5 Technology Observations to Start Your Day, Nov 20

Good morning, I.T. entrepreneurs. After spending the past 48 hours or so in podcast land, I'm back to blogging. Here are five technology news nuggets, observations, insights, gossip and rumors to start your day for Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014.

Actually, today's update covers 10 items...

10. Smart Timing: Hewlett-Packard is set to announce quarterly earnings on Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 25 -- just before the Thanksgiving holiday. It's a quiet week for Wall Street. A lot of folks are either phoning it in or on vacation. That's great potential timing to announce new, dramatic details about the pending HP breakup (into an enterprise business, and a PC/printer business). Or, it's a good time to announce management tweak. Or, it's a good time to get any additional bad news out about potential earnings challenges. Of course, HP could go the simple route and announce good earnings and a smooth path toward that company breakup. We'll get the answers on.

9. Encryption, Encryption, Encryption: CipherCloud has raised $50 million is Series B funding. The company develops cloud encryption technology, and also monitors Salesforce.com, Box and other SaaS systems for suspicious use. This is the latest proof that the cloud market is moving far beyond traditional cloud backup and disaster recovery tools. Moreover, end-to-end encryption between smartphones, tablets and cloud services is becoming the norm -- despite concerns from the U.S. government about potential criminals and terrorists using the secure links to hatch plots against U.S. companies and citizens.

8. Love, Hate Relationship: As most folks have heard, Facebook is changing its algorithm again. Generally speaking, anyone posting a "promotional" update (news links, product pitch links, event links, etc.) will get buried in the system and won't display much in the timeline. It's a blatant attempt to force companies to shift from free viral marketing to paid marketing on Facebook. On the one hand, I despise the move -- since I'm as guilty as the next person of promoting promotional links. But on the other hand -- maybe we'll all benefit from fewer "come to my webcast to get nothing of value other than a gift card" pitches. We're still getting our share of traffic from Facebook... and Twitter... and Google plus... And organically. (Big thanks to our organic readers who keep coming back for more.) And therein resides the lesson: Generate authentic, valuable content -- and you'll thrive organically.

7. Diversify Your Revenue Stream: Here's a not-so-friendly reminder on why your I.T. business needs a diverse revenue stream. GT Advanced Technologies, as you may have heard, has essentially imploded after its technology and a business engagement with Apple turned sour. The ugly details are starting to surface now. But all you need to know is the following: If you land your dream customer don't fall in love with the engagement. Instead, stay hungry and pursue additional relationships -- which continuing to improve your products and services.

6. What's the Point?: If PowerPoint is dead, how did emerging rival Prezi just raise $57 million to battle Microsoft's presentation software? I've seem Prezi in action during a range of Golden Seeds presentations. Gotta say: I'm impressed. But as usual, I wonder how the company will march toward profitability.

5. Buy and Buy: Salesforce.com issued a weaker-than-expected earnings forecast yesterday. Some investors are nervous. But here's the twist. I ran into a long-time friend this morning at Dunkin' Donuts. He's an IT director for a major New York company that ranks among Salesforce.com's first customers. While on line (not online), he mentioned that Oracle has been calling him pretty regularly about a potential CRM cloud switch. But this particular source said he's yet to find any reason to make the move. Plus, turning off Salesforce.com at this point would be a major IT headache. The lesson: I think Salesforce.com is going to be just fine and I'm looking for some dough to buy the stock. Ditto for WorkDay... which is much earlier in its growth curve than Salesforce.com.

4. Shoot the Cattle: Talk to executives from Boundary and other businesses focused on cloud monitoring, and you hear a familiar theme. The love affair between smart IT managers and servers is over. Instead of treating a server like a pet you love, you've got to treat it like cattle you manage. And if a server or web app goes down, you simply shoot that livestock -- you don't try to save it. That's a big mindset shift for traditional IT managers and everybody trying to keep a server or application up and running. In the cloud, you simply turn off that broken application instance and fire up a new instance. The sooner you accept that reality, the faster you'll thrive in the new IT landscape.

3. Got Talent?: So, your company only wants to hire the most skilled professionals. Smarterer, which offers skills test software for companies, wants to help. And now they've got a $75 million war chest to do so. The company's software can test your existing employees or potential hires as they navigate Excel or programming platforms like Python and Ruby on Rails. My question: Can Smarterer also test for cultural fit?

2. Don't Call It Distribution: But if you did, perhaps this is where it's all going.

1. Memo to Judge Judy: Imagine the following scenario. And it ain't hypothetical. Acme buys an IT management software company after performing months of due diligence on the technology and business. About a year after the sale, Acme (the new owner) gets hit by a major hack/software bug that the previous owners (call them Gamma) never fixed. As a result, Acme (the current owner) withholds a final payout (sitting in escrow) to the previous owner (Gamma). Acme claims the hack caused about $5.5 million in damages, hence non-payment to the previous owner (Gamma) on about $5.5 million of the sale price. But is the previous owner (Gamma) really responsible for knowing about the hole, the lack of a pro-active fix, and the alleged damage? I don't have the answers yet. But I do have the court documents... Stay tuned.

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