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Rise Of The Data Protection Officer The Hottest Tech Ticket In Town

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SAN FRANCISCO – They may not have the cachet of entrepreneurs, or geek chic of developers, but data protection officers are suddenly the hottest properties in technology.

When Jen Brown got her first certification for information privacy in 2006, few companies were looking for people qualified to manage the legal and ethical issues related to handling customer data.

But now it’s 2018, companies across the globe are scrambling to comply with a European law that represents the biggest shake-up of personal data privacy rules since the birth of the internet – and Brown’s inbox is being besieged by recruiters.

“I got into security before anyone cared about it, and I had a hard time finding a job,” said the 46-year-old, who is the data protection officer (DPO) of analytics start-up Sumo Logic in Redwood City near San Francisco.

“Suddenly, people are sitting up and taking notice.”

Brown is among a hitherto rare breed of workers who are becoming sought-after commodities in the global tech industry ahead of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which goes into effect in May.

The law is intended to give European citizens more control over their online information and applies to all firms that do business with Europeans. It requires that all companies whose core activities include substantial monitoring or processing of personal data hire a DPO.

And finding DPOs is not easy.

More than 28,000 will be needed in Europe and U.S. and as many as 75,000 around the globe as a result of GDPR, the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) estimates. The organization said it did not previously track DPO figures because, prior to GDPR, Germany and the Philippines were the only countries it was aware of with mandatory DPO laws.

DPO job listings in Britain on the Indeed job search site have increased by more than 700 percent over the past 18 months, from 12.7 listings per every 1 million in April 2016 to 102.7 listings per 1 million in December.

The need for DPOs is expected to be particularly high in any data-rich industries, such as tech, digital marketing, finance, healthcare and retail. Uber, Twitter, Airbnb, Cloudflare and Experian are advertising for a DPO, online job advertisements show. Microsoft, Facebook, Salesforce.com and Slack are also currently working to fill the position, the companies told Reuters.

‘EVERYONE IS LOOKING’

“I would say that I get between eight and 10 calls a week about a role (from recruiters),” said Marc French, DPO of Massachusetts email management company Mimecast. “Come Jan. 1 the phone calls increased exponentially because everybody realized, ‘Oh my god, GDPR is only five months away.’”

GDPR requires that DPOs assist their companies on data audits for compliance with privacy laws, train employees on data privacy and serve as the point of contact for European regulators. Other provisions of the law require that companies make personal information available to customers on request, or delete it entirely in some cases, and report any data breaches within 72 hours.

On a typical day, French said he monitors for any guidance updates for GDPR, meets with Mimecast’s engineering teams to discuss privacy in new product features, reviews the marketing team’s data usage requests, works on privacy policy revisions and conducts one or two calls with clients to discuss the company’s position on GDPR and privacy.

“Given that we’re trying to march to the deadline, I would say that 65 percent of my time is focused on GDPR right now,” said French, who is also a senior vice president of Mimecast.

The demand for DPOs has sparked renewed interest in data privacy training, said Sam Pfeifle, content director of the IAPP, which introduced a GDPR Ready program last year for aspiring DPOs.

“We already sold out all of our GDPR training through the first six months of 2018,” said Pfeifle, adding that the IAPP saw a surge in new memberships in 2017, from 24,000 to 36,000.

Those companies who have DPOs, meanwhile, are braced for poaching.

Many of those firms reside in Germany, which has long required that most companies that process data designate DPOs. They include Simplaex, a Berlin ad-targeting startup.

“Everyone is looking for a DPO,” said Simplaex CEO Jeffry van Ede. “I need to have some cash ready for when someone tries to take mine so I can keep him.”

(GRAPHIC: Booming demand for data protection officers – tmsnrt.rs/2Bs7SEM )

Reporting by Salvador Rodriguez; Additional reporting by Stephen Nellis;

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Hpe Shares Soar On 7 Billion Repurchase Plan Upbeat Forecast

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– Shares of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE.N) rose 7 percent to a record in early trading on Friday after the company unveiled a $7 billion share buyback program, reported strong quarterly results and raised its full-year profit forecast.

