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Data Sheet—Friday, December 19, 2014

Good morning, Data Sheet readers. Willing to pay for a special chip fine-tuned for your data center applications? Intel is willing to listen. Plus, eBay’s current CEO will get $23 million when he leaves. Read on for more pre-holiday news about the business of technology.

Want to give me an early Christmas present? Forward this newsletter to colleagues and business partners, and tell them to sign up! Did you miss one? Here’s an archive of past editions.

I’ll be back on Monday with the next edition, which will feature my exit interview with TIBCO founder Vivek Ranadive, who has stepped down as CEO now that the company is private. Enjoy your weekend!

TRENDING

eBay CEO will get $23 million to leave. John Donahoe’s exit package after the company splits with PayPal will grow or sink depending on how well the stock performs until that time. In other news, eBay is the latest high-tech company to part ways with controversial lobby group American Legislative Exchange Council (aka ALEC). Reuters

Intel counts on custom. Almost half of the chips it sells for servers running cloud computing applications next year will be specialized in some way—optimized for faster information flow, lower power consumption, or sophisticated image processing applications. Most cloud and Internet service providers including Amazon, eBay, Facebook, and Twitter increasingly require unique specifications. Intel sells approximately 18 million chips for data center applications annually. New York Times

And so on, and so on. There’s been an intriguing twist in an IBM insider trading case involving confidential information leaked by a lawyer working on the high-tech giant’s $1.2 billion buyout of analytics software company SPSS back in 2009. His tip was, in turn, passed to at least five other people. Several defendants have submitted guilty pleas but a recent New York appeals court ruling makes the burden of proof tougher for prosecuting those not directly in the original leak. Bloomberg

Are you at risk? Oh joy! Not one, but two potential cybersecurity threats have “emerged” for us to worry about right before the last pre-Christmas shopping weekend. The first, called Spark, is a form of malware the can be used to collect credit card information. The second, dubbed Misfortune Cookie, is a flaw related to up to 12 million consumer-grade Internet modems that could expose passwords or other information. eWeek, Re/code

French company buys Xerox IT outsourcing business. Huge computer services company Atos will pay $1.05 billion for the division, which will triple its U.S. footprint. This is the same company that bought long-time player Bull, which is building its cybersecurity and cloud computing services, earlier this year. Wall Street Journal

POLICY & STRATEGY

Curiouser and curiouser. Now that Sony Pictures and every major theater chain in the United States have capitulated to cyber-terrorists by canceling what sounds like a really dumb movie in the first place, what’s to stop others from pulling similar stunts involving corporate blackmail.

Set aside for a moment who is really responsible for this whole situation, which in itself is pretty sobering. The tactics used, especially the slow release of embarrassing confidential emails, should have every business reconsidering their electronics communications policy.

For some, it might be a good time to consider “erasable” methods, such as the Confide messaging app—which (like SnapChat) makes the message ephemeral. But the drawback is that both parties to a “conversation” have to use these technologies for them to work.

Or you could opt for opt for complete transparency, like electronic payments company Stripe where private emails are the exception—at least internally. The strategy was initially adopted to keep employees from “drowning in email” (sound familiar?) Here’s the other reason it’s useful (offered by CTO Greg Brockman in his blog post about the policy last year):

“It also makes it more likely that controversial issues are addressed as they arise, counteracting inevitable conflict-avoidance tendencies. The open flow obviates a lot of internal politics and avoids the sort of accidental surprises that sometimes crop up in organizations. It also makes everyone happier.”

I’d be willing to bet that there’s a lot more self-editing before someone pushes “send,” which would have helped a lot in the Sony situation. WSJ, NYT, Wired

Big banks baffled by mobile banking. More U.S. consumers than ever use smartphones to check account balances, transfer money or perform other transactions—these interactions represent at least 35% of the total, according to a report released Friday by Bain & Co. But digital-only accountholders also tend to purchase fewer services. WSJ

STARTUPS & DISRUPTORS

$35 million to recode software development. Seattle-based Skytap helps programmers at the companies like Boeing, IBM Splunk manage internal processes for writing, testing and releasing applications. Its latest venture backing was led by Insight Venture Partners. It previously raised $29.5 million. The CEO’s previous company, Stratavia, was acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2010. TechCrunch

 

CLOUD CHATTER

Just sign here. Could a simpler contract get businesses to sign up for cloud services more quickly? IBM thinks so. It just cut its paperwork to two pages to remove that objection, and actually won an award for doing just that.

Speaking of which, chances are pretty high that businesses already using cloud computing services as a way to add server or storage capacity will need to reevaluate their existing contracts over the next two years. New predictions from IDC suggest that at least 75% of the existing offerings will be “redesigned, rebranded or phased out” during that time period.

 

MY FORTUNE.COM BOOKMARKS

Fortune’s 20 favorite books of 2014 By Fortune Editors

‘Serial’ is small: PodcastOne is building a podcasting empire By Erin Griffith

Maternity coaches: The little-known perk keeping execs in the workforce By Caroline Fairchild

It’s not just “The Interview”: 10 other banned, withdrawn and censored movies By Daniel Bukszpan

China’s economy is worth $300 billion more than it thought By Geoffrey Smith

CEO gives back bonus, says he doesn’t deserve it By Dan Primack

A new talk show about business we (really) hope you like By Leigh Gallagher

ONE MORE THING

Android in your car dashboard? Last week, Ford disclosed it’s dumping Microsoft and swapping to BlackBerry’s QNX division for the software that runs its vehicle telematics, navigation and entertainment systems. Google apparently is accelerating its own development for this market. Fortune, Reuters

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

IBM Interconnect 2015: Cloud and mobile strategy. (Feb. 22 – 26, 2015; Las Vegas)

Gartner CIO Leadership Forum: Digital business strategy. (March 1 – 3, 2015; Phoenix)

Microsoft Convergence 2015: Dynamics solutions. (March 16 – 19, 2015; Atlanta)

Gartner Business Intelligence & Analytics Summit: Crossing the divide. (March 30 – April 1, 2015; Las Vegas)

Knowledge15: Automate enterprise IT services. (April 19 – 24, 2015; Las Vegas)

RSA Conference 2015: The world talks security. (April 20 – 24, 2015; San Francisco)

MicrosoftIgnite: Enterprise tech extravaganza. (May 4 – 8, 2015; Chicago)

NetSuite SuiteWorld: Cloud ERP strategy. (May 4 – 7, 2015; San Jose, Calif.)

SAPPHIRE NOW: The SAP universe. (May 5 – 7, 2015; Orlando, Fla.)

Gartner Digital Marketing Conference 2015: Reach your destination faster. (May 5 – 7; San Diego)