5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending Aug. 14

Topping this week's roundup of companies that had a rough week is a clumsy blog post from Oracle's chief security executive that scolded customers for testing Oracle software for security flaws.

Also making the list is Lenovo's disappointing first-quarter results, Amazon Web Service's embarrassing outage, Google's failed attempt to fix an Android security vulnerability, and reported layoffs at StumbleUpon.

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.

Oracle CSO Scolds Customers For Scanning Software For Security Bugs

Oracle found itself in the middle of a controversy this week when Chief Security Officer Mary Ann Davidson published a blog Monday that railed against customers and consultants for scanning Oracle software for security bugs. Davidson characterized such acts as not only unnecessary, but potentially in violation of licensing agreements that prohibit "reverse engineering" of Oracle software.

Partners and customers criticized the tone of the blog, which one partner described as "patronizing" and treated Oracle customers as whiny children.

"This is an attitude that is pervasive among long-serving Oracle management, who view their customer base as ultimately at their mercy for contract and support issues," the solution provider executive said.

Oracle pulled the blog "as it does not reflect our beliefs or our relationship with our customers," said Edward Screven, Oracle executive vice president and chief corporate architect, in a statement.

Lenovo Reports Steep Earnings Slide, Faces Weak PC And Server Demand

Lenovo Group this week reported that earnings plunged 51 percent in its first fiscal quarter (ended June 30) amid a softening global PC market and its struggle to digest its large Motorola smartphone and IBM x86 server acquisitions. The company has also laid off 3,200 nonmanufacturing employees, or about 5 percent of its total workforce.

Worldwide, Lenovo is fighting some serious headwinds, including shrinking desktop PC sales in the face of the rise of mobile devices, slow server sales, and saturation in the Chinese smartphone market.

Lenovo did have some good news in that sales in the Americas grew 46 percent year over year, to about $3.3 billion. That's nearly one-third of the company's worldwide sales.

Overnight AWS Outage Reminds World How Important AWS Stability Has Become

Amazon Web Services, the world's largest public cloud provider, suffered a rare outage in Monday's early-morning hours, taking down some popular websites in the process.

The problems seemed to originate at an AWS data center in northern Virginia and affected the company's Elastic Compute Cloud and Simple Storage Service for about three and a half hours. The problems impacted AWS' Elastic Beanstalk, MapReduce and Elastic Load Balancing services -- along with partner and customer workloads that run on those cloud services.

Android Update To Fix Stagefright Security Hole Is Flawed

A patch issued by Google to fix the so-called Stagefright vulnerability in the Android operating system is flawed, according to a security researcher.

The original vulnerability, discovered in July, allows an attacker to compromise a device running Android through the use of a specially designed multimedia message. Google issued a patch for the vulnerability earlier this month.

But this week, a researcher with the Exodus Intelligence security firm said the patch failed to fix the vulnerability, according to a BBC story. The researcher was able to create a malicious MP4 file that bypassed the fix. Google has issued a new fix for the vulnerability, according to a Computerworld story.

StumbleUpon Reportedly Lays Off Dozens Of Employees

StumbleUpon, the content discovery engine company based in San Francisco, has been unable to secure new venture capital and is now laying off dozens of employees, according to a report from VentureBeat.

Citing an unnamed source, VentureBeat said that StumbleUpon, which had just under 100 employees, would be down to only about 30 employees after the layoffs. Most of those remaining are in sales and engineering jobs, the VentureBeat story said.

StumbleUpon has found itself increasingly competing with social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for advertising dollars.