Rewarding Questionable Behavior: The Google Method

January 11, 2019

I read the Bloomberg write up “Google Board Sued for Hushing Claims of Executive Misconduct.” I do recall that Bloomberg created a stir with its really factual write up about mystery components, but this is about humans and their propensity to behave in interesting ways. I assume, therefore, that most of the information is sort of accurate.

The write up informs me amidst green ads and yellow banners of semi information unrelated to the actual news item that:

Alphabet Inc.’s directors were sued by shareholders for approving a $90 million exit payment to Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android mobile software, while helping cover up his alleged misconduct and similar misbehavior by other executives. The investors claimed the board failed in its duties by allowing harassment to occur, approving big payouts and keeping the details private.

Let’s assume that the assertion, the behavior, and the litigation are factualities.

On the surface, it is possible to formulate these hypotheses:

  1. What happens in the high school science club environment stays in the science club until it doesn’t
  2. The high school science club approach to handling “issues” is to make life pretty good for well liked science club members. (One assumes that birds of a feather flock together may want the flock and the errant bird to thrive.)
  3. The high school science club method can be misunderstood by the lowly beings who purchase shares in an enterprise. Litigation is sour grapes.

From my vantage point in the anti Silicon Valley in Harrod’s Creek, Kentucky, it sure looks like some hanky panky has been practiced.

Revenue growth? Whatever it takes I assume. If Amanda Rosenberg lived in the muddy hollow, I would ask her. I wonder if the real news outfit  Bloomberg might consider such an interview a way to collect useful information?

Stephen E Arnold, January 11, 2019

AT&T Copyright Infringement Gets Complicated

December 28, 2018

For as long as we’ve had digital copyright infringement, we’ve had hardliners saying it should be an offense worthy of online banishment. Others have said that is a violation of rights, which has been the most consistent outlook on the sin. However, one major player in the digital sphere is not having it any longer and that could be a major misstep. At least, that’s the view of the Techdirt article, “AT&T Ignores Numerous Pitfalls, Begins Kicking Pirates Off the Internet.

According to the story:

“Axios was the first to break the story with a comically one-sided report that failed to raise a single concern about the practice of booting users offline for copyright infringement, nor cite any of the countless examples where such efforts haven’t worked or have gone poorly.”

This article discusses how alarming this action is. It’s seen as essentially being the judge, jury, and executioner of online users without a fair treatment. This has become a really disturbing trend for AT&T. Recently, the giant has taken a real stock tumble when they’ve been accused of mistreating Dish subscribers. Looks like rough waters are ahead for AT&T and we’d keep our distance if we were you.

Patrick Roland, December 28, 2018

Silicon Valley: A Choke Collar and a Geofence

December 27, 2018

Will the free wheeling, Wild West, break things approach thrive in 2019? Beyond Search does not think so. The trend toward censorship, content control, and decryption is evident. Whether it is India telling Amazon and Wal-Mart what the ecommerce companies can sell or Australia’s legislation which gives the government authority to order backdoors under certain conditions — government controls are beginning to arrive.

I read “Silicon Valley May Rue the Day it Called for Government Intervention Against Microsoft.” The source is one with which I am not familiar. The content may be one of those confections of hyperbole, fake news, and hand waving that are quite popular.

I read the essay because it called attention to the scrutiny given to Microsoft, urged along some may assert by competitors afraid of the company’s power.

The parallel is not exact. What struck me, however, is the specter of focused, intense energy to deal with the casualties of years of non regulation. Like an elastic band, the potential energy may be released with a snap.

The write up asserts:

Silicon Valley’s regulations-for-thee-but-not-for-me attitude has come back to bite them. They want the strictest form of regulation for telecommunications providers but no scrutiny of themselves, and now the tables have been turned.

I also noted this statement:

They took it for granted that regulators would never go after content platforms like their own, but now it is precisely those platforms that are squarely in the sights of many politicians.

Wrong. High technology companies are now likely to get choke collars and geofences.

Stephen E Arnold, December 27, 2018

Ombudsman or Enforcement Official?

December 11, 2018

As Google’s CEO prepares to read his testimony today (December 11, 2018), I noted this passage from the prepared statement:

Users also look to us to provide accurate, trusted information. We work hard to ensure the integrity of our products, and we’ve put a number of checks and balances in place to ensure they continue to live up to our standards. I lead this company without political bias and work to ensure that our products continue to operate that way. To do otherwise would go against  our core principles and our business interests. (See this link for the statement.)

I thought about the recent security lapse at Google Plus. Yes, that was the service which was the trigger for a compensation goodie.

But what’s important today is not the reading of Silicon Valley spin.

I suggest that the article “Facebook, Google scramble to contain global fallout from ACCC plan” may have more oomph in the long run. The Australian government appears to be inching toward clamping down on the Google and Facebook. I noted this statement:

Declaring the digital giants have “substantial” market power, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) wants to create an ombudsman to investigate complaints from consumers, media companies and marketers about Google and Facebook over issues such as defamatory comments and fake ads.

