There has been little in the way of direct action from major companies to address the gender imbalance in the technology industry, despite calls from the government throughout 2014 and numerous diversity reports revealing that major firms have a serious workforce imbalance.
More women are entering the industry via corporations or their own digital start-ups, resulting in positive reactions from women already established in the field, but IT and the surrounding sectors remain male dominated and few women fill high-level positions.
However, Intel has now thrown its hat into the ring with a pledge to increase diversity across its entire workforce by 2020 by hiring and retaining more engineers and computer scientists who are women or from under-represented minorities.
Rather than backing a programme or supporting an external organisation, Intel has put its money where its mouth is and will invest $300m to increase the company's diversity, hoping that its example will encourage other tech players to do the same.
Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich revealed the Diversity in Technology initiative at CES 2015 in Las Vegas.
CES is an event known for courting tech enthusiasts with consumer products, and may not seem the likely place to launch a diversity strategy. But with the industry's eyes glued to Las Vegas for several days, it presented a powerful platform for Intel to get its message across.
And the message is that action is needed, not just from Intel but from the technology industry as a whole if diversity is to be achieved and not merely encouraged.
In a surprising move, Krzanich said that the pay of Intel's leaders will be linked to the performance of the initiative in their areas in a bid to galvanise change from within.
Krzanich's CES keynote is a refreshing change from the situation last year, which saw Microsoft's Satya Nadella offering negative advice for women in tech, and appears to present an answer to the gender imbalance as the technology industry enters a new year.
If 2014 was a year in which women and diversity in technology was discussed, Intel may have made 2015 the year in which action is taken.
Tim Cook has come out as gay in a rare move for the CEO of a top company in the US. Cook made the announcement in a piece written for Bloomberg.
"While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me," he wrote.
The Apple chief said he decided to openly and publically state his sexuality an effort to help others.
"I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realise how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others," he said.
"So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy."
Cook said that being gay had helped him become a better person and a better business leader by making him immune to attack on himself or his role at Apple.
"Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life," he said.
"It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple."
Cook's decision to state his homosexuality so openly is notable because of its rarity in the upper echelons of major companies, especially in the US where many parts of the country have a Conservative attitude to the subject.
The issue of homosexuality in the tech community also hit the headlines earlier this year when Mozilla appointed Brendan Eich as CEO only to remove him after the furore caused by revelations that he had supported an anti-same sex marriage bill.
Apple has always prided itself on its uniqueness. Usually this has related to its products' design and software features, but this week the company's unique nature was shown by its legal department, which mounted fresh legal action claiming that Samsung owes it $40 for every Galaxy handset it sells.
The iPhone maker made the claim during a hearing at the US District Court, Northern District of California. The case claims recent Samsung smartphones, such as the Galaxy S3, infringe on five critical patents owned by Apple and is due to be heard on 31 March.
The patents relate to Samsung phones' data tapping, unified search, asynchronous data synchronisation, slide-to-unlock feature and auto-complete technologies. As a side note, during a previous case with Motorola, Apple claimed one of the same patents involved in its new Samsung offensive was worth just 60 cents per phone.
The move is atypical to most technology companies, which are currently moving to diffuse the ongoing, never-ending cycle of patent claims raging between them.
Samsung has already signed licensing deals with Google, Cisco and IBM, promising to play nice with them when it comes to patents. Even HTC and Nokia have joined the game, signing a cross-patent licence agreement in February.
V3 welcomed the deals, viewing them as a sign that smartphone makers were finally going to stop quibbling about who copied who, and re-focus on creating better phones.
But our hopes were short lived, as Apple's move against Samsung shows that even though it risks painting itself as the villain, it has no intention of making peace with its competitors.
This is particularly true when you consider Apple's past successes in the courtroom. Before its latest claim, the court ruled that Samsung owes $930m in damages to Apple, which isn't small change by any means.
By V3's Alastair Stevenson
Bill Gates has reclaimed his title as the world's richest man, passing telecoms magnate Carlos Slim Helu for the top spot in Forbes' annual rich list with a current estimated net worth of $72bn.
To put that in perspective, Bill Gates now worth a little over ten Nokias, the company Microsoft is in the process of buying for $7.2bn. Gates – who is re-acquainting himself with Microsoft's product team as the firm's new technology adviser – hasn't held the top spot in four years
As a man who spends most of time these days on philanthropic schemes to spend his money on at every given opportunity, it's highly unlikely that he cares about a fairly superficial list of people in sharp suits.
