Advertisements

Author Archives: Sammy Singh

  • 0

Amazon just made its first official challenge to Microsoft’s $10 billion JEDI cloud-contract win over claims of ‘unmistakable bias’ (AMZN, MSFT)

Category : entrepreneur

  • Amazon made its first formal action against Microsoft’s victory in the battle for a $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract.
  • The Pentagon selected Microsoft on October 25 for the contract to move the Department of Defense’s sensitive data to the cloud.
  • The decision was an upset for front-runner Amazon Web Services and generally regarded by experts as “a huge feather in the cap for Microsoft” and a “black eye for Amazon and Bezos.”
  • The bidding process for the contract was contentious and included involvement from tech titans such as Oracle and reported interference by President Donald Trump.
  • For more of Business Insider’s coverage of the JEDI deal, click here.

Amazon has filed a protest in the US Court of Federal Claims in the Seattle-based company’s first formal action against Microsoft’s victory in the fierce battle for the $10 billion cloud contract with the Pentagon.

Microsoft was selected on October 25 for the controversial deal, called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, to move the Department of Defense’s sensitive data to the cloud. It’s worth as much as $10 billion over a 10-year span.

“AWS is uniquely experienced and qualified to provide the critical technology the U.S. military needs, and remains committed to supporting the DoD’s modernization efforts,” an AWS spokesperson said in a statement. “We also believe it’s critical for our country that the government and its elected leaders administer procurements objectively and in a manner that is free from political influence. Numerous aspects of the JEDI evaluation process contained clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias — and it’s important that these matters be examined and rectified.”

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for more information.

The decision came as a surprise, as Amazon Web Services was considered the likely choice for the contract for reasons such as the cloud provider’s market-dominant position and high security clearance. It was generally regarded by experts as “a huge feather in the cap for Microsoft” and a “black eye for Amazon and Bezos.”

The bidding process was contentious and included involvement from tech titans such as Oracle and reported interference by President Donald Trump, who has publicly feuded with Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos.

Trump wanted to “scuttle” the bidding process for JEDI for fear that Amazon Web Services might win, according to CNN, and a forthcoming book also alleges Trump last year ordered former Defense Secretary James Mattis to “screw Amazon” out of the deal.

Oracle formally challenged the JEDI bidding process, arguing it was “riddled with improprieties” that largely favored Amazon — including undisclosed employment and bonus offers to Department of Defense officials — and that the Pentagon set unfair criteria.

A federal-claims judge ultimately rejected Oracle’s protest and denied the company’s bid to be reconsidered for the contract, finding “individual conflicts of interest did not impact the procurement.” Which is to say, the judge in the case acknowledged that there were conflicts but found that they didn’t unfairly tilt the playing field.

IBM also bid on the contract. Google withdrew from contention before making a formal bid, citing possible conflicts of interest with its corporate ethics policy, as well as a possible inability to meet the terms of the deal.

Advertisements

  • 0

What if the Earth stopped orbiting the Sun?

Category : entrepreneur

  • It’s a natural cycle: the Earth orbits the sun. But what if something catastrophic happened and we were knocked out of orbit?
  • The sun’s gravity would quickly take hold of Earth and we’d go flying straight toward the sun.
  • Turns out, you’d only have about one month to live, and over that time your demise wouldn’t be pretty. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Earth zooms around the sun at 110,000 kph, but what if it just…stopped? Well, for one thing, you’d have only a month to live.

First off, if Earth stopped short, you’d actually die immediately because you’d fly off the planet and hurtle into space, just like you lurch forward in a car when a driver slams on the brakes. But if Earth slows down more gradually, you’d instead suffer a slower (but still horrific) death. That’s because the planet is about to get very, very hot.

You see, the sun’s tremendous gravity pulls the Earth right toward it. Meanwhile, the planet is trying to whiz away in this direction. This tug of war keeps us in orbit. But if the Earth slows down and stops, the sun wins and yanks us toward our doom. In fact, a model from the University of Colorado shows us how long that terrible trip would take. Just two months.

