Category: Gossip

Ellison is up to something with Kurian

 Larry EllisonThe appointment of Safra Catz and Mark Hurd as co-CEOs at Oracle made considerable sense to Wall Street, but sources in the database firm were surprised that Thomas Kurian did not come out of it as well as they expected.

This indicates that Chairman Larry Ellision is up to something.

Kurian was appointed president of software development, but that seems to underplay his importance at Oracle.

Reuters points out that Ellison often turns to Kurian for a second opinion and affirmation on product decisions and conversations.

A former executive told Reuters that Ellison always looks back at Thomas and asks him what he thinks.

This has led many to believe that Kurian, not Herd or Catz will end up replacing Ellison when the 70 year old retires.

After Hurd and Catz were promoted, top executives worried about keeping Kurian motivated and happy. He continued to report directly to Ellison, now executive chairman of the board, along with Hurd, Catz and two others.

Ellison seems to be in no hurry to leave and was appointed Oracle’s chief technology officer in September, but he has in recent years spent an increasing amount of time on other interests, including his sailing team, and as he develops the Hawaiian island he largely controls into an eco-tourism destination.

When Ellison does eventually hand over the reins, he will want to entrust Oracle to someone who lives and breathes technology, and Kurian is seen fitting that job description best among the top executives.

However outside Oracle Kurian is an unknown. He is seen as a technologist who understands Oracle’s products inside out, works long hours, executes Ellison’s vision and is pants at small talk.

He is the man behind Oracle’s middleware business developing into a substantial enterprise and  Oracle’s vast and still rapidly evolving suite of products, from business software applications to servers and databases.

Ellison has put him in charge of the company’s move to the cloud and if he manages it, it will be difficult for his detractors to deny him the top spot.

What stands against him is his tendency not to delegate and he likes to get involved in a minutia.

However the same applies to Ellison, and it would appear that he has plans for Kurian, which should worry the Herd of Katz he has placed as joint CEOs.

Disties offer gourmet delights

Big snail in Old TaipeiComputex 2013 begins next week – a jamboree where there’s a chance to meet a plethora of industry types from all over the world and those at the heart of the supply chain.

We’ll be covering all the important announcements on both ChannelEye and our brother pub TechEye.net.

And here we’ll be bringing you all the gossip and yak yak we hear on the grapevine and on the Nangang strasse.

Let’s start with a juicy story that demonstrates how business is done differently in Asia than in Europe. Well, we think UK vendors [what vendors, Ed?] wouldn’t find themselves in an analogous situation.  A well known vendor from Old Taipei found himself being entertained in the Philippines recently, with lashings of very strong beer and a delicious goulash like soup.  At the end of the evening, the vendor asked his hosts about the delicious stew – to be told that they’d been supping speciality dish horse penis soup.

All the main news  buzz over here is about aggressive acts by the Philippines against a Taiwanese boat recently.  That led, we hear, to a Canadian woman being unceremoniously ejected from one of the famous Taipei cabs because the driver thought she was a Filipino.

You might remember the other week that several HTC suits in America were beamed out of the company – prompting speculation that there was something afoot in the beleagured Taiwanese company. It turns out many of the suits were ex-employees at the Redmond Volehill and, strangely enough, the Microsoft culture didn’t fit with the HTC culture.  Once, of course, Microsoft and HTC were very pally indeed, introducing a smartphone superficially very similar to a really pioneering smartphone from a British company that ended up successfully suing Microsoft.

Meanwhile, some folks are very enthusiastic about Intel’s announcements next week of its Haswell technology.  Bitter and twisted hacks over at sis pub TechEye believe the chip giant isn’t going to do Haswell as people expected.  That, of course, remains to be seen but expect that Intel’s new CEO, already dubbed “Special K” and who was speedy to institute a purge of positions at Chipzilla, will be watching its progress with some degree of trepidation.  So will we, Mr K, so will we.

More – and there will be much more – later.

* If you’re new to Computex and to Taiwan, check out this site – We View Taiwan – for some really useful information.

Seagate’s SSD push starts to take shape in Colorado

seagate-longmontHard drive maker Seagate is planning a big push into the solid-drive market and now it seems to be making its first move. The company is hosting a job fair in Longmont later this week and it is looking to hire about 150 people, mostly engineers. 

