April 20, 2016
I loathe the buzzwords “artificial intelligence,” “cognitive,” and their ilk. I am okay with smart software or, better yet, semi smart software. If you want a listing of the outfits acquiring smart software companies in the last few years, navigate to “The Race For AI: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple In A Rush To Grab Artificial Intelligence Startups.” Mid tier consulting firms will be charging big bucks for their round up of these deals. The list contains the names of 21 outfits and their new owners. Don’t you wish you were a start up owned by IBM or Yahoo?
Stephen E Arnold, April 20, 2016
April 1, 2016
Editor’s Note: No April Fool’s Day fun.This is as real as it gets.
I read “Google Steps Away from Humanoid Robot PR Problem.” Google, the math and science club outfit, bought Boston Dynamics. This is a robot company which crafts confections for some interesting applications. Does war fighting with autonomous robots ring your chimes? Well, that’s too bad.
Google acquired the nifty robot maker. The gadgets are really cool in my opinion.
What child can resist a couple of robot dogs?
Is there a pre-school teacher alive unable to turn down the offer of a robot assistant the give the three year olds a cookie and some milk?
Recently there were snaps and a video of a human (always spoilsports when it comes to spiffy technology) trying to topple a Google / Boston Dynamics robot.
Several robots shaped like humanoids or four-legged creatures were being developed by Boston Dynamics, a robotics company bought by Google for $500 million at the end of 2013. For years, Boston Dynamics has been famous for posting online videos showing its walking robots maintaining their balance despite being kicked and shoved by the company’s human employees. One of the latest videos of the Atlas humanoid robot, published in February 2016, triggered a slew of YouTube comments that described the robot as “terrifying” or referenced Hollywood’s “Terminator” films about an artificial intelligence called Skynet destroying humanity. Such reactions apparently made Google’s public-relations team wary of wading into the online debate, according to Bloomberg News.
The Alphabet Google thing may come to regret its decision.
What happens if a Boston Dynamics’ robot reads a news story about the terrifying, Skynet future a robot poses? What happens if the robot is self actualized and catches a flight to SFO to resolve the matter?
Yikes. Traffic on 101 will be screwed up that day.
Stephen E Arnold, April 1, 2015
March 30, 2016
kCura, an e-discovery company, purchased Content Analyst. Content Analyst was a spin out from a Washington, DC consulting and services firm. According to “kCura Acquires Content Analyst Company, Developers of High-Performance Advanced Text Analytics Technologies”
Content Analyst’s analytics engine has been fully integrated into Relativity Analytics for eight years, supporting a wide range of features that are flexible enough to handle the needs of any type or size of case — everything from organizing unstructured data to email threading to categorization that powers flexible technology-assisted review workflows….By joining teams, kCura will bring Content Analyst’s specialized engineering talent closer to Relativity users, in order to continue building a highly scalable analytics solution even faster.
Content Analytics performs a number of text processing functions, including entity extraction and concept identification for metatagging text. When the initial technology was developed by the DC firm specializing in intelligence and related work for the US government, the system captured the attention of the intelligence community. The systems and methods used by Content Analyst remain useful.
Unlike some text processing companies, Content Analyst focused on legal e-discovery. kCura is the new Content Analyst. What company will acquire Recommind?
Stephen E Arnold, March 30, 2016
February 13, 2016
I read “Time Inc Acquires Viant, Owner Of Myspace And A Vast Ad Tech Network.” According to the write up, the plan is:
to combine Viant’s business with its own, creating a big data, ad targeting powerhouse. Specifically, Time says it will “merge its premium content, subscriber data, and advertising inventory with Viant’s first party data and programmatic capabilities to bring substantial value to customers of both platforms.”
Ah, synergy. Just like year 2000?
Stephen E Arnold, February 13, 2016
January 14, 2016
DuckDuckGo keeps waddling through its search queries and quacking that it will not track its users information. DuckDuckGo has remained a small search engine, but its privacy services are chipping away at Google and search engines’ user base. TechViral shares that “DuckDuckGo The Anti-Google Search Engine Just Reached A New Milestone” and it is reaching twelve million search queries in one day!
