I thought about starting the busy week ahead by reflecting on how the fight between Apple and the FBI has become nastier than the audience at a Donald Trump rally. I also considered trying to convince you of the merits of the lowest-tech experience you can imagine: attending Major League Baseball’s spring training, as I did this weekend with my daughter in Arizona. I’m also mulling over the weird vibe in San Francisco these days, where all but the 0.1-percenters are quietly, or rather loudly, cheering for the tech industry to hit the skids so life can become a tad more reasonable for everyone else.
Instead I found myself in serene contemplation of why meditation suddenly has become so popular in the business world. Fortune’s Jen Wieczner raises the volume on the trend in the current issue of Fortune in her article “Meditating, for Love and Money.” Meditation, she writes, has become a billion-dollar business as companies from Goldman Sachs to Google shell out money to help their employees achieve more Zen. (A side note: The sheer number of startups with “Zen” in their names suggest something is afoot.)
This subject has crept into my consciousness over the last couple years. I’ve previously noted that super-investor Jim Breyer is among those who’ve staked a meditation app company called Headspace. Just last week former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, about the least calm business person imaginable, mentioned that he has become a fan of meditation.
I have no doubt that mindfulness and meditation are for real. I also know that when the tech industry grabs hold of a great idea it will overinvest, overhype, and generally pummel it into a cliché. Call me a cynic, but I also suspect that hard-charging converts to meditation are trying to compensate for garden-variety workaholism. I wish them all the best, but skipping their next business dinner and eating at home with their spouse and kids might do the trick just as well.
That said, the commercial world’s megaphone can be a force for good, getting the otherwise oblivious to take note of what matters.
I hope you have a mindful week.
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BITS AND BYTES
Hewlett Packard Enterprise jumps into cloud analytics fray. The company has officially switched on Haven OnDemand. The service, which uses machine learning software to analyze things such as photos and social media activity, is akin to IBM’s Watson analytics offering. HP Enterprise has backed away from selling broader cloud services, such as data storage on demand. (Wall Street Journal)
Intel reassesses venture capital portfolio. The technology giant restructured its investment division in January after the retirement of its longtime leader and may sell part of the unit as a result, reports Bloomberg. The sale, which could raise up to $1 billion, according to reports, would help Intel narrow its focus to certain technologies (such as wearable devices) and certain strategic geographies. (Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal)
Microsoft backs away from bitcoin. After a two-year experiment, the software giant no longer offers the digital currency as a payment option on its Windows 10 online software store. The company hasn’t officially announced the change, but the move underscores bitcoin’s struggles to gain credibility. (Softpedia)
Google loses Russian antitrust appeal. The country’s anti-competition authority issued an official ruling last September that frowned on the Internet giant’s policy of preinstalling its apps on mobile devices running Android. This latest twist requires Google to renegotiate contracts with smartphone makers and pay a fine. (Reuters)
GM snaps up software talent for driverless vehicle push. The automaker is paying a reported $1 billion for Cruise Automation, which develops technology to steer self-driving cars. The move joins General Motors’ other substantial investments in autonomous innovation, such as its $500 million infusion for ride-sharing company Lyft. BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Renault-Nissan, and Toyota are also investing heavily in this sort of technology. (Re/code)
Autodesk capitulates. The computer-aided design software company has added three new directors to its board, who will join its audit, governance, and compensation committees. The move should help Autodesk avoid a proxy fight with investment firms Sachem Head and Eminence Capital, which together own an estimated 11.5% of its stock. (Wall Street Journal)
Human Go champion finally bests AI-powered rival. South Korea’s Lee Se-dol, a top player in the board game Go, managed to outsmart the AlphaGo program developed by Google’s DeepMind project on Sunday. He’s playing a five-game series against the machine to help Google refine its the artificial intelligence behind it. The final match is tomorrow. (Reuters)
Happy 10th birthday, Amazon Web Services. Did you know that Amazon announced its first cloud product, Simple Storage Service, 10 years ago today? S3, as it is known, is basically data storage for rent. Amazon soon followed with rentable computer servers and in the intervening years a bevy of other computing services, all running on shared Amazon infrastructure and all available by the hour (compute), gigabyte (storage), and bandwidth used (networking). What’s next? Fortune‘s Barb Darrow contemplates lessons learned by the cloud services pioneer.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Donald Trump’s success stumps analytics whiz Nate Silver by Barb Darrow
Obama tells techies to put their skills to good use for the country
by Kia Kokalitcheva
If we teach machines to think, will they be as stupid as people?
by Stanley Bing
The Nokia 105 is ISIS’ favorite bomb trigger by David Z. Morris
New York Times buys hot marketing tech firm by Jonathan Vanian
Why a national Internet sales tax is a really bad idea by Christine Harbin
Jocks versus stats nerds battle flares anew by Barb Darrow
ONE MORE THING
Hate the bulky MacBook adapter? You might prefer this slimmer alternative from accessories company Ten One Design. (Fortune)
|This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy.|