Elastic Remains Strategically Bouncy

November 10, 2017

Enterprise search remains a dull and rusty sword in the museum of enterprise applications. Frankly, other than wordsmithing with wild and crazy jargon, the technology for finding information in an organization works a bit like the blacksmith under the spreading chestnut tree.

The big news from my point of view has been the uptake in open source enterprise search software. The lead dog is Lucene. Even the much hyped free version of Fast Search technology pitched as Solr is built on Lucene.

Image result for winner

Yep, there are proprietary solutions, but where are these folks? Outfits with search technology are capturing the hearts and minds of decision makers who want solutions to findability problems, not the high speed sleet of buzzwords like ontology, taxonomy, natural language processing, facets, semantics, yada, yada, yada.

I read an article, which I assume is true, because I believe everything I read on the Internet and in white papers. The write up is “Elastic Acquires SaaS Site Search Leader Swiftype.” Elastic is the result of a bold search experience called Compass. The champion of this defunct system was Shay Banon, who created Elasticsearch.

For many people, Elasticsearch and the for fee “extras” available from the company Elastic is Lucene. Disagree? Everyone is entitled to an opinion, gentle reader.

The write up informed me:

Elastic, the company behind Elasticsearch, and the Elastic Stack, the most widely-used collection of open source products for solving mission-critical use cases like search, logging, and analytics, today announced that it has acquired Swiftype, a San Francisco-based startup founded in 2012 and backed by Y Combinator and New Enterprise Associates (NEA). Swiftype is the creator of the popular SaaS-based Site Search and the recently introduced Enterprise Search products.

Swiftype used Elastic to captur3e some customers with its search solution. According to the write up, even Dr. Pepper found a pepper upper with Swiftype’s Elasticsearch based system.

Why’s this important? I jotted down three reasons as I was watching a group of confused deer trying to cross a busy highway. (Deer, like investors in enterprise search dream spinners, are confused by the movement of fast moving automobiles and loud pick up trucks.)

First, compare Elastic’s acquisition with Lucidworks purchase of an interface company. Elastic bought people, a solution, and customers. Interfaces are okay, but those who want to find information need a system that springs into action quickly and can be used to deal with real world information problems. Arts and crafts are important, but not as important as search that returns relevant results and performs useful functions like chopping log files into useful digital lumber.

Second, Elastic has been on a role. We profiled the company for a wonky self appointed blue chip consulting firm years ago. The report went nowhere due to the managerial expertise of a self appointed search expert. See this link for details of this maven. In that report, my team of researchers verified that large companies were adopting Elasticsearch because those firms had the most to gain from an open source product which could be supported by third party engineers. Another plus was that the Elasticsearch product could be extended and amplified without the handcuffs of a proprietary search vendor’s license restrictions.

Third, Elasticsearch worked. Sure, it was a hassle to become familiar with the system. But if there were an issue, the Lucene community was usually available for advice and often for prompt fixes. Mr. Banon pushed innovations down the trail as well. It was clear five years ago and it is clear today that Elastic and Elasticsearch are the go to systems for some savvy people. Contrast that with the floundering of outfits flogging their search systems on LinkedIn or on vapid webinars about concepts.

Net net: Elastic is an outfit to watch. For most of Elastic’s competitors watching is easy when one is driving a Model T behind the race leader in one of those zippy Hellcats with 700 horsepower.

Even blacksmiths take notice when this baby roars down the highway. And the deer? The deer run the other way.

Stephen E Arnold, November 10, 2017

Attack Planes Soon to Be Equipped with Lasers

August 24, 2017

The US Air Force soon will be equipping its attack planes with laser weapons to fight UAVs that terrorist organizations may use for launching attacks.

According to an op-ed published by Defense One and titled The Future of the Air Force, the author says:

We are currently investing in the hardware to ensure space superiority; in the near future we will need to grow the number of space airmen and the accompanying infrastructure much like we did for the combat Air Force 40 years ago.

