Good morning, Data Sheet readers. Another massive communications industry merger may be in the offing. Google shareholders defeated a proposal that would have changed certain voting rights. And Hewlett-Packard is talking up its post-split strategy this week with customers. Not much is really new.
Plus, stay tuned for a flood of stories starting today associated with this year’s Fortune 500 list. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about the 61-year-old ranking. Make Thursday a fantastic day!
TOP OF MIND
HP doesn’t split up for another five months. Until then, Meg Whitman’s stump speech is pretty much the same as it was when the planned corporate breakup was announced last fall. What’s more, the prototype for its next big thing, The Machine, won’t be out until at 2016.
One place where you can expect an overhaul: the enterprise company’s services division. Many of its contracts today are focused on making processes, such as call centers or data center operations, more efficient. That puts the company at a disadvantage against consulting competitors touting management and technology recipes for digital customer experiences or the Internet of things.
The latest telecommunications megadeal may bring about the merger of digital satellite company Dish Network and wireless carrier T-Mobile, according to reports that cite sources close to the talks. Historically speaking, Dish has held many similar negotiations but failed to sign on the dotted line.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin still control more than half the voting power at Google, after shareholders defeated a proposal that would have limited rights associated with certain share classifications. Plus, activist Jesse Jackson thinks the company should take formal steps to invest in startups led by women and minorities.
Don’t call big Twitter shareholder Chris Sacca an activist investor, but he has very specific ideas about what management there should be doing differently. “A lot of Sacca’s suggestions essentially boil down into Twitter needing to introduce some sort of human curation into its feed,” writes Fortune’s Dan Primack.
Should smartphone owners be able to block ads? Why Google’s dispute in Europe with Disconnect, a company that makes a mobile app for that purpose, is worth watching.
Privacy versus personalization? Consumers expect quid pro quo for data
Consumer privacy advocates have much to cheer this week. The real question is how much the average American really cares about how much data they share.
First, the National Security Agency’s sweeping data collection practices were curtailed: yes, phone companies are still required to keep records, but the government needs special federal warrants to look at them.
Hours later, Apple CEO Tim Cook stoked the debate to an even higher level with his sharp criticism of “prominent and successful companies” that offer free services such as photo archiving or email or social networks—so they can sell the information collected about search habits, demographics, shopping preferences, and much, much more. He’s talking about you, Facebook, Google and Twitter.
“They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it,” Cook said in his prepared remarks. “We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.”
Cook’s position actually may be short-sighted and could limit its success in cloud services, as Fortune’s Mathew Ingram argues. But right or wrong, the reality is many consumers are pretty ambivalent about the data collected about them. That is, until it gets into the wrong hands.
The latest evidence: Close to half of the 13,000 people recently surveyed on behalf of Microsoft (in 13 different countries) indicated they are aware that brands “benefit” from the information they share about themselves either explicitly or implicitly. A large majority (83%) want to know exactly what they’re giving up, but they also assume that companies collect more data about them than they realize. They’re sort of resigned to this.
That’s not to say that they don’t appreciate attempts by marketers to be more personal. Indeed, 54% of the respondents “expect brands to really know and understand them as people, and for communications to be tailored to their value and preferences.” Mind you, they also want something tangible in exchange for sharing: particularly cash incentives, discounts or loyalty points.
Microsoft’s senior director of consumer insights, Natasha Hritzuk, describes data as the “fundamental currency” of brand-consumer relationships. In a blog post dissecting the results she writes:
“While there are benefits to both parties, up to now the relationship has largely been one-sided. The value that data provides is far less clear to consumers than it is to the brands they exchange it with. Despite increasingly high levels of consumer control online, the perception remains that brands set the terms in the value exchange and brands reap most of the gains.”
