5 Tech Observations to Start Your Day 121814

Good morning, I.T. entrepreneurs. Here are five technology news updates, rumors, gossip and rants to start your day for Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014.

Actually, today's update involves 11 items. Though Number 9 is a bait-and-switch item, so I guess the list is really 10 items. But who's counting?

11. Earnings Times Two: Red Hat (RHT) is set to announce quarterly earnings today. BlackBerry (BBY) results arrive tomorrow (Dec. 19). I've been a Red Hat shareholder (a small sum) for about five years. I remain long because many of the major IT market shifts (cloud, storage, Big Data) play to Red Hat's established or emerging strengths. And yes, I wish I purchased BlackBerry stock shortly after CEO John Chen arrived in 2013. That seems obvious now, since Chen is a known turnaround artist. But in 2013 few folks were sure BlackBerry could survive. We'll get an update on the turnaround story during earnings tomorrow.

10. Did You See That?: During a moment of weakness last year I purchased Google Glass. But I never quite became a Glasshole. Now, Sony has unveiled an unnamed device that transforms traditional lenses into a digital display. Cool. Or not. Thanks, but I'll wait to see how this plays out before I make a purchase.

9. Skip Ahead: Scroll down to item 5. It's the best one on today's list. Then come back here and read everything in order. It's sort of like watching Star Wars IV, V and VI, then going back to I, II and III. Though some people think you should watch V first ("I am your father"), then go to the start (I, II, III) before seeing how the story plays out (IV, VI). 

8. Oracle Cloud Revenues: Although Oracle's net income fell 2 percent in the company's most recent quarter, the company's cloud revenue jumped 45 percent to $516 million. Translation: Oracle's annual cloud revenue run rate is more than $2 billion. Sure, a good portion of that involves cloud companies that Oracle has acquired. And the bulk of Oracle's revenue is still on-premises ($9.1 billion vs. $516 million). But the bigger message is this: Oracle is just about the most mission critical software company on the planet. And it's safe to say big customers are finally moving their mission critical workloads toward the cloud.

7. Tonight's Host -- You: What comes after traditional live streaming and Google Hangouts? The answer may involve SmileTime and the platform's so-called SmileCasts. If you wanted to launch your own talk show on the web this could be how to do it. Wink, wink.

6. Repeat After Aaron: Box Inc. is not a commodity. Box Inc. is not a commodity. Box Inc. is not a commodity. That's what CEO Aaron Levie keeps saying. But I'm not convinced that he has mastered Steve Jobs' Reality Distortion Field.

5. Career Changers: I spent about two hours this week on career-oriented calls, answering questions from tech executives (pals across the industry) who are very close to making career moves. The key takeaways from the calls...

  • You can't string employees along: "I can't wait any longer for a company sale that may never come."
  • You can't flip-flop sales models: "Yesterday we sold direct. Today we sell indirect. Tomorrow we're going back to selling direct. So I'm moving on."
  • You can't control what you don't own: "I joined a startup to change the world. Instead, I executed the CEO's orders."
  • You can control your destiny: "Even if this move fails, my family is behind me."

4. How Amazon (And You) Could Lose: Many I.T. entrepreneurs worry about Amazon.com. Do you partner with the company and leverage Amazon Web Services, ecommerce and more? Or do you compete with a giant that has disrupted so many markets -- books, retail shopping, software, hardware, and more? Until recently the company looked invincible. Then came the Amazon Fire Phone -- which was dead on arrival. And now comes Farhad Manjoo -- proclaiming that Amazon is not as unstoppable as it might appear. Manjoo's view is required reading for those who are still trying to understand how mobile and smartphones are reshaping industries.

3. The Honeymoon's Over: Zoosk, the online dating platform, says CEO Shayan Zadeh and President Alex Mehr have resigned amid a delayed IPO. CFO and COO Kelly Steckelberg moves into the CEO slot. I typically don't cover online dating sites. But a big breakup just before a wedding on Wall Street was too much to pass up...

2. Teaser Alert: Are technology incubators and accelerators really necessary? I'm starting to think that After Nines Inc. will take a close look at that question in 2015. Don't quote me or hold me to that. 

1. U.S. Loses First Cyber War:  If the recent Sony hack attack truly came from North Korea, as the U.S. asserts, then this is a case of global cyber war. It's the equivalent of Book Burning in World War II -- designed to censor and/or destroy specific cultural, religious or political beliefs. Today, the attack involves a top content producer (Sony). Tomorrow, the attack could potentially involve our infrastructure -- energy, transportation, financial networks, communications, etc. 

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