Seagate’s 1,250-strong Colorado Design Centre is based in Longmont and it seems it will lead Seagate’s SSD push. Gary Gentry, Seagate VP and general manager of the company’s SSD business, said his client SSD team will be headquartered in Longmont. 

“We already have a substantial group and we’re expanding the technology, the product and the business development here in Longmont,” he told Timescall.com.

Seagate’s new 600-series SSDs will be marketed to consumers and OEMs alike, marking a new era in the company’s history. The drives will be available in multiple capacities up to 480GB and they will fit standard hard drive bays, which means we are probably looking at 2.5-inch 7mm units. In addition, Seagate also plans to develop a series of business oriented SSDs at Longmont.

This won’t be the first time Longmont dabbled in flash. The centre was instrumental in the development of Seagate’s hybrid drives (SSHDs) a couple of years ago. It got the job done and Seagate was the first hard drive market to successfully introduce 2.5-inch hybrids. Earlier this year it upgraded and expanded its SSHD offer.

Seagate VP and management lead for the centre Jeff Mason said his team is also developing drives specifically designed to suit the needs of large-scale cloud storage systems. He said the job fair is Seagate’s biggest recruitment in a decade and said the hiring will occur throughout the year.

Although Seagate is betting big on SSDs, it won’t leave the traditional HDD market anytime soon.

“There’s not enough SSD production in the world to replace the amount of storage that magnetic storage devices provide,” said Mason.

Mason pointed out that mobile devices are not a “displacer” for mechanical storage, but rather a stimulant, as mobile devices tend to rely on cloud storage, which is still largely based on mechanical drives.

HMV to be aquired by Hilco

hmv-administrationTroubled HMV has grabbed a lifeline from Hilco buying it out.

The store, which went into administration earlier this year, putting thousands of jobs at risk, has been rescued by specialist restructuring firm Hilco in what is believed to be a £50 million deal.

Hilco now has 132 HMV stores, and nine branches of the Fopp chain. It is expected up to 2,500 jobs could be saved.

The chain is expected to be run by a combination of HMV and newly-appointed Hilco executives, while suppliers are also rumoured to have gone running back to the company offering new terms and given a positive nod to the deal.

HMV could be in safer hands with Hilco already having experience with the brand in Canada, which it bought two years ago.

The purchase rumours emerged a after Jessops was saved by Peter Jones.

AMD makes pre-emptive strike against Nvidia

AMD, SunnyvaleDistributor sources close to AMD Germany say that the company will launch a new graphics product next month.

Codenamed Bonaire and with a part number of 7790 it is expected to cost around $155.  Performance is likely to be about 3,000 3D Mark Fire Strike.

Nvidia is preparing a a part to ompete with it, codenamed 650Ti Boost.  The unit is a 192 bit version of the 650Ti, but distributors are unhappy because it will interfere with 650Ti inventories.  It is likely to cost $180 or so and also scores about 3,000 3D Mark Fire Strike.

Pre-orders for channel partners for the Bonaire part are expected to be available towards the end of March.

Argos to take on Asda, Tesco in contract phone space

argos-logoArgos is planning to launch a contract phone offer and go toe to toe with Tesco Mobile and Asda Mobile. The retail giant will trial its service by offering online contract deals and phones in more than 200 stores across the UK starting in April. If all goes well, a second trial of SIM-only phones will also launch, reports Mobile Today.

The move comes as sales of pre-paid phones continue to tumble and Argos faces more competition from Tesco Mobile, Asda Mobile, Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4u. If all goes well and contract sales prove sufficient, Argos plans to enter talks with carriers to set up its own MVNO later this year.

Argos is reportedly already hiring account managers for ‘Argos Mobile’, as that’s apparently the working name for its MVNO. Former Vodafone UK manager Ben Murr is apparently playing a major role the effort.

Analysts believe Argos could pull it off, as it already has a sizable customer base and might make inroads in the entry level and mid range market. In all likelihood, Argos will try to focus on value driven contract deals. There is room for high end gear, but Argos will probably go for the penny pinching crowd.

Radeon bundle gambit pays off for AMD

amdhq1Earlier this month AMD went into damage control mode, after comments made by an exec in China were misinterpreted by tech hacks, or Google translate. The comments seemed to indicate that AMD’s next generation Radeons will not appear this year, while in fact AMD’s strategy this year will be to focus on HD 7000 sales, with HD 8000 products coming on line in late 2013. 

