May 25, 2022
Photo: Charles Forerunner via Unsplash
Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: a mysterious AI company with ties to China is bidding for U.S. infrastructure projects, Nvidia warns of a rough ride ahead, and why Okta thinks angry customers can be a good thing.
While a multicloud infrastructure strategy might sound good to companies that don’t want to rely on a single vendor, putting one into place has a ripple effect. According to new research from Virtana, 63% of multicloud users need more than five tools to manage that infrastructure, and it takes a lot of manual effort to sync data across those tools to actually understand what is happening.
When he posed for a photo with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Kai-Shing Tao wore a bright red polo shirt. He flashed a grin for another shot with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Tao’s China-linked AI company, Remark Holdings, tweeted the images in March with captions littered with hashtags like #BorderCrisis, #Transit and #PublicSafety. The photos may have been signs to weary investors that Remark Holdings was making progress in its efforts to score U.S. government projects.
But China tech and policy experts say the company is traveling in dangerous territory, and they warn that U.S. lawmakers and regulators could stop Remark in its tracks.
“Our trains are American-made and we're 100% Buy American-compliant,” states Brightline on its website, which describes its high-speed train experience as “a safe, fun, and welcoming ride for everyone aboard.”
Although partnerships between U.S. and Chinese tech companies and academic researchers continue, geopolitical forces are deterring collaboration in sectors of strategic importance such as AI and transportation infrastructure.
Despite the potential political scrutiny, Tao has been transparent about his mission to participate in federally funded infrastructure projects.
In the New Logic of Work, solutions meet people where they are now, not where they were last year or even last week. And it means providing tools and experiences tailored to different people and roles in an organization. At Logitech, our products create opportunities for people and organizations to thrive.
There are storm clouds on Nvidia’s horizon.
By most measures, Nvidia issued a solid B+ of a quarterly report card: Its data center segment and video game segment both set revenue records, arriving at $3.75 billion and $3.6 billion, respectively. It showed a nice fat profit of $1.6 billion, which includes the $1.4 billion termination fee it paid SoftBank when the Arm deal collapsed. CEO Jensen Huang said the company is expecting another record quarter for the data-center business, and is bullish on the remainder of the year.
But it’s not all smooth sailing: CFO Colette Kress mentioned the “challenging macro backdrop” a couple of times during her prepared remarks, and said Nvidia would take a $100 million hit to data center sales because Russian customers are now off the table, and lockdowns in China related to COVID-19 outbreaks impacted supply.
The video game segment will take a bigger hit, Kress said, and the company expects $400 million worth of damage because of the same two factors, which will translate to a sequential quarterly decline in revenue. And, as a result of the “challenging macro environment,” Nvidia also plans to slow hiring.
Huang acknowledged that Nvidia will have a tough time predicting the duration of the Ukraine war or the coronavirus lockdowns in China, but said the “impact of our technology and the market opportunities remain unchanged.”
During the first few months of 2022, the hacker group Lapsus$ burst onto the scene and breached one big tech company after another. Okta — which was impacted via a third-party support provider, Sitel — was not actually one of the bigger names on the list that also included Microsoft, Samsung, Nvidia and T-Mobile. So why did the Okta incident seem to get so much attention and criticism compared to the others?
The fact that Okta customer data was impacted was surely one reason; Okta's position as a prominent cybersecurity vendor was probably another. But in speaking with Protocol, Okta co-founder and CEO Todd McKinnon wondered if there might've been another factor behind the level of public scrutiny.
"When people trust you, then they react like this. But when they don't trust you, maybe they're more quiet,” McKinnon said, echoing comments he says he heard from customers in the wake of the breach. In other words, the criticism of Okta's handling of the breach could actually be viewed as something of a good sign, he said.
Ironically, Okta's clean track record on security prior to the January incident also put the company at a bit of a disadvantage, after the breach was disclosed by Lapsus$ in March, according to McKinnon. "What was really eye-opening as we went through this, is that we didn't have any practice at this," he said. "We'd never had security issues."
Box posted one of its best quarters in a while, recording an 18% increase in revenue at a time when other SaaS companies have seen a sharp reduction in revenue growth compared to the past few years.
Snowflake, on the other hand, beat revenue expectations but shareholders were disappointed that its margins will be lower than expected in the current quarter.
After several years of surging growth, the number of vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s software actually fell 5% last year, according to BeyondTrust.
Quantum computers will need quantum networks to really perform at a game-changing level, assuming they ever arrive. Researchers have now demonstrated how “quantum teleportation” could lead to the development of those networks.
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Thanks for reading — see you tomorrow!