5 Technology Observations: 6 March 2015

Good morning, I.T. entrepreneurs. Here are five technology news updates, insights, chatter, gossip and (de)classified rumors to start your day for Friday, March 6, 2015.

Actually, today's update involves 13 items.

13. Cuts Amid Cloud Transition: SAP SE is making staff cuts that could involve about 3 percent of its workforce. That's about 2,200 employees -- but some could be shifted into jobs focused on cloud computing. IBM has made similar moves in recent months -- though exact IBM headcount cuts have not been disclosed. 

12. Attention New York Startups: TechCrunch Disrupt is set for May 4-6 in New York. It's right in my back yard. But will I attend? I'll share the answer by May 3. Separately, I can confirm that I'll be attending NY TechDay (April 23). Get a TechDay preview -- event focus areas, audience overview, etc. -- in Episode 24 of our podcast series, Good Evening, I.T. Entrepreneurs.

11. Good Evening, India: I just got off the phone (well, Skype) with a key source in India. I continue to learn a lot from her -- and her team -- each month. Some day, I'll share her name and a few details about how this friend from the other side of the globe educated me quite a bit about key IT trends...

10. Apple Pay Fraud: Security concerns involving Apple Pay have finally spilled from the IT industry into the mainstream media. We told you earlier this week (March 4, Item 9) that banks were starting to see fraudulent transactions -- though not outright hacks of Apple Pay. Now, the scheme is described by The Wall Street Journal. Basically, it sounds like fraudulent credit card info -- lifted from earlier Home Depot and Target breaches that didn't involve Apple -- has found its way into Apple's mobile-payment system.

9. Stop Chasing Likes: You know all the hard work you've been doing to attract "Likes" on your corporate Facebook page? After all your hard work, your Like count could drop soon -- thanks to a change in Facebook's tracking software. Going forward, Facebook will remove Likes that involve members who rarely log into the social network, as well as Likes from deactivated or memorialized accounts. My thought? Instead of chasing Likes... focus on real, lasting business relationships. One byproduct will be real, authentic Likes from the right followers.

Unispectral Technologies transforms science fiction becomes science fact... on a smartphone.

Unispectral Technologies transforms science fiction becomes science fact... on a smartphone.

8. Spock, Bones & (Big) Data: The late Leonard Nemoy and DeForest Kelley might enjoy this one. An Israeli startup says it has developed "an optical lends and image processing software" that transforms a smartphone into a hyperspectral sensor. Translate that into basic English, and Unispectral Technologies has essentially developed a modern day Star Trek Tricorder, the Journal asserts.

7. Disrupting Insurance: That's Google's next move, at least for auto insurance in California. Privacy concerns aside (for the moment), what if Google managed a comparison-shopping site for healthcare insurance? Now that would be disruptive...

6. Cybersecurity vs. Privacy: As Americans worry about NSA spying, the Obama administration and some democrats are pushing back against a new cybersecurity bill drafted by top Senate Intelligence Committee lawmakers, according to the Journal. Whether you consider NSA leaker Edward Snowden a hero or a traitor, his "disclosures" have made the privacy-vs-security debate a front-of-mind issue.

5. Cisco's Smart Move: Instead of getting bogged down in big data standards bodies, Cisco Systems is partnering up with the best-known Hadoop players (Cloudera, Hortonworks, MapR) to drive big data applications onto Cisco's unified compute data centers. Smart. Very smart.

4. Accelerating Momentum: Yesterday I mentioned  (Item 13 here) that more and more women are uniting to change the world of venture capital. Now comes word that several Twitter executives have launched an all-female angel investor group -- called #Angels. You don't have to be a woman to secure their angel dollars. And they don't see technology as an industry. Rather, "it has become a foundation to every business." Well said. I look forward to tracking #Angel's first investments when they surface.

3. Free IT Monitoring: ScriptRock is offering cloud-based IT monitoring services for free to non-profit companies. The offer, featuring GuardRail for Non-Profits, covers up to 50 nodes (servers, cloud apps, network devices, etc.). I've always been a freemium fan. As are folks like Avast Software VP Luke Walling, who just announced a freemium strategy for small business security a few weeks ago. The trick is trying to draw the line between you free and paid versions, and then convincing customers to cross that line into the paid world...

2. Fresh Funding: 

  • First Insight (predictive analytics) has raised $14 million in Series B funding from Updata Partners.
  • Namely (HR software for growth companies) has raised $11 million in funding. Matrix Partners led the round.
  • Salesfusion (marketing automation platform) has raised $5 million including backing from Noro-Moseley.
  • Switftype (SaaS-based advanced search) has raised $13 million in Series B funding. Investors include NEA (also an early Box investor...).

1. The New Zoo Review: I've lived in New York for 45 years. Never (ever) been to the Bronx Zoo. That could all change in June. I'm a candidate to chaperone my son's trip to the Bronx Zoo. Just trying to keep it real even as After Nines Inc. potentially pieces together something bigger.

PS: Today's high-calorie coffee celebrates some major After Nines Inc. milestones that occurred behind closed doors this week. Yada, yada, yada... some day we'll open the doors and share more details.

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