Addressing digital literacy

Our ancestors worked with wheels in fixed locations to spin pottery, process grain, etc. Rapid, in-place rotation saved time and allowed people to problem solve other issues. Eventually, someone got the idea to tip the wheel, add an axle and use this simple machine to move heavy objects more easily.

That original great idea, the rotating wheel, produced the next great idea, the rolling wheel, which produced the next great idea, the chariot … you get the picture. So, the next time you hear, “you can’t reinvent the wheel,” you’ll know that’s not entirely true. You may not reinvent the shape, but you can reinvent the purpose.

We are at one of those reinventing moments now with respect to the digital literacy of our workforce. A worldwide study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development found nearly 70 percent of American respondents rated themselves “poor or below” in basic computer skills.

Training in technology

Digital literacy is a serious employment issue facing our country, but a solution is in front of us. Goodwill Industries International and Google.org have joined forces to create the Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator to help advance the technological knowledge of 1 million Americans in the next three years. Just like our clever ancestors repurposed the wheel, Google — through a $10 million nationwide investment — is helping repurpose GII’s strong workforce training infrastructure to make tech education free and accessible.

The target participants are youth, young adults, older workers, those with limited work experience, people with disabilities or disadvantages, veterans and military family members, and people transitioning from the corrections system back into the community. Through existing Goodwill programs, participants will learn about technology and computers, and have access to opportunities like coding and computer certification classes.

For people with life barriers, a lack of tech skills is more than just a roadblock, it can be a full-stop to obtaining living-wage employment.

A call to action

We frequently hear how Columbus is a Smart City, but while we have many measurable strengths and assets, what makes a city truly smart is a place at the tech table for all citizens, including those with learning differences and other barriers.

That said, remember that technology is the tool and people are the drivers. When asked if he still had faith in technology, Steve Jobs said, in a 1994 Rolling Stone interview, “Oh, sure. It’s not a faith in technology. It’s faith in people.” I concur wholeheartedly. We need to be in this together to make it work.

Do you have a job you could offer at-risk youth? Are your employees able to carve out time to help with job coaching or interview preparedness? Could you create an internship, so tech students have a reference and experience to go with their training? Could you be a mentor or friend to someone looking for a hand up? What resources do you have that could be reinvented? How can you repurpose your wheel?

 

Margie Pizzuti is the President and CEO of Goodwill Columbus. With a threefold mission of People, Planet and Prosperity, Goodwill is dedicated to helping people with disabilities and other barriers to employment find pathways to independence through the power of work.

Google executive to speak at ASPIRE 2018

Ted Souder, head of industry – retail, at Google will sit down for a question and answer session with Adam Kaufman, adviser at JumpStart, on May 3, 2018, at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel during ASPIRE 2018.

A 16-plus year veteran at Google, Ted is currently the head of industry – retail. In this role, he manages a team that oversees the Google experience for some of the largest retailers in the world. His team is tasked with helping retailers leverage the power of digital and acts as the main point of contact for Google’s various products and services.

Prior to his role in retail, Ted lived in Paris, France, as part of an exclusive rotation program for senior leaders in the company. While in Paris, Ted oversaw key efforts in Southern and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa as the head of international strategic sales and operations. Ted also served as a regular industry speaker, an employee mentor and was a member of the executive management team for the SEEMEA region. Earlier in his career at Google, Ted held a number of different leadership roles in sales and account management and was responsible for helping open and run Google’s offices in Chicago, Dallas and Detroit.

Ted is an early adopter having worked in the mid and late 90’s at early online brands AOL and Excite, as well as groundbreaking social music startup, Echo Networks.

Ted is actively involved in various civic and educational organizations. He is vice chairman of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, a member of the executive advisory board of the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management at the University of Denver, and on the board of directors at both the Economic Club of Chicago and at 1871, the largest technology incubator in the United States.

Ted graduated from the University of Denver and resides in Chicago with his wife and two children.

Register today for ASPIRE 2018!

Tim Mueller’s Transaction Analysis: New IT M&A Deals September 22

Google and HTC Announce $1.1B Cooperation Agreement

Financial Information

  • Transaction Value $1.1B

Transaction Facts

  • Google and longtime partner HTC today announced a definitive agreement in which Google will acquire certain employees from HTC’s mobile division team — many of whom have worked on the Google Pixel smartphone line. Google will pay HTC $1.1B in cash as part of the transaction.
  • The transaction is expected to close by early 2018.

