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Google: Circling the Semi Virtual Wagons

February 26, 2015

Google has an interesting track record with nation states, supra national agencies, and regulators.

Google has a new Euro boss, Matt Brittin. According to “Here’s Everything We Know about Google’s new European Boss Matt Brittin,” he is tall and:

Born in 1968 in Walton-on-Thames in Surrey, England, he was educated at Hampton School and Robinson College before leaving home to study at Cambridge University, where he earned a Master of Arts in Land Economy and Geography.

Also, according to “Google Shakes Up European Units in Face of Tougher Rules,” the GOOG is following in Yahoo’s footsteps  by trying to get organized in Europe. You may have to pay to access the Financial Times’ article.

Net net: After 15 or so years in business, the lads in Mountain View are circling their virtual wagons in EC land.

Will the shift be enough to satisfy the regulators presiding over a somewhat shaky financial and political tie up? My hunch is that regulators will regulate. Perhaps some juicy penalties or taxation fast dancing will be announced.

Exciting for Google which is facing push back about its real estate dreams in Mountain View, annoyances in China, and the on going European saber rattling.

Google will have to stand tall. The new GOOG Euro boss should be able to see over the well coiffed heads of the regulators.

Stephen E Arnold, February 26, 2015

Hewlett Packard and Autonomy: A Fourth Try for Clear Thinking

February 8, 2015

The weekend approacheth. Another legal action takes place. The article “Former Autonomy CFOI Tries Again to Halt HP Shareholder Settlement” does a good job of explaining why Sushovan Hussain (Autonomy’s former CFO) wants to put the brakes on HP’s settlement of a shareholder lawsuit. The legal maneuverings are too complex for me.

According to the article:

The shareholders accused HP of issuing misleading statements about the financial health of Autonomy. Terms of the early settlement deal, since rejected by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, proposed not only to drop claims against HP, its executives and directors including CEO Meg Whitman, and but also for law firms representing the shareholders to assist HP with any criminal charges that might result against former Autonomy execs including Hussain and the company’s former CEO Mike Lynch. HP is on its fourth attempt to obtain approval from the judge for a settlement. The latest proposal includes terms that would basically bar anyone from suing HP over the Autonomy deal, a move which Hussain says amounts to a legal overreach and strips him of his legal rights.

Several thoughts crossed my mind:

First, HP is investing considerable time, money, and effort in going after Autonomy. But HP bought Autonomy and presumably reviewed the deal before forking over $11 billion.

Second, the after purchase remorse seemed to affect HP management in a surprising way; to wit, HP did not know what it purchased. Isn’t HP management’s job to know what it buys?

Third, with each passing month, HP is lagging farther and farther behind the companies that have leapfrogged Autonomy’s late 1990s technology. Will it be too late for HP to generate the billions in revenue from Autonomy’s technology to recover their investment and generate a return for HP stakeholders?

I find this soap opera lacking the logic of the Tela Novela Entre el amor y el odio. I know whom I would nominate as el odio.

Stephen E Arnold, February 8, 2015

HP: Serious Fraud Office Served Up Cold Bangers and Beans

January 19, 2015

I assume that the New York Times has this story straight: “British Fraud Office Ends HP-Autonomy Inquiry.” If you have to pay to access the source or it disappears, don’t hassle me.

Here’s the paragraph about Hewlett Packard’s decision to pay big buck billions to purchase Autonomy:

“In respect of some aspects of the allegations, the S.F.O. has concluded that, on the information available to it, there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction,” the British authorities said in a statement on Monday.

HP will pump up in the Palo Alto gym and hit the US courts. But the decision is probably about as appetizing as an expense plate of bangers and beans at a Millwall football match.

HP hopes for a billion dollar burger from the US courts. The only question in my mind is, “Didn’t HP make the decision to buy Autonomy.”

Sir Mike Lynch is a compelling individual, but not even his skills can convince a printer ink company to spend $11 billion for mid 1990s’ technology. Perhaps HP would like to purchase DarkTrace which seems to be shaping up into another winner.

Stephen E Arnold, January 19, 2015

Love Open Source? Good News and News

January 13, 2015

I read “Top 10 FOSS Legal Developments of 2014.” A legal eagle generated the listicle. Despite my skepticism for birds of this feather, the list has some good news and—well, to put it positively—news for the open source movement.