As a member of Five Eyes, Australia may be pointing the direction in which Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the US will move.

In this context, the Google statement does little to change the reality of what the company does and how it operates. For example, there is employee push back. Another example, there is the behavior of senior executives. One more: There are the claims of Foundem and other vendors who allege that Google willfully took steps to swizzle the search results.

The question becomes, “Is Australia appointing an ombudsman to deal with Google and Facebook or an enforcement officer?”

Enforcement? Laws, I assume, will follow.

Stephen E Arnold, December 11, 2018

The Legal Dodgeball Wings Facebook

December 10, 2018

Mark Zuckerberg is a digital circus carnival broker to some people. At least, in England, and like a wanted man in a Western flick, it’s going to take a posse to bring him in for questioning. Unlike his appearance in front of US lawmakers earlier this year, he is not granting the same audience with European officials, as we discovered in a recent Forbes story, “Facebook’s Zuckerberg Ignores ‘The New Reality’ By Skipping Fake News Inquiry in London.”

According to the story:

“A special “Grand Committee“ of nine governments from around the world had come together at the U.K. Houses of Parliament, hoping to ask Facebook’s founder about the spread of fake news on his platform…But lawmakers didn’t get the man with 60% of Facebook’s voting shares and thus ultimate control; they got Richard Allen, Facebook’s vice president of public policy for Europe.”

It comes as no surprise to the bulk of people following this story that Facebook’s profits have recently begun to sag. But, the complicated part is that it’s not because of customers defecting and also not because they are sinking bundles of cash into heightened security (in fairness, they are investing in verification, etc) but simply with the expense of being Facebook. Overhead is beginning to hurt this juggernaut, which is not a great combo with all the controversy. It’ll be interesting to see how Zuckerberg dodges this news.

Patrick Roland, December 10, 2018

Alphabet Google: The Wing Clipping Accelerates

December 9, 2018

It is not a great time to be a tech titan. Facebook and Google and their peers seem to be embroiled in daily dilemmas. These kings of the internet are taking it on the chin regarding privacy, fake news, and more. And, yet, we are still surprised when their names pop up in the news feed. Such was the case with a recent Vulture piece, “Google Accused of GDPR Privacy Violations By Seven Countries.”

According to the article:

“The complaints, which each group has issued to their national data protection authorities in keeping with GDPR rules, come in the wake of the discovery that Google is able to track user’s location even when the “Location History” option is turned off. A second setting, “Web and App Activity,” which is enabled by default, must be turned off to fully prevent GPS tracking.”

As detailed in the New York Times, Mark Zuckerberg’s strategy of “Deflect, Deny, Delay” has been keeping them out of any serious legal hot water. Google’s challenge may rip headlines from the Zuckerberg connection machine.

The reason? Information is now becoming available about Google’s malicious ad network flaws.  Since Google found inspiration in GoTo, Overture, and Yahoo’s pay to play system, Google is now talking about ad abuse; for example, “Tackling Ads Abuse in Apps and SDKs.”

What worse? Siphoning data or failing to identify issues which undermine the Madison Avenue way?

Ad fraud? Facebook and Google alike but different except to regulators in Europe.

Stephen E Arnold, December 9, 2018

Patrick Roland, November 30, 2018

Facebook: Explaining Again and Wanting Context

December 6, 2018

My grandmother, who raised three children in the Depression, told me again and again, “Never complain, never explain.” Good advice? Probably not. But her mantra makes more sense to me than “Deflect, deny, and spin.”

I thought about my grandmother when I read the Facebook post about the Six4Three explanation crafted by the wordsmiths at Facebook. Yep, Facebook, an outfit which has been in the news of late.

Information generated in the white hot flame of Silicon Valley’s business processes is an art form. Hey, no one appreciated Picasso straight away either. Before heading to Philz, I can visualize furious tapping on a laptop in order to paint word pictures of what could be done to generate revenue, enhance power, and augment one’s bonus. Those types of prose should not count for anything. The words are little more than clumsy ways to give ideas some shape.

I noted this statement:

The set of documents, by design, tells only one side of the story and omits important context.

Right. The fix is to provide more documents and provide more information about the “context.”

Several observations from rural Kentucky:

The documents were released, in my opinion, as a signal to Mr. Zuckerberg that he has annoyed some individuals in the UK government. I am not sure Mr. Zuckerberg grasps the type of hurdles the UK government can erect for him and his verbal parkour experts to navigate.

Next, the documents will act as a bit of a kick to the buttocks of some countries’ regulators, investigators, and investigative authorities. The notion of “cherry picking” and “context” is one that may cause some quite intelligent and capable information centric people to probe. Ah, probe. Interesting idea. Probe deeply. More interesting.

