Enterprise headlines and summaries, 2009-06-05

  • Obama Protectionism Blasted By Microsoft’s Ballmer And Symantec’s Thompson
    “We’re better off taking lots of people and moving them out of the U.S. as opposed to keeping them inside the U.S.,” Ballmer said in an interview with Bloomberg News. The Obama administration’s effort to limit deductions on foreign profits would lead to increased costs in the U.S. for Microsoft, requiring Ballmer to fulfill his “fiduciary responsibility” to shareholders by lowering the company’s costs by shifting jobs to other countries with lower corporate tax rates. Bloomberg News also reported that Symantec’s Thompson “said software companies are frustrated by being called tax cheats and compared with companies that moved their headquarters to low-tax countries such as Bermuda.” Calling the Obama proposals “counterintuitive,” Thompson said, “It is a little bit ironic that most of our most significant trading partners and partners globally have taken the tack that they’ll reduce corporate tax rates to stimulate economic growth and not raise corporate tax rates,” Bloomberg reported.
  • Oracle layoffs
    Based on the large number of search engine referrals to the Spectator this morning, it appears that another layoff is underway at Oracle. As it turns out, a surge in such hits in the past has been an early indicator of layoffs, as news spreads within the organization and people search for more information. If you have information or more details on what functions are affected, and numbers of terminated employees, please post a comment to this post or email me. Anonymity is honored, as always.
  • 21 ways to flog dead horse projects
    After writing my last post, which was on this same topic, I learned about special 21 techniques organizations use to deny their true state of failure. This is from the Humor Archives blog, but it’s actually not funny at all. In reality, this list is a sad and accurate commentary on denial in its various forms and manifestations:
  • Oracle Reportedly Hiring
    Oracle is reportedly recruiting executives to replace the ones it expects to leave or get fired when it takes over Sun, which will be integrated into Oracle, not run as a free standing subsidiary. Sun chairman Scott McNealy (pictured below) is expected to be offered a seat on the Oracle board. Oracle might sell off at least parts of Sun’s storage operation like, say, tape which reportedly holds little fascination for it although Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has said otherwise.
  • Spending on Web Ads Fell 5% in First Quarter
    The recession is taking a bite out of the online advertising industry, with a report on Friday showing that U.S. online ad spending declined 5% in the first quarter, despite projections for growth. The data, which represent the first decline since 2002, suggest that the online ad market—recently thought to be insulated from broader economic woes, as marketers shift their dollars from traditional media like print and TV to the Web—has been harder hit than many expected.
  • Rajeev Motwani, Google founders’ professor and early investor, dies
    Rajeev Motwani, the Stanford professor of computer science known best for advising Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, passed away today unexpectedly. Widely praised for his investing acumen — having backed both Google and PayPal early on — he will be remembered for his genuine passion for teaching and technology.
  • Google Rolls Out Google Squared
    Google releases Google Squared, an application for structuring results data into easy-to-read tables. A number of search engines, including the much-publicized Wolfram Alpha, have already been experimenting in this space. Google finds itself adding more features to its lineup in the face of increased search competition from companies such as Microsoft, which recently released its own new search engine, Bing.
  • Venture capitalists see their industry shrinking
    There will be fewer Venture capital firms — the engines that transform Silicon Valley ideas into profitable companies — over the next two years, as investment dries up and returns crumble, industry leaders say. The pension funds and other partners who back venture capitalists complain that returns have withered away over the past eight years. “It is very tough to make a commitment to a new venture fund these days,” said Panda Hershey, director of global private markets for the large pension fund, TIAA-CREf. “Many of us benefited in ’99 and 2000, but subsequently it became very tough for venture as a whole to get returns,” she told a panel at the Venture Capital Investing Conference. “I would say, please produce some returns before we re-up with you.”
  • IBM Taps SPSS Analytics Software
    IBM has deep thinkers, promising research and development, hundreds of high-end custom projects under its belt, and more than a score of new analytic applications available. Analytics has become so important a hot button that IBM has also reassigned more than 4,000 consultants from its BI, information management, performance management, content management and enterprise integration practices into a new Business Analytics & Optimization Services practice. (No doubt these folks will be doing much the same sorts of work, but under the banner of analytics.) What IBM has not had (with a couple of minor exceptions) is dedicated analytics tools that it could put into the hands of the many BI and analytics power users out there working for corporations and government agencies. PASW Statistics (formerly SPSS Statistics) is such a tool. It’s used to access, manage and analyze various types of data to spot ways to improve customer loyalty, decrease marketing costs, minimizing risk and otherwise

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