Crowded cloud: Microsoft

20. July 2017

Date: 20-07-2017
Source: The Economist

Today the world’s largest software company reports earnings for the second quarter. Its share price is at an all-time high, elevated by expectations that the chief executive, Satya Nadella, will continue to transform the company and develop new business lines.

Mr Nadella, who is enthusiastic about artificial intelligence (AI), wants Microsoft to become an “AI-first” firm. He has pumped more time and money into Azure, its cloud-computing business, hopeful that it will account for much of the firm’s future growth.

But the company faces stiff competition from deep-pocketed rivals, such as Amazon and Google. Jefferies, an investment bank, reckons Azure will chalk up around $5bn in sales in 2017, or 21% of the market—an impressive sum but far less than Amazon Web Services, with 71%. Investors will be looking for clues as to how much new cloud business Microsoft has won. When expectations are great, even good results can disappoint.


Tech’s ‘Frightful 5’ Will Dominate Digital Life for Foreseeable Future

21. January 2016

Date: 21-01-2016
Source: The New York Times

There’s a little parlor game that people in Silicon Valley like to play. Let’s call it, Who’s Losing?

There are currently four undisputed rulers of the consumer technology industry: Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, now a unit of a parent company called Alphabet. And there’s one more, Microsoft, whose influence once looked on the wane, but which is now rebounding.

So which of these five is losing? A year ago, it was Google that looked to be in a tough spot as its ad business appeared more vulnerable to Facebook’s rise. Now, Google is looking up, and it’s Apple, hit by rising worries about a slowdown in iPhone sales, that may be headed for some pain. Over the next couple of weeks, as these companies issue earnings that show how they finished 2015, the state of play may shift once more.

But don’t expect it to shift much. Asking “who’s losing?” misses a larger truth about how thoroughly Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft now lord over all that happens in tech. Read the rest of this entry »


GOOGLE’S SECRET STRATEGY TO RECRUIT ENGINEERS

31. August 2015

Date: 29-08-2015
Source: Fast Company

GIVEN THE VAST AMOUNTS OF DATA GOOGLE HAS ON US THROUGH OUR SEARCHES, IT’S A WONDER THEY HAVEN’T DONE THIS SOONER.

It’s been the subject of a feature film, a main theme of a best-selling book, a source of endless speculation and analysis (yielding 21 million results on the search “how google hires”), and a holy grail-like quest for some two million hopefuls per year.

It’s the hiring process at Google.

While the search giant has been known to deploy quirky recruitment tactics, from banners and billboards blazed with a mathematical riddle aimed to entice engineers or the brainteasers about golf balls or school buses. The latter tactics, admitted Google’s head of people operations, Laszlo Bock, were “a complete waste of time,” while the former didn’t net the company any new hires. Read the rest of this entry »


What Amazon’s workplace controversy says about the future of work

23. August 2015

Date: 22-08-2015
Source: Fortune

The harsh workplace that a New York Times story recently described plaguing Amazon represents an old-fashioned business model that will almost certainly disappear soon.

This week, a New York Times profile of Amazon’s treatment of employees has provoked a debate about the future of the workplace.

The article claims that Amazon’s professional employees are well paid and work on world-changing projects, but are pushed to the breaking point in a survival-of-the-fittest climate where they tend to burn out and leave quickly.

Readers, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, say they are appalled by the anecdotes of insensitivity in the Times report. But the controversy has raised the possibility that the underlying business model portrayed in the article is legitimate or perhaps inevitable. The Times article quotes an ex-Amazon employee who says CEO Jeff Bezos has envisioned a “new workplace: fluid but tough, with employees staying only a short time and employers demanding the maximum.” Read the rest of this entry »


From alpha to omega

14. August 2015

Date: 13-08-2015
Source: The Economist:

Conglomerates are back in fashion, but only the best will thrive

FEW management fashions have waxed and waned quite as dramatically as that for conglomerates. From the 1960s to the 1980s business gurus praised conglomerates such as ITT of America and Hanson Trust of Britain as the highest form of capitalism. Today they routinely dismiss them as bloated anachronisms. Companies should stick to their knitting; investors should minimise risk by investing in a portfolio of companies rather than backing corporate megalomaniacs. Peter Lynch, an investment guru, talks about “diworsification”. Stockmarkets routinely apply a sizeable “conglomerate discount” to diversified companies.
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To judge by this week’s events, the mood has shifted again. Warren Buffett has been steadily and almost single-handedly restoring the popular appeal of conglomerates. And the positive reception given to the latest deal by his investment vehicle, Berkshire Hathaway, shows how he has succeeded. On August 10th the group said it would buy Precision Castparts, a maker of aerospace components, for $37 billion, in the biggest deal in Berkshire’s 50-year history. Mr Buffett boasts of running a sprawling conglomerate that is “constantly trying to sprawl further”. Read the rest of this entry »


Here’s Why Google Is Making the Titanic Shift to ‘Alphabet’

11. August 2015

Date: 11-08-2015
Source: TIME

In a surprise announcement Monday, Google co-founder Larry Page said the company’s leaders are turning it into a subsidiary of a new holding company called “Alphabet.” Page will serve as Alphabet’s CEO, with fellow Google co-founder Sergey Brin as president; Google’s current vice president of products Sundar Pichai is taking over as CEO of Google.

The news is momentous—and also a little confusing. The question now is, why?

