5 Technology Observations: 14 May 2015

Good morning, I.T. entrepreneurs. Here are five technology news updates, insights, rumors, gossip, classic vaudeville acts and plenty more to start your day for Thursday,  May 14, 2015.

Actually, today's update involves 11 items...

11. Cisco Earnings: At a time when businesses are (A) consolidating their data centers or (B) moving workloads to the public cloud, Cisco Systems continues to show revenue growth. Indeed, sales jumped 5.1 percent in the company's most recent quarter and net income rose 12 percent. Impressive, considering Cisco's size and the overall market conditions the company faces. The key takeaway: Public cloud, hybrid cloud or private cloud, Cisco's technology remains relevant.

10. Good News, Bad News: Robots don't have enough power -- as in, battery life -- to take over the world. That means we won't face Skynet anytime soon. The bad news? Let's hope energy starved robots never watch the original Matrix...

9. Google Shifting Its Own IT Security Model: That's sort of the thinking behind Google's BeyondCorp Initiative. It goes something like this: Since your employees already use cloud and mobile applications, you should shift all of your corporate applications out to the cloud as soon as possible, get ahead of the curve, and shift security entirely to the end-user device and end-user credentials. In essence, you're moving security from the network to the device level, notes The Wall Street Journal. In that model. It sounds like the idea is to shift liability for server break-ins, network break-ins and more to your cloud service provider rather than your own data center...

8. Facebook News Feed: It's making headlines across the media landscape. It almost feels like Facebook could become an AP (Associated Press) or Reuters news feed out to mobile devices -- thanks to Facebook Instant Articles culled from a range of publishers. I've always argued that in today's media world you need to control (A) the content and (B) the underlying distribution platform. But big media pipes and third-party ad networks could prove me wrong...

7. Ad Tech vs Marketing Tech: Ad networks -- a hot tech startup area a few years ago -- is now a saturated market where startups have seen terrible IPOs. Rocket Fuel is down more than 80 percent since Sept. 2013 IPO; Millennial Media is down 94 percent since an IPO earlier this year, notes TechCrunch. So what's next? Most eyes have shifted from ad tech to marketing tech -- where names like Rubicon Project, Hubspot, Criteo, Marketo, Outbrain and AppNexus, InMobi and Sprinklr are increasingly familiar, TechCrunch ads... er, adds. 

6. Did You Miss Your Exit Window?: You build a fast-growth company, you get a little arrogant and lazy, you turn down a buyout offer -- and then your company stumbles on the HR front, driving down your valuation and your confidence. If and when the next buyout offer comes... will you be depressed because your valuation is far lower than a few years ago? Or will you feel like you've gotten a second chance to make things right? I recently had that very conversation, on background, with an old friend. After flying high and then stumbling badly, his glass is half-full again... Stay tuned.

5. Before Aaron Levie and Mark Zuckerberg: So, there were these guys named Bill Gates, Andy Grove and Steve Jobs. Millennials surely know about Jobs and Gates. But that other guy... Andy Grove? Sharp. Tireless. Only the paranoid survive -- and he sure did. He made sure Intel's technology was inside just about every piece of IT in the 1990s. Get to know him in a new book called Strategy Rules -- which covers "five timeless lessons" from Grove, Gates and Jobs.

4. Stop the Leakage: After Nines Inc. CEO Amy Katz despises margin leakage -- the loss of profit margin because you don't keep close tabs on a range of small expenses that suddenly become one big profit killer. Somewhat similarly, MaintenanceNet VP Justin Crotty despises service revenue leakage. In his world, IT companies don't have the time -- the man hours -- to chase service contract renewals and associated revenue from multiple customers. Add up all the lost dollars from individual accounts, and you see a big mound of lost revenue. To fix that, Crotty is evangelizing data-driven automation -- using MaintenanceNet's SaaS platform. I'll share more details in the next couple of weeks.

3. Small Business Management Apps: Amid all the hype about big data, cloud, social and software-defined technologies... have you noticed that quite a few startups focused on small business management apps are getting funded? I sure did. And I suspect those startups, backed by those fresh dollars, are in hiring mode...

2. Come Armed With Data: That's the message ahead of an After Nines Inc. team meeting set for later today. The background: We "think" we know where the IT market is heading and we'd like to get ahead of the curve on a few items. Our gut instincts have served us well over the years. But instead of relying entirely on anecdotal industry chatter, we've culled some interesting data to help us plot potential business moves down the road... Still, the data will be useless if we're not able to code our way to the future...

1. Reminder: After Nines Inc. does not publish new blogs or a newsletter on Fridays -- so that we can focus on R&D. We'll be back on Monday, May 18, with fresh updates.

Subscribe: Want to receive our blog headlines in your inbox each business day (except when we go stealth on Fridays)? Then subscribe to our enewsletter. Thanks to those who already have.