Gamer Company Provides High School Science Club Management Methods Case Example

December 6, 2019

Razer is an ecommerce and product business serving that wonderful community of online game players. Now the company is the subject of a write up, which may be false, partially false, partially true, or true. Figuring out which these days is difficult.

Razer is in the spotlight which “is a desktop streaming camera with a powerful, multi-step ring light that you can dim or brighten on command.”

image

“So smile,” says “Razer CEO Berated And Threatened His Staff, Former Employees Say.” The write up reports in the glow of the Razer Kiyo ring light:

Tan [the top dog at Razer] has developed a reputation for being a tempestuous, volatile boss…

The company has a snake mascot. DarkCyber is not sure if the snake is a refugee from a high school science club herpaterium or just an emotion charged symbol like those cataloged by Juan Eduardo Cirlot. In case you are curious, more about Cirlot appears here.

The point of the write up is that Razer’s management approach is remembered by employees as:

  • Infused with top down control
  • Volatile management behavior
  • Demonstrations of management dissatisfaction
  • Curse words with a handful of faves recalled by former employees
  • Yelling
  • Abrupt terminations but the article does not pinpoint major holidays as the best time to allow an individual to find his/her future elsewhere.

Sound familiar?

DarkCyber characterizes the approach to motivating the game hardware company’s professionals illustrates HSSCMM or high school science club management methods.

Why document this approach in DarkCyber? The reason is that a certain very large online advertising company could be amping up its HSSCMM procedures.

There may be some lessons to be learned by studying Razer and streaming the results to the faithful.

Stephen E Arnold, December 6, 2019

Alphabet Google: Bail Out Time

December 5, 2019

The future of Alphabet Google is online advertising. Oh, there’s one other challenge rushing toward the company: Litigation.

Who is the new face for lawyers from most of the US states and a clutch of other countries? Sundar Pichai. You can get the Googley story in “A Letter from Larry and Sergey.”

Several observations:

  1. The legal scrutiny is not likely to be gentle and sweet. The good night may not be so good.
  2. The likelihood a change from high school science club management to a more McKinsey-like approach will produce some interesting disruptions. Fire people before Thanksgiving? Just a warm up, gentle reader.
  3. The “new” Google will be stripped of its down home Backrub charm. The influence of Indian high school and IIT will be significant.

Exciting? Probably. Good for lawyers. Absolutely? What about those mom and pop businesses that depend on Google for revenue? Amazon and TikTok are looking better each day.

Stephen E Arnold, December 5, 2019

Kitty Hawk: Dreaming Is Different from Doing When One Seeks Management Guidance

December 4, 2019

I read in the capitalist’s tool this story: “Inside Larry Page’s Turbulent Kitty Hawk: Returned Deposits, Battery Fires And A Boeing Shakeup.” The business story as a business school case study is an interesting journalistic niche.

The main idea is that Larry Page, founder of Google and all-around business Lionel Messi, has scored an own goal with its flying car business. Kitty Hawk has suffered a couple of minor setbacks; for example, battery fires and disenchanted supporters.

To add insult to injury, Forbes, the capitalist’s tool, sagely observes:

Kitty Hawk’s promise to bring personal flying to the masses has failed to take wing yet amid technical problems and safety issues with Flyer and unresolved questions about its practical use, according to four former Kitty Hawk employees who were among six who spoke to Forbes on the condition of anonymity due to non-disclosure agreements.

Yep, management of a science club project underscores the difference between thinking about a flying car and actually building one are different. Just a tiny bit.

Which company can “save” Kitty Hawk. What about Boeing (the 737 Max outfit) for business guidance?

Amazing.

Something a Hollywood screenwriter might struggle to conceive. Faulty software and burning batteries managed by Boeing and Google.

Here’s a summary of this interesting case study from the hollows of Kentucky: Another Googley DNW or “did not work.”

Stephen E Arnold, December 4, 2019

Open Source Software: A Digital Snail Darter

November 26, 2019

Years ago I worked on a project. The focus was the snail darter, a little fish. A commercial initiative intruded on the habitat of the creature. The bureaucratic process chugged forward. I lost track of the snail darter. Probably there are a few of the creatures around, but their future was impinged upon by the need and desire to covert streams and “undeveloped” land into a wonderland of EPA compliant effluent, asphalt, and industrial facilities.

snail darter

Wikipedia’s image shows a paper clip next to a snail darter. This reminds me of my mobile phone next to an Amazon data center.

I thought about the snail darter when I read “Dining Preferences of the Cloud and Open Source: Who Eats Who?” Not surprisingly the write up does not mention the snail darter or its obstruction of “progress”. But the article describes how open source has found its digital manifestations threatened by large commercial firms.