That Google is no longer just a search company has been evident for a long while. Though its mission has always famously been to organize all the world’s information, the company has increasingly gotten into more and more disparate lines of business—when new ventures were businesses at all, that is. Beyond selling ads against searches—it’s core moneymaking venture—Google is making driverless cars, beaming Internet signals from giant balloons, delivering high-speed Internet access, redefining television, making phones, and even trying to cure (or significantly delay) death. Read the rest of this entry »


Google says crazy moonshot projects will ensure its lasting success

4. June 2015

Date: 04-06-2015
Source: Fortune

Self-driving cars and smart contact lenses may seem like moonshots now, but they’ll help the company remain successful, chairman Eric Schmidt told investors on Wednesday.

Google shareholders may criticize the company’s moonshot projects like self-driving cars and smart contact lenses as big wastes of money. But chairman Eric Schmidt says the futuristic projects guarantee Google’s future success.

Schmidt, speaking at the company’s annual shareholder meeting Wednesday, defended the experiments as necessary for creating new and potentially blockbuster businesses. They may not seem relevant now, he said, but they will eventually as technology advances and circumstances like the rise in diabetes make them critically important.

“Most companies ultimately fail because they do one thing very well but they don’t think of the next thing, they don’t broaden their mission, they don’t challenge themselves, they don’t continually build on that platform in one way or another,” Schmidt said, according to Business Insider. “They become incrementalists. And Google is very committed to not doing that. We understand the technological change is essentially revolutionary, not evolutionary.” Read the rest of this entry »


At Google, the Science of Working Better

30. March 2015

Date: 30-03-2015
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Start by hiring the right people, says Laszlo Bock, then give them freedom

Bock Googe Book“Honestly, work just sucks for too many people,” says Laszlo Bock, head of human resources at Google Inc. That, he says, is why he is so eager to give away the lessons he has learned in the course of taking Google from 3,000 to 53,000 employees since his arrival in 2006.

Mr. Bock’s evangelical zeal has many expressions. He has a new book out April 4 called “Work Rules!” (Note the exclamation point.) He frequently speaks at conferences on both coasts, including one hosted by Google itself, called re:Work. (Note the provocative typography.) And he advises a startup, called BetterWorks, which is putting some of his ideas into practice by turning them into software to which companies can subscribe.

When Mr. Bock speaks, people tend to listen. He is essentially the godfather of “people operations,” a term for the modern version of human resources invented at Google that has spread to countless other tech companies.

“Whether you’re talking about manual trades or computer science and teaching, there’s a sense that ‘I just gotta do my dumb job’—but it doesn’t have to be that bad,” says Mr. Bock, who speaks with the congenial urgency of a TED speaker or TV chef. Read the rest of this entry »


The Tinkerer’s Apprentice

19. January 2015

Date: 19-01-2015
Source: Project Syndicate
Schmidt.jpg
ERIC SCHMIDT

Eric Schmidt is Executive Chairman of Google.

BERLIN – The best inventions are never finished. When the German engineer Karl Benz invented the first petroleum-powered automobile, he did not just create an engine with wheels; he set in motion an industry that revolutionized the way society was structured. Similarly, the English computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee did not only build the world’s first Web site. He laid the groundwork for the World Wide Web. Neither could have anticipated the impact of what he was doing.

If there is one lesson that economic policymakers should heed in 2015 and beyond, it is this: Just as invention is dynamic, so are the industries it creates. As we learned in 2014, it is a lesson that has yet to sink in entirely.

When Google was launched, people were amazed that they were able to find out about almost anything by typing just a few words into a computer. The engineering behind it was technically complicated, but what you got was pretty rough: a page of text, broken up by ten blue links. It was better than anything else, but not great by today’s standards. Read the rest of this entry »


FT interview with Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page

1. November 2014

Date: 01-11-2014
Source: The Financial Times

Even the search engine’s original mission is not big enough for what he now has in mind

PageGoogle co-founder Larry Page

Wouldn’t the world be a happier place if 90 per cent of the people with jobs put their feet up instead and left the robots to do the work? Why didn’t the last house you bought cost only 5 per cent of what you paid for it? And is there any reason why you or your children shouldn’t one day enjoy limitless cheap power from nuclear fusion and a greatly extended lifespan?

These are the sort of questions that occupy Larry Page. At 41, the co-founder and chief executive of Google is freeing himself up to think big. A reorganisation in recent days has shifted responsibility for much of his company’s current business to a lieutenant and left him with room to indulge his more ambitious urges. The message: the world’s most powerful internet company is ready to trade the cash from its search engine monopoly for a slice of the next century’s technological bonanza.

Silicon Valley Special

Looking forward 100 years from now at the possibilities that are opening up, he says: “We could probably solve a lot of the issues we have as humans.”
It is a decade on from the first flush of idealism that accompanied its stock market listing, and all Google’s talk of “don’t be evil” and “making the world a better place” has come to sound somewhat quaint. Its power and wealth have stirred resentment and brought a backlash, in Europe in particular, where it is under investigation for how it wields its monopoly power in internet search.

Page, however, is not shrinking an inch from the altruistic principles or the outsized ambitions that he and co-founder Sergey Brin laid down in seemingly more innocent times. “The societal goal is our primary goal,” he says. “We’ve always tried to say that with Google. I think we’ve not succeeded as much as we’d like.” Read the rest of this entry »