ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

We Spoke to an Ex-NSA Hacker Who Has Organized the First-Ever Mac Security Conference – Motherboard

Security Update | Facebook Newsroom – complete cock up and yet governments will do nothing

Interesting programme on why western fast food is struggling to break into Vietnam

Looking back at Enron and the net in 2000

Enron: even now is a byword for dodgy dealing and corruption. Back in the summer of 2000, Enron was a large respectable corporation.  Three people came over from Portland, Oregon to London. They looked to pioneer a new way of thinking about broadband capacity and they came to Europe to do peering agreements and business deals. They were ‘Enron Broadband Services’.

The whole thing was moving at ‘internet speed’, which is a euphemism for crazy fast and with money flittered everywhere.  So I ended up working agency side arranging everything from pre-paid mobile phones to a dinner for 150 internet geeks at The Hempel – a luxury hotel with a minimalist restaurant that used to be in Bayswater.

Enron acquired Portland General Electric (PGE) back in the mid-1990s. This was part of Enron’s play in deregulated electricity markets. With PGE also came an optical fibre network. The company had been dropping fibre into the ground every time it did reinstatements. Enron then built and leased optical fibre from the likes of Level3.

 

While I was trying to get these guys in front of the European telecoms press I was hearing from my media contacts that Level3 were actively briefing against them, saying that their business model was full of shit. They were right it was. Enron Broadband Services depended on their ‘Enron Intelligent Network’ a set of proprietary technologies that was supposed to prioritise traffic for quality of service and commercial traffic reasons.

Like many things at the time the technology was less developed than one would believe. Much of the functionality replicated existing technology such as MPLS. IBM developed their e-commerce offering on the back of ‘suckered’ customers like Boxman.com. Technology was a sketchy business at the time; but it seemed to matter less as the world was being changed. This was pre-9/11 and Gap was convincing many people that khakis were cool.

In the case of IBM, they seem to be still doing similar practices two decades later; this time with their Watson machine learning offering.

The problem was that the ‘Enron Intelligent Network‘ was a relatively minor sin compared to everything else that was going on in the corporation.

What happened to the companies mentioned in the Enron slides?