Wars in the future will be fought on multiple fronts, including space. As per the op-ed, the US Air Force needs to be equipped sufficiently to fight these battles without putting people on the front line.

The op-ed also says about the acquisition of an Israeli company that enables attack planes using lasers to fend off drones that are used for dropping bombs and other weapons. The acquisition does not come as a surprise as Pentagon had been researching use of lasers as tactical weapons since long. It seems the days of Star Wars are very near.

Vishal Ingole, August 24, 2017

Drugmaker Merk Partners with Palantir on Data Analysis

July 21, 2017

Pharmaceutical company Merk is working with data-analysis firm Palantir on a project to inform future research, we learn from the piece, “Merk Forges Cancer-Focused Big Data Alliance with Palantir” at pharmaceutical news site PMLive. The project is an effort to remove the bottleneck that currently exists between growing silos of medical data and practical applications of that information. Writer Phil Taylor specifies:

Merck will work with Palantir on cancer therapies in the first instance, with the aim of developing a collaborative data and analytics platform for the drug development processes that will give researchers new understanding of how new medicines work. Palantir contends that many scientists in pharma companies struggle with unstructured data and information silos that ‘reduce creativity and limit researchers’ corrective analyses’. The data analytics and sharing platform will help Merck researchers analyse real-world and bioinformatics data so they can ‘understand the patients who may benefit most’ from a treatment.

The alliance also has a patient-centric component, and according to Merck will improve the experience of patients using its products, improve adherence as well as provide feedback on real-world efficacy.

Finally, the two companies will collaborate on a platform that will allow improved global supply chain forecasting and help to get medicines to patients who need them around the world as quickly as possible. Neither company has disclosed any financial details on the deal.

This is no surprise move for the 125-year-old Merk, which has been embracing digital technology in part by funding projects around the world. Known as MSD everywhere but the U.S. and Canada, the company started with a small pharmacy in Germany but now has its headquarters in New Jersey.

Palantir has recently stirred up some controversy. The company’s massive-scale data platforms allow even the largest organizations to integrate, manage, and secure all sorts of data. Its founding members include PayPal alumni and Stanford computer-science grads. The company is based in Palo Alto, California, and has offices around the world.

Cynthia Murrell, July 21, 2017

The New York Times Pairs up with Spotify for Subscription Gains

July 18, 2017

The article on Quartz Media titled The New York Times Thinks People Will Still Pay for News—

If Given Free Music examines the package deal with Spotify currently being offered by the Times. While subscriptions to the news publication have been on the rise thanks in large part to Donald Trump, they are still hurting. The article points out that if the news and music industries have one thing in common, it is trying to get people to pay for their services.

The two companies announced an offer… giving a free year of Spotify Premium to anyone in the US who signs up for an all-access subscription to the news publication. Premium normally costs $120 a year, and the offer slashes the price of an all-access Times subscription too—from $6.25 a week to $5 a week… While it may seem like both companies will take a hit from these discounts, the boost in new subscribers/readers will likely more than make up for it.

It is a match made on Tinder, a coupling for the new world order. Will this couple get along? As millennials seek new outlets for activism, purchasing a subscription to the Times is a few steps above posting a rant on Facebook. Throw a year of Spotify into the mix and this deal is really appealing to anyone who doesn’t consider the Times a “liberal rag.” So maybe the Donald won’t be interested, but the rest of us sure might consider paying $5/month for legitimate news and music.

Chelsea Kerwin, July 18, 2017

Oath Rhymes with Loath and Maybe Sloth?

April 5, 2017

I wanted Yahoo to be named Yabba Dabba Hoot. Darn it. The Verizon outfit which may put some interesting software on mobile phones it sell has come up with the name Oath. I am not sure any of my friends in Harrod’s Creek would have stumbled upon this word. I noted that a number of the write ups reporting about the new name, the Tony Romo like sacking of Marissa Mayer, and the assurances that the calculus of AOL+Yahoot will change my life. See “Under Oath? How Yahoo + AOL Will Change Your Life.”