Here’s the lowdown on the Oscars 2013

redIt was a night of fun, glitz and fashion as Hollywood’s A-listers stepped out to celebrate and show off their frocks at the 2013 Oscars.

And this year the red carpet was awash with pale colours, giving the event a vintage, old school glamour theme.

Jennifer Lawrence, who admitted she was “starving” – a feeling we imagine is quite common for many celebs – went for a white and pale pink strapless Dior gown with a full skirt and ruffled hemline.

Amy Adams opted for an Oscar de la Renta ballgown, which was a stark contrast to the her usual statement column dresses, while Anne Hathaway kept the colour tone light with  simple pale pink Prada column gown, which she claimed had been chosen just hours before the event.

Jessica Chastain, also gave a nod to vintage Hollywood with a shiny copper Armani Prive dress and gold was also the colour of choice for Catherine Zeta-Jones who rocked up in a Zuhair Murad number.

However, some celebs opted for bolder hues in a bid to stand out from the fash pack. Jennifer Garner chose a strapless magenta ruffled back  Gucci gown, while Reese Witherspoon also broke the pale mould turning up in a bold blue column dress.

Sequins, which we thought had been put away along with that Christmas tree also reared their sparkly heads, with a number of celebrities opting for this style. Adele wore a black, sequinned Jenny Packham frock, Naomi Watts went for a gunmetal sequin Armani gown and Nicole Kidman was a sequin queen in a gown by L’Wren Scott.

Over in the male clothing camp, one thing that stood out amongst the huge range of designer tux was the sheer number of celebs sporting facial hair.

This generation of the Brat Pack including Bradley Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones, George Clooney, and Ben Affleck all went for beards, while it was mustaches for Jason Schwartzman and Chris Pine.

HP tells partners to “look inside”® for CPUs

Look inside at The Venetian, Las VegasAt its Global Partner Conference (GPC) held at the Venetian, Las Vegas last week, we asked senior suits at the company whether Hewlett Packard was Intel only.

Executives told us foreign journalists that it was CPU agnostic, and that we should “look inside” to fashion our “ecosystem” experience.

A direct question elicited the response that if we looked inside HP servers we would find various microprocessors powering its servers, including ARM and AMD. Just look inside, we were told.  HP is not only an Intel company. Look inside!  Sounds like a Buddhist idea, but we’ll take HP’s word for it. For now.

Anna Cheng, a PR rep at Intel UK, declined to comment “on rumours and speculation”. Intel does own trademark “The Journey Inside“, which is pretty Zennish. ®

Longer working hours lead to more office affairs

photoMore extra marital activities are taking place over the office photocopier a report has found.

The survey conducted by Notatwork.co.uk and married dating site IllicitEncounters.com, has found spending longer hours in the office is leading to a rise in workplace affairs, with people who regularly work over 45 hours a week almost five times more likely to seek solace with a colleague.

The duo also said that those who regularly did more than 50 hours a week in industries such as video games, finance, medicine, journalism, and the emergency services were more likely to embark on a cloak and dagger relationship.

People in these industries admitted that they embarked on longer working hours as a result of increased workloads and to ensure their jobs remained as secure as possible.

Mike Taylor, at Illicit Encounters, said these long hours “pushed” people into making bad relationship choices  as they sometimes found themselves in the office late at night, exhausted and feeling low and took comfort with a co-worker in the same situation.

“This can then develop as they spend more time with each other than they are with their spouses,” he added.

Over 54 percent of those asked admitted that at some-point in their career they had considered engaging in a work-based affair.

HP’s Whitman brings cheers to its channel

Meg Whitman, photo by Mike MageeMeg Whitman, president and CEO of HP opened up her keynoting at the global partner event here in Las Vegas by stressing the importance of the channel. “I love the channel,” she said. “You are a huge part of our success and a huge part of our future.  “I want to provide an update to HP’s strategy and growth, demonstrate our commitment to the channel and to make it more profitable for the channel to do business with Hewlett Packard.”

“The last couple of years at Hewlett Packard haven’t been easy,” she said. But HP is turning itself round. “We know what needs to get done and we’re doing it.”  Last year she laid out a four year plan for Hewlett Packard. “My management team needed to come together with a realistic view of what we needed to do and what we needed to change.”

2014 will mean a recovery and the basis for future expansion, she said. “You won’t have to wait until 2015 to see progress. You will see the results this year. In 2013 we are on a very strong financial footing. Last year HP generated $10.6 billion of cash flow from operations. That’s more operating cash flow than Coca Cola, Disney and Fedex. A company with $10.6 billion in cash flow is a force to be reckoned wth.”