There is a description of Amazon’s method which has disrupted to some degree the happiness of Elastic (developers and maintainers of Elasticsearch) and MongoDB (a DBaaS service). No, I don’t know what DBaaS is. It may be a way to make community supported software tough in a cloud eat cloud datasphere.

We noted this passage:

Most of the current debate focuses on Amazon and a few open source companies they have startled, like gazelles on the savannah, specifically Elastic and MongoDB. All while chronically prefacing their messaging with “customers tell us…”, AWS is offering its own services that are built on (Elastic) or are compatible with (MongoDB) popular open source projects, thereby competing with the relatively successful commercial open source companies associated with those projects. In the case of Elastic, AWS has generously created a new open source distribution of the features that Elastic had held back as proprietary software. The prey have responded with both pluckily defiant blog posts and a frenzy of license engineering to impede AWS’ ability to use their ostensibly open source software. Others, like Cockroach Labs and Redis Labs, have followed with their own new licenses. This has renewed an existential and philosophical debate about open source: is it about free speech or does it also include the right to a free moat for key project contributors? In the end, the high priests of open source do not seem to be endorsing the “open except for people who compete with us” approach.

The main point is that the business model is in place, working, and becoming more important to many developers and organizations.

But Amazon is not unique. Google and Microsoft are following the lead of AWS. Sheep do not appear to be at risk when they tag along, content to generate revenue by playing the me-too game.

The write up concludes on an upbeat; specifically:

Open source is here to stay as a development model. It is hard to imagine any kind of infrastructure or developer software that isn’t open source. But there is work to do on the accompanying business strategy. The next great open source endeavor may be to make multi-cloud a reality, at least for key workloads. But the new associated business models will have to embrace services as the primary delivery model and make a serious commitment to a level of integration that is the hallmark of cloud services.

Net net: There are still some snail darters.

Stephen E Arnold, November 26, 2019

Who Owns the Future? Leonardos That Is Who

November 25, 2019

I found “The Future Belongs to Polymaths” oddly disturbing. The message is that people who are really smart and have mastered many field will own the future. People like Leonardo Da Vinci were identified to me in grade school as really smart people. I think one of my teachers, maybe Miss Soapes introduced the concept of Renaissance man to me in the fourth grade. This was good because I had missed two or three years of regular grade school because my family lived in Brazil. My local school had no provisions for an English speaker beyond “Yankee, go home.” My Calvert Course teacher died from an insect bite with complication from some obscure disease. Renaissance anything I wasn’t.

But the write up states:

Still, it’s clear that whenever we have had giants like Aristotle, Galileo, and Da Vinci, the contributions they made even in specialized fields may not have been made in the same way if they hadn’t attacked a problem with a diverse inventory of mental knowledge and understanding. Polymaths see the world differently. They make connections that are otherwise ignored, and they have the advantage of a unique perspective.

I think Facebook, Google, and the other members of the FAANG hire polymaths.

What’s the result?

Perhaps the reality created by polymaths is not so good for the other 99.8 percent of the population?

Here are some reassuring thoughts:

Now, in a world where Artificial Narrow Intelligence systems are going to displace most routine, specialized work, it isn’t too much of stretch to assume that this skill of learning to learn across disciplines may just be the difference between those who reinvent themselves and those who don’t. In fact, chances are that our current distinctions between disciplines will start to fade away and new ones will arise. Many of them will likely reside between areas that aren’t currently covered by specialization.

And the point of the write up is?

Stephen E Arnold, November 25, 2019

Quite an Allegation: Google, Brute Force!

November 23, 2019

I have been around very bright, quite proficient technologists for more than 50 years. Out of college, I worked at Halliburton’s nuclear unit. Real wizards were running around: John Gray, Julian Steyn, Paul Goldstein, and others. I did a stint at Booz, Allen. Maybe not in the nuclear physicist quartile but pretty bright. I did some other work at places with lots of bright people too. No ewok hunts. No weapons.

I can’t recall any threatening behavior. The only intimidation I experienced was a result of my boss and his brain. Dr. Sommers could pose questions which made we vow to spend more time reading and studying.

But Dr. William P. Sommers was soft spoken. He asked good questions and nudged me forward in my career. Maybe questions are brutal? Yikes! Questions.

I cruised along fat, dumb, and happy. But now I learn that a wizard Disneyland is into brutal behavior; specifically, “Google Workers Accuse Tech Giant of Using Brute Force Intimidation Tactics to Silence Employees.”

Image result for ewok hunt

The headline seems a bit energetic, tinged with some inner motivation to stimulate bad vibes toward everyone’s favorite online advertising vendor. Here’s what the write up says that a protest was planned for November 22, 2019. DarkCyber learned:

The protest, which will see full-time employees, temporary workers, vendors and contractors come together outside the Google building, comes following the company’s decision to fire an employee for allegedly leaking workers’ personal information to the media and place two other workers on leave over their alleged access of documents unrelated to their roles.

