Data Sheet—Monday, August 8, 2016
Conventional wisdom suggests that workers of a certain age find it tough, stressful even, to adopt new apps or gadgets. New data questions that truism, pointing out that those over 55 actually use more technologies on a weekly basis than those aged 18 to 34. What’s more, the research (which represents responses from about 4,100 people) suggests older workers may have an easier time adapting to tech changes than younger ones.
The online survey used to surface these findings was run by cloud software company Dropbox, and its report doesn’t disclose much about the sample so you should probably take the findings with a grain of salt. But the report definitely points up the frustration that the Instagram and Facebook generation must feel about being forced to use tech that is outmoded, like a database written in 1993 or inventory management systems rife with custom interfaces and “workarounds.”
Those of us who are older, perhaps, have just found a way to grin and bear it. Been there, done that. But clearly, we’re more open-minded than the tech industry gives us credit for. Against that backdrop, you have to wonder whether big companies worry more than they should about embracing new information technologies for fear that older workers won’t adjust to the change.
The stereotype that younger people make for better early adopters won’t change any time soon. Much of the venture money chasing new consumer tech still focuses on the “under 30 set,” as Fortune‘s Barb Darrow reports this morning. One stark exception: a $40 million fund established last October by the AARP and J.P. Morgan Chase. Voice-controlled assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon Alexa, for example, could inspire a whole new wave of services for older people. Now we’re talking.
BITS & BYTES
Blockbuster e-commerce buyout in the wings. Walmart disclosed a $3 billion takeover of upstart retailer Jet.com, a deal that could set up Jet founder Marc Lore as head of its online retail division. The company plans to retain the Jet brand. (Bloomberg, Recode, Walmart)
Antitrust investigators raid Amazon’s Japanese office. They are looking into complaints about its pricing strategy, according to news service Nikkei. The e-commerce giant has two primary rivals in the market: local market-share leader Rakuten and portal site Yahoo Japan. (Wall Street Journal)
Airbnb discloses $850 million in backing. The latest round brings total backing to around $3.2 billion. The home-sharing company’s latest reported valuation was around $30 billion. (Bloomberg, Fortune)
Apple bites deeper into artificial intelligence. It bought machine learning company Turi in a deal estimated at $200 million. The tech giant last year bought Perceptio, an image classification specialist, and VocalIQ, a speech tech company. (Fortune, Wall Street Journal)
Pay with your fingerprint. Japanese biometrics startup Liquid, which is funded by bank giant Mizuho Financial Group and carrier NTT DoCoMo, is rolling out a payment system in Asian markets that uses fingerprints to verify identity. (Wall Street Journal)
Why it’s tough to rank IBM’s cloud business. Which company has more cloud revenue, Google or IBM? It’s difficult to tell, which is why two market reports issued last week come to different conclusions. As you might expect, IBM isn’t very happy about it, calling one analysis “fundamentally flawed.” (Wall Street Journal)
PEOPLE & CULTURE
Leadership detour for Google’s self-driving car project. Robotics expert and chief technology officer Chris Urmson is “ready for a fresh challenge,” which prompted his resignation. Two other top engineers are also reported to be leaving. (Wall Street Journal, New York Times)
Oracle cloud exec jumps ship. Kevin Akeroyd, who ran the software giant’s marketing apps and services business, has been named CEO of media intelligence company Cision, owner of PR Newswire and Gorkana. (Cision)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
The Founder of The Information on What Media Companies Are Doing Wrong, by Mathew Ingram
Get Your Best Glimpse Yet of Apple’s New Campus, by Don Reisinger
Social Media Company HootSuite Could Be Ready for an IPO,
by Heather Clancy
ONE MORE THING
Blake Irving is more than a product guy. The GoDaddy CEO’s 15-year career at Microsoft—where he was behind the launch of MSN Messenger—was defined by engineering and product management roles, as was his stint at Yahoo. On the latest Fortune Unfiltered podcast, Irving discusses how a promise to his late sister inspired his decision to eliminate GoDaddy’s once-salacious brand image. Listen here.