Channel Surfing with Kris and Mike - Week of June 17

Kris Blackmon and Michael Cusanelli tackle Microsoft's acquisition of LinkedIn, Microsoft software for marajuana distribution, and Apple's underwhelming Developer Conference.

Kris Blackmon, Head of Channel Communities

June 17, 2016

5 Min Read
Channel Surfing with Kris and Mike - Week of June 17

KRIS: I wish my week had been as productive as Microsoft’s.

MIKE: Don’t feel bad, we can’t all be multibillion dollar tech conglomerates. I managed to do laundry and go grocery shopping this week, which is as much of an accomplishment as one could ask for.

KRIS: Let’s start with the most important Microsoft announcement this week: it’s become the first major company to get on the legalized marijuana bandwagon. (You thought I was going to talk about LinkedIn, didn’t you?)

MIKE: That would have been too easy. Microsoft was really going for broke this week, as the company announced its plans to debut a so-called “seed to sale” tracking software that can be used to help marijuana retailers be honest when it comes to their sales. Of course, the solution will only be available in states where marijuana sales are currently legal, so don’t go looking for the software if you can’t walk down to a local dispensary.

KRIS: Basically, compliance software for the sale of weed. So…pretty much the most boring part of the marijuana trade, but the implications are pretty huge, and the jokes have been flying around the TVG offices since they made the announcement yesterday.

MIKE: For instance, what does Microsoft plan to call this software? I was thinking something along the lines of “SharePot 2016.”

KRIS: Ooh, that’s good. I still like “Microsoft Munchie Maker 1.0.”

MIKE: And, of course, the other big news out of Microsoft this week is…drumroll, please…its acquisition of messaging app developer Wand Labs.

KRIS: Tease.

MIKE: Actually, this is cool stuff. Wand specializes in semantic ontologies, which is just as fancy and complicated as it sounds. Basically, its technology will enhance Microsoft’s work in developing conversational interfaces and chat bots for platforms like Bing, Azure and Office 365. Not as fun to talk about as pot, I guess, but exciting in its own way.

KRIS: Oh, before we forget, I guess we should mention this piddly little acquisition of LinkedIn.

MIKE: Yeah, not many other people are talking about it, so let’s throw Microsoft a bone here.

KRIS: The tech giant announced on Monday that it would acquire the social-professional networking site for $26.2 billion. That’s billion, with a B. And no one seems to know quite what to make of it.

MIKE: If only you had $26.2 billion dollars lying around, you could have bought LinkedIn too! Personally, I don’t see what all the fuss is about – I’m saw an ad on Craigslist for full ownership of Friendster this week, and I snapped that up right away. Best $20 I ever spent!

KRIS: Microsoft CEO Satya Nutella…uh, Nadella…couldn’t have made a more definitive move to signal taking the company away from PC-oriented software to the cloud, but it’s still pretty unclear exactly what they hope to accomplish here. They must have some big play in mind that will leverage LinkedIn’s treasure trove of professional data, but what? Some of the theories being put out there sound far more annoying than they do helpful. Although The VAR Guy did come up with 10 of our own predictions stemming from this deal.

MIKE: I just hope they bring back Clippy Jr. – I miss that little guy! In all likelihood though, Microsoft probably has plans for some sort of hybrid HR/recruiting software offering, which I suppose could prove useful for some professionals.

KRIS: I just hope they don’t try to use it as their entrée to the social media world. If Facebook is the Fresh Prince of social media sites, LinkedIn is like Carlton. So I guess the perfect social fit for Microsoft. Is that too much of a slam?

MIKE: All’s fair in the realm of social media. At least you didn’t call LinkedIn the Erkle of networking sites – that honor is clearly reserved for MySpace.

KRIS: Switching gears to Microsoft’s longtime nemesis, the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference this year was a little anticlimactic, if not unexpected. Bucking iTradition, the company didn’t wow audiences with any new razzle-dazzle hardware this year. It was all software, software, yawn, software.

MIKE: It wasn’t all for naught, though. Tim Cook and Co. did reveal that third-party developers can now access the code behind Siri, iMessage and Apple Pay, which could lead to the creation of some neat new apps in the future. But the really exciting tech news of the week came thanks to the federal courts, who finally made a landmark decision on Net Neutrality.

KRIS: Yes! All Americans now have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of high-speed internet access. A three-judge panel ruled on Tuesday that the internet should be considered a utility just like water or electricity.

MIKE: Fun fact: The average human can live without food for two weeks and water for two days, but can only live without high-speed internet for a maximum of 30 minutes.

KRIS: I’ve seen that happen. It’s a gruesome way to go.

MIKE: In all seriousness, though, this ruling on Net Neutrality means two critical things: for one, the average consumer can’t be forced to pay extra money for access to a so-called “fast lane,” and two, giant ISPs like Verizon or AT&T can’t force little guys out of the business.

KRIS: This is big news both for local internet providers as well as startups that can’t afford the premiums to live life in the fast lane with the likes of Amazon. And if every American can afford and have access to the web, it’ll enable the Internet of Things revolution to come even faster.

MIKE: Once again, never a dull moment in the tech world. Thankfully we have the weekend to kick back and reflect on all this craziness before the circus starts up again on Monday. Until then, stay cool out there, folks!

KRIS: I’m in Dallas. The heat index today is 107. That isn’t a typo.

MIKE: How are you not a puddle right now?

KRIS: Two words: central air.

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About the Author(s)

Kris Blackmon

Head of Channel Communities, Zift Solutions

Kris Blackmon is head of channel communities at Zift Solutions. She previously worked as chief channel officer at JS Group, and as senior content director at Informa Tech and project director of the MSP 501er Community. Blackmon is chair of CompTIA's Channel Development Advisory Council and operates KB Consulting. You may follow her on LinkedIn and @zift on X.

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