Now this quote:

“The company is claiming that it is for looking up calendars and documents, which is something we all do but we know that it is punishment for speaking up for themselves and others,” workers organizing at Google who requested that their names be withheld, said in a statement shared with Newsweek on Thursday.

Poor Google. Newsweek asserts:

Google has faced widespread scrutiny over its internal culture, particularly after thousands of workers around the world staged walkouts over claims of sexual harassment, racism and gender inequality within the company.

Yeah, brutality, intimidation? Okay, employees take money to do work for their employer. Employers create rules so work can be completed. Employees who run afoul of the rules can and will face some feedback.

But the headline evokes an image of a Google executive dressed like one of Darth Vader’s minions firing plasma weapons at hapless Ewoks.

As the professionals on sports programs say, “Come on, man.”

Stephen E Arnold, November 23, 2019

Google Management Method Called Interrogation by CNBC

November 21, 2019

DarkCyber, happily ensconced in rural Kentucky, does not know if the information in “Google Employees Protested the Interrogation of Two Colleagues by Company’s Investigations Team, Memo Says” is accurate.

But the headline alone is quite interesting. The news story states:

The memo said Berland’s [a Google employee objecting to certain Google projects] questioning lasted 2.5 hours and was conducted by Google’s global investigations team, which allegedly told the employees that they were “not decision-makers” but that they would relay the workers’ message “up the chain.”

The memo seems to have been written by Googlers unhappy with the interaction of some Google professionals and two employees who had voiced concerns about the company’s work for the US government.

Please, read the original CNBC story.

DarkCyber jotted down several observations while two of my team and I tried to figure out who was on first:

1. The meeting was described as an interrogation. That in itself is an interesting word. Maybe interrogation is the wrong word, but it is clear that the meeting was not the equivalent of what my mother called a “kaffeeklatsch.”

2. The meeting involved an investigations team. DarkCyber did not know that Google had such a team, but presumably CNBC is confident that the ever popular online advertising company does. Does the investigations team have a uniform or maybe a badge with the cheerful Google logo?

3. Two and a half hours. My goodness. That’s longer than many feature films. The length of time brings some images to the forefront of the DarkCyber team’s hive mind. Here’s one that one of the programmer analysts called up from his Apple iPhone. (The objectivity of the iPhone search function must be considered, if not investigated.)

image

A cheerful setting for an informal chat or not?

Net net: If the CNBC story is accurate, Google’s management methods are quite interesting. Not even the high school science club to which I belonged in 1958 considered interrogation of non science club members. Grilling a science club member was simply not on our club members’ radar.

How times have changed!

Stephen E Arnold, November 21, 2019

Google: The Emerging Cancel Culture

November 16, 2019

Google has terminated a number of products and services. My favorite is Web Accelerator, but you may have other candidates. The cancel phenomenon — whether practiced by Microsoft with its wonderful Zune product or Hewlett Packard’s fascinating Autonomy deal — means that big companies change their minds. Poof. Time, money, and maybe a customer are two are vaporized.

Cancelled. Some in government may use the phrase “with extreme prejudice” to signal this approach to an ill-advised decision, a wonky product, or a troublesome entity.

The Verge, a real news outfit, published “Google Is Scaling Back Its Weekly All-Hands Meetings after Leaks, Sundar Pichai Tells Staff.” The write up approach this cancel culture move as “scale back”, noting that the Verge stumbled upon an email from Google’s CEO to the Googlers. The Verge revealed:

In the note, Pichai begins by praising what Google has achieved through its large workforce. “But in other places — like TGIF — our scale is challenging us to evolve,” he writes. “TGIF has traditionally provided a place to come together, share progress, and ask questions, but it’s not working in its current form.” He writes that employees “come to TGIF with different expectations,” with some looking to hear about “product launches and business strategies” and others looking for “answers on other topics.” Only about 25 percent of the company watches the meeting each week, Pichai says. He also says that there has been “a coordinated effort to share our conversations outside of the company after every TGIF” and that those efforts have “affected our ability to use TGIF as a forum for candid conversations on important topics.”

Google Will No Longer Hold Weekly All-Hands Meetings Amid Growing Workplace Tensions” explains:

Google is getting rid of one of its best-known workplace features: TGIF, its weekly all-hands meeting. The company confirmed to CNBC that it will instead hold monthly all-hands meetings that will be focused on business and strategy while holding separate town halls for “workplace issues.”

Yep, unfriended, terminated, modified, or cancelled. Mostly the same action spun in different ways.