A Pursuit of Hardware

  • Long-Term Investment: With the hardware market becoming more profitable, Google has made clear its plans to invest heavily in manufacturing its own hardware; this deal represents the fourth major hardware-related transaction for Google. The agreement to acquire certain HTC employees means the company would gain talent, supply chain, and research and development without having to start from scratch in-house. With the acquisition of talent, rather than resources or facilities, Google is steering away from the strategy it employed six years ago with its costly $12.B purchase of Motorola (Google later sold Motorola to Lenovo for $2.9B). Taking cues from vertical integration pro Apple, which outsources work to companies like Foxconn, Google is trying to take a few steps forward with the hopes of competing with hardware kings.
  • Increased Flexibility: The partnership between the two companies goes a long way back; both have been partners for ten years, with HTC being the major supplier for Google’s Pixel line that debuted about a year ago. After peaking in 2010, HTC’s sales have faced financial challenges. The boost in cash from Google would allow HTC to resolve its challenges while still being able to operate as an independent company. While Google will receive a non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property, HTC will still continue to produce its own phones and will employ ~2,000 research and design staffers — down from ~4,000.
  • Dark Horse: With the deal, Google could gain a tighter hold on its Android operating system. While the company is not known for its hardware, if it can manage to produce top-tier hardware in-house, the premium smartphone market could look different down the line; competitors Samsung and Apple could find themselves a new rival to battle.

For more information about this development, click here to read the press release.

To receive instant analysis on the day’s business news from Tim Mueller, contact [email protected]. Check out a list of diverse assets for sale on SBN’s IT M&A Marketplace powered by IT ExchangeNet here.

IT ExchangeNet is the industry-leading marketplace for matching buyers with sellers of mid-market IT businesses. Founded in 1998 by technology CEOs and M&A professionals, IT ExchangeNet is an efficient marketplace for owners of mid-market IT businesses seeking buyers or strategic partners. ExchangeNet follows a disciplined and highly targeted process, bringing buyers and sellers together to close deals with transaction values of less than $25 million.

How to avoid the Google privilege ruling by using caution when writing emails

Jude A. Fry, partner, Fay Sharpe LLP

Jude A. Fry, partner, Fay Sharpe LLP

Many companies train employees to enter phrases such as ‘confidential’ or ‘attorney work product’ and copy counsel when sending sensitive emails so that the information is protected under attorney-client privilege. In the event the company becomes embroiled in litigation, counsel would see such phrases and flag the messages as privileged, preventing them from inadvertently being produced to the other side during discovery.

However, while it’s a good idea to include such phrases in messages, it’s not always enough in the court’s eyes to designate it as privileged. Also, a computer’s auto-save feature may have saved versions of an email that didn’t include such phrases, leaving them unprotected. Both of these issues arose during Oracle America, Inc. v. Google, Inc.

“For each email being composed, Google’s system was saving multiple drafts of it. That’s probably something that you wouldn’t want to do,” says Jude A. Fry, a partner with Fay Sharpe LLP. “Then when the company got sued, there were, for this single email, multiple versions, and the only version put on the privileged log was the final one.”

Smart Business spoke with Fry about how companies can ensure privileged information sent through email is protected.

What happened in the Google case?

Oracle claimed Google’s Android smartphone platform infringed its patents, and the two entered into litigation. An email that included language that could be harmful to Google in the patent case was placed on a privileged log, a document describing items that can be withheld from a case under attorney-client privilege.

That internal email was sent to the vice president in charge of the Android smartphone platform at Google, copying Google’s counsel in the ‘to’ field. The email was captioned ‘attorney work product’ and ‘Google confidential.’

While the final version of the email was placed on a privileged log, auto-saves of the email were inadvertently produced to Oracle’s counsel during discovery. Since the auto-saved drafts did not include the phrases ‘attorney work product’ or ‘Google confidential,’ they were not caught by electronic scanning mechanisms.

Google demanded that Oracle return the emails under the clawback provision of the protective order, claiming the emails were privileged. Oracle returned the emails but filed a motion to compel their production. The district court ordered that the emails be reproduced.

How were the auto-saved drafts of the email not coded as privileged?

When doing the search, counsel was likely using key words to see what was coded as privileged. There were probably thousands of emails produced. Counsel was able to locate the final email because, by that point, the author had put the phrase ‘attorney work product’ in the email’s body and added the attorney as one of the recipients. However, in other auto-save versions those phrases weren’t included, so they didn’t get flagged.

What’s disturbing is that the system saved nine versions during the time it took to type it up. Why is it necessary to save all of those versions?

Consider only saving emails that are sent, and configure your email system to delete all other versions. Also, understand how your email system works — whether auto-drafts are saved, what happens to these drafts, where they’re stored. Figure this out now and not when a case is pending.

How should a corporate employee set up an email to make sure it is privileged?

