Oprah, Recession, and Satyam Fraud
By Tony Kontzer
It's been quite a week on the tech landscape, a rollercoaster ride that's seen the industry rocked by a giant acquisition, an embarrassing scandal, a pair of scary earnings reports, and the (digital) arrival of Oprah. One could almost say the tech world's a-Twitter.
It all started with the earth-shattering, mind-blowing, life-changing news that Oprah had joined the Twitter universe. Suddenly, the world had meaning, and Oprah's legion of soccer moms ran to their computers in a rush to join the round-the-clock Oprah immersion. Traffic soared following word of Oprah's first Tweet, which managed to set the art of Tweeting back, oh, about 30 minutes, or 700 years Twitter time.
Ya gotta give it to the woman, though: She brings serious cachet to everything she touches.
Speaking of cachet, Oracle Corp. Oligarch -- oops, I mean CEO -- Larry Ellison made another of his grand appearances on the scene, shaking things up with a surprise acquisition of Silicon Valley stalwart Sun Microsystems. For his (and his shareholders') $7+ billion, Ellison is managing to complement Oracle's technology perfectly AND kick sand in longtime foe and failed Sun suitor IBM's eyes at the same time (no matter what IBM may be saying). If I'm Bill Gates (hmmm....let me let the unlimited wealth sink in for a moment...), I'm wondering what the hell Ellison's got up his sleeve next.
After all the hoopla, the economy reared its ugly head again, as two heavy hitters, Yahoo and AMD, took it on the chin in their first-quarter earnings reports. Yahoo said it would slash 5 percent of its workforce amid declining revenue and profits, while AMD continued to be walloped by falling demand for chips. When two companies as different as these are both hurting, it's a pretty good sign that recovery hasn't arrived yet.
When all is said and done, though, the news this week that may matter most to CIOs is the disturbing case of fraud surfacing at Indian outsourcing firm Satyam Computer Services, where a half-dozen executives are among those alleged to have cheated, forged and falsified customer accounts. Given the extent to which American companies are relying on Indian IT consultancies to serve as de facto IT staffs, finding out that such brazen corruption has been running rampant in the highest ranks at one of the biggest of those consultancies can't make a CIO feel real good about his outsourcers.
But they can always look on the bright side: There's another Oprah Tweet coming any minute now.