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Solnet Solutions’ MD reflects on a decade of business change Web Watch
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The days of acting as a product agency are long gone for software delivery and consulting company Solnet Solutions, says managing director Mark Botherway, who reflects on a decade of business change as the company turns 10 next month.
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Developer Ikey Doherty announced this week that work on SolusOS, a Debian-based distro aimed at beginning Linux users, would come to a halt.
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HealthCare.gov, the malfunctioning insurance-shopping website at the heart of the controversial Obamacare program, should be running smoothly for the vast majority of users by the end of November, about two months after its launch, officials said.
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Sales of Windows Phone are weak because of a shortage of apps, but carriers also need to move inventory to make room for a crush of new iPhones and other devices.
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post_imgRené Obermann
Deutsche Telekom CEO René Obermann is stepping down from T-Mobile’s board of directors, according to the company’s latest 8-K filing with the SEC. Obermann’s departure is not wholly unexpected, given that he is leaving Deutsche Telekom to become CEO of Ziggo, a Dutch cable company.
It’s an important move, given that T-Mobile US is a subsidiary of the German telecommunications giant, which controls a 74 percent stake in T-Mobile. In the filing, T-Mobile said that Obermann’s departure was “not as a result of any disagreement with the Company.”
According to the filing, T-Mobile expects that Deutsche Telekom will appoint a replacement representative to fill Obermann’s vacancy in the fourth quarter of 2013. In the interim, Deutsche Telekom will still have plenty of representation on T-Mobile’s board. Timotheus Höttges, Deutsche Telekom’s CFO, will be remaining as Chairman, and Deutsche Telekom Senior Vice Presidents Raphael Kübler and Thorsten Langheim also continue to hold positions on the board.
Update: T-Mobile provided GeekWire with the following statement.
“We wish Mr. Obermann the best in his future endeavors and thank him for being a great supporter of T-Mobile. His resignation as a director of T-Mobile US, Inc., effective as of November 15, 2013, is understandable in light of his announced departure as CEO of Deutsche Telekom later this year. It is anticipated that Deutsche Telekom will designate another candidate to be appointed by the T-Mobile US, Inc. Board to fill the vacancy resulting from Mr. Obermann’s resignation during the fourth quarter of 2013.”
Blair Hanley Frank is GeekWire’s Bay Area Correspondent. He has also worked for Macworld, PCWorld and TechHive. He can be found on Twitter @belril.

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post_imgIn our public professional lives, we like to play a little game. We pretend we know exactly what we’re doing. For the most part, that game is a smiling, hand-shaking lie.
Janis Machala
Each of us is learning how to do what we do, to some extent, no matter where we are in our careers. For that, we need resources: Ideas, models, blueprints, but most of all, people.
Friends help us stay balanced. Colleagues help us stay on task. But for the stickiest issues, we have mentors — people who are a step removed from the minutiae of our professional lives, and a step above.
Mentors keep an eye on our personal development rather than our company’s bottom line. They have a perspective we value. And, ideally, our interactions with them cut through the games to the tough, personal challenges: We can be honest to our mentors, and they can be honest back.
Wednesday night I moderated a conversation about mentorship with Janis Machala and Mary Jesse, accomplished technologists who over the course of their careers have mentored — and been mentored by — dozens of people.
How do you form and develop your own mentor relationships? Below are eight tips that emerged from the conversation hosted by Women in Tech as part of Seattle Startup Week.
1. Take initiative
There’s someone you’d love to have in your corner, but you’re not sure how to make that happen. Do you place yourself somewhere where they make the first move? Don’t be afraid to make it yourself, say Machala and Jesse. If you’ve already met the person at an event or through another contact, invite her to coffee. If you haven’t, still — invite her to coffee. “Use the student card,” Machala said. “It works.” Emphasize what you’d like to learn and ask your would-be mentor to meet so you can hear her story. “People love to talk about themselves,” Machala said. “And they all have to eat.”
Mary Jesse
2. Come prepared
Everyone likes a good conversation, but no one wants to feel like they’re wasting their time. When you’ve set a meeting with a potential mentor, be ready. If it’s a coffee meeting, look him up, know where you want to look for intersections and advice and prepare objectives for the discussion you can stick to. “I’ve gone as far as to send questions ahead of time,” Machala said. If it’s your first interaction, make sure it doesn’t have to be the last. Can you connect on LinkedIn? Can you send him an email? Can you pass along something interesting you talked about? Don’t let the interaction end without exchanging contact info, and ideally, making an ask.
3. Beware of agendas
The best mentors want to help. But some people aren’t built that way. They compete, look for a way to exploit every encounter or they feel, in some sense, that you should go through the same struggles they did. It should go without saying that people set too deep with these attitudes make bad mentors. The good news? “They’re not that hard to spot,” said Jesse. They put up obstacles or hesitate to do something generous. They may be successful in all the ways you admire. But you’ll be better off without their help.
4. Look for chemistry
Mentor networks connect young professionals to senior advisors by career path or interest. But in the end, good mentor-mentee relationships can’t be calculated. “It’s like friendship,” Jesse said. If a sense of camaraderie develops, you’ll feel it click. From there, candor can build. Machala’s best mentors let her talk about anything. “They made it safe,” she said.
5. Build trust
Like any relationship, a strong mentor relationship works on trust. One of Machala’s early mentors was a manager who took a risk. When she was struggling to work with a colleague who made things difficult, he told her in confidence not to worry. He had a plan to remove the obstacles the uncooperative colleague put in her way. “If people knew he’d told me that, he could have gotten in trouble,” Machala said. She kept his trust and he went on to support her through much of her career.
6. Give back
How does a conversation become a relationship? With regular contact and an exchange of knowledge. Don’t feel you have anything worthwhile to share with your mentor? That’s nonsense. “There’s always something to make it a win-win,” Jesse said. Somewhere in the course of your convesations your would-be mentor shared an interest or a question about something she’s curious about. Know a book that informs the topic? Read an interesting article or heard of a group that discusses it? Send it along. “Executives are so busy, they don’t have time to look for those gems,” Machala said.
7. Be confident
You’re at an event, about to get an introduction to someone you admire. Or you’re at a coffee shop, waiting to meet that person for a one-on-one for the first time. You’re nervous. You feel inferior. Don’t. The importance of confidence is hard to overstate. “You can’t think of yourself as less than that person,” Machala said.
8. Don’t take things personally
This person seemed standoffish when you approached him at the event. That person took your card and said he’d get back to you but didn’t. Shake it off, don’t take it personally and don’t let it stop you from approaching the next person you want to. “It’s no risk, no reward,” Jesse said. “The people who succeed are the people who put themselves out there.”
Mónica Guzmán is a freelance journalist, speaker and award-winning digital life columnist for GeekWire. You can find her tweeting away @moniguzman, subscribe to her public Facebook posts at facebook.com/moniguzman or reach her via email. See this archive of her weekly GeekWire columns.