At least eight brokerages lifted their price targets on the stock.

The results were the first under new Chief Executive Officer Antonio Neri, who took over from Meg Whitman in February.

HPE has been cutting costs and investing in research to bolster its mainstay server business amid competition from cheaper, non-branded assembled servers even as IT spending shows signs of improvement.

“We see a clear pattern of improving IT spend after years of under-investment and a pause in spend around cloud decisions,” Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty said.

The company joined NetApp (NTAP.O), Cisco (CSCO.O) and IBM (IBM.N) Systems in beating revenue estimates in the latest quarter.

Neri, a computer engineer who has spent more than two decades with the company, was expected to lead a restructuring announced by Whitman in October.

The new CEO now plans to win investor confidence by increasing dividend by 50 percent starting third quarter and completing the mega share repurchase by fiscal 2019.

HPE’s robust capital return program is likely to resonate well with investors, but this may compromise its ability to conduct larger M&A, Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Mehdi Hosseini said.

Since Whitman split Hewlett Packard Co into HPE and PC-and-printer business HP Inc (HPQ.N) in 2015, HPE shares have gained nearly 50 percent. HP shares had doubled in the same time.

HPE forecast an adjusted profit of 29 cents to 33 cents per share for the second quarter, beating the average estimate of 26 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“While HPE was careful not to set too high of a growth bar for the remainder of the year, we see this as a multi-quarter and potentially multi-year trend that puts upward pressure on estimates,” Huberty said.

HPE is also likely to benefit from the recently disclosed security flaws Spectre and Meltdown that affected nearly every modern computing device.

The vulnerabilities are likely to drive demand from customers who have older servers where performance has been hit by the installation of software patches, Hosseini said.

HPE shares were trading at $18.55.

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Tencent Jdcom Buy Stakes In Chinese Retail Chain

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HONG KONG – Tencent Holdings and JD.com will pay $140 million and $117 million respectively for minority stakes in a Chinese retail chain as China’s tech giants extend their battles in the retail space.

A Tencent subsidiary is buying a 6 percent stake in Better Life Commercial Chain Share Co Ltd for 886.9 million yuan ($140 million), Better Life said in a filing to the Shenzhen stock exchange on Friday.

A subsidiary of JD.com, Alibaba Group’s e-commerce rival, will take a 5 percent stake for 739.1 million yuan, according to the same filing.

FILE PHOTO: A JD.com sign is seen during the fourth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, December 4, 2017. REUTERS/Aly SongHunan-based chain store operator Better Life, also known as Bubugao, announced a strategic agreement with Tencent at the beginning of the month to collaborate.

The three companies and the stakes’ existing shareholders agreed to the transactions on Feb. 14, according to the filing.

The deals come as China’s largest tech firms, Alibaba and Tencent, are on a retail investment binge, forcing merchants to choose sides amid a battle for shoppers’ digital wallets.

Better Life’s shares, suspended since Jan. 22, will resume trading on Monday, it said.

Reporting by Sijia Jiang;

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Google Starts Taking Payments For Apps Via Kenyas M-pesa Service

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NAIROBI – Google Play apps and games store has started accepting payments in Kenya through Safaricom’s mobile phone M-Pesa service to boost downloads in a market where many people do not have a credit card.

M-Pesa, which enables customers to transfer money and pay bills via mobile phone, has 27.8 million users in the nation of 45 million people where Google’s Android platform dominates. M-Pesa has been mimicked across Africa and in other markets.

“This is very important to the developer ecosystem in markets where credit card penetration is low,” said Mahir Sain, head of Africa Android partnerships at Google, which is owned by Alphabet Inc.

Safaricom has 13 million smart phones on its network, most of them using the Android platform. It partnered with London-based global payments platform provider, DOCOMO Digital, to enable users pay through M-Pesa, both firms said on Thursday.

Safariom started M-Pesa in 2007, offering money transfer services between users. It has grown to allow users to make payments for goods and services through thousands of merchants.

It also allows users to save, borrow and buy insurance, through partnerships with commercial banks.

Reporting by Duncan Miriri;

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