Data Sheet—Thursday, October 9, 2014

October 9, 2014, 10:55 AM UTC

Good morning, Data Sheet readers. AMD one-upped Intel on diversity last night (albeit slightly) by naming insider Lisa Su as its new CEO. Intel’s highest ranking woman ever is president Renee James, who took on that position in May 2013. Plus, Elliott Management has taken its desire for a VMware spinout (or other strategic options) public in a letter to EMC’s board.


AMD appoints first female CEO. After serving as chief operating officer for barely four months, engineer Lisa Su has been named CEO, president and a board member for the chipmaker, which is trying to build more credibility outside of its stronghold in consumer computing technology. AMD rival Intel also has a woman near the top: president Renee James.

Su's predecessor, Rory Read, will stick around until the end of the year to assist with the transition, saying the timing made sense within the context of AMD's regular succession planning discussions. Su joined the company in 2012, with responsibility for product strategy and definition. She was previously with Freescale Semiconductor, IBM and Texas Instruments.

Hedge fund pushes EMC board on VMware spinout. In a letter to EMC's board that was released to the media, Elliott Management (which owns a 2.2% stake) urges the storage company to spin out its VMware virtualization software division to improve the competitive position for its core business lines and boost shareholder value.

Elliott holds up a customer survey to support its position. EMC's formal response acknowledges its dialogue with Elliott, but it isn't budging, citing "strong expressions of support" for its strategy. (By the way, here's the full Elliott letter.)

White House takes keen interest in JPMorgan Chase cyberbreach. Updates about the financial services firm's record-breaking hacking have been part of President Obama's regular national security briefings since it was disclosed this summer. It isn't just the size of the break-in—basic contact information stolen for an estimated 76 million households—that worries officials. It's the fact that the one of the Internet addresses used to pull it off was also used in attempted attacks on at least nine other financial companies. Plus, there's no clear motive, which both puzzles and concerns. New York Times


Google's Schmidt speaks out against surveillance. U.S. government surveillance isn't just a privacy concern for citizens, it's a point of competitive disadvantage abroad for Internet services companies—especially in Europe where data protection policies are rigorous. 

During a staged hearing meant to draw attention to an upcoming Congressional vote on the matter, Google chairman Eric Schmidt spoke out against the practice: "Even if when you put your content on our data centers, you still own it, and you’re entitled to the legal protections from the Constitution. That’s one of the reasons we need Congress to act.” 

Joining Schmidt were Microsoft Executive Vice President Brad Smith, Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch, Dropbox General Counsel Ramsey Homsany and John Lilly, a venture capitalist with Greylock Partners. Fortune

Smarter workforce management. Human resources software company Cornerstone OnDemand is paying $42.5 million to buy Evolve, which makes machine-learning technology. After the acquisition, expected to close within 30 days, it will add analytics features that provide HR managers with deeper insights into employee performance trends. Cornerstone's 1,800 global customers include CommonwealthBank, Hyatt and PitneyBowes.


Will your job be replaced by a robot or drone? As with many emerging technology forecasts, research firm Gartner's prediction that one-third of all workers will be replaced by some sort of automaton by 2025 is doubtless extreme. Still, it's clear that both technologies will definitely become more prevalent in agriculture, healthcare applications, financial services, and oil and gas pipeline inspections. Computerworld  


Big bet on Bitcoin company Blockchain. The company's $30-plus million Series A round is the largest single funding deal yet for technology that helps people manage and use the digital currency platform (another company, BitPay, raised $30 million in May). Blockchain manages more than 2.3 million "consumer wallets," and it's shooting for 20 million. The backers include lead investors Lightspeed Venture Partners and Wicklow Capital, along with angels including Richard Branson.

Jobvite optimizes recruiting strategies. More than 1,600 companies including Starbucks, Twitter and Farmers Insurance use the site to manage job openings and compare progress from state to states. The company just raised another $25 million in financing led by Catalyst Investors, bringing its total to $55.5 million. More than 30 million job applications have been processed on the site since 2003, and there have been more than 35 million visitors in the past year. TechCrunch



New memo on business messaging

Goldman Sachs and 14 huge financial services firms last week put together $66 million to create Symphony Communication Services Holdings.

Their mission: appease traders' need to communicate with clients and each other in near real time through chat and text messages, while upholding the security required for this sort of communications. The service will combine technology from a startup called Perzo with software developed in-house by Goldman Sachs.

The move is more evidence of how applications people use regularly in their personal lives are being reimagined for the workplace. Symphony isn't the only new company rethinking business communications. Fortune reports on another company that just emerged from stealth, Avaamo, founded by two former Tibco executives and backed with $6.3 million in seed funding.

Its mobile application, already available for Android smartphones (the iPhone version is due soon), supports secure two-way messaging not just among colleagues on the same payroll but also with sanctioned individuals outside the company.

"We're focusing on businesses which have a large percentage of employees that are away from their desk," Avaamo founder Ram Menon told Fortune Senior Editor Andrew Nusca. Read his complete coverage.


Digital leadership disconnect. Personalized mobile marketing. Social customer service. Applications (and analytics) for smart watches, sensors and the Internet of things. Close to half the 2,800 CIOs recently surveyed by firm Gartner believe they'll be the ones in charge of their company's digital technology strategy. Trouble is, only 15% of CEOs believe the same thing.

Gartner notes: "Digital leadership means flipping the approach from legacy first to digital first, assuming all solutions will be cloud based, designed for mobile and highly contextualized, and looking to exploit unstructured data, and run data-led experiments." 

Unconvinced that these job skills are valuable? Here's another development to ponder: Gap Inc. CEO Glenn Murphy just announced he'll step down in February after seven years. His replacement: the company's chief digital officer, Art Peck.


Dreamforce: 1,400 sessions about the largest cloud ecosystem. (Oct. 13-16, San Francisco)

Strata/Hadoop World: Big data tools and techniques. (Oct. 15 – 17, New York)

QuickBooks Connect: SMBs, entrepreneurs, accountants and developers. (Oct. 21 – 23, San Jose, Calif.)

IBM Insight 2014: Big data and analytics. (Oct. 26 – Oct. 30, Las Vegas)

TBM Conference 2014: Manage the business of IT. (Oct. 28- 30, Miami Beach)

SIMposium 2014. Tech execs and practioners. (Nov. 2-4, Denver)

AWS re:Invent: The latest about Amazon Web Services. (Nov. 11 – 14, Las Vegas)

Gartner Data Center Conference: Ideas for operations and management. (Dec. 2 – 5, Las Vegas)