Whither Bing?

October 31, 2014

I learned in “Microsoft’s Advertising Unit Shuts Down Global Agency, Creative Team in Latest Layoffs” that the latest round of cutbacks strike at Bing ad sales. Other announcements revealed that one of the Microsoft cheerleaders for the search engine optimization crowd has been given an opportunity to find his future elsewhere. (See “Bing Severs Ties with Webmasters by Firing Duane Forrester.”)

What’s up? Well, maybe Microsoft has come to the conclusion that Google is going to get most of the money from online search.

From my vantage point in Harrod’s Creek, the shift makes it clear that what Bing was doing wasn’t making certain folks in the executive suite giddy with joy.

So, let me ask the interesting question, “Has Google claimed another Web search victim?” If that is the case you will want to read my forthcoming article in Information Today about the outlook for Qwant, the French Google killer built on Pertimm technology and singled out by Eric Schmidt as a threat to all things Googley.

I know it is not popular to suggest that the Google is a monopoly, but if Microsoft is not committed to pumping money into Bing, who will challenge the balloon-crazed fighters of death in Mountain View?

How often do you use Jike, iSeek, Ixquick, or Yandex—or Bing?

Stephen E Arnold, October 31, 2014

Autonomy Founder Mike Lynch Moving Forward. HP, Well, Sort Of

October 31, 2014

It is Friday. Over the last few months, Hewlett Packard has groused about its decision to purchase Hewlett Packard. Let’s see. The deal took place three years ago.

In that span of time, Hewlett Packard has decided that the idea to sell its printer ink business was a pretty good one after all. Oh, there have been layoffs, reorganizations, and legal maneuvers to deal with shareholders who are asking questions about HP’s management. And HP is going to break itself in two parts. Good investment bank thinking. Customers may not be able to share in the juicy fees this maneuver will product. Well, that’s life in slick, sophisticated Silicon Valley.

Oh, one point.

Dr. Michael Lynch has established an investment firm, received a number of honors from UK outfits that most Silicon Valley top dogs would love to get their paws on, and has spent time with the Queen. Americans fawn over the Royals, and Dr. Lynch has lunch with the Queen.

The two trajectories could not be more different, an important point that the Wall Street Journal does not emphasize in “How Autonomy’s Mike Lynch Reinvented Himself.” (If the link is dead, don’t blame me. Buy the newspaper and read the story.) To be fair, the article does a good job of tracking Dr. Lynch through time.

One passage I highlighted was:

Mr. Lynch said “serious, intelligent investors” shouldn’t have a problem investing with him. But scrutiny of the H-P deal has tarnished his reputation in Silicon Valley. “I would definitely do an extra level of diligence,” said Venky Ganesan, managing director at California venture-capital firm Menlo Ventures.

One cannot allow Dr. Lynch to escape from the write up without some doubt cast on him. What I liked was “a venture capital firm Menlo Ventures.” I wonder if that financial maven’s tune would change if he were involved with Dr. Lynch’s new ventures.

Unlike HP, his businesses appear to be moving forward without the sturm und drang that has accompanied dear, ageing HP in the last 36 months. I am waiting to learn more about HP’s attempt to sell some of its business in China. The article, as I noted, remains silent on HP’s business trajectory.

Stephen E Arnold, October 31, 2014

Predictive APIs: Will Search Vendors Play in This Sandbox?

October 31, 2014

I received a notice about new conference called “The First International Conference on Predictive APIs and Apps.” According to the write up I saw:

Several companies who are building predictive APIs and tools to make predictive app development easier will be at PAPIs (BigML, Datagami, Dataiku, Indico, Intuitics, GraphLab, Openscoring, PredictionIO, RapidMiner, Yhat). We’re expecting to see both actual and potential users who will share and learn how to use these products. Newcomers will learn and get inspiration from the keynotes, showcases and practical “predictive for all” user stories. Experts will also be interested in the sessions on technical challenges and in the panel discussion on the future of predictive APIs.

A number of search and content processing vendors suggest they deliver advanced analytics. Text analytics vendors are either feeding data into predictive engines or delivering outputs that are predictive.

Are predictive analytics one of the next big things? If so, traditional information retrieval and content processing companies are likely to be attending this conference on November 17 and 18, 2014.

At this time, IBM and Microsoft are on the program.