The good news is that folks from courts to government agencies are paying attention to free and open source software. The “news” news is that use of open source “by commercial companies expands.” The write up states:

We have discussed in the past how many large companies are using FOSS as an explicit strategy to build their software. Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of the Linux Foundation, has described this strategic use of FOSS as external “research and development.” His conclusions are supported by Gartner who noted that “the top tech companies are still spending tens of billions of dollars on software research and development, the smart ones are leveraging open source for 80 percent of the code and spending their money on the remaining 20 percent, which represents their program’s ‘special sauce.’” The scope of this trend was emphasized by Microsoft’s announcement that it was “open sourcing” the .NET software framework (this software is used by millions of developers to build and operate websites and other large online applications).

The other item of “news” news is that the dust up with regard to Google and Java for Android continues. Who wants to risk a similar patent action? The answer to that question will help inform your assessment of the “news”.

I interpreted the information to suggest that open source is increasingly commercial. Good news or just news?

Stephen E Arnold, January 14, 2015

Altegrity Grapples with Debt and Lawsuit in Wake of Snowden Leak

January 9, 2015

The article on Go Local Prov titled Providence Equity May Lose Hundreds of Millions as Altegrity Faces Seizure in Snowden Fallout reports on the ramifications of the Snowden case on Altegrity and its owner, Providence Equity. Charges are being brought against US Investigative Services, LLC (USIS), to which Altegrity is the parent company. The charges against USIS revolve around improper vetting of Snowden and other people who handled classified documents. The article explains,

“The Snowden case… may seem like a remote affair, involving a lone security analyst based in Hawaii who leaked National Security Agency files in Hong Kong, now lives in limbo in Moscow, and has President Obama and the Washington policy establishment grappling with the fallout. The Post’s Josh Kosman reported Wednesday of this week that since the refinancing, there was a cyber-attack on USIS, and “then Washington in September decided not to renew its roughly $300 million annual contract.”

This was not only a loss for the company, but the government as well. The article does not explain who is conducting the 21,000 a month background checks now that USIS has been fired. It does offer the final note that Altegrity’s massive debt of $70 million will be due mostly in January of 2015, and that the company most likely does not have that sort of cash on hand.
Chelsea Kerwin, January 09, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Holiday Surprise: HP Gets a Chunk of Coal

December 21, 2014

I read “US Judge Rejects HP Settlement in Autonomy Shareholder Case.” According to the foundation that cranks out “real” journalism:

A federal judge on Friday rejected Hewlett-Packard Co’s (HPQ.N) proposed settlement of shareholder litigation involving the information technology company’s botched acquisition of Autonomy Plc.

HP wanted everything in the Toys R US store; that is, most of what it paid for Autonomy back. Then the grinch spoiled the holiday.

HP will have to find a way to find a way to convert its management expertise into big content processing bucks Cutting the company in half may not be a tactic that effectively deals with its purchasing price, the management street fair, and the jousts with a judge.

What’s next? More legal cartwheels. Fascinating and lucrative for the attorneys involved with the matter. For HP I see the company cementing its position in business school case studies.

Stephen E Arnold, December 21, 2014

The EU Parliament and How Google Works

November 28, 2014

The search engine optimization crowd is definitely excited about calls to break up the Google. You will want to read (when sitting down, of course) “Oh No They Didn’t: European Parliament Calls For Break Up Of Google.” I am not sure if this write up is about the vision of search in Europe or the view of the search engine optimization brigands.

The idea in Europe has to do with memories of big companies and the difficulty ruling bodies have of controlling them. Think IG Farben and certain US outfits in the second world war. I assume the learnings from the Quaero investment and the market success of Dassault Exalead’s Internet search system and the more recent Quixotic Qwant.com, the adrenaline pumping Sinequa, and other European search efforts has made one fact clear: Google is the go to search system by a wide margin. How about 95 percent of the search traffic in Denmark, for example?

For the SEO crowd, the notion of splitting up Google is obviously a new idea. The write up states:

It’s clear there’s a lot of frustration — even exasperation — behind this vote and Europe’s seeming inability to date to “do anything about Google.” Europe has been unable to produce home-grown competitors that can challenge the online hegemony of internet companies such as Google and Facebook. The company’s PC market share is much higher in Europe than in the US and Android is the dominant smartphone operating system there by far.

Like an American pro football competition, there is a winner and Europe does not like the outcome. The SEO crowd owes its livelihood to Google’s indifference to objective search results. Don’t tip the apple cart, please.