Several observations:

  • What’s the best way to avoid problematic staff? Avoid them? That’s one approach, and a path less fraught with legal hassles than firing the un-Googley.
  • Google’s challenges span numerous legal hassles from US jurisdictions. Is it 50 for 50 now? Not even major leaguers can bat 1,000. Google can and is. How many strike outs await?
  • The chest X-ray matter (please, see Fast Company’s story)
  • The billion dollar dust up with Oracle is back in court, the Supreme Court no less. See the Silicon Angle story, please).

What’s up?

Google’s activities are increasingly interesting. My phrase for the firm’s approach to management is HSSCMM which is short hand for high school science club management method. What adds a handful of kokum to the digital stew served in the employees’ only cafeteria.

How many Googlers enjoy this rare and hard to find spice? Perhaps Googler’s analysts can quantify their data and provide some insight. A Google Trends diagram might show a curve like this one from Scientist Cindy?

Just cancel that. Unfriend!

Stephen E Arnold, November 16, 2019

Google: Chronicle Is Not a Sci Fi Disaster Film. It Just Seems Like It

November 12, 2019

“Google’s Cybersecurity Project ‘Chronicle’ Imploding” may not be true. If the information in the Economic Times is accurate, Google has created another business school case study about Silicon management methods, what DarkCyber describes with this acronym HSSCMM (high school science club management methods).

In 2018 Alphabet, the rejiggered “owner” of Google was created to be what the write called “an independent start up.”

Yeah, that sounds good.

The goal of Chronicle was modest: “Revolutionize cybersecurity.”

Yeah, that sounds even better.

Engadget reported in June 2019:

The cybersecurity company launched in January 2018, and it released its first commercial product, Backstory, in March. In a blog post, Chronicle CEO and co-founder Stephen Gillett said Google Cloud’s cybersecurity tools and Chronicle’s Backstory and VirusTotal are complementary and will be leveraged together.

The Economic times’ write up states:

Google’s cybersecurity project named “Chronicle” is imploding in trouble and some employees feel its management “abandoned and betrayed” the original vision, media reports said.

Staff, including the CEO, have looked for green pastures elsewhere. Chronicle was moved back to the Google mother ship. Salaries were a sore point. It seems Chronicle employees were paid less than other “real” Googlers.

Let’s assume that the information is maybe, sort of accurate. In this non sci-fi thought space, here are some observations:

  1. Thinking, assembling, announcing, and doing can be enhanced with management. No management, problems. Google seems beset with some non-linear challenges.
  2. The life span of this Google activity seems brief: January 2018 to November 2019. Is the time between launch and problems becoming more abbreviated?
  3. Google’s moon shot factory may be veering more and more into a boundary world: Big ideas fail due to the humans working on creating a reality.

To sum up: Chronicle may be another marker on the management superhighway. On the other hand, the Chronicle issue is real.

We’re back to Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentinean writer, who observed:

Reality is not always probable, or likely.

My high school science club was unreal but real as well. Click here for the theme song to Chronicle. Sorry, I meant Twilight Zone.

Stephen E Arnold, November 11, 2019

Google Protest: An Insulting Anniversary

November 2, 2019

DarkCyber noted this write up in CNet, an online information service, which may not be capturing too many Google ads in 2020. Here’s the title and subtitle of the story:

Google Walkout Anniversary: Workers Say Management Response Is Insulting. Last November, 20,000 Google workers protested the company. Employees didn’t get everything they wanted, but set a tech industry precedent.

The headline is Googley; that is, it is designed to make the story appear in a Google search results list. The jabber may work. But what may not be as efficacious is building bridges to the Google itself. For example, the write up states:

The Google protests [maybe about sexual matters, management decisions, money?] didn’t achieve everything their organizers were seeking. Several Google workers and former workers are dissatisfied with the company’s response. Organizers say the company has done the bare minimum to address concerns, and employees allege that it has retaliated against workers and sought to quash dissent. “They’ve been constantly paying lip service,” said one Google employee who was involved with the walkout. “It’s insulting to our intelligence,” said the person, who requested anonymity because of fear of retribution from the company.

Then the observation:

Google declined to make its senior leadership team, including co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, CEO Sundar Pichai and human resources chief Eileen Naughton, available for interviews. In a statement, Naughton touted changes Google has made over the past year, including streamlining the process for people to report abuse and other problems.

A few observations may be warranted:

  1. Google’s management methods may follow the pattern set in high school science clubs when those youthful wizards confront something unfamiliar
  2. A problem seems to exist within the GOOG
  3. Outfits like CNet are willing to explain what may be a Google shortcoming because Google is not longer untouchable.

Interesting? If paid employees won’t get along and go along, how will that translate into Google’s commitment to enterprise solutions? What if an employee inserts malicious code in a cloud service as a digital protest? What if… I don’t want to contemplate what annoyed smart people can do at 3 am with access credentials.

Yikes. Insulting.

Stephen E Arnold, November 2, 2019

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