5 Tech Observations: 21 January 2015

Good morning, I.T. entrepreneurs. Here are five technology insights, rumors, gossip, and actual news perspectives to start your day for Wednesday, January 21, 2015.

Actually, today's update involves 13 lucky items...

13. IBM's Missing CEO: Big Blue delivered another disappointing earnings forecast yesterday, cutting profit targets for 2015 amid the industrywide shift from hardware and software sales to cloud and big data offerings. I noticed CEO Ginni Rometty skipped yesterday's earnings call, during which IBM disclosed its 11th consecutive quarter of falling revenues... Still, Re/Code insists that Rometty's changes are starting to stick -- and that means accelerated IBM momentum for cloud, big data, mobile and security offerings in 2015 and beyond. As I disclosed yesterday, I purchased a few IBM shares in December 2014 -- figuring that at some point soon IBM will bottom out as its growth businesses finally offset legacy hardware, software and services offerings. I may have jumped in too soon -- but I'm keeping the faith... for now.

12. Careful What You Ask For: Do you really want honest feedback from your employees? Memo, an app that allows employees to post anonymous feedback in company groups, is gaining momentum in Oracle Corp. and across the high-tech industry. But some companies apparently are stopping employees from using the app to gossip about work. In some ways, I wonder how Memo differs from Glass Door, another app and site that rates companies based on employee feedback -- much of it anonymous.

11. Anonymous Bloggers Beware: Facebook can no longer be used to spread fake news. Not that there's anything wrong with that... 

10. Measure Everything: Actually, this isn't an enterprise big data tip. Instead, it involves Apple buying Semetric -- an analytics service that tracks music sales, illegal downloads and social networking mentions, reports The Wall Street Journal. The Apple-Semetric deal shows how established companies are taking a closer look at their existing businesses -- and applying new ways to measure performance and trends... Building on that Thought: AppsFlyer, an analytics company that measures mobile ad effectiveness, has raised $20 million in Series B funding.

9. Hot Community: StackExchange has raised $40 million to further extend its Q&A communities for IT professionals, developers and other types of technology managers. Yes, I admire the Stack Overflow platform because it's built on great user-generated content, rather than sales pitches positioned as influencer content.

8. Rough Transition?: Dropbox is buying CloudOn, a platform that changes the way "people edit, create, organize and share docs on any platform." Now for the bad news -- at least for the near-term. According to the buyout plan, CloudOn has stopped accepting new users and will shut down its CloudOn service on March 15, 2015. For many CloudOn users I suspect the reaction will be simple: WTF? Surely, Dropbox has a plan to keep CloudOn users happy -- right? Stay tuned.

7. Box IPO: It appears set for Thursday. The offering -- priced around $11 to $13 per share -- seeks to raise $187 million. I'm going to sit on the sidelines for this one.

6. Good Advice: Beware of associations that claim to represent small business interests, warns an op-ed piece from The Hill. Generally speaking, I agree. There are some great associations for SMB leaders and I.T. entrepreneurs. But some are better described as mom and pop shops that offer little more than a logo for your website.

5. DevOps Management: Amazon Web Services veteran Rahul Singh has raised $2.8 million to fund Distelli -- a startup that strives to let you manage all of your DevOps services no matter where they reside. Plenty of people are developing single dashboards for managing workloads across multiple clouds. But Singh's experience at AWS gives him instant market credibility.

4. Nine Years Later: Back in 2006 or so, some mentors of mine were pushing the White House and the Bush administration to really embrace public broadband and cyber security issues. Fast forward nearly a decade later, and President Obama's State of the Union Speech covered those issues in depth. Perhaps in another decade or so we'll see some real progress closing the digital divide...

3. Windows 10 Milestone(s): It sounds like a Windows 10 mobile preview is set for February debut, according to Mary Jo Foley. Meanwhile, Paul Thurrott is starting to sound a bit more upbeat about Microsoft's Spartan browser plans for Windows 10. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is expected to offer updates on the operating system during an event today...

2. On Second Thought: Google has signed a student privacy pledge after facing a stark reality. The search giant earlier declined to sign the pledge. But support from President Obama, Microsoft and Apple may have forced Google's hand -- especially as the search giant promotes Google Apps as a top Office 365 alternative on college campuses and in K-12 schools.

1. What Are You Really Working On?: I got that question again yesterday. Here's the 100 percent truth: Right now, I'm working on writing this blog. That's really what I'm doing. Truly...

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