Blind As A Bat: Oracle, Catz and the Heavyside Lawyer

“Are you blind when you’re born? Can you see in the dark? Dare you look at a king? Would you sit on his throne? Can you say of your bite that it’s worse than your bark? Are you cock of the walk when you’re walking alone?”

“How to interview for culture fit” by Larry Ellison (aka “Li’l Yachty”)

In a filing accepted by the US Supreme Court this week (or at least, not explicitly rejected, probably because it was passed out upstairs) Oracle claims that Google committed copyright infringement by using its Java programming APIs without permission.

These APIs, the claim suggests, enabled Google to essentially build its entire Android and mobile ecosystems with pirated IP from Oracle, a company whose flagship HCM products are not actually yet optimized for mobile devices.

A lower court agreed, setting up a Supreme Court showdown whose outcome will have big implications for HR tech and recruiting; it’s already being called “The Trial of the Century,” although which century seems to largely rest on the outcome of this precedent setting case, coming soon to SCOTUS dockets near you.

You probably haven’t thought much about APIs before, but pretty much every ATS, HCM, sourcing tool or HR Technology product out there requires these to function. APIs are what make it possible to apply for jobs with LinkedIn or Indeed, or see which sources of hire applicants are coming from, or to move new hire data from an ATS to an HCM. They’re stacked deep in every talent tech stack, and have become embedded into pretty much all of our processes and platforms, period.

Google claims that Oracle’s defense of the APIs as intellectual property is irrelevant, “because they represent an idea or a method – similar to a math formula, which can’t be copyrighted.” One assumes that presumably, this doesn’t include AdWords, which is, you know, a math formula – as are all algorithms.

Catz: The Org Chart

Here’s the thing: if Oracle wins, then they get a $9B settlement from Google, and you get the precedent that every time you use an API for anything without permission, you’re stealing from the owner of the “work” (which is normally a third party developer, anyways). This means that not only will innovation suffer, but so too will the future of talent technology.

The HR Tech industry is thriving because APIs enable third party providers to augment and enhance core products with additional features and functionalities, rather than rely on obsolete, outdated, on-premise legacy systems.

Oracle founder, SeaOrg Captain Larry Ellison (file)

Microsoft, interestingly, is siding with Google, as is pretty much everyone in both the tech industry as well as academia. In fact, pretty much the only advocate of Oracle’s position is the US Government – which, of course, would never let business interests determine its priorities and has nothing to do with the fact Larry Ellison just this week played host to Trump at a private fundraising dinner with tickets starting at $500k a head, causing 34k Oracle employees to stage what they’re referring to as a walkout, or what their product team normally calls “scrums.”

The “trial of the century” will rest on a bunch of octogenarian judges weighing in on whether or not application programming interfaces are a violation of the fair use doctrine, so whatever the final decision may be, at least it will be as well informed as an acquittal without witness testimony.

My favorite quote is from Oracle’s general counsel, one Dorian Daley, who appeared from a cloud of sulfuric smoke to say: “It’s such utter nonsense. Nothing is going to change.”

That’s not only the scary part, it’s a brand promise Oracle has consistently delivered on. Little Yachty could not be reached for immediate comment.

Let Me Ride.

I haven’t posted on this site for going on two years, now, as I’m sure absolutely no one noticed, as evidenced by its recent inclusion on several top 2019 HR and recruiting blogs, despite the fact that I haven’t actually posted anything on here in 2019.

Not that I’m complaining; I’ve been that completely inexperienced junior marketing guy responsible for compiling listless listicles for B2B content before, which is just about as sexy as it sounds, really.

I’ve probably read more blog posts about recruiting and work than just about anyone by now, which is probably why I’m such a douchebag.

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Virtual Insanity: Rethinking The Traditional Workplace.

One of my senior leaders once told me a funny story about the time his kid was asked about what Dad did for work. “He talks on the phone in the basement all day,” the kid replied.

This pretty much sums up a lot of people’s perceptions about virtual work.

The optics of stuff like staying clad in business casual khakis and collared shirts (except for Fridays, which seems arbitrary, TBH), sitting in traffic and driving miles to go to a generic cubicle in a generic office to do what could instead get done in the aforementioned basement must be more important than productivity, engagement or retention.

