Merry Christmas to Bots everywhere

December 25, 2013

BotWhy not Merry Christmas for Bots? Plenty of people give their pets Christmas presents and wish them Merry Christmas

Bots are not lovable. This time of year they compete from out attention with images of puppies, children, glamour dads and mums and assorted cuddly toys.

Just for Once

So just for once, I want to raise a toast to the Bots that are changing our lives. 24/7 they are there for us, scanning words and images, channelling them to a myriad of other botpals. It’s through such efforts that the WWW has grown into the greatest species of the age, truly a digitatus magnificus

What is a Bot?

According to one informed [human] source:

A bot (short for “robot”) is a program that operates as an agent for a user or another program or simulates a human activity. On the Internet, the most ubiquitous bots are the programs, also called spiders or crawlers, that access Web sites and gather their content for search engine indexes.

Then there are the chatterbots, specializing in providing weather and location information, and sports scores.

eBay

eBay is losing its battle to prevent bots being used to search its site for bargains.

Botfair comes to Betfair

In the UK, Betfair have taken the more tolerant route enabling them to manage bot interactions just like those with mere human site visitors.

Malicious purposes

OK, so some bots do naughty things. Such as denial-of-service attacks, click fraud, spambotting, phishing, and grabbing the best good seats for concerts. Wherever in fact the Smithsonian and Darwinian powers of free enterprise and competition thrive. Even as I write I learn of the fate of the inventor of The Butterfly Bot, and the problems of 250,000 computer users due to cryptolocker bot blackmail.

But I still find it in my heart to extend my best wishes to those bots as well. They know not what they are forced to do. Maybe they will find redemption through their patron Saint Jobs, of the Latterday Church of Bots.

So

So there we have it. “To every hard working slavebot out there, a happy and botfulfilled Christmas“.


Betfair’s Leadership Dilemma

July 4, 2011

Betfair faces a tricky leadership dilemma. Its CEO David Yu has taken the blame for its poor financial performance since its public launch last year. Will a change of leader address the problems which the company faces?

Background to Betfair launch and LMAX

The Telegraph outlines the leadership issue:

Shareholders are understood to have expressed their dismay at the leadership of the company after a gruelling nine months that have seen shares floated at £13 last October [2010] hit a recent £7.16 low [June 2011]

American CEO David Yu was Betfair’s chief technology officer before becoming chief executive in early 2007. The floatation required his technological skills in dealing with a financial innovation (LMAX) at the heart of its business model. This was explained at the launch of LMAX [October 2010].

Betfair, the world’s leading sports betting exchange, established LMAX and is the majority shareholder in the platform. Betfair changed the sports betting market by allowing its customers to trade against each other and invented the first truly successful exchange model for sports betting. The LMAX exchange solution, which has been developed over several years of rigorous research and development, is based on Betfair’s original matching engine but has applied and refined this model for financial trading, alongside proprietary and scalable in-house technology.

David Yu resigns

A further analysis from the Telegraph outlines the backround to Mr YU’s resignation

Brought to market by Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Barclays Capital and Numis Securities, Betfair has struggled to grow revenues and been hit by a range of regulatory problems, executive departures and the poor performance of its start-up LMAX financial exchange. In a recent note, Vaughan Lewis, a Morgan Stanley analyst, said: “Betfair has faced what we see as a perfect storm since listing.” He highlighted “adverse regulatory changes”, including an attempt by Italy to revoke Betfair’s licence and a draconian approach from Germany.

Having seen quarterly sales growth of 22pc at the time of the float, Betfair had also “effectively stopped growing”, while losing market share to rivals such as William Hill and Paddy Power. The leading internal candidate to replace Mr Yu is thought to be finance director Stephen Morana.

The Leadership Dilemma

Mr Yu’s resignation may be an opportunity for the company to introduce change alongside the appointment of a new leader. The difficulties may well be associated with the leadership of Mr Yu, but the core of the business model relied on his technical knowhow. The corporate ad campaign was memorable as a way of betting by cutting out the middleman and ‘betting fair’ between individuals (with a no-risk fee to Betfair, who is somehow represented as not being a middle man).

The euphemism

But will an internal candidate will be able to suggest a way out of the wider set of problems including those euphemistically labelled as “adverse regulatory changes” by Morgan Stanley? Will a radical new business model convince investors to stay the course?

Postscript

The BBC followed up the story

On Wednesday afternoon [JUne 29th 2011] its shares were up 0.2% after Betfair also announced that it would now return money to shareholders by buying £50m worth of its stock. Betfair’s betting exchange model allows its customers to bet against each other, bypassing the need for a bookmaker.

Mr Yu said: “The past 12 months have seen significant change at Betfair as the business continued to grow and made the transition to being a public company. “A huge amount has been achieved during the period, and I’m delighted that we have more customers than ever resulting in a record number of bets placed and that we’ve reported record revenue and profitability. Despite these successes, revenue growth… could have been stronger but we have delivered a significant improvement in margin resulting in profitability for the year above expectations.”

Mr Yu said on Monday that he would not renew his contract when it expired in October 2012, but he is expected to leave the company before that date.