In the view of the SEO crowd:

It’s very unlikely that the European Commission will actually try to “unbundle” Google’s search engine from the rest of the company. However it’s possible that in Europe Google will be compelled to unbundle its privacy policy and won’t be able to combine data-sets for personalization and ad-targeting purposes. We will also probably see some effort to curb Google’s control over Android as well.

I find it fascinating that the lessons of online are one that have not yet been learned by either regulators or the search engine optimization wizards. The only thing missing is a for fee analysis of the search scene by one of the mid tier consulting outfits. Dave Schubmehl, are you at your iPhone’s touch screen keyboard.

Oh, no. Oh, yes. How Google works is the issue.

Stephen E Arnold, November 28, 2014

Forgetting Is Costing Google More

November 26, 2014

“The right to be forgotten” law is certainly causing Google more harm than they had intended. ZDNet tells us in the article “French ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ Decision Takes Link Removal Beyond Europe” that Google France is facing an 1000 euro fine each day, unless it stops linking to a defamatory article. The Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance passed the fine in September and it could set a precedent that the law could be enforced outside Europe.

Before the current decision, if someone wanted to be forgotten they had to sue Google in the US, now the search engine giant’s subsidiaries can be help accountable and forced to remove information. Google accepts and reviews requests to have links removed. If approved, the mentions of a subject are only taken down from European domains. Google still includes results when accessed through the Google.com link.

“A Google spokesperson told ZDNet the company is considering its options.

‘This was initially a defamation case and it began before the CJEU ruling on the ‘right to be forgotten’. We are reviewing the ruling and considering our options. More broadly, the ‘right to be forgotten’ raises some difficult issues and so we’re seeking advice – both from data protection authorities and via our advisory council – on the principles we should apply when making these difficult decisions,”’ the spokesperson said.”

Another issue forcing Google to police the Web. While the right to be forgotten helps some people, such as child abuse victims, it allows other people to whitewash over their criminal pasts. Another will follow this one incident in either France or another European country, getting the boulder rolling for more Google trouble.

Whitney Grace, November 26, 2014
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Hewlett Packard Shuffles Legal Deck Chairs

November 15, 2014

Short honk: I am not an attorney (heaven forbid). I found this somewhat opaque, inside baseball write up interesting: “Baker & McKenzie, Freshfields and Gibson Dunn Cross Fingers as HP Kicks Off Panel Tender.” The write up references HP’s “contentious year.” I would agree. When a football team makes changes, it is usually because the human element is not fitting into the team. I suppose with a new line up, HP will win more legal games. I would be happy if I could get my HP ink jet printer to work when the temperature drops. I wonder if Autonomy’s founder is making changes to his legal team? Dr. Lynch is probably too busy with his new businesses. HP, however, has some reason for making news with a legal shuffle.

Stephen E Arnold, November 15, 2014

Why I Dismiss Search Vendors Who Sell Customer Service Solutions

November 13, 2014

I have had feedback over the years about the baloney generated by mid tier consultants, struggling enterprise search vendors, and failed webmasters about their expertise in customer service.

Customer service means cost cutting or worse to me. I ignore the silliness of Comcast apologists too.

I wish to offer a tiny bit of possibly true information from the annals of real customer service; that is, attention to customers the it is, not as it is supposed to be.

Navigate to http://bit.ly/112cWdc. Allegedly this is a “real” letter from a former Amazonian to big cheese bits at the digital WalMart with drones, Amazon.

As I read this allegedly accurate epistle, a person asserts that the digital WalMart wanted an Amazon professional (now apparently seeking a future elsewhere) to prevaricate. Here’s the passage I highlighted:

I tried to get Amazon to address what I believe to be misleading and deceptive, and possibly criminal ?nancial fraud issues related treatment of an Amazon advertising customer while I was an employee at the company. I was subsequently terminated for raising the internal ethics complaint even though Amazon’s own policies require that employees report events of this nature. To be terminated for that is wrong and is the subject of current litigation which I have asked the Washington Attorney General’s office to assist in resolving, since it deals with important issues related to misleading,deceptive, and what I believe to be ?nancially fraudulent trade practices that relate to Amazon customers and employees.

Is this perhaps the first instance of alleged misconduct in the handling of “customer service” issues? If so, mark it down. If not, my views of customer service have been affirmed.

Stephen E Arnold, November 13, 2014

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