5 Tech Observations to Start Your Day 122414

Good morning, I.T. entrepreneurs. Here are five technology news nuggets, insights, rumors, gossip, and feel-good stories (or not) to start your day for Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014.

Actually, today's update involves 12 items...

12. Who Else Can 'We' Upset?: First, Sony drew North Korea's wrath and an alleged hack related to The Interview. Now, South Korea has indicted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick for violating public-transport law. South Korean law prohibits individuals or car-rental companies without appropriate state licenses from providing or facilitating transportation services, notes The Wall Street Journal. Violators face up to two years in prison or a fine of US$18,140, The Journal said

11. Common Sense Security: Sometimes, we all get so wrapped up in complex IT security debates that we forget the basics. An example: A massive JPMorgan Chase hack this past summer apparently involved... wait for it... a server that wasn't properly patched. Right about now, I'd hate to be the JPMorgan employee responsible for proper server patch management...

10. Making an Offer: J2 Global is planning to make a $15 per share offer for... Carbonite, the online backup provider. The offer represents a $1.50 or so premium vs. Carbonite's closing price on Dec. 22. Major shareholders like Engine Capital are urging Carbonite to put the company up for sale to attract the best potential offers possible. The takeover talk arrives just as Carbonite shifts its CEO crown from Founder David Friend (who remains chairman) to Mohamad Ali, an HP veteran. The cloud backup market is ripe for consolidation, especially as a growing number of companies start to move workloads into Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Microsoft Azure and other public cloud storage services. 

9. Big Data Will Fumble the Results: Cortana, a Windows phone virtual assistant, is predicting every NFL game result with an algorithm from Bing Predicts. But here's the problem: In the NFL, game outcomes are mostly driven by turnovers (fumbles, interceptions, muffs). On any given Sunday, a quarterback can have a stellar day (3 touchdowns, no turnovers) or a rotten day (3 turnovers, no touchdowns). I suspect the probability of Cortana and Bing Predicts getting all that information "right" is downright slim.

8. Venture Capital's Death Spiral?: Who is driving venture capital tech investing these days? In a growing number of cases, the answer does not involve Silicon Valley. Instead, large mutual funds and hedge funds drive fundraising for late-stage growth-equity companies. And pre-IPO mega rounds often involve T. Rowe Price, Fidelity and other well-known financial services firms, according to Aaron Timms, a reporter for Institutional Investor.

Timms' conclusion: "As entrepreneurs seek out new avenues of capital, venture capital may be entering its own type of bubble -- a bubble of dwindling relevance, and irreversible decline." As I consider my own potential path as an Angel Investor, I agree with Timms' perspective. But VCs and angels won't go away. I believe the survivors will bring far more than money to the table. Instead, their true value will be access to influencers, talent and customers. 

7. Social Media Warning: Attention I.T. entrepreneurs building social networks. TripAdvisor has been fined $611,000 in Italy for failing to prevent fake reviews. The fine is a timely warning for any business built atop community engagement. In many cases, you can't be held liable for information that third-parties post on your message boards. But it looks like Italy has taken strong exception to that mindset. TripAdvisor plans to appeal the ruling, according to CNN.

6. Apple Pay Momentum: I keep telling mobile I.T. entrepreneurs to closely watch Apple Pay, the digital wallet technology. ITG Market Research suggests Apple Pay has 1.7 percent market share only six weeks after release. But here's where things get interesting: Retailers need to upgrade their point of sale (POS) systems to include "swipe" pads supporting EMV security and Near-Field Communications (NFC). Consumers and regulators will demand the upgrades amid all the recent hacks -- including a Staples hack that potentially involved nearly 1.2 million customer credit cards. My conclusion: Pundits keep saying Apple Pay is the most secure, most intuitive digital wallet technology on the market. Even if Apple Pay isn't perfect, the market is heading Apple's way. Again. 

5. Nice Threads: Wearable technology -- Google Android Ware, Microsoft Band, Apple Watch, etc. -- certainly gets a lot of hype in the consumer market. But businesses may be far more critical in driving adoption, according to a new report from Forrester Research. As for me, I foolishly purchased Google Glass to "check it out," only to discover that the technology worked as advertised... Which means "not so good." When Apple Watch arrives in 2015, I'll likely be a buyer -- but I won't be first in line.

4. Big Data Careers: Yes, tech and consulting firms are investing in Business Schools and MBA programs to train, find and hire Big Data Managers. In some cases, colleges are uniting to accelerate the trend. The New Jersey Big Data Alliance, for instance, works with a range of colleges to drive Big Data education in universities. Just be careful of all the hype. If you're heading toward a Big Data career, you'll soon be competing with thousands of hungry, eager Big Data graduates. I suspect focusing on a specific piece of the Big Data puzzle -- such as Hadoop or NoSQL -- could potentially help you to stand out from the crowd for at least the next 12 months or so.

3. The Enemy of My Enemy: Microsoft and Google are teaming up to ensure hotel guests can use personal WiFi devices while on hotel property. The FCC has been considering whether hotels are permitted to block the personal WiFi connections. Road warriors view the connection blocks as an attempt by hotels to further monetize their own WiFi services.

2. Podcast: Inside Social CEO Brewster Stanislaw explains how to measure the financial impact and ROI of social media followers, influencers and more. Plus, check out archived editions of our weekly podcast -- Good Evening, I.T. Entrepreneurs -- in which tech leaders educate startup business owners.

1. Holiday Schedule: A quick reminder. After Nines Inc. is closed for the holiday, reopening on Monday, Jan. 5. Our blog will have minimal (if any) updates, based on my morning caffeine intake and family obligations. Our daily newsletter will only distribute if the blog has been updated. Have a great holiday and wonderful New Year.

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