|Volume 1: No. 37|
AT&T is acquiring Teradata Corp. (El Segundo, CA). Teradata's parallel processing of large commercial databases and NCR's point-of-sale products will help AT&T compete with IBM in the commercial database market. (The market is expected to grow from $13B to $40B in the next four years.) [SJM, 12/3.]
Unisys stock skyrocketed on a USA Today report that multinational investors are attempting a takeover. [SJM, 12/3.]
IBM is eliminating another 20,000 jobs in 1992, and is considering splitting into a loose-knit federation of business units. [Newsweek, 12/9.] IBM could become the first U.S. zaibatsu, but central control seems more likely. Some restructuring has already occurred. New units will be closer to their customers and less dominated by mainframe-oriented executives. Dividing up the research labs may be a problem, though.
United Technologies (Hartford, CN) is reducing its 1,100 central research staff by about 340. [Margaret Ryan, EE Times, 11/11.]
E-Systems (Dallas, TX) and General Dynamics Land Systems (Sterling Heights, MI) are hiring EEs and software engineers, mainly at the BS level. [EE Times, 11/11.] There are always more entry-level openings than upper-level ones, and upper-level slots will often be filled internally. Still, there's a better chance of entry in a growing company than in a shrinking one.
Knowledgeware's acquisition of Intellicorp has fallen through, and Knowledgeware is having trouble digesting Language Technology Inc., Quinsoft, and other acquisitions. It now plans to cut 200 of its 900 employees, many of them recent hires for a sales boom that never came. Customers are turning to TI and other CASE vendors that offer better integration and graphical user interfaces for less money. [Kim S. Nash, Computerworld, 11/25.]
Europe's electronics firms are currently in an acquisition phase. Start-ups have less credibility in Europe, making growth difficult and acquisition likely. Average R&D spending among the top 25 growth companies is only 6.5% of sales, compared with 8% to 9% in the U.S. [Linda Bernier, Electronic World News, 11/18.]
CEOs of the 12 largest U.S. computer companies called on President Bush to increase R&D funding for the HPCC/NREN national data highway project. They -- known as the Computer Systems Policy Project -- say the recently passed Gore bill is fine for pure research, but the nation also needs research in semiconductors, software, and other enabling technologies. [Valerie Rice, SJM, 11/4.] (Twelve of the biggest corporations in the U.S. are asking for research support from shopkeepers and other taxpayers. Apple's reserves are close to $1B, and Sculley's income alone was three times NSF's budget for Robotics and Machine Intelligence last year. Additional funding may be a good idea, but shouldn't their own economic engines be fueling these advances?)
The U.S. has been outspending Europe and Japan 2-to-1 in information technology, the technology is now amazingly cheap, and $200B this year, or half of all durable equipment purchases, will be for information systems. Yet productivity is dropping. CEOs are beginning to ask what they're getting for all of this cash drain. [Gary Loveman, Computerworld, 11/25.] (Various explanations of the paradox have been offered, but the article failed to mention cumbersome software. Custom "vertical market" software, quickly constructed (from mass-market object-oriented modules) and easily maintainable, has a chance of reducing the clerical and software workforces. AI might also play a role, if it serves corporate objectives. Much of the inefficiency of current information systems is in training workers to use and maintain non-standard, ill-fitting software.)
Pat Hayes says that DEC's AI-based Canasta Help Desk project has reduced crash-related symptom reporting from 30 minutes to 3 minutes, "with greater accuracy than most engineers." [Computerworld, 11/25.]
Mark Weiser's group at Xerox PARC (Palo Alto, CA) has been featured in Computerworld [Clinton Wilder, 11/25] and other magazines. The group is working on "ubiquitous computing," and has prototyped pen-based whiteboards, laptop pads, and wireless 3"-square "tabs" or badges that can track the user, display information, and accept input. Commercialization may be a decade away.
Jeff Hawkins, head of research at Grid, is leaving to form a new pen-based consumer software company. [Rory J. O'Connor, SJM, 12/4.]
Prabhu Goel is now the Chief Technical Officer of Cadence Design Systems Inc. (San Jose, CA). Joseph B. Costello is the president and CEO. [SJM, 11/27.]
H. Ross Perot has resigned from the board of NeXT to devote all his time to Perot Systems Corp. (Dallas, TX). He still owns 11.5% of NeXT. [Lee Gomez et al., SJM, 12/4.]