  • ARC
  • Atom Films – Founded in 1998, Atom was bought in 2006 by MTV Networks, Google had considered buying it when it eventually purchased YouTube. Eventually it was absorbed into Comedy Central
  • Avici Systems – was hit hard by the dot com bust. It eventually pulled out of the core network router business and changed its name to Soapstone Networks
  • Ciena – Ciena still exists as a networking equipment and software company. It managed to ride out the dot com bust by diversifying its portfolio of networking equipment
  • Cisco Systems – continues to be one of the world’s largest companies in networking equipment
  • Compaq – never managed to fully integrate its acquisition of the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and ended up being acquired by Hewlett-Packard. In 2015; Hewlett Packard split into two businesses. HP held the PC, printers and related businesses. Hewlett Packard Enterprise contained business software (subsequently merged with Micro Focus), services business (merged with Computer Sciences Corporation) and a hardware business.
  • CountryCool.com – started as a country music site and seems to have morphed into an analogue of Comedy Central
  • The Drew Carey Show – ABC situation comedy that finished its run in 2004
  • EasyStreet – ISP that is still going, mostly reselling other vendors products
  • Epoch Internet – was the first tier one ISP on the west coast when it was founded in 1994 and played a crucial role in some of the first commercial peering points. It was eventually acquired by MegaPath in 2004. MegaPath in turn is owned by Fusion Connect, who were recently acquired by Birch Communications Inc. as part of a further consolidation of business ISPs in the US
  • Firstworld
  • FlashNet – FlashNet now only exist as a legacy domain that AT&T supports for customers. FlashNet Communications was founded in 1995 as a Fort Worth, Texas-based internet service provider. It had an IPO on the NASDAQ in March 1999 and was acquired by Prodigy Communications in November that year. Prodigy was acquired by AT&T in September 2001
  • FYINet.com – FYINet was a Houston, Texas based company that provided training materials on CD ROM about networking technology. They then moved their content to the web and promoted their 3D animation and interactive design capabilities. They seem to have disappeared sometime around 2002.
  • GST Telecommunications
  • GTE Internetworking – GTE Internetworking became Genuity when its parent company merged with Bell Atlantic to found Verizon. It was eventually acquired by Level3, which was in turn acquired by CenturyLink 2017
  • Inktomi- Inktomi was one of the leading providers of web caching for both content and streaming. It became a key provider for early content delivery networks. It was eventually acquired by Yahoo! in 2003. Yahoo! was acquired by Verizon and merged into Aol as part of Oath
  • iStream TV encoding – iStream continues to provide solutions for both video on demand and live streaming. Turner acquired a majority share in the business during 2015
  • latinsoccer.net – Mexican based site that covered Latin American football news. It featured both video and audio which wasn’t the norm for the time. According to Archive.org’s Wayback Machine, the site didn’t survive the dot com bust
  • Lucent Technologies – acquired in term by Alcatel and Nokia
  • MShow.com – Chicago-based Mshow provided interactive broadcast services. It was founded in 1986, had one round of funding in 2000 and is no longer in business
  • NetRail – provided backbone networks and hosting to ISPs. It was acquired by Cogent Communications Group in 2001
  • NextVenue – specialised in video and audio streaming, it was acquired by iBEAM Broadcasting – a satellite networking company. iBEAM went under in 2002, its assets were acquired by Williams Communications LLC. Williams is now owned by Level3
  • Oracle – Oracle remains a leading provider of enterprise software
  • OrcoNet.com – was a US ISP, eventually filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy in California
  • pdq.net – was an ISP. It was acquired by Internet America. Internet America was acquired by JAB Broadband and folded into Rise Broadband
  • Q4i.com – defunct online brokerage with video component for independent brokers
  • RCN – Boston-based ISP that has gone on to become the sixth largest cable and broadband provider in the US
  • rmi.net – Rocky Mountain Internet was an early provider of dial-up connectivity. It moved into e-business for SMEs and eventually became part of EarthLink, which went on to consolidate with Windstream
  • showdigital – provided broadband to the hospitality industry. Its assets were acquired in 2001 by STSN
  • Sun Microsystems – Sun Microsystems never managed to recover from the dot com bust and was eventually acquired by Oracle. Oracle now sells its own brand of hardware that can run Solaris UNIX – Solaris is now owned by Oracle who continues to maintain it alongside a distribution of Linux
  • Sycamore Networks – Sycamore Networks was wound up by its shareholders in early 2013. During the internet boom it had a market capitalisation of $44.8 billon. It was worth just $64 million when wound up.
  • TeleCommute Solutions – Atlanta based ISP that specialised in providing workforce connectivity to companies. Crunchbase lists it as closed
  • Telescan – founded in 1982 as a provider of stock charting tools, it eventually became part of TD Ameritrade’s Thinkorswim
  • TotalCricket
  • USWest – one of the original ‘baby Bells’. It merged with Qwest in 2000. Qwest was acquired by CenturyLink in 2011
  • Verio – founded as an ISP in Denver. Acquired by NTT of Japan in 2000
  • VillageNet – small Canadian ISP which is still running

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

How A Cartel-Linked Murder Rocked A Wealthy Dallas Suburb | Texas Monthly – a great read. The painstaking research of the stalkers is like something out of The Wire. It also brings home how much telematics have fallen in cost and user complexity over the past two decades

Why Yahoo Japan Needs to Be Part of Your Search Strategy for Japan – my advice would be don’t be a cheap SoB and pay for a decent SEO agency based in Japan, so that they can look at content strategies and link placement across the different sources that Yahoo! Japan Search uses. This guide just opens you up to the kind of possibilities there, but is no substitute for a local team

