Business Alerts by Chrissie Cluney

  • Flipkart and Microsoft Partner Up for Improved E-commerce Experience

Flipkart and Microsoft have joined forces to create a strategic cloud partnership. The combination has been formed to improve the online shopping experience for consumers in India.

“Combining Microsoft’s cloud platform and AI capabilities with Flipkart’s existing services and data assets will enable Flipkart to accelerate its digital transformation in e-commerce and deliver new customer experiences…At Microsoft, we aim to empower every Indian and every Indian organisation with technology and key to this is forging strategic partnerships with innovative companies like Flipkart,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft.

Flipkart will move to Azure, a cloud solution created by Microsoft. Flipkart will also adopt Azure as its exclusive public cloud platform.

“Flipkart has always been committed to its vision of transforming commerce in India through technology. Given Microsoft’s strong reputation in cloud computing, coupled with scale and reliability, this partnership allows us to leverage our combined strength and knowledge of technology, e-commerce and markets to make online shopping more relevant and enriching for customers,” said Binny Bansal, Co-Founder and Group CEO, Flipkart.

What are the benefits of Flipkart moving to Azure? Moving to Azure will enable Flipkart to access an additional layer of advanced cloud technologies and analytics. The Indian company plans to take advantage of AI, machine learning and the analytics capabilities like Cortana Intelligence Suite and Power BI to optimize its data. The data optimization will help the company be innovative in fields of marketing, customer service and advertising.

  • Get Ready for Snap Spectacles!

There’s exciting news from Snap Inc. The company will begin selling its video-recording sunglasses, Spectacles online for $129.99 in the US at on their website, Spectacle by Snap Inc. For the last three months, it only dispensed them from Snapbot vending machines in surprise locations and its NYC pop-up store.

Snap has now closed that pop-up, with “Snapbots will continue to land in surprising locations around the U.S. following a brief ‘nap’.” Buyers should expect to wait two to four weeks for their Spectacles to ship, and they can also buy $49.99 charging cases and $9.99 charging cords, which will no longer be sold on Amazon.

“…When we launched, the idea was: ‘We’re going to take a slow approach to rolling them out,’ said Evan Spiegel, CEO, Snapchat. ‘It’s about us figuring out if it fits into people’s lives and seeing how they like it.’ Response has been positive since November’s launch so we’re now happy to be able to make Spectacles more readily available — especially for those in the US who have not been able to make it to a Snapbot.”.

The camera company doesn’t need to make money directly from Spectacles if it can use them to get more people creating and watching Snaps. But showing it can earn real revenue from hardware could bolster confidence in its public offering.

  • Uber: A Workplace of Sexual Harassment and Power Struggles?

Uber, the cab service provider, has been targeted with claims of sexual harassment, sexism and power struggles according to an ex-Uber employee. The ex-Uber employee left the company back in December has come forward with an account of sexism and power struggles within the company.

“In my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn’t. He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn’t help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with. It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR,” said Susan Fowler, former employee, Uber.

Fowler was pressured to work under a manager who turned out to be the harasser. Even though she made several complaints about the issue to the HR department, her manager still tormented her. The HR department said that apart from giving him a warning, there is nothing that can be done. The situation worsened to the point where the HR department began to demean Fowler saying that sending complaints to HR through email was unprofessional.

“…What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in. It’s the first time this has come to my attention so I have instructed Liane Hornsey our new Chief Human Resources Officer to conduct an urgent investigation into these allegations. We seek to make Uber a just workplace and there can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber — and anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired,” said Travis Kalanick, CEO, Uber.

Fowler was left with two options: leave the company or continue doing her work while still being targeted. If she chose to stay it could result in a bad performance review by her manager. She chose to leave. “It was an organization in complete, unrelenting chaos,” said Fowler.

  • China is Producing Next Generation Supercomputer

China has been very busy lately in regards to technology. The country has started to build a new-generation supercomputer that is expected to be 10 times faster than the current world champion of supercomputers.

China’s goal is to make breakthroughs in high-performance processors. The country wants to be known for other key technologies to build the world’s first prototype exascale supercomputer.

The prototype will be completed by 2018. “Exascale” means it will be capable of making a quintillion – 1 followed by 18 zeros – calculations per second. That is at least 10 times faster than the world’s current speed champ, the Sunway TaihuLight, which is China’s first supercomputer to use domestically designed processors.

“Its computing power is on the next level, cementing China as the world leader in supercomputer hardware,” said Meng Xiangfei, the director of application, National Super Computer Tianjin Centre.

It would be available for public use and “help us tackle some of the world’s toughest scientific challenges with greater speed, precision and scope”.

The other supercomputers that were made include the Tianhe-1, which was China’s first quadrillion-level supercomputer developed in 2009. It is now working at full capacity, undertaking more than 1,400 assignments each day, solving problems “from stars to cells”.

The exascale supercomputer will be able to analyze smog distribution on a national level, while current models can only handle a district. The other supercomputer, the Tianhe-3 could simulate earthquakes and epidemic outbreaks in more detail, allowing swifter and more effective government responses. The new machine also will be able to analyze gene sequence and protein structures in unprecedented scale and speed. That may lead to new discoveries and more potent medicine.

At this rate China will catapult itself into the future of supercomputers. Meng Xiangfei and the National Super Computer Tianjin Centre will be at a helm as they discover new supercomputers.

Unicorn Awareness 9 of 149: Getting A Face Lyft

This is a series of articles aimed at making people aware of the endangered Unicorns that exist among us.

It is not their fault that they are endangered. It’s the price and pride of ownership. So where along the way the decision was made to feed them more than they can consume and that lean was not as import as means.

Some of the unicorns have done well on this diet. Others have not. We don’t pass judgement on the individual unicorns. We just highlight the herd for your awareness.

We will ignore the fact that there were 147 about a month ago and now we are at 149 again so the venture capitalists are clearly back into their optimism or flush with cash.

Lyft

Perhaps the oxygen is being sucked out of the room. At 5.5 B Lyft is in the upper third of billion dollar start up club. However, at $ 68 B Uber it’s competitor looks more substantial.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Lyft is working with Frank Quattrone of Qatalyst Partners to determine its future investors. Already the company has General Motors as an investor, but it now has the task of finding a path to the sea. The red ocean of Ride Sharing services and (blue ocean?) Autonomous cars IMHO will converge at some point. I think that is the reason for the GM investment.

Left maybe the 29th Billion Dollar Start up to exit. Regardless it’s clear its looking to find a clear path.