In the first week, you wouldn’t notice much of a change. The average global temperature would climb less than 1 degree Celsius and hover around 16 degrees for another week. But the closer we get, the stronger the sun’s pull and the faster we go. This causes the temperature to rise exponentially.

By day 21, global temperatures will have jumped to 35 degrees. That’s hotter than an average day in the Sahara. And with desert heat comes desert droughts, sparking wildfires and killing crops. UV radiation from the sun is so strong, we’d get severe sunburn after just 15 minutes outdoors. At this point, our bodies also will have hit the upper limit of their heat tolerance. Any hotter, and heat stroke can set in, leading to exhaustion, delirium, or even a coma. And guess what? It gets hotter.

By day 35, world temperatures will reach 48 degrees. That’s as hot as an average summer day in Death Valley, one of the hottest places on Earth. Most mammals, birds, and insects die as the proteins that make up their cells start to cook. Yes, even roaches can’t withstand this apocalypse. If we want to live, we need some indoor air-conditioning, stat. Except, the amount of energy you need to run millions of AC units at once would wipe out power grids around the world. So, with no way to keep cool, humanity dies.

By day 41, the Earth has passed by Venus. We’re now the second planet from the sun, and temperatures have climbed to 66 degrees. But believe it or not, some creatures still cling to life. Like Thermus aquaticus, a bacteria that lives in Yellowstone’s hot geysers. But less than a week later, temperatures are hot enough to boil water and kill even that bacteria.

By day 54, temperatures surpass 160 degrees, and the last remnant of life on Earth flickers out. Soon after, the barren planet crosses Mercury’s orbit. For its last week of existence, Earth is the first planet from the sun. Until day 65. The final day.

By now, the sun’s extreme gravity stretches the planet into an oval shape, and magma begins to leak through the crust. At about noon, Earth tears apart, bleeding liquid rock as temperatures hit 3,800 degrees. Our planet is no more.


  • 0

Best Buy and Target are offering a free smart plug when you buy a Google Nest Mini right now

Category : entrepreneur

Insider Picks Black Friday DEALS 2019 Banner

Insider Picks Disclaimer Banner

 

Google Home Mini

Google

  • Smart speakers and plugs are a great way to get started in the smart home world.
  • For a limited time, if you buy a Google Nest Mini from Best Buy and Target, you’ll get a free Belkin WeMo Mini smart plug. That’s a savings of $29.99.
  • The offer is valid until November 27, so it’s worth acting quickly if you’re interested.
  • Shopping for more Black Friday deals? Check out our deal coverage on Insider Picks and visit Business Insider Coupons to find the most up-to-date coupons and promo codes.

Looking to build up your smart home? There are a few pieces that can help get you started quickly — like a decent smart speaker and a smart plug. Right now, if you buy a Google Nest Mini smart speaker through Target or Best Buy, you’ll get a Belkin WeMo Mini Smart Plug for free.

Although you won’t see the free plug prominently mentioned on the product page for the Nest Mini, when you look in your cart, you will see that the plug has been added along with the smart speaker. At Best Buy, you also get a free 90-day trial of Pandora and Sirius XM (for new subscribers only). The offer is valid from now until Wednesday, November 27, so if you’re interested, it’s worth acting quickly.

The Google Nest Mini is easily one of the best budget smart speakers with its good audio quality and simple design. By talking to the Google Assistant, you can find out information from the web, play music, and, of course, control smart home devices like Belkin’s WeMo Mini smart plug — which comes free when you buy the Nest Mini.

The WeMo Mini smart plug has long been one of our favorites. You simply plug it into a normal outlet, and then you can plug another non-smart device like a lamp into it so that you can control it with the Belkin app on your phone or with your voice.

The plug is small enough that it doesn’t block the other outlet, and it can be controlled with voice commands issued to the Google Assistant, Alexa, and Apple HomeKit.

As mentioned, the deal is available at Best Buy and Target. You have to add the Google Nest Mini to your cart and actually go to your cart before you see the WeMo Mini. You’ll be able to take advantage of this deal until November 27.

Get the Google Nest Mini with free WeMo Mini smart plug from Best Buy, $49.99 [You save $29.99]

Get the Google Nest Mini with free WeMo Mini smart plug from Target, $49 [You save $29.99]


  • 0

The Army’s new $480 million heads-up display lets soldiers wage war in a mixed-reality space — here’s how it works

Category : entrepreneur

  • Business Insider recently participated in a soldier touch point event, an exercise intended to inform the development of new technologies, at Fort Pickett in Virginia.
  • During the technology demonstration, we saw how the Army’s new heads-up display — the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) — can help soldiers train using synthetic training environments in digital space.
  • We stormed a building, battling enemies invisible to anyone without the HUD, and then did an immediate after action review using augmented reality.
  • “It is feedback like they haven’t had before,” Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais, director of the Synthetic Training Environment team, said. “[Soldiers] see this as a viable training methodology for training close combat. The [after action review] piece of this, they would take this right now the way it is.”

The US Army is working with industry partners, namely Microsoft, to develop a mixed reality heads-up display, one that can give soldiers and squads access to tools that will let them train for battle like never before.

It was former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis who said that US troops need to fight “25 bloodless battles” before their first fight. Augmented reality is how the Army is getting after that.

The Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), a multi-purpose HUD, is a signature system project for the Soldier Lethality (SL) team at Army Futures Command, but the Synthetic Training Environment (STE) team is currently also exploring ways to use the technology to help soldiers train and rehearse for battle.

Microsoft received a $480 million contract last fall to develop the IVAS headset, and “the funding supported the Army’s ability to kick-start the development of the initial IVAS capability sets and the test bed to evaluate the critical capabilities and integration into the overarching Synthetic Training Environment,” an STE team spokeswoman told Business Insider.

At a recent IVAS soldier touch point event at Fort Pickett in Virginia, Business Insider experienced firsthand how IVAS will be used as a training tool for soldiers.

IVAS Soldier Touch Point II

IVAS Soldier Touch Point II
US Army

During the event, a soldier-centered exercise intended to inform technology development, a squad consisting of this reporter, another journalist, Gen. John Murray, head of Army Futures Command, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Joseph Martin, and James McPherson, who is the under secretary of the Army, raided a completely empty building.

For those of us with the experimental IVAS headsets, HUDs based on Microsoft’s HoloLens, the building was far from empty.

There were enemy combatants programmed to fire on our position and take cover when fired upon, civilians that would respond to voice commands, and even animals, in our case, dogs and goats.

Armed with weapons modified with special trackers, we could fire bullets and throw grenades in digital space. After no more than about five minutes of instruction, we were in the fight, with the generals leading the charge and shouts of “frag out” and “got him” echoing through the halls.

You could see your muzzle flashes and the explosions of grenades. You could see bullet holes in the wall where a shot missed. You could hear the cries of fallen enemies.

While the simulated warfare was fascinating, much more interesting was the after-action review, which began just a few minutes after we finished the raid.

Augmented reality capabilities associated with the STE program

Augmented reality capabilities associated with the STE program
US Army

We gathered around an empty table, but for those of us still wearing the IVAS headsets, it wasn’t empty at all. There was a 3D augmented reality version of the building we just stormed. Inside were little people representing the members of our squad.

Able to play, pause, fast forward and rewind like a home movie, we watched our team work its way through the building. We could see which way we were facing when we turned a corner and whether or not our rifles were pointing the same way.

“If you are a squad leader, you can really understand how your squad is maneuvering through this space,” an Army official explained.

In that same digital space, there was also an augmented reality leaderboard where we could see how each squad member performed (how many enemies killed, how many civilians killed, whether or not they were hit, etc). You can also see how an enemy was killed, specifically who took the shot and where the bullet hit.

Virtual reality trainers have been around for years, but the current experimental setup is like nothing seen before. The Army has been chasing this capability for over a decade, but the technology just wasn’t available until now.

Another view of Army augmented reality initiatives

Another view of Army augmented reality initiatives
US Army

“It is feedback like they haven’t had before,” Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais, director of the STE cross-functional team, said. “[Soldiers] see this as a viable training methodology for training close combat. The [after-action review] piece of this, they would take this right now the way it is.”

As the Army works to further develop this technology, it intends to expand it to the company level, as well as push for increased realism, such as a materials mod so that thin plywood barriers will not serve as adequate protection from a grenade.

“This is cutting-edge technology,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told lawmakers earlier this year, explaining that IVAS and augmented reality training environments are “going to transform the way we train soldiers and the way soldiers operate in combat.”

“What it’s going to allow our Soldiers to do is to go into [augmented] reality and train on a mission they’re about ready to accomplish,” the general added. “We’re excited about it.”


  • 0

VOICE ASSISTANTS IN HEALTHCARE: An inside look at 3 emerging voice use cases healthcare providers can deploy to cut costs, build loyalty, and drive revenue

Category : entrepreneur

  • This is a preview of Voice Assistants in Healthcare research report from Business Insider Intelligence.
  • Purchase this report.
  • Business Insider Intelligence offers even more healthcare coverage with Digital Health Pro. Subscribe today to receive industry-changing digital health news and analysis to your inbox.

5d540e66cd97843704229bac 960 710

Business Insider Intelligence

Voice is making waves across industries, but the transformative power of the technology is now at a tipping point in healthcare. The opportunity for voice in healthcare is pegged to mount as the global health virtual assistant market is expected to reach $3.5 billion in 2025. 

US healthcare providers’ interest in voice tech is being catalyzed by recent technological breakthroughs growing the tech’s potential to transform legacy operations.

Voice tech boasts five distinct advantages that heighten its disruption potential in healthcare and the tech is being optimized for the healthcare sphere, which is increasing the visibility of voice in health and opening the door for voice assistants to perform more sensitive and complex healthcare actions. There are also several pain points within healthcare that up the pressure on providers to tap into the voice opportunity. 

In this report, Business Insider Intelligence outlines the voice opportunity in healthcare and explores the drivers propelling voice adoption in the healthcare realm. We then examine three of the highest-value voice use cases in healthcare — clinical documentation, remote care, and clinical support — and provide examples of early moving health systems and health tech companies implementing voice in each application. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report: 

  • Health systems that deploy voice tech to facilitate clinical documentation can reduce physicians’ administrative burden, increase patient volume and billable revenue, and eliminate transcription costs.
  • By leveraging voice to increase touchpoints with patients outside the clinic, healthcare organizations can open the opportunity to shrink costs associated with poor medication adherence and slash value-based care (VBC) penalties stemming from preventable readmissions.
  • Healthcare providers can reform diagnostics and better position themselves to deliver preventative medicine by deploying voice technology that can pinpoint diseases based on patients’ speech characteristics.

In full, the report:

  • Explores why and how voice is disrupting healthcare. 
  • Details the three key applications where US health systems can apply voice technology. 
  • Offers evidence on how voice assistants provide value in each of the selected voice use cases. 

Want to learn more about the fast-moving world of digital health? Here’s how to get access:

  1. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now
  2. Sign up for Digital Health Pro , Business Insider Intelligence’s expert product suite keeping you up-to-date on the people, technologies, trends, and companies shaping the future of healthcare, delivered to your inbox 6x a week. >>Get Started
  3. Join thousands of top companies worldwide who trust Business Insider Intelligence for their competitive research needs. >>Inquire About Our Corporate Memberships
  4. Current subscribers can read the reporthere.

  • 0

A Silicon Valley startup is offering $10,000 to workers who volunteer to leave the Bay Area

Category : entrepreneur

  • A Silicon Valley startup called MainStreet is offering Bay Area tech workers $10,000 to live somewhere else. 
  • Tech firms can hire MainStreet to recruit and hire workers in Silicon Valley, and MainStreet will give those employees a stipend to work remotely in one of the startup’s own brick-and-mortar offices outside the Bay Area. 
  • Another Silicon Valley company unveiled a similar program in 2017, but didn’t see much interest.
  • Some cities, however, have been able to boost their workforce by offering stipends for remote workers.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more.

What’s the price of getting a tech worker to leave the Bay Area? A new startup thinks it’s $10,000. 

MainStreet, which is based in San Jose and launched this week, was founded by three ex-Google employees. Frustrated by how crowded the area has become, they came up with a simple idea: Why not pay people a stipend to live where they want, in cities they could afford?

“Silicon Valley has become extraordinarily expensive for many families,” one of the co-founders, Douglas Ludlow, told local news station KGO. “You’re competing with billionaires and millionaires.”

Housing costs in Silicon Valley — whose largest city is San Jose — rank among the highest in the US. On average, residents there spend more than $2,300 per month on housing. In San Francisco, residents spend around $2,000 per month. So offering competitive salaries that allow employees to live comfortably can be a struggle for companies that aren’t behemoths like Google or Facebook.

MainStreet’s mission is to help small to medium-sized companies afford local talent. Firms can hire MainStreet to recruit and hire workers in Silicon Valley, then MainStreet offers those employees a one-time stipend of $10,000 to relocate and start working remotely at one of MainStreet’s own coworking spaces outside the Bay Area. 

MainStreet also trains workers about how to communicate with their new employer through video conferencing. 

Silicon Valley

A crosswalk in Silicon Valley.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

MainStreet intends to offer multiple brick-and-mortar offices for remote employees throughout the US, but its first one is scheduled to open in Sacramento early next year. Around 24,000 Bay Area residents moved to Sacramento in 2017, followed by 27,000 the year after. 

There are two big caveats to the $10,000 stipend, though: One is that workers don’t get the money until a year after they were hired. If they’re fired before that mark, MainStreet offers healthcare benefits for their entire family and a $5,000 monthly stipend for up to three months. It also says it will help them find a new gig. 

The second caveat is that the $10,000 offer ends starting in December. Over the next two weeks, MainStreet will use the stipend to gauge how many Bay Area tech workers are actually interested in moving. After that, they’ll continue to help companies hire workers who want to relocate to less crowded areas. Ultimately, they hope to scout for tech workers who already live outside the Bay Area.

A similar program in Silicon Valley wasn’t very successful at first 

So far, programs that pay people to work remotely have had mixed results. In March 2017, a Silicon Valley tech company called Zapier offered to pay $10,000 in moving expenses to new employees who volunteered to leave the Bay Area. By June of that year, however, the CEO told Business Insider that no one had taken him up on the offer. Since then, four people have accepted the offer and relocated.

City governments have had greater success with programs that offer money to remote workers who are willing to move. Last year, the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma offered $10,000 to remote workers who wanted to live there for a year. In addition to cash, workers received a discount on a fully furnished apartment and access to a coworking space. The program received more than 10,000 applications, but was only able to select around 100 people. This year, it’s expanding to allow 250 participants. 

But MainStreet isn’t trying to breathe new life into any particular city. Instead, it aims to level the playing field for Bay Area tech firms. A worker earning $130,000 in San Francisco, for instance, would only need to be paid $100,000 to afford the same lifestyle in Seattle or Boston.

If the Bay Area becomes more equitable, Ludlow said, then workers wouldn’t have to consider moving all.  

“Long-term, we’d hope you’d never have to leave home to get a good job,” he told the Mercury News. “I think it’s doable.” 


  • 0

Andrew Yang wants you to make money off your data by making it your personal property

Category : entrepreneur

  • 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang has released his plan to regulate the tech industry.
  • His top priority is to give people a right to own their personal data, enabling them to make money by sharing it with companies.
  • That would be a huge shift from the current status quo where companies fully own users’ data, giving them little control over how it’s used.
  • Yang also wants to tackle issues like tech ethics, misinformation, algorithmic bias, and modernizing government regulators.
  • Regulating the tech industry more tightly has become a key talking point among Democratic primary candidates.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang released his comprehensive plan to regulate the tech industry in a blog post Thursday.

His top priority: establishing “data as a property right,” which would give people more control over their data and potentially enable them to make money when companies use it to power their products and services.

That would be a major shift from how things work currently, where companies typically own any data generated by users, limiting their ability to restrict access to that data or earn any money off it.

Yang made his case for data as a property right, a proposal he initially rolled out in October, by pointing to the massive amount of data people create everyday and how companies have been able to monetize it, saying “our data is now worth more than oil.”

“By implementing measures to increase transparency in the data collection and monetization process, individuals can begin to reclaim ownership of what’s theirs,” Yang said in the plan.

According to a report Yang cited, gathering and using Americans’ personal data has become a $198 billion industry, and he argued that users haven’t gotten enough in return.

During a Democratic debate in October, Yang made a similar point, asking the audience: “How many of you remember getting your data check in the mail? It got lost. It went to Facebook, Amazon, Google.”

Yang also proposed:

  • Creating a government agency tasked with minimizing the “health impacts of modern tech” on people —  particularly children.
  • Taxing digital ads, regulating bot activity, and regulating algorithms to make spreading misinformation more costly and difficult. 
  • “Addressing the grey area between publishers and platforms” — that is, companies like Facebook and YouTube.
  • Modernizing the government’s approach to regulation so it can better respond to emerging technologies.

Yang explained more about his views at a fundraiser in San Francisco this week, noting that tech executives like Elon Musk agree that the tech industry needs more regulation. 

Regulating the tech industry has become a popular talking point among Democrats in the 2020 primary race, with candidates like Elizabeth Warren proposing breaking up tech giants.

You can read Yang’s full policy here.


  • 0

How to set a custom ringtone on your Samsung Galaxy S10, and choose your own music or assign it to a specific caller

Category : entrepreneur

  • It’s easy to set a custom ringtone on your Samsung Galaxy S10 using the sound and vibration section of the Settings app.
  • You can set any song on your Galaxy S10 as a ringtone and start playing it from the beginning, or have the song play from a different point. 
  • You can also set specific ringtones for your favorite callers, so you know who is calling as soon as the phone begins to ring. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Unlike the iPhone, which makes setting up a custom ringtone a fairly arduous task, the ability to customize ringtones on Android phones like the Galaxy S10 is built into the operating system. 

You can even turn your favorite songs into ringtones, or set a custom ringtone for specific callers.

Here’s how to do it. 

Check out the products mentioned in this article:

Samsung Galaxy S10 (From $899.99 at Best Buy)

iPhone 11 (From $699.99 at Best Buy)

How to set a custom ringtone on your Samsung Galaxy S10

1. Start the Settings app.

2. Tap “Sound and vibration.”

3. Tap “Ringtone.”

ringtone 1

You’ll find the Ringtone controls in the Sound and vibration section of Settings.
Dave Johnson/Business Insider

4. To change the ringtone to one of the built-in sounds, tap any entry in the list and then tap the back button. 

5. To select a song stored on your phone, tap the plus sign at the top right of the screen. 

6. On the “Sound picker” screen, tap a song you want to use as a ringtone. The song will start playing so you can preview it. You can browse songs by track, album, artist, or folder using the tabs at the bottom of the screen, or search for a song using the Search button at the top of the screen.

ringtone 2

Select the song you want to use as a ringtone from the tracks stored on your phone.
Dave Johnson/Business Insider

7. If you want the song to start at the beginning when a call starts, turn “Highlights only” off by swiping the button to the left. If on, Highlights Only starts playing the song somewhere in the middle when a call comes in. 

8. When you’re satisfied with your ringtone selection, tap “Done.”

How to set a custom ringtone for specific callers

If you want to associate a specific ringtone with certain callers, you can do that as well. 

1. Start the Contacts app and select a contact you want to set a ringtone for. 

2. At the bottom of the screen, tap “Edit.”

3. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and tap “View more.”

4. Tap “Ringtone” and select a sound or song. 

ringtone 4

When you tap Ringtone, you’ll see the same controls as in the Ringtone settings.
Dave Johnson/Business Insider

Related coverage from How To Do Everything: Tech:

  • ‘Why won’t my Samsung Galaxy S10 update?’: 4 ways to fix your Galaxy S10 when updates won’t install properly

  • How to see the passwords you’ve saved on your Samsung Galaxy S10, and delete or copy them

  • How to move apps on your Samsung Galaxy S10’s homescreen or Apps screen

  • ‘Why am I not receiving text messages on my Samsung Galaxy S10?’: 5 ways to troubleshoot your Galaxy S10 if it’s not receiving texts


  • 0

Some WPP employees are worried for their jobs as 3 agencies merge. They just got a powerful reminder of why change might be necessary.

Category : entrepreneur

  • Some WPP employees are confused and worried for their jobs after a report that the ad holding company planned to absorb three more agencies into the Wunderman Thompson network.
  • No large-scale downsizing moves are expected, but at least some executives were laid off or left the company in recent weeks.
  • Forrester analyst Jay Pattisall called the consolidation necessary to simplify the organization and compete more directly with upstarts and consulting firms that offer multiple services under one roof.
  • This week, in an example of that threat, Accenture Interactive won a major chunk of Kimberly-Clark’s global baby care business, which had been with WPP.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

A week after Business Insider reported on forthcoming consolidation moves at ad holding company giant WPP, some sources are confused and nervous about their jobs.

Multiple sources confirmed that Wunderman Thompson would absorb digital agencies Possible, iStrategyLabs, and Mirum in North America, though the latter may retain its name in certain locations like its San Diego headquarters to avoid disrupting a relationship with its largest client, Qualcomm.

Exactly when the brands will merge, and whether a global consolidation will follow, is unclear, and Wunderman Thompson leadership has not communicated plans to employees.

Sources told Business Insider that no large-scale staffing changes will accompany the consolidation. But at least some high-level staff members have recently been laid off, and others expressed jitters about their job security.

Wunderman Thompson declined to comment.

Some jobs have recently been eliminated and leaders hired as Wunderman Thompson’s North American framework takes shape

An executive who was recently laid off said Wunderman Thompson’s financial department has begun reviewing salaries in an effort to bring costs down.

Another person said leaders sent a message around their office about the Business Insider article before it went live and that a manager said layoffs could follow.

Describing the general mood as “confusion” and “anxiety-filled,” this source said that at least three executives have left the office over the past four months and voiced frustration that WPP was not communicating more.

A second former executive said some recent cuts focused on back office jobs and that multiple current employees have “reached out in mass confusion” over the past week.

To be sure, it’s common for ad agencies — especially ones going through large-scale restructuring — to trim staff around the holidays to keep severence expenses on the current year’s balance sheet.

Wunderman Thompson has also been hiring and promoting new leadership.

The network recently named a new North American chief creative officer and president of its Minneapolis office, which is home to longtime client Best Buy. Over the summer, it also officially split into Eastern, Central, and Western divisions led, respectively, by former Possible executive Joe Crump, Wunderman Chicago President Ian Sohn, and Liz Valentine, CEO of boutique agency Swift.

Some C-level roles were eliminated in the process.

A third executive who recently left WPP said Swift was excluded from the larger consolidation, at least in part, because of a client conflict: the Portland-based shop works with Google, while competitor Microsoft is one of Possible’s largest clients.