Train your employees to direct the email to legal counsel in the ‘to’ field and salutation. State in the email that information is being given to or sought from the lawyer so that he or she can give legal advice. Also, include in the message that it is being prepared in anticipation of litigation, at the direction of an attorney, to further the provision of legal advice. Include headings such as ‘attorney work product,’ ‘privileged’ and ‘confidential.’ However, these headings alone will not make an email privileged, so limit the substance of the email to the legal issues.

People write a lot of emails but often don’t think about someone other than the intended recipient reading it. When doing business though email, consider who could possibly read the message and approach it accordingly. It’s a good practice to think carefully before you put something in writing.

Jude A. Fry is a partner at Fay Sharpe LLP. Reach her at (216) 363-9113 or [email protected]

Insights Legal Affairs is brought to you by Fay Sharpe LLP

How to take advantage of favorable rates for commercial real estate loans

Kim Rysyk, senior vice president, Real Estate Lending Division, Bridge Bank

Kim Rysyk, senior vice president, Real Estate Lending Division, Bridge Bank

It’s a good time to refinance a commercial real estate loan or purchase a property.

“The market has become more competitive. The big retraction of lender funds in 2008 and 2009 that resulted from increased reserve requirements and unfavorable market conditions has flipped. More banks, insurance companies and other financing sources are back in the mix and looking to lend as the economy continues to improve,” says Kimberly Rysyk, a senior vice president in the Real Estate Lending Division at Bridge Bank.

Smart Business spoke with Rysyk about the state of the lending market and opportunities that are available.

How is the current commercial real estate lending market?

It’s favorable for borrowers, as lending sources increase and interest rates remain low. Many banks have re-entered the market as their financial positions have increased along with the economy. The increase in sources has created competition, resulting in a decrease in spreads. This has translated into a drop in rates. The bottom line is that there are more lenders looking for the same deals.

What about lending for new projects?

Finding lending sources for new projects remains difficult but improved through the latter half of 2012. Cash equity of 25 to 35 percent is standard and projects with higher risk may approach 50 percent. Certain housing markets warrant new construction as demand for new housing and rents increase. Lenders are interested in those builders and developers who have been able to sustain themselves through the recession and have cash to invest. There is financing out there for speculative construction as well, provided the cash equity is sufficient and the buyer is financially strong.

For owner-occupied businesses it can make sense to find property that’s not necessarily in a top location, but in a place where they can have a brand new building suited to their specific needs that works based on debt coverage, cost of the project and cost of the land.

Is it a good time to invest in such properties?

Historically low interest rates and real estate prices still depressed from the Great Recession have created some opportunity. There has also been a slow but steady improvement in the labor market and a leveling of vacancies and rents, which are positive signs for the economy. This is a good time to invest in commercial properties if you know your market.

In San Francisco, for example, payroll tax incentives for businesses that relocate are making some areas attractive that previously were considered B-rated. This has led to big companies, such as Twitter, Zynga and Salesforce.com, to relocate to areas that were not considered desirable but are now looking up. Other companies or investors can take advantage of the depressed values here, refurbish or rebuild, and greatly affect the end value of the project. There are lenders out there who can recognize the end value and will lend on the resultant cash flow, rather than the current depressed value.

What should you consider when choosing a bank?

Strength and longevity are key. Has the bank been in the commercial real estate business through the downturn? Were they able to navigate changes in the market? An experienced banker will look at your past and future projections, uncover the pros and cons, and help you determine the best solution for your needs, whether it be building new, renovating an existing building or refinancing your current debt.

What concerns do you have for the future?

A significant swing in interest rates is concerning. Properties that were refinanced at extremely low rates may have difficulty finding refinancing sources at maturity. This concern would be heightened if the facility were not amortized or if property values do not rise sufficiently. The European financial crisis, for example, has had an effect on companies that do business on a global scale. This type of uncertainty affects the stock market, which has a strong bearing on the continued strength of the economy. Finally,  federal regulators are considering increasing the reserve requirement for real estate loans. A significant increase could chase many lenders out of the market once again.

Kimberly Rysyk is senior vice president, Real Estate Lending Division, at Bridge Bank. Reach her at (408) 556-8392 or [email protected]

Insights Banking & Finance is brought to you by Bridge Bank

 

Google pact with FTC could affect other patent disputes

NEW YORK, Sun Jan 6, 2013 — While the focus of last week’s agreement between the Federal Trade Commission and Google Inc. was search, the deal’s restrictions on how Google uses its patents could have a broader impact on the technology industry.

Under the deal, which ended an antitrust investigation by the FTC and disappointed many critics, Google will make only minor changes to its search business.

But Google is also now limited in when it can seek injunctions against products from rival companies that use certain of its patents.

Throughout recent smartphone wars and other major patent litigation, holders of so-called standard essential patents have been accused of using them to bully competitors into paying high licensing rates or as leverage in patent disputes.