Glassdoor: An M&A Which Will Live in Infamy.

There are a lot of companies out there that actually walk the walk. Glassdoor, for a long time, was one of the good guys; they practiced the same sort of radical transparency they preached and were the rare company to actually champion the employee over the employer.

Of course, when you’re a startup, it’s pretty easy to live your values, but even as Glassdoor grew from another online recruiting startup into one of the industry’s most ubiquitous players, they remained focused on their vision of giving workers and candidates a voice. Read More

Feeling Lucky: Google Gets Into Sourcing.

One of the foundational premises of talent sourcing lies in the fact that traditional search engines are notoriously bad at searching for individual people and profiles, particularly as they relate to jobs.

If you’re looking for something, search engines are great. If you’re looking for someone, obviously, there are a few inherent limitations to even the most sophisticated search algorithms.

Search results generally tend to reward “authority,” which works for measuring the relative influence of websites based on a myriad of factors like external backlinks, keyword density and referral traffic. This is why Wikipedia almost inevitably comes up at the top of the organic results for almost every search involving a place or thing.

Not so a person, for whom the concept of relative authority is much more difficult to rank. Results favor a number of different platforms, such as Twitter streams embedded directly in results and the prevalence of LinkedIn profiles at the top of most organic vanity searches, or publishers. Read More

Um Yea: Not Another 2018 HR Tech Trends Post.

Here’s a good way to kick off a new year: for the first time in like, a decade, I’m actually not dreading writing one of those annual preview posts. See, if you’re in the recruitment content marketing business (a pretty shit nice, TBH), every year, you’ve got to put out a mandatory forecast into the trends and topics to expect in talent.

I’m about to out myself here – for the last 4 years, I’ve actually recycled the same post – the only modification being the year in question. They’ve been among my more popular articles, despite the fact I run the same copy and “predictions” every. Single. Year.

Except this one.

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Git Up, Git Out: Why Prisons Are Killing Diversity in the Workplace.

There is a myth that’s been perpetuated in our perpetual prison state that the purpose of incarceration is rehabilitation.

The term “debt to society” has become ingrained in our vernacular as a shibboleth for sentencing; inherent is the notion that this debt can, in fact, be repaid. But the fact is, if society is the creditor, our terms are so onerous that they make payday loans seem innocuous.

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The Road to Hella: Why Silicon Valley Doesn’t Really Matter Anymore.

It’s no secret that I’ve long hated the San Francisco area. These reasons, of course, extend beyond the more obvious, superficial stuff.

While I have a sincere and deep-seated animosity for Giants and Golden State Warrior fans, streets that perpetually reek of urine and the gratuitous usage of the word hella, the real reason I dislike NoCal is that it’s one of the most insular, provincial and out of touch places on the planet.

The bubble surrounding Silicon Valley isn’t limited to ridiculous valuations on ridiculous startups, but rather, to the prevalent mindset of a place that’s too busy worrying about what’s happening along Sand Hill Road or South of Market to take a step back and realize what’s going on in the rest of the world.

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HiQ Lawsuit: When LinkedIn Loses, Everybody Wins.

Throughout its history, LinkedIn has slowly, albeit deliberately, evolved from what used to be a fairly innocuous social network into one of the internet’s most extensive sources of personal data.

Some of this, of course, is inevitable, given LinkedIn’s longevity on the market – it’s been collecting personally identifiable data (er, “professional information”) for well over a dozen years now, on hundreds of millions of individual users all over the world. Much of this has been perpetuated by people like career coaches and, yes, recruitment bloggers.

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The G Spot: Google Gets Into the HR Tech Game, Because Why Not?

For a function long consigned to being something of a technological backwater, the very thought that the most ubiquitous, transformative and, arguably, the most innovative company in the history of technology has thrown its hat in the recruiting ring is, well, unbelievable.

So, if today’s official launch of Google Hire, the Mountain View based behemoth’s first foray into the HR Technology industry, causes some sort of cognitive dissonance and disbelief, well, that makes two of us.

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