Of course, not every consumer will share and share alike. Microsoft lumps the respondents into six different “sharing” segments that may help define how organizations shape their data collection strategies. Here’s a summary:
- Satisfied Sharers (8% of respondents), not overly concerned with privacy
- Enthused Explorers (18%), allow access when they know they’ll receive some sort of benefit
- Savvy Sophisticates (17%), proactive contributors who consciously offer information to improve services
- Nervous Neophytes (31%), worry companies don’t have enough protection measures in place
- Cautious Contributors (21%), share selectively for specific rewards
- Observant Objectors (5%), actively limit involuntarily sharing of data
And, of course, Microsoft created an app to help people rate where they fall.
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ALSO WORTH SHARING
Very few companies are likely to ditch old databases, which is why upstarts MongoDB and Couchbase cast themselves as bridge builders, during two separate conferences this week. “[This is] not about the world going against SQL,” Couchbase CEO Bob Wiederhold told Fortune. “It is a transition.”
Get ready for more top-level changes within Yahoo’s ad organization, reports Re/code’s Kara Swisher. In other new, the Internet company scored a big coup: Yahoo will be allowed to livestream an NFL football game in October.
Most IT teams are ill-equipped to manage the Internet of things. You can think of it as the next, mindboggling phase of the “bring your own device” movement.
Microsoft’s latest smartphone is super inexpensive, plus the battery can last up to a month.
Leadership changes for Groupon. Its CFO is headed for Jawbone.
Financial software maker SunGard is taking itself public again, after seven years as a private company.
Amazon customers: We want a cleaner cloud! Tumblr and Hootsuite are among a group of organizations—most of which have a social bent—seeking more information about where the cloud giant sources the electricity for its data centers.
Did you know that Xiaomi is second only to Fitbit in the world of wearables?
Real regulations for virtual currency. New York just became the first U.S. state to adopt official rules governing bitcoin trades.
MY FORTUNE BOOKMARKS
College dropout Bill Gates says we need more college grads by Laura Lorenzetti
Ford’s tech might end up in your Toyota by Kirsten Korosec
Are you an introvert? Take this 5-minute quiz by Patricia Sellers
This state is becoming a self-driving car haven by Ben Geier
Sergey Brin: Here’s why Google is making self-driving cars by Daniel Roberts
The startup behind the lettuce robot has a new 3D crop scanner by Katie Fehrenbacher
ONE MORE THING
If you haven’t read Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg heartfelt essay about the lessons learned through grieving, you really should.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
Apple Worldwide Developers Conference: Future of iOS and OS X. (June 8 – 12; San Francisco)
Hadoop Summit San Jose: Mainstreaming adoption. (June 9 – 11; San Jose, California)
Red Hat Summit: Energize your enterprise. (June 23 – 26; Boston)
Brainstorm Tech: Fortune’s invite-only gathering of thinkers, influencers and entrepreneurs. (July 13 – 15; Aspen, Colorado)
LinuxCon North America: All about open source. (Aug. 17 – 19; Seattle)
VMworld: The virtualization ecosystem. (Aug. 30 – Sept. 3, 2015; San Francisco)
Dreamforce: The Salesforce community. (Sept. 15 – 18; San Francisco)
.conf2015: Splunk’s “get your data on” gathering. (Sept. 21 – 24; Las Vegas)
Cassandra Summit: Largest gathering of Cassandra database developers. (Sept. 22 – 24; San Francisco)
BoxWorks 2015: Cloud collaboration solutions. (Sept. 28 – 30; San Francisco)
Workday Rising: Meet and share. (Sept. 28 – Oct. 1; Las Vegas)
HP Engage: Big data, big engagement. (Oct. 4 – 6; San Diego)
Gartner Symposium ITxpo: CIOs and senior IT executives. (Oct. 4 – 8; Orlando, Florida)
Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing: World’s largest gather of women technologists. (Oct. 14 – 16; Houston)
Oracle OpenWorld: Customer and partner conference. (Oct. 25 – 29; San Francisco)
TBM Conference 2015: Manage IT like a business. (Oct. 26 – 29; Chicago)
QuickBooks Connect: SMBs, entrepreneurs, accountants and developers. (Nov. 2 – 4; San Jose, California)