Morning Coffee Jan 26 2012

Behind SAP AG's Skunkworks Project

By joseph walker

A transatlantic rivalry between two tech billionaires has given opportunity to a group of undergraduate and Ph.D. students to drastically accelerate the speed at which businesses can analyze and access data, The Wall Street Journal reports this morning. The result is SAP AG's in-memory software HANA, which if successful, could catapult SAP past its biggest competitor, Silicon Valley's Oracle Corp.

SAP's new product started as a skunkworks (a secretive development project undertaken by a small, independent team within a larger organization) developed by Hasso Plattner, the company's chairman and co-founder. Plattner, a 68-year-old former engineer, was looking for a way to edge out Oracle's relational database products and in the process goose Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison, with whom Plattner has competed with in yacht races.

So Plattner gathered a group of young scientists and engineers, the Journal writes, in a converted railway building to hammer out a way of retrieving data insights in seconds rather than hours. It's projects like these, Plattner hopes, that will get young engineers interested in working for enterprise software companies like SAP AG instead of consumer-facing Internet companies like Facebook

Gamified (FINS)

Hoopla Software plans to hire at least a dozen new employees after raising $2.3 million in new financing. The company is one of several in the so-called "gamification" space that uses virtual leaderboards and other aspects of games mechanics to motivate workers.

Renegade (Gawker)

If you're bored with your office IT job, you might consider becoming a rogue tech problem-solver for drug dealers and wealthy people who want to clean up their online images. That's what one New York City hacker is doing -- until the authorities catch up with him.

Looking the Other Way (NYT)

Apple has known about worker abuses such as seven-day work weeks and crowded dormitories in its Chinese factories for four years, a former executive tells the New York Times. There is a tension at the company between the wishes of executives to improve working conditions and the knowledge that their supply chain wouldn't be as effective, or profitable, if they did.

Laughs (TechCrunch)

"This app is so elegant." The YouTube video phenomenon of "S--t So-and-So Says" has finally come around to mocking Silicon Valley.

Rebound (WSJ)

Netflix reported encouraging financial results in its most recent quarter yesterday. After multiple blunders in 2011 that led to a loss of customers, Netflix added 610,000 U.S. subscribers and saw revenue jump 47% to $876 million.

Canadian Tech (Electronic Products and Technology)

Waterloo, Ontario's biggest tech company, Research In Motion, may be struggling, but the rest of the region's tech sector is booming. Waterloo added about 2,500 new tech industry jobs in 2011, with more than half coming from start-ups.

Old Story (lifehacker)

This author argues that Google is on its way to becoming the new AOL. By trying to control the Internet, the essay says, the company is straying from its original vision and maybe even heading toward irrelevancy.

Shipping Product (Bloomberg)

Nokia reported that it had delivered almost 20 million smart phones in its most recent quarter, a sign that Chief Executive Stephen Elop's big bet on the Microsoft Windows operating system could pay off.

What It's Like (Facebook)

Facebook engineer Josh Wiseman discusses how the social network's chat feature evolved from a hackathon and why young engineers should choose jobs where they're forced to "absorb new technical information."

Buzz Around the Office

Vanilla Ice Rock (YouTube)

Forget hip-hop. Vanilla Ice has found a new home among the hipsters.

List of the Day: Exit Interviews

You're leaving your old firm, which can be a good or bad thing depending on the circumstances. Either way, conduct yourself gracefully when you say goodbye to your old firm in the exit interview.

1. Don't insult your boss or colleagues.

2. Ask for time to review any outstanding paperwork, such as your severance package.

3. Keep the interview short and sweet.

(Source: CBS Money Watch)

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