configure, price, quote (CPQ) market as assessed by Forrester. The acquisition, which will be folded into SAP’s hybris solution, positions SAP ahead of arch-rival Oracle.
- Fujifilm acquires Xerox for $6.1 billion
“The new Fuji Xerox will be better positioned to compete in today’s environment with truly global scale, increased presence in fast-growing markets, and innovation capabilities to effectively meet our customers’ rapidly-evolving demands.”
Beyond photocopying, Xerox is probably best known in the tech world for failing to capitalize on a number of 1970s-era inventions that eventually became standard on modern personal computers. Ethernet, the mouse, the laser printer, and many other protocols and technologies were created at its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) for the first time.
As part of the deal, $2.5 billion will be returned to shareholders while 10,000 jobs in Asia will be cut.
- Red Hat to Acquire CoreOS, Expanding its Kubernetes and Containers Leadership
Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire CoreOS, Inc., an innovator and leader in Kubernetes and container-native solutions, for a purchase price of $250 million, subject to certain adjustments at closing that are not expected to be material. Red Hat’s acquisition of CoreOS will further its vision of enabling customers to build any application and deploy them in any environment with the flexibility afforded by open source. By combining CoreOS’s complementary capabilities with Red Hat’s already broad Kubernetes and container-based portfolio, including Red Hat OpenShift, Red Hat aims to further accelerate adoption and development of the industry’s leading hybrid cloud platform for modern application workloads.
- iPhone assembler Foxconn pledges $340m for AI venture
“We will at least invest some 10 billion New Taiwan dollars ($342 million) over five years to recruit top talent and deploy artificial intelligence applications in all the manufacturing sites,” said Chairman Terry Gou.
“It’s likely that we could even pour in some $10 billion or more if we find the deployments are very successful or can really generate results,” said Gou.
Gou added that his company aimed to recruit up to 100 top AI experts globally and would open up thousands of jobs for young talent should they have good ideas on how to develop applications using machine learning and deep learning techniques.
- Google credits AI for stopping more rogue Android apps in 2017
It credits Google Play Protect for one of the biggest improvements: its ability to spot extremely harmful apps that commit fraud, steal info or allow hijacks. While there weren’t many of them, the mechanism reduced the number of installations by an “order of magnitude” over 2016, Google said. It added that it took down over 250,000 copycat apps (those trying to piggyback off the success of popular apps) and “tens of thousands” of apps violating policies against apps that feature hate speech, illegal acts and porn.
Google is fully aware that its system isn’t foolproof, and that some apps will still slip through the cracks. The improvements do make a better case for sticking to Google Play for app downloads when you can, though.
- Oracle CEO Urges Enterprises to Ditch Data Centers and Move to Cloud
“CEOs and CFOs have to get out of the data center business. The $200 billion system integrator industry is non-sustainable,” said Hurd.
With the Oracle Cloud and other cloud systems, customers don’t update their systems, the updates come to them automatically. The same is true for the latest security updates and patches keeping systems more current at a cost that Hurd said will always be much cheaper than maintaining your own data center.
“The likelihood you’re more secure than if you used an enterprise cloud provider is zero,” said Hurd. “Oracle Cloud will be more secure than any individual customer could hope to be.”
I am sure people will move… but will they move to Oracle Cloud?
- Google’s G Suite is no Microsoft killer, but still winning converts
G Suite may never be an Office killer. Just 15 companies listed in the S&P 500 currently have Google’s business tools, according to a review of public email server data by Reuters. Its $1.3 billion in G Suite sales ranked a distant No. 2 behind Office’s $13.8 billion, according to 2016 data from Gartner.
But Mann and other analysts say that second place is not a bad spot. Smartphones and artificial intelligence have opened up new opportunities for Google to get on the radar of corporate IT departments even if it never tops Microsoft, they said. A robust G Suite is a cornerstone of Google’s efforts to diversify revenue, which overwhelmingly comes from online ad sales.
At a minimum, Google is loosening loyalty to Microsoft at a time when the Redmond, Washington-based giant also faces competition from startups such as chat service Slack that offer specialized online business tools. Google’s low-cost, subscription-based G Suite has also pushed Microsoft to adopt a similar strategy with Office 365, an online version of its popular software.
- If your businesses uses a Cisco VPN, patch it now to avoid critical flaw
Cisco is urging users of its Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance to patch their systems to protect against a critical VPN vulnerability. Addressed in a security advisory, Cisco noted that the flaw received a Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) score of 10 out of 10—the highest possible rating.
The vulnerability specifically affects devices running the vulnerable version of the appliance software that also have the webvpn feature enabled, the advisory said. In this instance webvpn must be configured globally, but must also “be one enabled interface via the enable in the configuration,” the advisory said. To determine if that is the case in your organization, an admin must “use the show running-config webvpn command at the CLI and verify that the command returns at least one enable line,” the advisory said.
Cisco ‘waited 80 days’ before revealing it had been patching its critical VPN flaw
Cisco’s advisory also included a table showing which versions of ASA were affected and the first release that had a fix. It was not immediately clear from Cisco’s table when it released the first fixed version.
However, Colin Edwards, a system administrator, filled in the blanks in his own table with the release date for fixed versions of ASA, which shows Cisco actually rolled-out its first fixed version way back on November 10.