USA Today brilliantly revealed that Verizon’s Xoogler believes “the brands will stay the same. “ Yep, that’s what happens when Verizon acquires companies: The status quo is the Baby Bell way. Well, sometimes as long as one is not the CEO, the CFO, the legal team, and anyone who does not understand the ethos of the Young Pioneers and Bell Telephone training methods:

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The real journalism outfit which we call McPaper here in Kentucky quoted the Xoogler responsible for the AOL Yahoot marriage. Tim Armstrong and apparently someone else allegedly said:

Armstrong has described Oath as a B2B brand, overseeing the names that you are all familiar with. Beyond Yahoo and AOL, those names include Tumblr, Huffington Post, TechCrunch and Engadget. In all, about 1.3 billion consumers use the company’s collection of brands making these among the most powerful digital brands on the Internet. “We like to say branding wise if you look at a hat, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Yahoo Sports will be on the front, Oath will be on the side,” Armstrong said. Besides the early reaction to Oath hasn’t been all that flattering, with the new name the subject of numerous jokes out on social media.

On the side. Does oath mean economic growth?

Stephen E Arnold, April 5, 2017

Yahoo: Discount News

February 25, 2017

I read “Verizon, Yahoo Agree to Lowered $4.48 Billion Deal.” The knock off price for an outfit with interesting security controls and a fine customer communication business process is $4.48 billion. Not bad for an aged Internet dowager which seems to have been drifting of late. The write up stated in real news fashion:

Under the amended terms, Yahoo and Verizon will split cash liabilities related to some government investigations and third-party litigation related to the breaches. Yahoo will continue to be responsible for liabilities from shareholder lawsuits and Securities and Exchange Commission investigations.

From my vantage pointing Harrod’s Creek, it is party time for the attorneys engaged in the many facets of Silicon Valley’s business school generation machine. Yahoooot or is it Yabba Dabba Hoot. I just get mixed up.

Stephen E Arnold, February 25, 2017

Autonomy and Hewlett Packard: A How To from Fortune

January 16, 2017

I read “How Autonomy Fooled Hewlett-Packard.” The article was written by Jack T. Cielsielski, who is president of R.G. Associates, Inc. in Baltimore, Maryland. Mr. Ciesielski’s company publishes “The Analyst’s Accounting Observer, which is described as “a research service for institutional investors.” The company offers this example return on a $1 million investment:

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The caption for the chart is “All performance data is net of advisory fees.  3, 5, 10 year returns are annualized total returns.  Inception is the annualized total return since 12/31/1992.  S&P 500 Total Return sourced from www.standardandpoors.com.  Past performance is not indicative of future results.”

I am not sure if the write up is a Fortune-edited article, a Fortune-commissioned article, or an inclusion in Fortune which an entity purchased. For the purposes of Beyond Search, I will assume that the article is an example of “real” reporting and spot on in its objectivity and accuracy. I recognize that depending on where one sits and the tools and information available will affect what one perceives. This is the viewshed problem, which is illustrated below. Each color shows what the respective observer “sees.”

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I was interested in the write up because the legal dispute between the “old” Hewlett Packard and executives of Autonomy is on going. Obviously neither Mr. Ciesielski  Fortune does not want to find itself in the legal crossfire. My assumption is, therefore, that Fortune’s “real” journalists have figured out some of the nuances of the HP-Autonomy matter. I would point out that these nuances were overlooked or misinterpreted by HP’s executives, Board members, advisers, lawyers, and accountants. Too bad neither HP nor Autonomy had Fortune-caliber experts assisting when the $11 billion deal was conceived, executed, understood, and prosecuted. Some outfits have smarter, more thorough investigators, researchers, and analysts.

The write up points out that the former top dog of Autonomy USA (Christopher Egan) had to pay $800,000 in November 2016 he garnered from the HP buy out. The prime mover in this check writing was the US Securities & Exchange Commission. The Fortune article states:

HP relied on figures he had helped inflate. The facts of the case are now public.