One of the biggest problems HP has had in the last few years has been churn in top management, she admitted.  HP has taken some of its old HR systems and revised them. Last year HP invested more in R&D, it launched a new advertising campain, and revised its entire communications and PR strategy.  HP has put an increased focus on the channel, she said.  HP created a party advisory board and surveyed 6,000 channel partners.

That showed HP was too complex to do business with, there are too mny complicated programmes and HP’s tools and processes were hard to navigate, Whitman said. It has implemented a single channel programme.  HP now has a very clear policy about taking business away from the channel and going direct. “This will simply not be tolerated,” she said, raising heavy applause from the channel audience.

“Partners are part of the DNA of Hewlett Packard and are an essential part of our future,” she said.  HP will make it simpler and more consistent to do business with its partners and strengthen trust and loyalty. HP has simplified the management of the channel and will work hand in hand in business growth.  “A fast no is far better than a slow no. A long yes isn’t satisfying either,” she said.

HP will rationalise sales and technical specifications and will simplify the support profile. There will be one partner programme across the whole of HP, she reiterated. HP will implement a simple compensation model generating rebates from the first sale. It will also remove caps and allow an unlimited pay out.  It will put more focus on making its compensation structure clear. There will be a new HP tool to simplify channel business. HP Financial Services will also chip in on the channel front.

She said that HP has a number of products so popular that there is a shortage, such as its storage portfolio and its Elite tablet, aimed at the enterprise market. She said that the leadership across the channel business had the power to do their best now. HP has kept its best and brightest executives but has brought in some new members of the management team.

HP rumoured in partner margin strategy, T&C tinkering

HPHP may be hatching plans that will change the the way its resellers operate.

According to sources familiar with HP’s channel, the company could shortly be exerting pressure on resellers to shift towards higher serviced sales for the juicier rewards. There have been whispers elsewhere that the company could be making changes to its licensing terms and conditions.

However,it is unknown to what extent the rumoured changes will be rolled out.

We have heard that HP plans to make very subtle changes that could have a larger impact.

One reseller, speaking under condition of anonymity, told ChannelEye that HP is always quietly changing its T&Cs, and that channel partners have to stay vigilant as most of the time they are hidden in newsletters or buried on the company’s website.

There hasn’t been “any huge clarity on this” or any “huge pieces of information”, the reseller said.

Another said that it would not be an enormous surprise. “Suddenly we’ll see a change in our billing and when we query it we’ll be told that it was made public at this point or that point,” the source said.

While unaware of any specific change in corporate policy, another reseller added that “another change” would not be welcome, however, they would have to “go with it” and “hope there aren’t any more nasty surprises”.

Top-down decision making for the channel could also impact partners’ annual strategies, with one reseller telling ChannelEye that a proposed change would not have been “put into consideration for the year ahead” and, if true, could mean partners “end up earning less than anticipated”.

At the time of going to press, ChannelEye has approached HP for comment. A spokesperson said it is looking into the matter.

Nexus 4 shipments estimated at just one million units

nexus4-ceGoogle’s Nexus 4 has been on sale for three months, although one could argue that it has been on sale for a couple of weeks, since it wasn’t really available anywhere. For some reason, Google grossly underestimated demand for its latest vanilla Android phone, resulting in ridiculous shortages in every single market.

Android enthusiasts managed to work out that Google shipped just a million units in the first three months of sales, after four months in production.

Intel denies pay freeze claims

IntelIntel’s HQ  in Satan Clara has poured water over rumours that it has imposed pay freezes and left important vacancies open in a bid to save cash.

The comments from the company come following claims that the company was making these cuts in a bid to claw back the cash and make up its falling profits, which  dropped 27 percent in the last quarter.

Earlier this week the reliable sources told ChannelEye there had been “talk” of pay freezes, while vacancies that had been left open for months had yet to be filled.

When Intel was initially contacted regarding these claims, its press machines told us that the company didn’t “comment on rumour or speculations”,

However, it seems someone has had a change of heart – or woken from its media slumber, with the company now issuing a further statement.

It told ChannelEye today: “Just to follow up with confirmation from HQ.  [ChannelEye’s] report is false, there are no pay cuts or frozen hiring.”

We say watch this space.