Archive for July, 2011

Microsoft Corp. expands software donation program

July 29th, 2011

Microsoft Corp. announced updates to its software donation program that makes it easier for nonprofit organizations to get access to affordable technology. In India, the network partner for the program is the NASSCOM Foundation’s BiGTech, which has provided more than 8000 Microsoft products, worth Rs. 9 crore, to more than 400 nonprofits since 2007.

Microsoft works closely with the nonprofit organization TechSoup Global and its global network to operate the software donation program in 35 countries, including India, where the network partner is NASSCOM Foundation. Globally, the program currently reaches more than 40,000 organizations around the world each year translating into over $3.9 billion of donated software since 1998 and is being expanded to enable more nonprofit organizations to request software donations when they need them at any point in the year.

“Making technology more accessible enables nonprofits to increase their productivity, reach more people and deliver new, improved services that directly help local communities,” said Akhtar Badshah, senior director of global community affairs at Microsoft. “Although we already help a sizable number of nonprofits, we want to help more, and the changes we’re announcing today are designed to make the program more relevant and accessible to a larger number of nonprofits, which will in turn have a positive impact in local communities around the world.”

The updates to the Microsoft Software Donation program include the following:

Increase in the number of different Microsoft software products that can be requested from six to 10 titles to allow nonprofits to get the software they need, such as Windows 7, Microsoft Office 2010 and Microsoft SharePoint 2010.

The donations program includes a new Get Genuine offering so nonprofits can ensure their existing computers are running genuine versions of Microsoft operating systems.

Three new categories of nonprofit organizations are now eligible for software donations, including medical research organizations, private foundations, and amateur sports and recreational organizations.

Previous limit of only one request per year has now been relaxed enabling nonprofits to request a donation whenever they need.

A new section to the BiGTech website, Microsoft Donations Center, where organizations can review their donation history and identify products their organizations can request.

Rita Soni, CEO, NASSCOM Foundation said “Microsoft’s expansion of the software donation program and the Get Genuine initiative are taking NASSCOM Foundation’s BiGTech Program to new heights. This important partnership enhancement will enable us to fulfill our mission of bridging technology gaps for Indian NGOs, thereby contributing to inclusive growth. And it is our hope that the generous example set by Microsoft is followed by others in our journey.”

With such initiatives, NASSCOM Foundation aims to encourage technology companies to donate their products and services to make technology accessible to any NGO in India.


UTV Software Communication sees unusual rise, much before Walt Disney’s takeover offer

July 29th, 2011

The stock has been rallying by 126% since February 2011, six months before the US entertainment giant announced its plan to buy out the Indian company and subsequently delist it, but the market watchdog has been looking elsewhere

US-based entertainment giant Walt Disney recently announced the buyout of UTV Software Communications by acquiring the shares held by promoters and public, and the delisting of the company. Reacting to the news, the stock jumped by 5.39% and closed at Rs950.45 on 26th July on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). But little did people notice that the scrip has been rallying since February 2011, six months before the big announcement.

Surprisingly, market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), has not taken any note of the upward movement of the company’s stock, which is without any specific reason.

On 9 February 2001, company’s stock closed at around Rs437.50. Since then it continued to climb, till 27th July, where it closed at Rs987.85. In six months, the scrip has gone up by 126%. During this period the Sensex was flat.

Market experts point out that such a steady rise in the stock price, followed by a major announcement is highly unusual and needs investigation by SEBI. There was no fundamental reason for the stock to have steadily moved upwards.

Walt Disney, a group promoter, currently holds 50.44% paid-up equity share capital of the company. It has now offered to acquire shares held by the public and original promoters. UTV’s managing director Ronnie Screwvala, Unilazer Export and Management Consultants Limited, Unilazer (Hong Kong) Limited and Zarina Mehta are the promoters of the company who hold 19.82% of the equity.

Interestingly, on 10th February, Unilazer Export bought 44,000 shares of the company. This is just a day after when the scrip started moving up.

In a filing to the BSE, UTV said, “The company’s board of directors has approved the delisting offer and is acquiring shares from public at a price not exceeding Rs1,000 per equity share. Walt Disney will also acquire 80,53,480 equity shares representing 19.82% of the current paid-up equity share capital from its other promoters of the company at the same price as discovered pursuant to the delisting offer.”