Here’s the method used by Autonomy as reported by Fortune:

Autonomy’s UK-based senior managers directed a program swelling revenues by almost $200 million. Autonomy sold its software through “value-added” resellers, legitimate businesses providing additional services and support to product end users while also selling Autonomy’s software. Just five resellers, in 30 transactions, provided services to Autonomy that couldn’t be called legitimate.

Read more

Verizon AOL May Allow 500 People to Find Their Future Elsewhere

November 17, 2016

With or without Yahoot — sorry, I meant, Yahoo — is a darned exciting outfit for a Baby Bell. I read “Verizon Owned AOL to Layoff 500 Employees, Mostly in Corporate Unit: Source.” With all the chatter about fake news, let me state that I believe everything I read about Verizon, AOL, and every other online centric outfit in the datasphere. No distortion exists in bizarro world. Unnamed sources are the only type of source that has any traction today.

The write up says:

Digital media company AOL, owned by Verizon Communications Inc, will lay off five  per cent of its workforce, or about 500 employees, a source familiar with the situation said.

Pundits, Brahmins, and former middle school teachers have been reporting about this RIF or reduction in force. Hey, there’s nothing like a Thanksgiving treat to make folks feel really great about their job. On the bright side, a certain president elect is hiring.

AOL may become two mini businesses:

  1. Media, search and communications
  2. Advertising technology and other assorted infrastructure enabled products and services.

Another rumor is that something called “Be On” may be reshaped. A copy of the Xoogler Tim Armstrong’s message to employees appears on Business Insider. Variety points out that the RIFs are “unrelated to Verizon’s Yahoo Bid,” which raises the question, “Why is AOL dumping staff?” No answer, of course.

Fortune Magazine recycles a Silicon Valley “real” news outfit with this second hand statement from the Xoogler Tim Armstrong:

“The layoffs are related to a 2017 strategy where we will add to our business. These are super targeted by area and we will be re-growing especially in video and mobile.

Yep, Happy Thanksgiving.

Stephen E Arnold, November 17, 2016

Autonomy Software Executive Indicted

November 12, 2016

I used to pay reasonably close attention to Autonomy Software plc. The outfit was a leader in search and content processing. The methods were based on math, not human editors. Bayesian, LaPlacian, and Markovian methods created a take away happy family. Early customers included some big defense companies, government agencies, and some banks. Over the years, Autonomy generated millions in revenue from its Digital Reasoning Engine, Integrated Data Operating Layer, and other technologies.

In 2011, Hewlett Packard went to an automated teller machine, withdrew $11 billion dollars, and bought Autonomy. The deal brought patents, the products, assorted bits and pieces, and executives who had shepherded the search and content processing company from zero to somewhere in the neighborhood of $700 million in revenue. Oh, the Autonomy deal brought along the shrunken head of Fast Search & Transfer, one of the outfits to take on Autonomy only to find itself struggling with revenues and some rumors of financial fast dancing. Fast Search went to Redmond in 2008, and Autonomy cruised along until HP showed up with a tractor trailer filled with money.

After buying Autonomy, HP found that the Autonomy management team did not fit the Sillycon Valley pioneer’s life style. The founder of Autonomy quit and a handful of Autonomy executives tagged along. HP found out that it did not have a clue how to make money from search and content processing. HP also learned that its auditors, accountants, senior executives, and lawyers were in the dark when it came to generating money in a sector where dozens of companies have gone down the drain. What happened to the wizards from Delphes, Endeca, Fast Search, et al?

Well, one went to jail or was sentenced. Now, if the information in “HP Fight about $11 Billion Takeover Sees Former Autonomy Executive Indicted on Felony Charges” is accurate, HP wants to put Sushovan Hussain, Autonomy’s financial manager and a minivan filled with other Autonomy executives, into orange jump suits.

