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Philanthropy's Dunning-Kruger Effect
December 17, 2018
The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias that leads relatively unskilled individuals to believe their ability is be much higher than is accurate. The individuals might be highly skilled and successful in other areas, but they behave like novices in new areas outside of their skill zones. The bias was observed experimentally for the first time in 1999, by David Dunning and Justin Kruger.
Apple's Self-Destructive Qualcomm, China Strategies
December 17, 2018
Why would Apple want to put Qualcomm out of business? It'is because Apple uses a lock-in strategy, where once on an Apple platform it is painful to get off. Most of the smart Apple iPhone users I know actually use Google apps and Google's infrastructure and other third-party tools on their iPhones, so if they want to move to an Android phone they can move almost seamlessly.
E-Commerce Success Strategies: Think Local, Not Global
December 14, 2018
The borderless promise of e-commerce doesn't mean one size fits all. Your business can have customers from around the globe, but if you want to keep them and grow, it is crucial to understand local shopper preferences and behaviors, and be able to respond to them. Without localization, you won't have an effective go-to-market strategy, and your opportunity for growth will stall.
Oracle and the JEDI Contract
December 13, 2018
Oracle has filed a suit in federal court over the $10 billion Pentagon JEDI contract to be awarded to a single vendor. Oracle claims that the single-vendor award is unfair and illegal, a claim it first filed with the GAO, or Government Accountability Office. The suit followed the GAO's denial of Oracle's claim. My first instinct was to call this legislative entrepreneurship.
Pichai Puts Kibosh on Google Search Engine for China
December 12, 2018
Google is not working on a bespoke search engine that caters to China's totalitarian tastes, and it has no plans to develop one, CEO Sundar Pichai told lawmakers on Capitol Hill. "Right now, we have no plans to launch in China," he told members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee at a public hearing on Google's data collection, use and filtering practices.
No Time Like the Present to Get Up to Speed on Sales Tax Laws
December 11, 2018
Americans are used to hearing the refrain, "We pay the sales tax," from mattress sellers and car dealerships during big sales weekends. The phrase, "You pay the sales tax," however, is something we're all going to become a lot more familiar with in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair. That's because the Wayfair decision reverses a precedent set in 1967 and upheld in 1992.
Is IBM's Watson Still an AI Success Story?
December 6, 2018
IBM's artificial intelligence creation Watson wowed the world with its appearance on the TV game show, Jeopardy! less than a decade ago. It was amazing to see a computer play against human beings and do so well. It showed how IBM was on a rapid growth path. However, in the years since, it has been struggling to maintain that leadership position as the AI growth wave has been building.
Facebook Staffers Once Brainstormed Ways to Sell User Data: Report
November 30, 2018
Facebook at one time considered charging companies for access to its user data, according to a report based on three pages of unredacted material from an 18-page document showing portions of some internal Facebook emails, mainly from about 2012 to 2014. The documents are linked to a lawsuit, Six4Three LLC v. Facebook Inc., alleging that Facebook's data policies were anticompetitive.
Salesforce's Earnings Mystery
November 29, 2018
My only question about Salesforce's recent revenue announcement is why the company described the vast majority of its nonprofessional services revenues as "subscription and support." Proserv revenues were appropriately small, at $224 million, while subscription and support was $3.17 billion, or 26 percent more than the same quarter a year earlier. Nice going, by the way.
DoJ Takes Down Online Ad Fraud Ring, Indicts 8
November 29, 2018
The DoJ has revealed an unsealed indictment of eight defendants for crimes related to their involvement in widespread digital advertising fraud. The DoJ alleges the eight individuals were behind two global schemes, 3ve and Methbot, which stole tens of millions of dollars through a scam that used fake Web traffic and fake websites to reap ad view revenue from unwitting advertisers.
