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Brier Dudley's Blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

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March 5, 2007 5:36 PM

Israel gets new Microsoft R&D center

Posted by Brier Dudley

Redmond isn't the only place Microsoft is expanding.

The company bought property for a large new research center in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv in central Israel. It will complement the company's research center in Haifa in the country's northern region.

This story doesn't provide a headcount but says the first phase opening next year will include 300 parking spaces.

Comments | Category: Microsoft |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 5, 2007 5:07 PM

Sherlund boards Galleon, leaves open seat at Microsoft event

Posted by Brier Dudley

So who will sit next to Bill Gates at Microsoft's financial analyst meeting this year?

Rick Sherlund has magically ended up in the coveted seat forever, probably since Goldman Sachs took Microsoft public in 1986.

The top-ranked Microsoft analyst left the firm Friday to work for a hedge fund, as previously announced. Barron's has some details about Christopher Sailer, who is taking Sherlund's place.

Sherlund is now a director at Galleon Group, a $6 billion fund started by Sri Lankan immigrant Raj Rajaratnam.

Galleon is heavily into tech stocks and places a big emphasis on research, according to this profile, which sheds some light on why it would appeal to a former Goldman research manager:

Galleon views Wall Street analysts as its competition, and its goal is to arbitrage research and consensus thinking with its positions. So if a brokerage firm analyst feels that the personal computer industry will grow at 10 percent and Galleon's research indicates it will grow at 15 percent or 3 percent, Galleon will arbitrage the difference in the two perspectives.

Rajaratnam observes that typical sell-side analysts spend one-third of their time chasing initial public offerings, secondary offerings, banking business, and mergers and arbitrage; another one-third of their time making institutional visits; and only one-third of their time doing research. He feels this gives his analysts an edge since they spend 100 percent of their time on research. They are not encouraged to write 30 to 40 pages of pretty reports, but rather one page that lists the issues.

Comments | Category: Microsoft |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 5, 2007 4:28 PM

Windows Live VP Blake Irving confirms departure

Posted by Brier Dudley

Irving cleared the air with a memo confirming he is leaving Microsoft in late summer, in part to spend more time with his family in California.

"The timing of my retirement is a combination of business and personal considerations, each being quite positive from my perspective,'' he said in the memo that Mary Jo Foley posted a little while ago.

That may be the case for Irving, but I wonder if any other Live bosses will be shuffled in what's looking like a spring housecleaning.

That would send a message to Wall Street, where Microsoft's been getting heat for trailing Google in search and online services.

The topic was raised again last week when UBS analyst Heather Bellini shared her research on the poor performance of Microsoft's Live initiative since its 2005 launch. From InfoWorld's story last week:

According to UBS, Google's worldwide search query market share grew from 56 percent to 65 percent between August 2005 and December 2006. At the same time, Microsoft's declined from 11 percent to 8 percent, even though the company launched its rebranded and revamped Windows Live Search during this period. UBS cited research from comScore Networks for this data.

Irving's memo suggested that his departure was in the works before Bellini's report. He said he and Windows boss Kevin Johnson have been discussing a change since the start of the year.

Irving's responsible for the infrastructure powering Windows Live online services, including the new datacenter the company is building in Eastern Washington.

Investors may be frustrated, but Irving will probably always be adored by the Quincy Chamber of Commerce.


Comments | Category: Google , Microsoft , Web |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 5, 2007 2:42 PM

OneCare taking hits

Posted by Brier Dudley

Microsoft's OneCare seems like a great business and a good solution for non-technical households, so I wonder why this kind of stuff keeps happening.

The company can't seem to win, though -- if it fully protects customers from malware, companies like Symantec call foul and raise antitrust questions. If it doesn't protect customes enough, it gets ripped by security consultancies.

Comments | Category: Microsoft , Security & privacy |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 5, 2007 2:13 PM

Google's real estate play, look out Zillow?

Posted by Brier Dudley

I'm not sure how this will effect Seattle's nascent online real estate ventures, but Zillow and Redfin are probably thinking hard about Google jumping into the market with someone else.

The search giant reached a deal Friday to display listings from Trulia, a San Francisco real estate search and information service, and Realogy, parent company of realty companies Coldwell Banker, Century 21 and ERA. Ars Technica has some details.

Newspapers are probably also nervous about the deal. Craigslist has already siphoned off much of their classifieds, and now Google is going after real estate listings. Yikes.

Comments | Category: Google , Startups , Web |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 5, 2007 1:06 PM

Vista and the viaduct

Posted by Brier Dudley

One goal of the Monday column is to explore ways that the tech industry influences the region.

Sometimes I wish that influence was greater, sometimes not.

One more reason the viaduct is relevant to the area's tech industry: If politics kill the whole project, Microsoft and other companies in the Overlake tech cluster will benefit because the state will then turn its focus - and its major projects war chest -- toward Highway 520.

Without the viaduct, the state might even resurrect plans for Highway 605, a new north-south corridor on the Eastside that has been considered off and on for decades. That project never took off, largely because it would put a freeway through rural areas and possibly sensitive habitat areas.

A few years ago the state revisited the concept, which it now calls the "commerce corridor."

The additional 10,000 to 12,000 Microsoft employees planned for Redmond will figure heavily in the planning.

Comments | Category: Microsoft , Public policy |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

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Gadgets and games | Fun stuff I've written about lately includes Apple's iPhone, Hewlett-Packard's HDX laptop and Microsoft's Halo3. Also on the radar are new digital video boxes such as the Tivo HD and the Vudu.