The write up reports:

The indictment charges that Sushovan Hussain, “together with others, engaged in a fraudulent scheme to deceive purchasers and sellers of Autonomy securities and HP about the true performance of Autonomy’s business, its financial condition, and its prospects for growth.”

The hammer dropped on November 10, 2016. The write up says:

… federal prosecutors indicted Hussain in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. He was charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Wire fraud is financial fraud involving use of telecommunications or information technology. The charges carry a combined maximum prison sentence of 20 years. The federal government is seeking at least $7.7 million from Hussain, money it said was gained through crime.

Autonomy denies the allegations that Autonomy pumped up revenues and doctored assorted information. HP apparently was unaware of “alarms” about HP which surfaced in 2007. The newspaper article adds:

Daniel Mahoney, research director of forensic accounting firm CFRA, told this newspaper in 2012 that his company in 2007 started sounding alarms about Autonomy in reports to investor clients. Summarizing the beliefs of himself and other analysts, Mahoney said, “Our concern was the organic growth that Autonomy was reporting was overstated … it seemed like they were constantly moving things around in their financial statements to make things appear better than they are.”

Okay, 2007. HP bought Autonomy in 2001. Presumably HP reviewed Autonomy’s financials, talked to resellers, interviewed executives, consulted the mid tier firms specializing in search, and other research prior to deciding $11 billion was the right sized number for Autonomy.

If not, what caused HP to buy Autonomy? If HP did its homework, why did  the company ignore the 2007 storm warnings?

The saga continues even though HP sold Autonomy earlier this year to Micro Focus for an alleged $8.8 billion. If that number is accurate, a $1.2 billion loss is important, but the real motivating factor may be the fact that HP’s approach to deal management may have been wobbly. To brush up on the Autonomy system, check out the free report at this link.

Excitement will ensue.

Stephen E Arnold, November 12, 2016

Yahoo: More Inspiring Management Examples

November 10, 2016

I thought that the Yahoot — sorry, I meant Yahoo — was behind us. I noted two interesting announcements about the Purple Haze machine. Business school case study writers have a gold mine with this Yahoot thing. Purple gym shoes might be the perfect fashion accessory when one thinks about the Xoogler’s management expertise manifested in an SEC filing. The extracts below come from the articles cited in this blog post.

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A Yahoo fashion accessory like these New Balance sneakers can be a complement to deposition day fashion. Yahoot’s professionals can make themselves instantly recognizable with these stylish kicks.

The first write up comes from a trendy business newsletter in the form of a story with this title: “Yahoo Faces at Least 23 Lawsuits Over Its Massive Data Breach.” One lawsuit is too many. Twenty three is an embarrassment of riches. The write up reports:

the Company is cooperating with federal, state, and foreign governmental officials and agencies seeking information and/or documents about the Security Incident and related matters, including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a number of State Attorneys General, and the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York.

Cooperation is good. Tucked into the write up was this statement:

Although the company says it only spent $1 million related to the breach last quarter, it admitted that the breach may “cause users and customers to curtail or stop using our products and services.”

No kidding?

I also noted this article: “Yahoo Admits Some Employees Knew of Massive Hack in 2014.” Let’s see. That’s about two years ago. The write up points out:

“An Independent Committee of the Board, advised by independent counsel and a forensic expert, is investigating, among other things, the scope of knowledge within the Company in 2014 and thereafter regarding this access,” Yahoo said in its filing. But it wasn’t until its August probe that the company got confirmation of the extent of the breach, a source with knowledge of the investigation said.

The source for both of these articles is a Yahoo SEC filing.

Outstanding judgment on the part of the Yahoo management team to cooperate with authorities, contradict the date of the “alleged” breach, and perform these cartwheels as Verizon tries to figure out if Yahoot is a swatch of discolored purple fabric which can be converted into Yoga pants or a t shirt. Perhaps business school students at some time in the future can wear purple New Balance sneakers to their discussion group meetings about Yahoo?

Stephen E Arnold, November 10, 2016

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