The FTC’s deal with Google clarifies the uncertainty over how standard essential patents can be used, said Colleen Chien, a professor specializing in patent law at Santa Clara University School of Law in California.

Google says Apple patent lawsuit dismissed

SAN FRANCISCO, Mon Nov 5, 2012 – A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit by Apple Inc alleging that Google Inc.-owned Motorola’s patent licensing practices were unfair, Google said on Monday.

Apple had been set to square off against Motorola on Monday in a trial in U.S. District Court in Madison, Wisconsin, involving Google’s use of the library of patents it acquired along with Motorola for $12.5 billion in May.

“We’re pleased that the court has dismissed Apple’s lawsuit with prejudice,” a Google spokeswoman said in an emailed statement on Monday.

Dismissal of a case with prejudice means the case is over at the trial court level, though it can be appealed.

Apple could not immediately be reached for comment.

“Motorola has long offered licensing to our extensive patent portfolio at a reasonable and

non-discriminatory rate in line with industry standards,” Google said in its statement. “We remain interested in reaching an agreement with Apple.”

Oracle-Google judge ends probe into paid bloggers

SAN FRANCISCO, Thu Sep 6, 2012 – The federal judge overseeing a major lawsuit over smartphone technology between Oracle Corp. and Google Inc. has quietly ended his examination of those companies’ relationships with paid bloggers and other commentators.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco had shocked the legal and blogging communities on Aug. 7 by demanding names of “print or Internet authors, journalists, commentators or bloggers” on the companies’ payrolls.

The judge at the time expressed concern that payments might have influenced writings about the case. Legal experts questioned the breadth of the order, including whether it could violate the writers’ First Amendment free speech rights.

But in an order issued on Tuesday, after Oracle and Google had submitted lists of names, Alsup said he would “take no further action regarding the subject of payments by the litigants to commentators and journalists.”

He also said no commentaries had influenced his rulings in the case, other than “any treatise or article” he cited expressly.

Alsup has not revealed what prompted his Aug. 7 order.

Google to cut 4,000 Motorola Mobility jobs, take $275 million charge

Mon Aug 13, 2012 – Google Inc. said it would cut 20 percent of the workforce of Motorola Mobility, the money-losing cellphone maker it bought for $12.5 billion last year, and shut nearly a third of Motorola’s offices worldwide.

The news sent Google’s shares up as much as 1.5 percent and Morgan Stanley also upgraded the company to “overweight.”

Motorola Mobility has lost money in fourteen of the last sixteen quarters and in its latest quarter reported an operating loss of $233 million on revenue of $1.25 billion.

“These changes are designed to return Motorola’s mobile devices unit to profitability,” Google said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Google had evaded questions about its plans for Motorola Mobility when it reported quarterly results last month, saying it was yet to complete its homework on the various businesses.

“While lower expenses are likely to lag the immediate negative impact to revenue, Google sees these actions as a key step for Motorola to achieve sustainable profitability,” Google said on Monday.

Morgan Stanley said Google may bring more discipline to Motorola Mobility than was assumed.

“We see management becoming somewhat more communicative, having recently enumerated key strategic growth areas, and cancelling underperforming projects,” analysts at the brokerage wrote in a client note.

“We believe that Google is planning to reduce Motorola Mobility’s smartphone portfolio to a few reference Android devices, and perhaps a couple of tablet devices.”

Google expects to take a severance-related charge of up to $275 million mostly in the third quarter, it said in the filing.

Google, which expects to record the remaining severance-related costs by the end of 2012, said it could also incur other related restructuring charges mainly in the third quarter.

Google to pay $22.5 million to settle privacy charges: WSJ

PALO ALTO, Calif., Tue Jul 10, 2012 – Google Inc. is close to paying $22.5 million to settle charges that it bypassed the privacy settings of customers using Apple’s Safari browser, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing officials briefed on the settlement terms.
The fine would be the largest penalty ever levied on a single company by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the Journal said late Monday.
The charges involve Google’s use of special computer code, or “cookies,” to trick Apple’s Safari browser so Google could monitor users that had blocked such tracking, the newspaper said.
Google disabled the code after being contacted by the Journal. According to Google, tracking of Apple users was inadvertent and did not cause any harm to consumers, the newspaper reported.
“The FTC is focused on a 2009 help center page. We have now changed that page and taken steps to remove the ad cookies,” Google told the Journal.
Google also faces potential sanctions from other governments. It is being investigated by the European Union to determine if the company complies with Europe’s stricter privacy laws, the Journal reported.
An FTC spokeswoman declined to comment to the Journal.
Google and FTC could not be reached for comment by Reuters outside regular U.S. business hours.