April 14: Blockbuster,Google,Salesforce and Taxes
The tech news lineup for the week of April 14. Mergers, departures, alliances and (groan) taxes.
Mergers. Despite a lackluster economy, or maybe because of it, mergers and their harsher partner takeovers are in the news.
Blockbuster shortcircuits Circuit City. This is in the takeover bid category. The $1 Billion proposed takeover was made public after private advances reportedly went unanswered. Circuit City has been roughed up by Best Buy and Blockbuster has been getting pummeled by digital downloads offered by cable providers and just about anyone with a media server. Does this proposed deal make sense? Yes. Buy the media device or big TV at Circuit City and get a contract for digital downloads.
Delta buys a ride on Northwest. This on again, off again courtship seems on again. The airline industry is in trouble whether it be American getting caught with its wires down or discount airlines being bankrupted by rising fuel costs. The tech angle in airline profits (or the lack of them) is often overlooked. Filling the seats, using aircraft most efficiently and coming up with some high tech ways like in-flight Internet access is all about technology. Also, in these mergers there is always a winner and a loser in the vendor community. Someone's database wins, someone's business applications wins and the IT professionals either find themselves with a bigger job or no job. Northwest IT dudes better get out their map of Atlanta and learn to like the Braves.
Microsoft and Yahoo. I can't write about this stuff anymore. At some point, I'm not sure it matters beyond watching an arcane mating ritual. Ben Romano up at the Seattle Times has a good take on this one.
I think the proposed alliance between Salesforce.com and Google to put the Salesforce apps on the Google application engine is a big deal. Alliances rather than acquisitions (especially hostile acquisitions) makes more sense in the high tech world. CRM applications from Salesforce integrated with Google productivity apps and all running in that big computing cloud is the type of next generation IT infrastructure now on the whiteboards of many CIOs. Microsoft and SAP need a response here.
Departures. Building processor chips is a much bigger bet than any number of poker chips you could pile up in Las Vegas. While many techies would like you to think otherwise, the design and manufacturing process is as much art as science. And even if all those billions you have sunk into design and fab turn out usable chips, the market may decide you built the wrong thing after all. Just as all those Itanium believers. Last week, Phil Hester, AMD's tech chief left. What type of tech chief does AMD need? They need someone who can orchestrate a worldwide group of engineers working on designs that stay true to the past but frogleap Intel. No easy task, but orchestra conductors rather than brilliant musicians need to be at the head of chip design and development.
Taxes. Oh yeah, taxes are due on the 15th. You can pay them electronically. Wouldn't it be nice if some of those tax dollars could be used to educate the next generation of techies, help the present generation keep their jobs and fund the basic research and development needed to create the next generation of technology companies that just might be needed to save the planet?