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post_imgMoz CEO Rand Fishkin talks about company culture at the 2013 GeekWire Startup Day.
Moz — back then called SEOmoz — was growing rapidly two-and-a-half years ago and the company needed four-to-five new employees to keep the momentum going.
Moz’s referral program didn’t work so well.
So, in an effort to attract the best engineers out there, they did what many other companies do: Launch a generous referral program.
The deal: Find an engineer that eventually becomes a Moz employee, receive a $12,000 check in exchange. Additionally, your referral would receive a $12,000 signing bonus.
While the idea brought in talented new Moz engineers, it backfired on the company. Moz CEO Rand Fishkin, speaking at today’s big Startup Day, was sure the plan would work — but he was wrong.
“It attracted the wrong types of people,” he said. “It attracted a lot of people interested in the dollars and bonus, but who were not particularly interested in the mission, vision and culture at Moz.”
Rand Fishkin.
Even worse, Fishkin said, is that it created a detrimental perception internally within the company. Since the new software engineers received signing bonuses and extra perks, there were suddenly “classes” of employees at Moz.
Some employees thought that since they were not hand-picked in a way the referred engineers were, they weren’t worth as much to the company.
“You can imagine the type of cultural problems this created, especially over time,” Fishkin said. “It was not a lot of fun.”
Moz shut down the program after learnings from its mistakes. Fishkin also gave out some other advice for company culture, including:

“Don’t let your role define your influence. Let your influence define your role.”
“Build a recruiting brand beyond your product brand.”
“You can coach the head. You can’t coach the heart.”
“There’s no such thing as 10X engineers (or 10X anything)”
“Build a vision-based framework that’s clear to everyone at the company”

We’ll have more from Startup Day on GeekWire today. We’re hearing great advice and insight from industry leaders — here’s an agenda of today’s events. If you’re on Twitter, check the hashtag #gwstartupday to see what people are saying from today’s event.
Previously on GeekWire: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee at GeekWire Startup Day: We lead the world in ‘innovation per dollar’
Reach staff reporter Taylor Soper at taylor@geekwire.com or on Twitter @Taylor_Soper. Follow us on Twitter @GeekWire.

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iOS and Android users in Africa can finally download BlackBerry Messenger for their devices. The application was launched worldwide last week, but Samsung managed to score an exclusivity in Africa, so only those with compatible Galaxy smartphones have been able to download it via Samsung Apps.

However, the exclusivity ended today, and BlackBerry has just announced that BBM is now available as a free download in Google Play and the App Store in Africa, “giving Android and iPh… (read more)
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Despite partisan sniping over the Affordable Care Act, members of a U.S. House committee probing the problems at Healthcare.gov Thursday asked some tough, IT-specific questions that revealed some key facts.
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Six Eastern European men are being sought by U.S. prosecutors for allegedly netting up to US$3 million by placing fraudulent advertisements for vehicles, motorcycles and boats on major online marketplaces, including eBay.
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