5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

For the week ending Feb. 7, CRN looks at IT companies that were unfortunate, unsuccessful or just didn't make good decisions.


The Week Ending Feb. 7

Topping this week's roundup of those having a rough week is Shadow Inc., the heretofore unknown software developer whose mobile application was blamed for the breakdown of the Iowa Democratic Caucus this week.

Also making this week’s list is Huawei, which faces a Trump Administration effort to develop software that can replace Huawei equipment. Verizon made the list after getting hit with patent lawsuits filed by Huawei in the U.S., while Google was apologizing for a bug in its Takeout service that sent some users’ personal videos to strangers. And Microsoft had a red face Monday when its Teams collaboration service suffered a three-hour outage because a critical security certificate wasn’t renewed.

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Not everyone in the IT industry was having a rough go of it this week. For a rundown of companies that made smart decisions, executed savvy strategic moves – or just had good luck – check out this week's Five Companies That Came To Win roundup.

Shadow Application Fails Spectacularly, Delays Iowa Caucus Results

A previously little-known software developer named Shadow Inc. found itself in a very harsh spotlight this week when the mobile application it developed for collecting and transmitting the results from Monday’s Iowa presidential election caucus failed, leading to significant delays in posting the caucus results.

The company, founded by political operatives and technology workers who have previously worked for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigns, developed the mobile application that precinct captains were to use to calculate local results and transmit them to Iowa Democratic Party headquarters.

But the application failed with many of the 1,700 precinct chairs unable to use the application to transmit the results. The problem was compounded when a backup plan to call in the results also failed because the organization did not have enough phones to handle the load.

There were many reports early on that users had received the application with little or no training. But two days after the debacle Shadow CEO Girard Niemira admitted that the application, which The New York Times said had been hastily developed in two months, contained a critical bug in the code that was to transmit results data into the state party’s data warehouse.

Observers said it was clear that Shadow had skimped on testing the application and not pushed it hard enough to detect its flaws.

Huawei Reportedly Target Of White House 5G Project

The Trump Administration is reportedly working with a number of IT companies, including Dell Technologies, Microsoft and AT&T, to develop 5G network software that could provide an alternative to using technologies from Chinese tech company Huawei.

Huawei, a leading manufacturer of 5G network equipment, has faced increasing scrutiny from U.S. officials who believe the company’s products pose a national security risk. The U.S. government has also tried to convince allies such as the U.K. not to use Huawei equipment in their 5G networks.

Word of the 5G project came this week from Larry Kudlow, a top economic advisor to President Donald Trump, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

The reported project is the latest hurdle for Huawei’s efforts to expand beyond China into the U.S. and other Western countries.

Verizon Hit With Patent Infringement Lawsuit From Huawei

Verizon Communications found itself on the wrong end of two patent infringement lawsuits filed by Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei this week.The lawsuits seek compensation for Verizon’s alleged violations of a dozen Huawei patents involving optical transmission, digital communications and related services, according to stories in The Wall Street Journal and CNN Business.

Huawei says that Verizon buys telecommunications equipment from other vendors that uses Huawei’s technology and some of that equipment doesn’t have cross-license agreements, according to the CNN story.

The lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Western districts of Texas. The suits do not indicate how much compensation Huawei is seeking.

Bug In Google Takeout Shares Private Videos With Strangers

Google issued an apology this week when it began notifying users of its Takeout service that a bug in the application allowed some users’ personal videos to be sent to strangers’ archives.

Takeout allows users to export their data, including photos and videos, to a downloadable archive file.

Google said that because of what it described as a “technical issue,” Takeout users who requested backups between Nov. 21 and Nov. 25 of last year may have had videos in Google Photos “incorrectly exported to unrelated users’ archives,” according to a 9to5Google story.

Google began notifying Takeout users of the potential snafu on Monday. The company said that only 0.01 percent of Photos users attempting to create Takeout archives before the bug was fixed had their videos included in others’ file exports, according to 9to5Google.

Microsoft Teams Suffers Embarrassing Outage After Company Neglects To Renew Security Certificate

Microsoft Teams, the company’s competitor to the popular Slack collaboration tool, was offline for several hours Monday morning due to an expired SSL certificate.

The outage started around 8:30 a.m. ET Monday and lasted until around 11:30 a.m. ET. Users attempting to use the service were greeted with error messages.

Microsoft confirmed around 9 a.m. ET that the service was down and shortly after 10 a.m. ET admitted that the problem was due to the company’s failure to renew a critical SSL security certificate that had expired.