Reining In Social Media Without Crippling It
November 23, 2018
Earlier this year, in response to reports that Russian actors had used Facebook to disrupt the 2016 election, I wrote a few pieces about how one might go about fixing the problem. I am not sure I have solutions for everything, but what motivates me is the sagging feeling that settles in whenever society throws up its hands and punts. We can do better.
Solid Cross-Border Strategies for International Growth
November 19, 2018
International e-commerce has become more pervasive and sophisticated in recent years. In 2017, 1.66 billion people worldwide purchased goods online. During the same year, global e-retail sales amounted to $2.3 trillion, and that figure could grow to $4.48 trillion by 2021. E-commerce providers must continue to innovate to ensure they take full advantage of opportunities outside their home market.
10 Ways to Avoid Losing Your Retirement to a Scam
November 19, 2018
Several years ago, my wife and I invested in a project called "Sanctuary Belize" and, like many of the investors, we were incredibly excited about the prospect of retiring in paradise. After a time, things just weren't adding up. The company supposedly put controls in place to reverse course, but we exited the project. As it turned out, those controls either were not put in place or failed.
Let's Create a TV Show to Fix Silicon Valley
November 12, 2018
Startups have been creating employee hell in Silicon Valley. That was on my mind as I read the book Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us. I think this book should be required reading for anybody who thinks working for a startup in Silicon Valley would be fun. Unless you are into humiliation and abuse you probably should avoid these startups like the plague.
IBM Dons Red Hat for Cloudy Future
November 9, 2018
IBM's deal to acquire Red Hat caught everyone by surprise when it was announced less than two weeks ago. While concerns spread quickly about what it would mean for the largest enterprise Linux platform, IBM and Red Hat executives assured employees and customers that Red Hat would continue to operate independently -- at least for now. Intel made a similar acquisition of Wind River in 2009.
HBO Fires Back at Dish in Blackout Tussle
November 9, 2018
HBO chief Richard Plepler has issued a response to Dish CEO Charlie Ergen's claim that the ongoing impasse between the companies was the result of a purely anticompetitive play on AT&T's part. It was Dish that dropped HBO and Cinemax signals at midnight on Oct. 31, blacking out programming for subscribers, Plepler said. That was the first time in HBO's nearly 50-year history that any pay-TV service dropped the premium channel from its lineup.
Can Sprint Get Out of Its Own Way?
November 7, 2018
There has been so much water under the wireless bridge. Sprint has tried to keep up with the big players, but even though it has a good quality mobile product and plenty of spectrum, it seems it just can't catch a break, win market share, and become more relevant. Based on its latest earnings report, Sprint is in better shape today than it has been in recent years, but it is still struggling.
How to Protect Your Online Privacy: A Practical Guide
November 7, 2018
Do you take your online privacy seriously? Most people don't. They have an ideal scenario of just how private their online activities should be, but they rarely do anything to actually achieve it. The problem is that bad actors know and rely on this fact, and that's why there's been a steady rise in identity theft cases from 2013 to 2017, often resulting in loss of reputation or financial woes.
$34B Red Hat Acquisition Is a Bolt Out of Big Blue
October 31, 2018
The cloud computing landscape may look much different to enterprise users following the announcement earlier this week of IBM's agreement to acquire Red Hat. IBM plans to purchase Red Hat, a major provider of open source cloud software, for $34 billion. IBM will acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Red Hat for $190 per share in cash, under terms of the deal.
Crisis in Tech: Who Can Save Companies When Execs Go Off the Rails?
October 29, 2018
"Too many digital leaders have lost their minds," Kara Swisher recently wrote, citing some frightening examples of poor leadership. She pointed to the solution adopted by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who hired a chief ethical officer -- but I think that would just repeat the mistake we made with chief risk officers around a decade ago. The risk managers had responsibility but no real authority.
Oracle OpenWorld: Margin Lab
October 24, 2018
Markets grow at the margins. This bit of sage advice was given to me at the start of my analyst career, and it has kept me in good nick for nearly two decades. Of course the focus has drifted over time but that's the point: The CRM market has evolved, and the job of an analyst is to make sense of the evolution. Oracle OpenWorld 2018 held in San Francisco this week is a laboratory for the margin.