Importantly, the company has further mentioned that Walt Disney has informed them that, “if for any reason, the delisting offer is not successful, the Acquirer (Walt Disney) shall evaluate all potential strategies and opportunities in relation to the acquirer’s investment in the company.”

Such a statement, market participants say, raises speculations over the buyout offer. Small-time investors are already in doubt over the deal. SEBI, so far, has failed to act and ascertain the reason for the rise in the company’s stock. At least the regulator should now keep a tight vigil on the company’s activity, to protect investors.


Analysis: HR software cos log gains in shifting job scene

July 29th, 2011

The job market may be going through choppy times, but it has been a heady ride for companies that make software to help corporations hire, train and retain employees.

Companies such as SuccessFactors Inc (SFSF.N), Taleo Corp (TLEO.O), Kenexa Corp (KNXA.O) and Cornerstone OnDemand Inc (CSOD.O) are all set to gain in a market currently worth about $3 billion.

Independent market research firm Bersin & Associates expects this market to grow by 12-15 percent, or even more, this year.

Shares of some of these companies have powered up through the downturn, with SuccessFactors growing more than two-fold in the last three years. The broader Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC rose roughly 20 percent in the same period.

Job volatility — rather than actual job numbers — is the primary driver of business for these software makers.

The average amount of time an employee spends with an employer has not changed post recession — it’s still under 5 years, said Taleo’s CEO Mike Gregoire.

Dublin, California-based Taleo, valued at about $1.4 billion, has seen both revenue and market value nearly double in the last three years, and expects to grow sales by 26-28 percent this year.

As more and more younger people enter the workforce, the churn is only set to increase, boding well for these software makers.

“Millennials are expected to engage in 4-7 different careers — not jobs — in their lifetime,” said Piper Jaffray analyst Mark Murphy, referring to the 15-25 year age group.

IT organizations are beginning to funnel more money into talent management software as they increasingly recognize employees as assets rather than resources, Murphy added.

A recent Bersin report said most companies spend $800-$1,700, or more, to hire and train each recruit.

“Talent management software is now becoming a mandatory part of corporate human resource (HR) infrastructure, and companies are slowly starting to unravel 20-plus years of investment in now-obsolete HR management systems,” the research firm said.

Most talent management product vendors now offer their software as a service, hosted in the cloud. This makes them cheaper, quicker to deploy and easier to use unlike the cumbersome, expensive products offered by traditional vendors like Oracle Corp (ORCL.O) and SAP AG (SAPG.DE).

The cloud-based products are upgraded every 1-2 years, while those of the bigger companies are not due to their bulk and complexity, said Canaccord Genuity analyst Richard Davis.


With recovery looking weak, companies are trying to optimize with the staff they have and are looking for products that will help raise employee satisfaction and retention.

“We are seeing a change in the sort of demand that the customer is making from us and it is driven by the employees themselves,” Taleo’s Gregoire said.

Young employees work in a completely different way from those of the baby boomer generation, SuccessFactors President Doug Dennerline said.

“At work, they expect experiences they get from the Web, like Facebook or Youtube, and not the experience of using enterprise software.”

So vendors are offering easy-to-use products that are often linked to social networking sites, or have apps for mobile devices, letting young employees take to them easily and have fun doing career advancement courses.

Piper Jaffray says a quarter of the U.S. working population is set to retire in the next two decades, and companies want to plan ahead, boosting demand further for HR software and services.

“Many companies are now saying, what’s our workforce going to look like 5 or 10 years from today and where do we need to go to in terms of skills,” SuccessFactors’ Dennerline said.

Revenue at San Mateo, California-based SuccessFactors, valued at about $2.3 billion, grew more than 3-fold in the last three years and is expected to grow by a third this year.

The talent management software space has seen its share of acquisitions in the last two years, with the economic challenges putting pressure on smaller, less-capitalized vendors.

Larger companies and private equity firms have rich pickings in a market that is heavily fragmented.

Market research firm Gartner said it expects more acquisitions as vendors look to buy additional market share, or fill out their product suites.

“People are realizing that this is a serious market and we have shown the market that we have an appetite for acquisitions,” SuccessFactors’ Dennerline said.


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