I commented Tuesday morning that the only topic of discussion in Silicon Valley this week besides opposition to the Trump travel ban is Intel’s drone show at Lady Gaga’s performance in the Super Bowl. So let’s go with the lighter topic today.
I also might have said brighter because Intel calls its illuminated drone trick its “Shooting Star” system. Hundreds of drones in the sky over the stadium in Houston formed a Pepsi logo and an American flag. Indeed, Intel’s razzle-dazzle show was so successful that The Wall Street Journal headlined its write-up by noting that “Intel Basks in Afterglow” of the extravaganza.
It has been a long time since Intel basked in the afterglow of anything, so its time in the spotlight is welcome and overdue. The company dominated the PC era in two important ways. It mastered the manufacturing process in a manner its competitors couldn’t match. And it marketed the allure of “Intel Inside” so brilliantly that people who had no idea what a microprocessor was knew who Intel was.
Then Intel missed wave after wave of making chips for mobile devices, most notably the iPhone, and the company stagnated. PCs may be in decline, but they remain profit monsters for Intel and its old “Wintel” partner, Microsoft. But these days Intel craves the next market. Enter drones. It hopes that by providing those futuristic gadgets with chips it will catch the next wave. So far, the wave is more of a swell far out in the ocean. Intel’s drone business, part of its year-old New Technology Group that also includes components for wearables and cameras, is small. The company notes in its last quarterly filing that its “NTG operating segment does not meet the quantitative thresholds to qualify as a reportable segment and its results are included within the ‘all other’ category.”
But the drones are great PR—even if Intel pulled the tech equivalent of lip-synching by filming the display ahead of time and broadcasting a tape delay during halftime. Intel is demonstrating the future. It should enjoy the glow while it lasts.
BITS AND BYTES
Apple’s stock is near its all-time high. The mark to beat is $132.54, which the tech giant achieved back in May 2015. Although shares have been jittery on worries about future iPhone sales, not to mention the uncertain era of President Trump, the company closed Tuesday at $131.53. (Fortune)
Twitter is trying, again, to thwart bullying on its service. The social media company is taking stricter steps to prevent abusers who have been banned permanently from creating new accounts under different names. It also introduced a “safe search” option that will hide results from people that you might have muted or blocked from your personal feed. (Fortune)
Workday now counts two of the world’s biggest companies as customers. Amazon, which employs more than 300,000 people worldwide, has signed up to use the cloud company’s payroll and talent management apps. Workday signed up Walmart, which claims a workforce of 2.3 million globally, just a few weeks ago. (Fortune)
IT services firm Cognizant bows to activist investor. Under a deal with Elliott Management, it will appoint three new directors and “return” more than $3.4 billion to shareholders through a stock buyback and other measures. (Reuters)
Bug-finding specialist HackerOne raises $40 million. The firm finds software code vulnerabilities for companies like Uber and Starbucks—so far it has identified more than 34,000 of them. The CEO is Marten Mickos, an open-source advocate whose previous startup Eucalyptus was acquired by Hewlett-Packard in September 2014. (Fortune)
Keep an eye on this cloud data center startup. Fungible, a new company co-created by the founder of Juniper Networks and a former Apple engineer, is designing microprocessors uniquely tailored for the communications and data processing needs of cloud services. Its first product is due about a year from now, but it faces competition from some of its would-be customers—like Amazon Web Services and IBM, which have been designing their own chips for this purpose. (Wall Street Journal)
PEOPLE AND CULTURE
Autodesk CEO resigns amid board shakeup. Carl Bass, who led the computer-aided design software company for more than a decade, is leaving his post as chief executive effective Feb. 8 although he’ll stay on the board. Autodesk made changes to its director lineup one year ago to appease two activist investors. The company will name two new directors, most likely after its CEO search is completed. (Reuters)
The executive leading Apple’s corporate sales is resigning. The company has confirmed that former Hewlett-Packard manager John Solomon has left his post as vice president for enterprise and government. As of yet, it hasn’t named a replacement. (Reuters)
It’s pretty common for tech workers to feel discriminated against. Almost one-third of non-white employees in the industry workforce believe they have been singled out because of their gender, age, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, according to a national survey conducted by consulting firm Censuswide. (Reuters)
Facebook is doubling its bereavement leave benefit. The social networking company now gives employees up to 20 paid days off so that they can mourn a member of their immediate family. COO Sheryl Sandberg, who lost her husband Dave Goldberg suddenly almost two years ago, announced the policy on Tuesday. (Fortune, Wall Street Journal)
Steve Jobs’ attention to detail lives on in Apple’s new ‘spaceship campus.’ Construction requirements like the need to hide pipes and arrange wiring just-so have resulted in many delays for the ambitious new headquarters, which boasts the world’s largest piece of curved glass. But some employees may move in by the spring. (Reuters)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Everything to Know About Snap’s IPO, by Erin Griffith
Why Some Investors May Boycott Snapchat’s Public Offering, by Jen Wieczner
Snapchat Will Be Essential to Google’s Cloud Business, by Barb Darrow
Facebook and the Art of the Click, by Derek Thompson
Cisco Heads Cybersecurity Startup Exabeam’s Latest Round, by Robert Hackett
Uber’s Flying Car Will Have a Hard Time Getting Off the Ground, by Jeffrey Kluger
ONE MORE THING
You have less than a week to buy a Valentine’s Day present. Here are 11 tech gadgets—from a smart pen to a miniature robot—that might do the trick. (Fortune)