Qualcomm CEO thinks Apple will eventually be a customer again, despite escalating legal battle | 9to5Mac – There’s less to these than meets the eye, beyond Qualcomm wants to make Apple it’s prison bitch

WhatsApp Founder Speaks, EU Deception?, Facebook Ideology | Stratechery  – probably one of the best reads about founders and Facebook.  What gets me is that this is news. Eight years ago in tech circles the term zucked – a portmanteau of (Mark) Zuckerberg and fucked was already in common enough use for me to blog about it.  Facebook has demonstrated this time-and-time again to consumers, partners, acquired businesses and even government and regulatory bodies. When do they get their Judge Jackson moment a la Microsoft? The main point of interest is how closely aligned Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg in terms of their collective moral turpitude

How China Systematically Pries Technology From U.S. Companies – WSJ – China isn’t going to change this conduct, any more than the United States were willing back when Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling were  complaining about book piracy in the New World. China is already putting in strong protection for domestic intellectual property, but unlike the US, there is no sign that they will ever support foreign IP rights as they pursue a mercantilist imperial agenda globally

Spotify’s Big Tencent Risk [Mark Mulligan] – hypebot

How China’s army of online trolls turned on Sweden | Abacus – I am surprised that Facebook allows groups that are organising way stations to remain on the platform. It fits into a wider narrative that Facebook is facilitating and profiting from the weaponising of the web by Russia/China etc. etc. I don’t think Sweden will be that sympathetic to Facebook lobbyists when they come complaining about EU overreach.

“Swiped” HBO documentary – director Nancy Jo Sales explains why swiping on Tinder is addictive – Recode – great read, you could probably say similar things for scrolling through Instagram or a Facebook feed

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五) | 금요일에 다섯 가지

Things that made my day this week:

The thing that blew me about this advert is how old school it feels and I mean it in a good way. High production values, great copywriting and beautifully shot. Pretty much everything that modern day adverts tend not to be with production being commoditised with the constant focus on how it can be used on Istagram / Facebook / Snap / Twitter Video – good enough rather than doing things well. These changes are symptomatic of all the forces affecting the ad industry at the moment.

While we’re talking about ad making, I also love this ad done for McDonalds Hong Kong in the early 1990s. Such a simple idea really well executed – you don’t need to speak Cantonese to get it. It is apparently based on this advert screened during the Super Bowl in the US. The creative was done during Leo Burnett’s 35-year run as creative agency for the fast food chain.

Scott Galloway tends to polarise opinions, so I’d ask you to put aside any feelings you have and listen to this interview with Mr Bags – one of the biggest influencers in the luxury sector for Chinese at the moment.

Amazing photos and insight into the Yakuza life: Behind the Yakuza: documenting the women of Japan’s mafia | Dazed Digital

Currently reading City of Devils : A Shanghai Noir by Paul French. It is a true crime story about Shanghai during the Warlord period prior to World War Two. I’m only a little bit into the book but it’s very obvious why the young Chinese Communist Party would have held a passionate dislike for western powers interfering in their country.

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

Apple reportedly shifting more iPhone XR orders to Foxconn from Pegatron, says paper  – Pegatron’s production has been affected by a lower-than-expected yield rate and shortages of workers at its plants in China – the manpower issue is very interesting and implies a possible rift between the factories and local government. China has just begun to see a decline in worker numbers overall in its population

Brands throwing cash at sponsorship with little idea of return, report finds – Mumbrella Asia – not terribly surprising

Deepfakes web α | Generate your own Deepfakes – Japanese currency denominated service

Smart cities — too clever by half? | Financial Times – hell is other people’s technology

Life insurance company John Hancock wants to track your Fitbit data – Vox – very sinister

Software disenchantment @ tonsky.me – innovation entropy

Adobe Changes Its Marketing Cloud Trajectory With Marketo Acquisition – this going to be a very different marketing / sale model for Adobe

Alexa, Blow My Mind | Gartner L2 – Apple’s recent iPhone and Apple Watch launch lacked buzz in comparison to previous launches