February 8, 2022
Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol
Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: Arm starts working on Plan B after the Nvidia deal collapses, the Senate considers new rules for AI audits, and can the OpenStack concept work at the edge?
As cases linked to the omicron variant of COVID-19 start to decline, IT organizations are looking ahead to the future. Around 70% of companies surveyed by IDC think their business activity will return to early-2020 levels within a year.
When Nvidia announced its plan to acquire Arm from SoftBank in September 2020, it seemed doomed right from the start. The deal finally collapsed late Monday, leaving Arm to fend for itself following SoftBank’s plan to take it public. Arm will do so under new management, replacing CEO Simon Segars after nearly nine years, with Rene Haas, who led the company’s IP group.
Throughout the year-and-a-half long attempt to convince regulators that marrying the two businesses was good for the industry, Arm executives repeated the argument that taking the company public would damage Arm’s future.
Arm reversed course Tuesday. During a briefing with reporters, incoming Arm CEO Haas touted the company’s projected fiscal 2021 results and growing profitability as signs Arm would do just fine on its own as a public company.
Industry analysts are skeptical that Arm can succeed at pushing into the data center market without the significant capital injection and support that Nvidia would have provided.
Nvidia probably won’t suffer without Arm. Nvidia has thrived in recent years, making inroads into the data center through its acquisition of Mellanox and its development of data center GPUs and AI supercomputer systems.
The financial penalties for the deal collapsing are significant but not crippling. Nvidia must now pay SoftBank a $1.25 billion breakup fee, on top of the $750 million it has already paid to license Arm tech for 20 years as part of the initial deal.
The concept of flex work isn’t new, but its widespread adoption is. Flex work helps all of us find some semblance of control in the middle of an uncontrollable pandemic. Giving options makes people happier and less stressed. This leads to a greater desire to participate, which helps us build our communities and culture.
A federal bill reintroduced last week would give the FTC more tech staff and power to enable better oversight over AI that could make discriminatory decisions affecting people’s employment, finances, housing and more.
The Algorithmic Accountability Act of 2022 calls on companies using automated systems for “critical” decisions to conduct algorithmic impact assessments of those technologies. The FTC would be in charge of making rules for how those assessments should be conducted, and the agency has already begun to gear up for that task. Members of the commission’s new AI advisory team have pushed for use of algorithmic impact assessments as a framework for evaluating the effects of AI.
The bill was changed since a previous version was proposed in 2019. A key distinction: The earlier version would have required assessments of “high-risk” systems, while the updated bill requires companies to evaluate the impact of algorithmic tech if it’s used to make “critical decisions.”
Already, industry is pushing back on the new language. Software industry group BSA The Software Alliance said it would work with legislators to “ensure that any new law clearly targets high risk systems and sensibly allocates responsibilities between organizations that develop and deploy them.”
The OpenStack project fell far short of its goals to become a true alternative to AWS, although it has stuck around longer than you’d think inside telco companies around the world. The organization behind that project evolved into the OpenInfra Foundation in 2020, and this week released a new version of its project for edge computing, known as StarlingX.
Like OpenStack, StarlingX primarily lives inside telco companies, according to The New Stack. But the market for edge computing is still evolving quite rapidly, and there’s no clear blueprint for how businesses will manage data at the midpoint between the end user and the data center.
FedEx CIO Rob Carter told viewers during our Changing Role of the CIO event earlier today that edge computing was the single most exciting and interesting thing FedEx is currently piloting as the future of its IT strategy. If more companies start to think that way, there could be life yet for the concept of open-source enterprise infrastructure projects.— Tom Krazit (email | twitter)
Microsoft is thinking about acquiring security software company Mandiant, which, with a market cap of $4.3 billion at the close of trading Tuesday, makes it worth 0.06 Activisions.
D-Wave, which has followed the beat of its own drummer in quantum computing, will go public through a SPAC deal valuing the company at $1.6 billion.
GlobalFoundries topped Wall Street expectations for revenue and profit during the fourth quarter as demand for chips remains insatiable.Europe will consider a chip-making stimulus bill that could allot $49 billion in new funding as the U.S. considers a slightly larger package of its own.
Thanks for reading — see you tomorrow!