And Facebook is now in reaction mode. The best offense is a good defense, but the defense is coming too late for users. I am not a Facebook “user” although a software script posts pointers to my stories and videos on a page which belongs, I believe, to my late, much missed Tess the dog. With some services losing body count and the general buzz about Facebook drifting into the auditory pain zone, the defending, the deflecting, the apologizing have lost efficacy.

In short, more to come. One does not destabilize without getting dizzy from slaps about the ears. I say, old chum, have you been poked by a brolly? No. Soon perhaps. Soon.

Context? You want to provide context? Poke, probe, prod — whatever the word — the action will roil the social graph.

Stephen E Arnold, December 6, 2018

HP Autonomy: Back in the News

December 2, 2018

I read “Ex-Autonomy boss Mike Lynch, finance VP Stephen Chamberlain charged with fraud in US.” The main point is that Mike Lynch (founder of Autonomy) and an officer of Autonomy have been charged with fraud in the US. The allegations of fraud are a consequence of Hewlett Packard’s purchase of Autonomy in 2011 for $11 billion. Autonomy was a company engaged in licensing its information processing technology. The $11 billion price tag was, I believe, the most paid for an information retrieval company. HP subsequently decided that it had to write down $8 billion of the purchase price because Autonomy was not generating the type of revenue HP anticipated. The story provides a run down of some of the highlights of this remarkable purchase and the subsequent legal disputes and allegations about the deal. Beyond Search does not have a horse in this race.

Several observations can be offered from rural Kentucky:

  1. HP paid a significant amount of money, and it appears it did not understand the business of information retrieval, its revenue potential, or the mechanism for maintaining the accounts
  2. HP subsequently split into two companies and wound down its software businesses apparently realizing that the company had to reinvent itself
  3. Management change at HP has been once characteristic of the company. This in itself may have resulted in HP not doing its homework and checking the match before handing over the check for the deal.

interesting case study with a number of key business issues in play; for example, What did the accountants and auditors do? and What management consulting firms worked on the market analysis for the Autonomy suite of tools?

Interesting with more to come. And don’t forget: My team did some small research projects for Autonomy because it was in the search business, and I was once informed about that business sector. But $11 billion? Quite a valuation.

Stephen E Arnold, December 2, 2018

Facebook: Learning about Cricket As Played by Parliament

November 26, 2018

I say when one learns cricket, the first concept to grasp is:

When you’re in you’re out; and when you’re out, you’re in.

Jolly good, right?

The British parliament is now playing cricket against Facebook, not India, not Pakistan, and not the quite acceptable Aussies.

Its Parliament versus the high school science club, once in search of companionship.

Facebook is going to have companionship going forward. Cricket matches can last longer than clicking through a Facebook item on a mobile phone.

The scope of the match has been sketched in broad outlines in “Parliament Seizes Cache of Facebook Internal Papers.”

The idea is to put a top bowler on the field versus the youthful geniuses who have sparked some controversy about Brexit, Trump, Russian disinformation, and other other sleeping policemen on the information highway.

Related image

The write up mentions that the trove of data includes “confidential emails between senior executives and correspondence with Zuckerburg.”

Yes, email, that omnipresent method of communication which often leaves some buggers gobsmacked.

The motivation for the document seizure was:

MPs leading the inquiry into fake news have repeatedly tried to summon Zuckerberg to explain the company’s actions. He has repeatedly refused. Collins said this reluctance to testify, plus misleading testimony from an executive at a hearing in February, had forced MPs to explore other options for gathering information about Facebook operations.

Will these documents become public? Facebook will try to throw a spanner in the works. Abso-bloody-loot-ly.

Will this slow the speed of the cricket ball? No. But Facebook will try to block because a full blooded swing might allow the bouncer to strike the Facebooker in the twigs and berries.

Can anoraks with gray T shirts be considered proper uniforms?

Stephen E Arnold, November 26, 2018

Oracle Takes One on Nose

November 15, 2018

I read “Oracle Loses Protest of Pentagon Cloud Bid Seen Favoring Amazon.” Oracle, like IBM, wanted a big, hefty chunk of the JEDI contract. Who wouldn’t? According to the real news outfit ThomsonReuters:

The GAO decision issued Wednesday [November 14, 2018] deals a blow to Oracle’s push to expand its federal defense contracts, leaving the tech company with fewer options to improve its chances of winning the award. It also frees the Pentagon to pursue the single-source solution it has opted for all along.

Amazon’s decision to plunk a big office in the middle of bucolic Crystal City and environs suggests that Amazon wants to be close to the corridors of unaudited spending.

Here in Harrod’s Creek, we think Amazon gets a deal from Virginia and this modest decision about the sole source award for JEDI.

Perhaps Oracle should buy MarkLogic and embrace the XML thing. In parallel, Oracle could also pump more dough into Endeca or TripleHop?

Stephen E Arnold, November 15, 2018

Next Page »

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta