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Find The Thread - Issue #3

Find The Thread - Issue #3
By Dominic • Issue #3 • View online
Welcome to the week. Now get to work.

Acquisitions — What Are They Good For?
Acquisitions tend to be a fraught topic for all concerned — employees of both companies, and users of their products. Some of the misgivings may well be justified, given that so many acquisitions fail. Especially in the consumer space, there’s always the risk of an “acquihire”, where the team behind the app you like gets scooped up for their skills, but nobody really wants the app itself, so that gets dumped.
That happens less in the enterprise space, and in my experience you tend to get some more leeway. The first major release post-acquisition is often really good, too, as resources are funnelled to the team to build their roadmap out. It’s after that when you start to see what the future is going to be like: will the graft take, with the acquired company bringing new ways of thinking and shaking the acquirer out of a rut? Or will the acquirer’s immune response reject the novelty, and the product quality and innovation will decline?
We discussed M&A at some length on the latest episode of the Roll For Enterprise podcast, not least because one of our own has been on the sharp end of an acquisition. There’s also been a spate of spinoffs, with IBM parting ways with their managed services arm under the Kyndryl banner, and Dell continuing their confusing multi-year on-again, off-again relationship with VMware. Finally, Microsoft bought Nuance, best known to the outside world for the creation of Siri, but apparently really big in healthcare.
Let’s see where each of these are a year from now. Personally I think Kyndryl will do just fine, if not spectacularly, but VMware is in decline, and Dell’s move came at just the right time. As for Nuance, I have very little idea of the reality of the US healthcare-industrial complex, so I will stay out of that one. But if you’re looking at Rocket Software and ASG Technologies, I know the person tasked with making that a success for all concerned, so I’m pretty sure that one is going to work out.
Interoperable Friendship
One benefit of this newsletter is that I find it’s spurred me to be a bit more regular in my blogging, so there’s another new post up this week. The topic is connecting different social networks to each other, and why I don’t think that’s a good idea.
My prompt to write this piece was an article in Wired by Cory Doctorow, so I tagged him when I shared my response on Twitter. Cory replied by sharing an EFF white paper which is specifically about interoperability between social networks, but I don’t feel that it addresses my main argument.
From the point of view of someone concerned about the power of social networks, and Facebook especially, the problem is not the data they have about any individual user, but the data about the connections between them. That graph of connections is what constitutes the data gravity that keeps people on Facebook, because if you move to a different social network but your friends aren’t there, who are you going to talk to?
The problem is that my social graph by definition contains data about other people, who may or may not consent to my importing it to new services. This is a big part of the problem people have with Signal or Clubhouse slurping up users’ address books and then spamming them. At best, this behaviour is annoying; worse, it’s actively endangering people and enabling abuse.
There is also the positive aspect of the much-decried “online bubble”: social networks are different from each other. I don’t want Facebook to become like LinkedIn which becomes like Twitter. I’m a different person on different networks, with some overlaps in my public presentation and relationship graph, but it’s never a 1:1 match.
I don’t feel Cory and the EFF, in their zeal to tear down Facebook’s competitive moat, have fully considered these aspects of the problem — either distributed privacy, or context collapse.
Covid Benediction
Keep your attitude positive, and your test results negative. Until next time!
Vaccine availability here in Europe is beginning to improve, so maybe I will get my shot at a shot over the summer. Let’s see! 🤞
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By Dominic

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