IBM will be addressing “intelligent APIs.” In the abstract for his talk, I did not see a reference to Watson. Microsoft’s talk abstract is not on the program page as of October 30, 2014.

Worth attending if you in the Barcelona area.

Stephen E Arnold, October 31, 2014

Insight Venture Partners Invests Big in Alteryx

October 31, 2014

The press release on Digital Journal titled Alteryx Secures $60 Million in Funding to Meet Growing Global Demand for Data Blending and Advanced Analytics announces the Insight Venture Partners investment in Alteryx. Jeff Horing, managing partner at Insight Venture Partners, expressed his excitement at the deal in the release,

“Empowering analysts to use all the data available to them, while also making it easy for data analysts to produce advanced analytics is enabling Alteryx to expand its total addressable market through increased user adoption and greater demand for its product…”

According to another article titled Data ‘Blending’ Firm Alteryx Gets $60m Investment on mrweb states that Horing will be joining Alteryx’s Board of Directors. Alteryx CEO Dean Stoecker was also quoted in the article,

“We are thrilled to have a firm like Insight Venture Partners join our team… This latest funding round … will allow us to deliver continuously enhanced personal data blending and analytics experiences to even more analysts.”

Sounds like everyone involved is overjoyed at this investment. Alteryx already holds an impressive list of customers including DataSift, Slalom Consulting and Cloudera. Insight Venture Partners is a venture capital firm founded in 1995 that has raised over 8 billion dollars and invested in more than 200 companies globally. A match made in heaven, if you picture heaven as a huge pile of money.

Chelsea Kerwin, October 31, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

FirstRain Escapes “Death Spiral” Through Work of Penny Herscher

October 31, 2014

The article on Fortune titled The Company Was In a Death Spiral. She Brought It Back From the Brink lauds the work of Penny Herscher  at data analytics firm FirstRain. Herscher took over the company in 2004 after successful work at Cadence Design Systems, Simplex and Texas Instruments. FirstRain was a bankrupt company with a great prototype but no product. Herscher embraced the challenges posed by FirstRain and began her overhaul with a move from New York to California. The article goes on,

“She raised $20 million from new investors and hired a trusted team, including chief operating officer Y.Y. Lee, a mathematician and software engineer… Today, more than 50% of FirstRain’s senior leadership is women. The fledgling company had barely started developing a product when storms began brewing on the horizon. It was 2008. The global economy was beginning to collapse. “The wheels came off the bus,” Herscher says with lament. To survive, the company had to completely change course again…It pulled through.”

But only after major lay-offs and changes in the structure. Today FirstRain customers include IBM and Cisco, and it is only continuing to grow, with new offices in San Mateo. Herscher’s story of success is one of commitment and creative problem-solving.

Chelsea Kerwin, October 31, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Altegrity Kroll: Under Financial Pressure

October 30, 2014

Most of the name surfing search experts—like the fellow who sold my content on Amazon without my permission and used my name to boot—will not recall much about Engenium. That’s no big surprise. Altegrity Kroll owns the pioneering company in the value-added indexing business. Altegrity, as you may know, is the owner of the outfit that cleared Edward Snowden for US government work.

I read “Snowden Vetter Altegrity’s Loans Plunge: Distressed Debt”. In that article I learned:

Altegrity Inc., the security firm that vetted former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, has about six months until it runs out of money as the loss of background-check contracts negate most of a July deal with lenders to extend maturities for five years.

The article reports that “selective default” looms for the company. With the lights  flickering at a number of search and content processing firms, I hope that the Engenium technology survives. The system remains a leader in a segment which has a number of parvenus.

Stephen E Arnold, October 30, 2014

Google Ads: Thirst, Fear or Confusion?

October 30, 2014

I know zippo about online advertising. What have I got to advertise? After a talk with the owner of a high-traffic blog with videos, I flipped through my archive. With Google creeping toward a for fee test for YouTube lovers, I found “YouTube Shoots Google In Foot” interesting. Google is dependent on advertising. The dinosaur, the jets, and the synthetic biology initiative–everything depends on ads. Search has been marginalized. This write up explains that Google is annoying its users. Er, what’s new?