As Edwards points out, Cisco decided to fix a super-critical bug in some products but then waited 80 days before it told sysadmins they needed to update now.
- Samsung topples Intel to become the world’s largest chipmaker
The Korean tech giant’s chipset division — which has long been its biggest hitter — grossed total revenue of $69 billion in 2017, eclipsing the $62.8 billion Intel reported for last year. That was a record year for Intel — and an annual increase of six percent — but it wasn’t enough to stop Samsung from knocking it from the top spot, which Bloomberg reports it had occupied since 1992.
The writing was on the wall last year when Samsung beat Intel on a quarterly basis, but now it has held out for an annual win.
The change of position highlights Samsung’s focus on mobile, and in particular memory chips which are an essential part of smartphones. Intel’s chips may be in 90 percent of the world’s computers, but it missed the mobile boom and is playing catch-up.
- Lenovo to miss mobile turnaround target, posts third quarter net loss
The segment, accounting for over 70 percent of Lenovo’s top line, saw an 8 percent rise in revenue over the period, despite a 0.2 percentage point year-on-year drop in market share, thanks to premium products such as datachables.
Lenovo’s overall revenue for the October-December period came in at a three-year high of $12.94 billion, up slightly from $12.17 billion a year ago.
Its bottom line for the period, however, swung to a loss of $289 million, versus a $98 million profit a year ago, dented by the one-off charge of $400 million linked to a reassessment of U.S. deferred tax assets.
Lenovo reiterated that the short-term business outlook was challenging, but said in the longer term U.S. corporate tax cuts would “positively impact” earnings of its operations.
- How Amazon, JPM and Berkshire could disrupt healthcare (or not)
“At 1.1 million employees and growing, they are already a decent sized ‘health plan’ in themselves and could essentially operate as its own payer entity or possibly an ‘Accountable Care Organization’ for their employees,” Bhagat said in an email.
“At a minimum it gives the companies more power to hold existing payer vendors more accountable for health and cost outcomes for their employees. It gives them a chance to deliver better healthcare and reduced costs and change the market dynamics in the commercial healthcare space.”
All three firms also have tens of millions of customers, who could conceivably become among those eventually privy to their new dynamics.
The healthcare industry isn’t holding its breath:
“Walmart pioneered this with their $4 generic drugs,” Spencer Millerberg, CEO at marketplace analytics firm One Click Retail, said in an email. “But they stopped short by not completely addressing issues the government and private businesses couldn’t solve. Where Walmart left off, Amazon is picking up.”
To be fair, Walmart’s effort has been stymied by realities, something that Amazon has yet to confront. In practice, its healthcare delivery was cumbersome and unprofitable, according to John Sarich, vice president of strategy at VUE Software, a firm that specializes in innovating and automating business processes for the insurance industry. Those are two things that are against the retail giant’s core nature. “Walmart took a run at being a Medicare Advantage vendor as well as selling Part D (pharmacy),” Sarich said. “What started out as a way to make money ended up with tying people up in explaining plans and benefits with very little revenue coming into Walmart. It was never a moneymaker for Walmart.”
CVS, other health stocks down upon Amazon, JPMorgan, Berkshire healthcare co news
However, CVS, UnitedHealth and others were down after the news came out, indicating investors’ displeasure at the announcement. CVS dropped by just over 4 percent by midday, UnitedHealth plunged a whopping 11.5 percent, Express Scripts was off by 3.6 percent, Cigna was down by just under 7 percent and Walgreens fell by 2.6 percent.
The plunge isn’t a surprise considering the deal may affect these companies in various ways. Amazon has made indications it would be moving into drug delivery, affecting CVS, Walgreens and Express Scripts’ models.
The announcement also possibly affects health insurance providers like UnitedHealth and Cigna, as well. The three companies collectively employ 880,000 people and the plan is to cover all U.S. employees, though it’s not clear how many of the 880,000 are working internationally versus in the States.
- Amazon’s ad business grew 60 percent this quarter
In its fourth-quarter earnings today, Amazon reported that “other” revenue, which mostly means advertising, plus its co-branded credit card agreements, increased to $1.7 billion in the fourth quarter. That’s 60 percent growth year over year.
In the third quarter, “other” revenue grew 58 percent year over year to $1.12 billion.
“Advertising was a key contributor [to strong growth],” director of investor relations Dave Fildes said on the earnings call. “We continue to make the offering more valuable. We’re focused on finding ways to work with those companies – vendors or sellers — coming to us and offer them a great experience on the website and ability to reach customers.”
The company hinted more was to come in terms of building out the platform. CFO Brian Olsavsky said that Amazon has found itself as a “key lean-in from brands and agencies into the e-commerce marketing space,” which has helped bolster that growth.
- There’s no way the government is building its own 5G network
there’s just no way that the U.S. government, even at its best and most efficient, and if it started bipartisan work on this tomorrow, could be in any way competitive in the timing and scale of such a deployment. It takes billions of dollars and years of work to lay the foundation for something like this, and others have a huge head start. And let us not forget that we are experiencing one of an endless series of budget crises, which would not be alleviated by the proposal of this kind of massive undertaking.
Photo: Patrick Hendry