The best and the worst of Silicon Valley
Beginning this morning, in San Francisco, Fortune convenes its Global Forum, a conclave of some of the world’s most powerful CEOs. This year’s theme is “Winning in the Disruptive Century,” which explains why we are gathering on the doorstep of Silicon Valley.
The entire world wants to better understand the magic going on here, and for good reason. Billions upon billions of value have been created in the past five years alone from innovative startups like Airbnb and Uber. They join behemoths like Apple, Cisco, Facebook, and Salesforce.com, and Alphabet (you know it as Google) whose business-model disruptions past and present continue to inspire and petrify companies everywhere.
We’ll put top executives from many of these companies onstage, as well as visitors engaged in disruptive activity of their own. Some of these include the CEOs of J.P. Morgan, Lenovo, Lending Club, and Comcast. No discussion of disruption would be complete without some of the leading venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. Marc Andreessen and Ron Conway will be just two of the investing bold-faced names to join our agenda.
While the world focuses on lessons to learn in Silicon Valley, I highly recommend an article in the current issue of Fortune about an anti-lesson from Techland. In “Is Silicon Valley bad for your health?”, Jeffrey O’Brien, a former Fortune writer and editor, illuminates the brutal effects of the lack of work-life balance among key workers pursuing the tech-company dream. A doctor who treats tech-company employees tells O’Brien he “commonly sees 30-year-old engineers with 50-year-old bodies, complete with potbellies, curved spines, dulled skin tones, joint issues, reduced vitality, and elevated risks of diabetes and heart disease.” This is just one nugget in a richly crafted narrative that paints a frightening picture of the well-being of the employees of many of Silicon Valley’s most important companies.
What’s going on in the lovely corridor between San Francisco and San Jose truly is changing the world, making it worthy of study and admiration. Like anywhere, though, Silicon Valley isn’t perfect. After all, stock-option riches mean nothing when you’re dead.
BITS AND BYTES
Chinese military ties raise eyebrows. IBM, Cisco, and Microsoft are all sharing intellectual property with Chinese technology companies to build relationships in the massive domestic market. Most of those partners also have ties to the Chinese military, which has members of the American defense community concerned. (New York Times)
Dell and EMC plan spinout of big data software division. According to sources cited by Re/code, the merging companies are considering selling about 20% of software company Pivotal to public shareholders in early 2016. Pivotal specializes in technology for data analytics. That would make the ownership structure similar to that of EMC’s virtualization software arm, VMware. (Re/code)
Sprint will slash expenses by $2.5 billion. The cost savings measures, which will include thousands of layoffs, amount to approximately 10% of the wireless carrier’s current operating expenses. (Reuters)
CEO’s injury spurs SAP’s new enthusiasm for health care. After losing his eye in a July accident, Bill McDermott became personally invested in his company’s quest to help medical professionals share critical data more quickly. His newfound cause centers on bridging the barriers that often prevent medical specialists from sharing patient information quickly. (New York Times)
Google denies plan to merge mobile operating systems. Hiroshi Lockheimer, the senior vice president in charge of both Android and Chrome OS, tweeted that his company is committed to both products. This refuted a Wall Street Journal report late last week that suggested otherwise. Chrome OS has a particularly strong following in Google’s education accounts. (Fortune)
Amazon shuts down two business units. The e-commerce giant is giving up on Register, a merchant payments service similar to one startup Square offers, and Local, a daily deals coupon business that competed with services offered by Groupon. (Wall Street Journal)
Apple offers special bundle of Apple Watch and iPhone. The company is giving $50 discounts to customers buying its smartwatch and smartphone together. The catch is that this deal is limited only to a few stores in the San Francisco area as part of a pilot retail experiment. (Verge)
Bye-bye HP, it’s the end of an era
After a year of preparation, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and H-P Inc. begin trading Monday as separate corporate entities.This is not the first seismic shift to shake the storied tech pioneer—it spun out its bread-and-butter test and instruments division as Agilent in 2002—but it is definitely the biggest.
HP Enterprise will sell servers, software, storage, networking and associated services. HP Inc. will sell printers and PCs. Both will be hard-pressed to prove their relevance. The former is scrambling to come up with a good story for cloud computing services, while the latter faces serious expenditures for research and development if it hopes to conquer the emerging market for 3-D printers. Will two separate companies perform better than one? Fortune senior writer Barb Darrow has her doubts.
MORE FORTUNE TECH COVERAGE
Consumers vs. data brokers: A guide to today’s Spokeo Supreme Court case by Jeff John Roberts
Airbnb spends more than $8 million in San Francisco fight by Time
Here’s why ESPN is shutting down Grantland by Daniel Roberts
Does the bear case against Apple make any sense at all?
by Philip Elmer-DeWitt
What’s the likelihood of a nightmarish subsea Internet cable attack?
by Robert Hackett
Flipboard CEO: We’re growing strongly and we’re not for sale
by Mathew Ingram
ONE MORE THING
Here’s one way to thwart distracted driving. Why not require software developers to include a “driving mode” that prevents smartphones or smart dashboard applications from receiving phone calls or text messages while a vehicle is in motion? (Wall Street Journal)