In 2015, DuckDuckGo received 3.25 billion search queries, showing a 74 percent increase compared to the 2014 data. While DuckDuckGo is a private oasis in a sea of tracking cookies, it still uses targeted ads. However, unlike Google DuckDuckGo only uses ads based on the immediate keywords used in a search query and doesn’t store user information. It wipes the search engine clean with each use.
“Otherwise, it should be noted that although he refuses to have the same practices as Google, DuckDuckGo already making profits, yes that’s true. And the company’s CEO, Gabriel Weinberg, stop to think it is necessary to collect information about users to monetize a search engine: ‘You type car and you see an advertisement for a car, Google follows you on all these sites because it operates huge advertising networks and other properties. So they need these data for search engines to follow you.’ ”
DuckDuckGo offers a great service for privacy, while it is gaining more users it doesn’t offer the plethora of services Google does. DuckDuckGo, why not try private email, free office programs, and online data storage? Would you still be the same if you offered these services?
January 7, 2016
A couple years ago, Apple bought Topsy Labs, a social analytics firm and Twitter partner out of San Francisco. Now, in “Apple Inc. Acquired Topsy to Beat Google Search Capabilities,” BidnessEtc reports on revelations from Topsy’s former director of business development, Aaron Hayes-Roth. Writer Martin Blanc reveals:
“The startup’s tools were considered to be fast and reliable by the customers who used them. The in-depth analysis was smart enough to go back to 2006 and provide users with analytics and data for future forecasts. Mr. Roth and his team always had a curiosity attached to how Apple would use Twitter in its ecosystem. Apple does not make use of Twitter that much; the account was made in 2011 and there aren’t many tweets that come out of the social network. However, Mr. Roth explains that it was not Twitter data that Apple had its eye on; it was the technology that powered it. The architecture of Topsy makes it easier for systems to search large amounts of data extremely fast with impressive indexing capabilities. Subsequently, Apple’s ecosystem has developed quite a lot since Siri was first introduced with the iPhone 4s. The digital assistant and the Spotlight search are testament to how far Apple’s search capabilities have come.”
The article goes on to illustrate some of those advances, then points out the ongoing rivalry between Apple and Google. Are these improvements the result of Topsy’s tech? And will they give Apple the edge they need over their adversary? Stay tuned.
Cynthia Murrell, January 7, 2016
December 10, 2015
Microsoft has not given up on Bing yet. While the Microsoft’s brand name search engine has not gained much traction to take on Google in the United States, the United Kingdom might prove else wise. The Independent reports that “Rik Van Der Kooi: Microsoft Ups Its Challenge To Google With Big Plans For Bing” in the United Kingdom. Rik van der Kooi is Microsoft’s global head of search advertising and he wants to give Bing users a more ambient experience. Microsoft is integrating Bing into more features and applications, such as Microsoft Office, Cortana, Gumtree, Windows 10, and Skype.
Kooi is very eager to introduce Bing into Skype, because it will only benefit users. He says that:
“In the future we are thinking about not artificially pushing it in but maybe putting it in where it’s of use to the user. I could imagine a scenario where if you were either talking with somebody via Skype or chatting via Skype, that providing a search experience inside of Skype is a very valuable experience. And if it’s valuable to the user then we would consider it.”
Google still controls 88 percent of the UK’s search market, but Kooi did not stoop to using insults when he was asked about Google. Instead, he said that Bing and Google have different business approaches. Google is more focused on advertising as a model, which is different than what Bing does. Microsoft has a clear plan for Bing, including the knowledge that it has a lot of advertiser demand and forming partnerships with more UK platforms for quality traffic. Kooi is faithful that Bing will continue to gain traction in the UK and the US, it’s already in the double digits.
December 3, 2015
As Google becomes Alphabet, the company seems to be taking a new approach to its investments. Business Insider declares, “Google Slammed the Brakes on its Acquisition Machine, with the Lowest Deal-Making Since 2009.” The article references Google’s 10Q quarterly earnings report, and compares that quarter’s acquisition total of $250 million to the company’s speeding sprees of years past; see the post for details. Writer Alexai Oreskovic observes:
“The M&A slowdown comes as Google has transformed itself into the Alphabet holding company, which separates various Google projects, such as fiber-based internet access, and Nest into separate companies. It also comes as new CFO Ruth Porat has taken steps to make Google more disciplined about its spending, and to return some cash to shareholders through buybacks. Stock buybacks and slowing M&A — perhaps this is the new Google. Or perhaps Google is just taking a breather on its acquisitions to digest all the companies it has swallowed up over the years. Asked about the slowing M&A, a Google representative responded by email: ‘Acquisitions by their nature are inherently lumpy and don’t follow neat 9 month patterns.’”