There are plenty of familiar faces from the world of IT. Oracle's Larry Ellison ranks fifth, with a net worth of $48bn. You have to head down the list to 17th before you find another tech name; Google co-founder and chief executive Larry Page. Page is apparently worth $32.3bn, or 10 Nests, the connected home company Google bought in January for $3.2bn.
Amazon's Jeff Bezos is close behind at 18th, with $32bn in his metaphorical coffers, and Google co-founder Sergey Brin weighs in at 19th place, with $31.8bn. That's 11 Motorolas, if you're counting. Lenovo probably is.
Where's Mark Zuckerberg? He's down in 21st place with $28.5bn, or around one-and-a-half Whatsapps.
Other than tech, retail dominates the list, as do financial investments. The outspoken Carl Icahn is worth $24.5bn, which isn't bad for a man who expresses his business grievances on Twitter.
By V3's Michael Passingham, who's also worth it
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich made his Reddit debut this week, taking questions from the internet in the form of an AMA (Ask Me Anything).
While he chose not to directly take on any questions that posed a great challenge, we gained a little insight into his outlook on the tech world and on Intel's successes and failures. We also discovered that he has a fairly 'unique' way of expressing himself in casual text-based conversations. We've tidied up his answers to make them more legible.
Posed a question regarding Intel's marketing lacking the 'cool' it once had, Krzanich said that Intel was planning a "revamp".
"I don't know marketing - clearly in engineering school you don't get much marketing training - but I agree we need to get some of the innovation and coolness back in to our marketing," he said.
Intel is known to have missed the mobile computing boat, failing to gain much traction in the smartphone and tablet sectors. The firm has plans to catch up, but Krzanich admitted that the company - which he took over in May 2013 - had failed to look far enough into the future.
"We wanted the world of computing to stop at PCs and the world - as it never does - didn't stop innovating. The new CEO of Microsoft Satya [Nadella] said it well the other day: 'Our industry does not respect tradition, it respects innovation.' I think he was 100 percent right and it's why we missed the mobile move," he said.
On 3D printing, the full potential of which hasn't even begun to emerge, Krzanich was hopeful: "I don't even think we've scratched the surface on how 3D printing will change the way things get made.
"New materials and capabilities will continue to be developed and be able to be 3D printed, and as that occurs more and more uses will be identified and whole industries will be changed."
From the Q&A, we also discovered Krzanich is fond of a chilled peanut butter and jelly (jam) sandwich, and - like Bill Gates - can jump over a chair, depending on its size.
By V3's Michael Passingham, who encourages you to Ask Him Anything
It’s official: Microsoft’s new CEO is former cloud chief Satya Nadella. The news had been expected since last week and was confirmed on Tuesday afternoon. The appointment marks a new era at Microsoft as it prepares for life under the third CEO in its history.
But who is Nadella? It’s fair to say he’s not the most well-known name in the business, even if he clearly was a high flyer at the company.
But Microsoft has done its best to bring his personality to the fore in their announcement, and included some nice touchy-feely details in the release that could prove useful for sounding like you know who he is in any board meetings or pub chats.
1. He’s a poetry lover, of both American and Indian writers, claiming it’s like code. “You’re trying to take something that can be described in many, many sentences and pages of prose, but you can convert it into a couple lines of poetry and you still get the essence, so it’s that compression,” he said.
2. He loves test cricket, which is almost certainly a first among big US tech CEOs. “[It] is the longest form of any sport in the world,” he said. “I love it. There’s so many subplots in it, it’s like reading a Russian novel.”
3. He was born in Hyderabad, India, is 46 and has three children. He has a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Mangalore University and a master's degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin.
4. His first job in the industry was at Sun Microsystems before he joined Microsoft in 1992. While working at Sun he was also studying for a master's degree in business when the role at Microsoft became available. He wanted to continue studying, though, so would fly from Seattle to Chicago for the weekend to complete his studies, underlining his determination.
5. Nadella already knows many of Microsoft's key product areas well, and before taking the CEO role he led the Cloud OS platform team. Cloud OS is used to power all of Microsoft’s internet cloud services such as Office 365, Bing, SkyDrive – now renamed OneDrive – Xbox Live, Skype and Dynamics.
For more from the man himself, Microsoft has put together a little video chat. It's probably not the toughest grilling he'll face as the new CEO but it gives some nice insight into his style – it's fair to say it is very different to Steve Ballmer's.
Building the UK's cyber security skill base and economy has been an ongoing goal of the UK government and its Cyber Security Strategy.
As such, many were no doubt pleased when Russian advanced persistent threat-buster and protector of all things nuclear, Kaspersky Labs opened a new 200-person office in London, promising that it will play a pivotal role in its crusade to "save the world from hackers".