The move comes as consulting firms are finally starting to win creative accounts away from holding companies 

The third former executive called the consolidation smart but argued that it should have happened two or three years ago as WPP is now “fighting from behind” to compete with consulting firms.

Case in point, The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Accenture Interactive had won lead creative duties for Kimberly-Clark’s child care portfolio in the US, Europe, Middle East, and Africa — work that WPP previously had. It was the firm’s first major new business victory since acquiring creative agency Droga5 in April.

Forrester chief analyst Jay Pattisall told Business Insider that Accenture won by selling its tech and strategy consulting acumen and Droga5’s creative as a single package.

“Wunderman has a similar capacity on the digital and strategy side, and with the creative chops inside JWT, Possible and, to an extent, Mirum, I think [the consolidation] is a competitive play in that regard,” he said.

The third former WPP executive said firms like Accenture and Deloitte don’t need separate divisions to pitch clients, because their appeal lies in being all things at once. He referred to the concept of branded specialty agencies as “a self-inflicted wound” that makes holding company offerings unnecessarily complicated.

According to Pattisall, the big question is whether these networks can simplify fast enough to stay competitive with the upstarts and the big consultancies.


  • 0

Google made major updates to messaging on Android phones, and it might finally be catching up to Apple (GOOG, GOOGL)

Category : entrepreneur

  • Google is rolling out a major update on Thursday for its Messages app in the Android operating system.
  • The change brings modern text messaging features that AppleiPhone users have been used to for years, thanks to iMessage. 
  • The update brings text messaging over WiFi or mobile data instead of using traditional cellphone signal, as well as the ability to share high-quality photos and video, typing notifications, better group messaging, and delivery and read receipts.
  • It’s unclear if the update will help bridge the gap between Android and iPhone users. Text messaging between Android phones and iPhones is, frankly, an awful mess for anything outside of standard text messaging with text only.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Google is rolling out one of the most significant updates to messaging on its Android smartphone operating system on Thursday, and it’s finally catching up to iMessage on iPhones. 

The new Messages app in Android includes “RCS” technology (rich communication services), and it brings modern messaging features like text messaging over WiFi or mobile data instead of using traditional cellphone signal, as well as the ability to share high-quality photos and video, typing notifications, and delivery and read receipts. 

Group messaging will also get better with the ability to name groups, add and remove people to and from groups, and to see if people haven’t seen the latest messages.   

Chat features in Messages

Google

As for sending and receiving text messages on other devices like computers that iPhone users have become accustomed to, Google’s Messages for Web service on the Chrome browser is still the best and only option for Android users. 

IPhone users have enjoyed these features for years with iMessages, and it’s crazy to think that Android users are only just getting this stuff now. Indeed, text messaging on Android has essentially been running on 35-year-old technology. 

It’s great news for Android users text messaging other Android users, but it’s still unclear whether this will bridge the gap between iPhone and Android users. 

Currently, text messaging between Android phones and iPhones is, frankly, an awful mess for anything outside of standard text messaging with text only. Sharing photos and videos between Android Messages and iMessage is a bad experience, as quality is incredibly poor. 

iMessage runs on Apple’s own standard, not the universally adoptable RCS standard. Unfortunately, there’s no indication that Apple will adopt RCS for iMessage. Business Insider asked Apple if RCS would ever be supported on iMessage, but has yet to hear back. 

For Android users, Google’s Messages update warrants extra clarification. The update is coming to Google’s own Messages app, not a phone maker’s app, or your carrier’s text messaging app that might be the default app on your specific smartphone. For those who don’t use Google’s own Messages app and who want to take advantage of the RCS update, they can set it as the default text messaging app by heading to Settings > Apps and notifications > Default apps > SMS app > and setting is to Google’s own Messages app, which has a blue icon. 

If those users don’t have Google’s own Messages app installed on their phone, they can install it from the Google Play Store. 

Google Pixels already have Google’s Messages app as the default text messaging app. Unless a Pixel user changed the default messaging app, Google’s own Messages app should update like a normal app.