Well, that’s true, I suppose, as far as it goes. We hope this turn to fiscal discipline does not portend trouble for Google/ Alphabet. What is the plan? We are curious to see where the company goes from here.
Cynthia Murrell, December 3, 2015
November 27, 2015
Lawyers and legal search and content processing systems do words. The analytics part of life, based on my limited experience of watching attorneys do mathy stuff, is not these folks’ core competency. Words. Oh, and billing. I can’t overlook billing.
I read “Now It’s Official: Lexis Nexis Acquires Lex Machina.” This is good news for the stakeholders of Lex Machina. Reed Elsevier certainly expects Lex Machina’s business processes to deliver an avalanche of high margin revenue. One can only raise prices so far before the old chestnut from Economics 101 kicks in: Price elasticity. Once something is too expensive, the customers kick the habit, find an alternative, or innovate in remarkable ways.
According to the write up:
LexisNexis today announced the acquisition of Silicon Valley-based Lex Machina, creators of the award-winning Legal Analytics platform that helps law firms and companies excel in the business and practice of law.
So what does legal analytics do? Here’s the official explanation, which is in, gentle reader, words:
- A look into the near future. The integration of Lex Machina Legal Analytics with the deep collection of LexisNexis content and technology will unleash the creation of new, innovative solutions to help predict the results of legal strategies for all areas of the law.
- Industry narrative. The acquisition is a prominent and fresh example of how a major player in legal technology and publishing is investing in analytics capabilities.
I don’t exactly know what Lex Machina delivers. The company’s Web page states:
We mine litigation data, revealing insights never before available about judges, lawyers, parties, and patents, culled from millions of pages of IP litigation information. We call these insights Legal Analytics, because analytics involves the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data. Our customers use to win in the highly competitive business and practice of law. Corporate counsel use Lex Machina to select and manage outside counsel, increase IP value and income, protect company assets, and compare performance with competitors. Law firm attorneys and their staff use Lex Machina to pitch and land new clients, win IP lawsuits, close transactions, and prosecute new patents.
I think I understand. Lex Machina applies the systems and methods used for decades by companies like BAE Systems (Detica/ NetReveal) and similar firms to provide tools which identify important items. (BAE was one of Autonomy’s early customers back in the late 1990s.) Algorithms, not humans reading documents in banker boxes, find the good stuff. Costs go down because software is less expensive than real legal eagles. Partners can review outputs and even visualizations. Revolutionary.
November 3, 2015
I read “Horror Show: Worst Mergers and Acquisitions in Tech History.” I like these categorical affirmatives. You know. All men are mortal, etc.
The write up identifies some MBA plays that jumped the tracks. The list of flops include:
- Caldera and SCO (a Unix mash up)
- Palm and HP (a number of other players too)
- Oracle and Sun Micro (yep, commodity hardware will go nowhere)
- America Online and Time Warner (still amazing after all those years)
- HP and Compaq (yikes, HP again)
- Northern Telecom and Bay Networks (clever Canadians)
- Microsoft and Danger (how is that mobile phone business working out, Microsoft?)
- Borland and Ashton Tate (a gem)
- Novell and Unix (Utah antics)
- MySpace and News Corp. (real journalism in action)
- Google and Motorola (ah, the good old days of informed reasoning)
- Zynga and OMGPOP (bankers love this type of deal)
- HP and Autonomy (yikes, again).
- Facebook and Instagram (planning is us)
- Apple and Lala (the beat goes on)
- Cisco and Linksys (dear, old Cisco)
- Nokia and Microsoft (how is that mobile phone business working out, Microsoft?)
These 17 mini cases are interesting to me because one company makes the list three times. HP and Palm, HP and Compaq, and HP and Autonomy.
Some of these other case examples are spectacular; for example, the Google Motorola tie up.
But for a single company to make the list three times says quite a bit about the management teams at HP over the years of these deals.
Stellar achievement, HP. And a tip of the hat to the analyst who seems to have recycled an MBA study group project for the article.
Stephen E Arnold, November 3, 2015