The nifty part was:

A rather emotionally charged Google ad has been making its way around the internet lately, heavily advocating the power of Google search. Ironically, all of the searches displayed in the ad fail to show Google ads that would typically come up in a normal, adblock-free search, suggesting that Google prefers to show a cleaner page in the commercial. They’ve also allegedly been asking users to disable adblock for some of their sites, while paying AdBlock Plus to whitelist their other Adwords ads, saving an estimated $887 million last year.

I am not sure I understand this, but it seems as if Google may be looking beyond ads to fund the money YouTube consumes each quarter.

Stephen E Arnold, October 30, 2014

Presto the Software Formerly Known as JackBe

October 30, 2014

The information page titled What You Can Do With: Presto on Software AG Products provides an overview of the data-combining software formerly known as JackBe until its acquisition by Software AG. JackBe is now Presto! (Exclamation point optional.) Information flow since March 2014 has been modest. The article offers an overview and some of the capabilities of the software, such as in-memory analytics and visualization and data mashing. The article states,

“Presto combines data from any source for data visualizations. Accessing the original data—directly from data warehouses, news feeds, social media, existing BI systems, streaming big data, even Excel spreadsheets—lets business users respond to changing conditions as they happen. Presto’s “point-click-connect” assembly tool, Wires, makes it easy to bring together and manipulate data from multiple existing systems into meaningful data visualizations. Simple, powerful data mashing means IT and power users can create new apps and dashboards in hours—even minutes…”

Software AG began in 1969 in Germany and in 2013 acquired JackBe. According to the Company History page, the deal was actually awarded the title of Strategic M&A deal of the Year by the Association for Corporate Growth. Other acquisitions include Apama Complex Event Processing Platform, alfabet AG, and Longjump.

Chelsea Kerwin, October 30, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Quora Blocks Internet Archive

October 30, 2014

Quora’s mission is to “share and grow the world’s knowledge,” but Eric Mill’s blog Konklone points out that “Quora Keeps the World’s Knowledge For Itself.” You might be wondering what Mill means with that post title. Mill works on the 18F team, where he helps the US government develop Web and digital services. Quora sent him a user’s question about his work on 18F, but Mill claims that when he looked up the responses in the Internet Archive he did not find any results.

Quora does not allow the Internet Archive to crawl its Web site and archive it. Mill was met with the Quora’s response to robot crawlers. Quora says it wants to protect people’s anonymity and to remove content at their discretion. Quora wants the ability to go back and change its history. Mill follows with a thoughtful response about how erasing historical records ruins credibility and it is a feature sought after by organizations and governments.

He also voices his opinion:

“What Quora is asking for from the Internet Archive — and really, since the Archive has no public competition, from the Internet — is unreasonable, short-sighted, and selfish. Quora is simply being a shark about “their” content, at the public’s expense.

I usually try to be generous about people’s motives, but I’m comfortable assuming the worst here. Quora’s reason is simply too flimsy, and its business incentives too tangled up in the outcome, for their comment above to be the full story.”

He makes a valid point about what would happen to the content if the company foOKlded and how Quora used to lock down content unless people made accounts. Quora is similar to Stack Overflow, where users can share and ask questions, but Stack Overflow has allowed itself to be archives. Mill states that Quora is not contributing its knowledge to the world and others might consider sharing it in other places.

Whitney Grace, October 30, 2014
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

SharePoint Fest 2015 Announced for Washington DC

October 30, 2014

In the SharePoint community ongoing professional development is critical. SharePoint is vast and there is always something new to learn. Developers and users alike may be interested in the next SharePoint Fest which is scheduled for April 2015 in Washington DC. Read the details in the PRWeb release, “SharePoint Fest announced for Washington D.C. April 8-10, 2015.”

The press release begins:

“Returning from its successful conference in Bethesda in 2013, SharePoint Fest will be moving to a much larger and more central venue for 2015 in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center located in downtown DC. The event will consist of pre-conference workshops on April 8th, followed by a two day conference April 9-10. Over 40 speakers and 70+ sessions spread over multiple tracks are anticipated.”

To keep in touch with other training and professional development opportunities, as well as staying up to date on all the latest news, tips, and tricks, keep an eye on ArnoldIT.com. This web service is run by a longtime expert, Stephen E. Arnold. He has an interest in enterprise, particularly SharePoint, and his SharePoint feed is a treasure trove for many who work with the solution on a daily basis.

Emily Rae Aldridge, October 30, 2014

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