5 Technology Observations: 9 July 2015

Good morning, I.T. entrepreneurs. Here are five technology news updates, insights, conversations and chatter to start your day for Thursday, July 9, 2015.

Actually, today's update involves nine items to sip on.

9. Microsoft Smartphone Disconnect: So much for former CEO Steve Ballmer's dream of having a hardware footprint in the smartphone market. Microsoft is writing down $7.6 billion of its $9.4 billion Nokia buyout, essentially admitting that the company has no traction in the smartphone handset market. The problem? Ballmer skated to where the puck had been (smartphones) when he should have been skating to where the puck is going (Internet of Things). Hey, I'm not a fan of the IoT term, either. But the point is this: Smartphone market platform dominance was decided long before Microsoft wasted its money on Nokia. And going forward, the world of software will need to focus far more heavily on managing all types of new endpoints, and gathering data from those endpoints... Data that Microsoft and customers can monetize in ways we've not yet imagined.

8. You Think That Was Bad?: So, the New York Stock Exchange halted trading for about 3.5 hours yesterday amid an "internal technical issue." The world briefly went into panic mode, as pundits wondered if World War Three -- in the form of a cyberattack -- was under way. Kaspersky Lab CEO Eugene Kaspersky has warned for several years that mission-critical infrastructure -- finance, transportation, electric grids -- will go dark when that World War III-type of digital attack arrives...

7. Open Rates: If I told you which company reads our newsletter and our blog more than any other, I think you'd be surprised. We're watching the watchers... Wink, wink.

6. Millennial Money: Verizion-AOL apparently is in discussions to buy Millennial Media for about $300 million. The move would accelerate Verizon-AOL's mobile ad push. Certainly a hot niche. But it's sort of ironic: So many companies are trying to master the mobile app and mobile advertising space. But they often forget to fix what they've already got: Overhauling their websites to give users the same great immersive experience on mobile, tablet and desktop. Hmmm... ...

5. Data and the Food Chain: You can now read mainstream articles about data's role in food production. Or, you can cut through all the noise and just call Arlin Sorensen to discuss the emerging world of precision agriculture (Precision Ag)... As a farmer and IT expert, he started planting seeds in the Precision AG market long before most of us had ever heard the term.

4. Crazy Simple: So, I get this call from Amy Katz yesterday. It's about our potential business model... and how it may potentially evolve. Simple. Scalable. High Value. Now, if we only had some potential products and services to potentially test against a really intriguing business model. Hmmm...

3. Fresh Funding: Tech startups raising money to accelerate growth include...

  • DigitalOcean (New York), a cloud infrastructure provider for developers, raised $83 million in Series B funding led by Access Industries.
  • ZeroTurnaround (Boston), which makes developer tools, raised $5 million in Series B funding led by Bain Capital Ventures.

2. Howard, Robin and Crew: During an extended road trip yesterday, I spent considerable time listening to "The History of the Howard Stern Show." To paraphrase Stern sidekick Fred Norris: If Howard was just some dirtbag who got on the radio and said F*** all the time, the show would have never lasted. My thoughts: Whether you love or despise Stern, there's no denying his secrets to success. First, the guy is authentic -- essentially the same person on radio and off. Second, he and his team have an "us against the establishment" mindset -- even amid all the success of the show. Third, the core team is incredibly loyal to each other because of that "us against the establishment" mentality. (How many other radio shows allow the back-stage talent and support folks to step into the front-stage spotlight so often?) Finally, the team somehow keeps experimenting and breaking new ground. All of that got me thinking... Hmmm...

1. Reminder: We don't blog or distribute a newsletter on Fridays. That allows us to focus on R&D... or at least catch up on laundry ahead of the weekend. We'll be back Monday with a fresh round of content.

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