Company founder and cyber-doomsday prophet, Eugene Kaspersky was on hand at the London launch – attended by V3 and all the other security movers and shakers – and went so far as to list the office as one of the firm's new command centres.
"Our mission is [to] save the world - it's really simple and easy to remember," he said. "This office space will be responsible not just for Great Britain's operations, but also for Europe and a little bit of global. We're recognising London as a great place, as an international city, where its easier to find the right people for our business that can help us to protect our customers and to save the world."
However, despite his bold statement, speaking to V3, Kaspersky said it wouldn't be superhero white hats that would lead the fight in the London office, but some of the UK's "best and brightest" pencil pushers and salesmen.
"This office will mainly be responsible for the sales and marketing team. Here it will be for Britain and Europe. This is a great city as it's global and its easier to find people that can work internationally than it is in places like Moscow, Germany and France. This is one of the main reasons we moved the command centre of our European operation to London," Kaspersky said.
Confused? So were we. How can salesmen save the world? However, the UK's going through a pretty big cyber skills drought at the moment, and pretty much every company and government agency is reporting difficulty finding cyber-savvy recruits. Even the newly launched National Crime Agency recently had to recruit unskilled people for its cyber team on specialist "training" scheme contracts late last year.
As a consequence it's actually probably a good thing Kaspersky's going to stick with its tried-and-tested Russian security gurus when it comes to actually taking on the malware-makers, as Mr Kaspersky explained.
"Most of our research and development is still based in Russia because the Russian engineers are the best. We're happy with Russian engineers and we know many British companies are happy with Russian engineers as well. It's the same in Silicon Valley and Israel. Everybody wants the best and that's them," he said.
Luckily, for any aspirational British white hat, Kaspersky did confirm he's on the hunt for a new member to his elite Global Research and Analysis Team (Great), so all is not lost for wannabe UK cyber experts.
"We have our security experts team and that's very international, we have people from everywhere in there. So we are looking for UK security experts as well, but only the best of the best," he told V3.
However, to any budding cyber expert looking to get into the team, be warned, you'll have some pretty big shoes to fill. For those who don't remember Great is an award-winning team responsible for finding and dissecting numerous bits of top-end malware, including the notorious Flame, Red October and Icefog campaigns.
Jobs will be needed, though, especially if 2013 is anything to go by. Last year saw an influx of advanced threats and if current forecasts are anything to go by, things are only going to get worse in 2014.
With this in mind – while we're still a little disappointed the London office won't be doing research and development – we can't help but wish the London marketers and any Brit lucky enough to get onto Kaspersky's elite team the best of luck.
By V3's Alastair Stevenson
BARCELONA: HP's annual European Discover event has plonked itself down in Barcelona this year and, like previous Discover events, it is being served with a side order of drama.
While in 2011 the firm was dealing with the aftermath of Leo Apotheker's short-lived reign and in 2012 it had to minimise the fallout from the Autonomy accounting scandal, in 2013 the issue is protesting employees who are angry at job cuts.
Journalists were bussed in around the back of the event, which had the side-effect of hiding the protesters from view, but social media channels showed the Spanish workers camped outside the main entrance to the event venue.
HP insisted that the route in for journalists was about providing quicker access to the event, rather than any attempt to hide the protestors from view. After a 20-minute wander to find the site where the protestors were, these claims appear to have some merit. What was disappointing, though, was the discovery that by 3.30pm (once we had a break in our schedule) all the protesters had gone. Come on hombres, make it 9-5 at least.
A noisy protest outside its annual event in Europe is not what HP would have wanted, but it did issue a statement acknowledging the issues being protested and stressed that many jobs were not being cut, but changed or reallocated.
"HP has a long track record of good social dialogue with its employees and social partners through its European Works Council. HP's workforce management plans in EMEA are part of [the] global multi-year productivity initiative that was announced on 23 May 2012," the firm noted.
"The restructuring plan is designed to deliver a more agile and responsive business model in the region, streamlining processes, advancing innovation and creating efficiencies for the benefit of customers, shareholders and employees. HP has a proud history of investing in Spain and continues to be committed to the success of the business here."
The protests in Spain will no doubt be welcomed in solidarity by UK employees that are being affected by job cuts and changes in several locations, with a total of 1,124 jobs said to be going in the cuts according to trade union Unite, although HP has disputed the accuracy of its reports.
Nevertheless, the protesters will hope that their rally raises the issue of job cuts, which is an especially painful topic in Spain at present and comes after HP posted $1.4bn in profits for the last quarter.
Still, it wouldn't be HP Discover without a bit of drama.
By V3's Dan Worth, who's never crossed a picket line