The Rise of Activist Employees in the Tech Industry
October 22, 2018
Things have been changing at an almost unprecedented rate with regard to power structures. The last time I saw this happen was in the 1970s, when the EEOC took off. Suddenly a lot of the off-color, sexist and racist jokes that many executives regularly told could get them fired. A surprisingly large number of people got reassigned, fired, demoted, or otherwise punished.
The CRM Oligopoly
October 4, 2018
As markets mature, they trend toward oligopoly or even outright monopoly. There isn't much difference, because an oligopoly has several members instead of just one. Examples include electric power generation, an oligopoly made up of vertically integrated monopolies in most areas, and the airline industry -- an oligopoly made up of many airlines that may have monopolies in regional hubs.
Oracle's Growing Pains
October 3, 2018
People at Oracle must sometimes feel like they're living in Mark Twain's reality. After hearing that his obituary had been published in the New York Journal, Twain published a quip for the ages when he wrote, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." So too with Oracle. Ever since its earnings miss for its first fiscal quarter, a chorus of financial analysts have predicted doom.
Dreamforce 2018
October 1, 2018
Salesforce has been very good at skating to where the puck will be, to paraphrase the great Wayne Gretzky. As a result, the company has a long line of firsts, beginning with its initial disruption and continuing through its early adoption of social media and analytics. So it's no surprise that it is pursuing some very different issues now than it did almost 20 years ago -- or even five.
How AI Could Fix What Seems Unfixable
October 1, 2018
I watched last week's Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, and I was struck by the fact that they seemed to be more about the Democrats fighting with Republicans to see which party could corrupt the Supreme Court more effectively than they were about senators doing their jobs. What bothers me most about that is if you corrupt the highest court in the land you effectively destroy the country.
Why Is Wireless Caller ID So Often Wrong?
September 24, 2018
I have a gripe with the way Caller ID works -- or in fact, increasingly doesn't work -- on wireless phones. I've noticed that most very stinking time I get a call on my wireless phone, the Caller ID information is wrong. Sometimes the number is correct, but the city is wrong. When Caller ID was introduced a few decades ago, it was great. It started on the landline phone, either providing a name or number.
Women as CEOs: The Problems and the Promise
September 24, 2018
I've followed several female CEOs over the years. Most failed, largely because they were both unqualified for the job and their boards didn't back them up. In several cases, the board and the CEO seemed to be in conflict, or the board failed to act. That has created the impression that female CEOs are a bad bet. However, I believe the real problem is that boards haven't been doing their jobs.
Oracle's Earnings Angst
September 22, 2018
OK, this is looking somewhat predictable. Oracle reported $9.20 billion in Q1 revenue, or $0.03 per share, against consensus estimates in the $9.24 to $9.29 range. In other words, it missed its number. How concerning is this? Excuse me while I yawn. It's important all right, but no reason to get crazy. Still, some representatives of the widows and orphans who own the stock went into a tizzy.
Poor Website Designs Could Trigger Legal Actions
September 21, 2018
Internet marketing has become so popular that e-commerce retail sales in the United States are on pace to double between 2009 and 2018. The transaction value of e-commerce service industry contracts reached $600 billion in 2016. Despite the rush to digital commerce, the rules for business transactions are still the same, whether they are concluded on paper or electronically.
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Would you move to a tech hub like San Francisco or Seattle if you were offered a high-paying, career-building job?
Absolutely. I already live in a tech center and I enjoy being where the action is.
No. I live in (or have lived in) a tech-forward city, and I'd rather live elsewhere.
I'd be tempted, but I'm worried about the cost of living.
I doubt it, as I don't like the reputation for decadence in those cities.
I would if I didn't have so many ties where I currently live.
Why bother? With telecommuting you can live and work anywhere.