Welcome to Wednesday, Data Sheet readers. BlackBerry’s latest smartphone introduction today isn’t getting as much media attention as Apple’s iPhone 6 launch, but it marks a critical juncture for the company’s fragile turnaround strategy. Plus: GM is naming a new cybersecurity chief to protect smart cars from hackers, and Sequoia Capital is backing a startup that can quantify the financial return on technology investments.
Can BlackBerry’s square smartphone win back business customers? After pretty much ceding the consumer market to Apple and Samsung, the mobile technology pioneer is returning to its enterprise roots with today’s Passport launch. The phone boasts the company’s signature physical keyboard design and a 4.5-inch square screen that displays more text than rival devices. Its anticipated price: $599. CEO John Chen (who spent 13 years at database company Sybase) is also planning new business-grade security and management software, due later this year. But with sales of the new iPhone breaking records, BlackBerry may have missed its window of opportunity. WSJ
Mobile chipmaker ARM eyes Internet-connected machines. The British company sold one billion processors last year, about half went into mobile phones with the others powering everything from washing machines to digital televisions. Now, it’s releasing a design optimized for factory automation, cars and home security systems. Re/code
BMC sues fast-growing help-desk rival ServiceNow. Around since 1980, privately held BMC claims its competitor is violating seven patents (it has more than 300) covering processes for managing network gear, servers, software and other IT equipment. “Each significant aspect of ServiceNow’s business is built around infringement of BMC’s patents,” reads the civil complaint filed in Texas. BMC has more than 20,000 customers, compared with the roughly 2,350 ServiceNow had at the end of its second quarter. But ServiceNow’s growth is accelerating: it boasts a 98% renewal rate for its software subscriptions. Plus, it just raised guidance to a range of $669 million to $673 million for the year. Could this stall its momentum? ZDNet
Salesforce gets personal. For marketers that want to reach potential customers when they are most likely to buy (who doesn’t?), the company is introducing new technology for personalizing campaigns delivered through mobile apps and wearable devices such as smart watches or fitness trackers. The software can automate certain actions, such as offering someone concert tickets for a band he or she previously researched using a smartphone or tablet. Early customers include FitBit, SkyMall and HSN, but privacy advocates are likely to cry foul.
STATS & SPECS
UPS delivers 3-D printing services. Eight-year-old TechShop pioneered the concept of creating workshops where inventors and entrepreneurs can buy access to sophisticated prototyping equipment, including computer-aided design software and printers that output three-dimensional objects. After a limited pilot, UPS is doing the same. Starting with San Diego, it’s outfitting select UPS stores with technology from Stratasys that lets customers “print” everything from architectural models to light fixtures.
STARTUPS & DISRUPTORS
Robinhood nabs $13 million for zero-commission trading app. Could this startup lure younger investors to Wall Street? Its technology will let novice and younger investors make small stock trades (on mobile phones no less) without having to pay $7 to $10 per order like with E*Trade or Scottrade. Robinhood has close to 500,000 people on the waiting list; 80% of its beta testers are under the age of 30. The co-founders, Vlad Tenev and Baiju Bhatt, have previous experience with trading and investment bank software. TechCrunch
Better business-to-business payments? Most digital payment services (ala PayPal) specialize in business-to-consumer transactions but German startup Traxpay facilitates money transfers between business partners. The company just scored $15 million from corporate backers Commerzbank and Software AG (bringing its total to $19 million), and signed a four-year deal with Mastercard. Other companies addressing this opportunity include Fundtech, GoCardless and Bottomline Technologies. TC
Numerify quantifies the business of technology
Many analytics services aim to help marketers or sales teams or finance departments understand the return they’re getting on certain business initiatives, but few IT executives have the same insight into performance.
That’s the gap targeted by startup Numerify, which this morning disclosed a $15 million oversubscribed Series B round led by Sequoia Capital. The infusion puts its total financing at more than $23 million, including its Series A funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners.
With about a dozen paying enterprise customers including Netflix and Aruba Networks, Numerify’s software helps IT organizations answer questions such as: What’s the correlation between how much training technicians receive and how quickly they can resolve problems? Which agents are most productive? Or what was the root cause for a noticeable increase in support requests?
Numerify’s focus is similar to that of Apptio, which has raised $136 million to tackle what it calls the category of “technology business management.” Numerify’s differentiator is that it has created prepackaged reports that can help customers start gathering insights in a matter of weeks. “We think a much better use of time would be managing the results these reports show rather than creating them,” founder and CEO Gaurav Rewari told Data Sheet, describing Apptio as complementary.
“In a matter of weeks, Numerify moved us from a painful manual reporting process to contributing and validating data and being able to present the contribution IT makes to the business,” notes Netflix IT executive Ashi Sheth. “Rather than focusing on building a system to generate the data, we can focus on what the data means.”
Rewari’s background includes running Oracle’s $2.5 billion business analytics division (which covered the Hyperion, Oracle Business Intelligence and Siebel products). That background along with the magnitude of IT budgets (Gartner’s worldwide forecast is $2.1 trillion for 2014) drove Sequoia’s decision to back Numerify.
“CIOs need to arm themselves with the same sort of tools that other executives have,” says Sequoia partner Doug Leone, who joined Numerify’s board as a result of the investment.
Pricing for the Numerify software comes in the form of an annual subscription based on the complexity of an organization’s service desk or the volume of incidents that agents need to handle, Rewari says.
ONE MORE THING ...
GM names first cybersecurity chief. Built-in wireless connections. Adaptive cruise control. Rear-view cameras. With sophistication comes risk. Although there are no reported cyberattacks involving cars or trucks (yet), automakers believe it’s just a matter of time before hackers target the software and sensors responsible for controlling modern vehicles. That’s why the largest U.S. automaker just appointed engineer Jeffrey Massimilla to figure out ways to protect them. WSJ
Oracle OpenWorld: Get a roadmap reality check. (Sept. 27 – Oct. 2, San Francisco)
Interop: Actionable solutions for IT headaches. (Sept. 29 – Oct. 3, New York)
Enterprise Security Summit: Challenges, trends and solutions. (Sept. 30, New York)
Gartner Symposium ITxpo 2014: Compare notes. (Oct. 5 – 9, Orlando, Fla.)
Splunk .conf2014. Glean intelligence from machine data. (Oct. 6 – 9, Las Vegas)
Dreamforce: 1,400 sessions about the largest cloud ecosystem. (Oct. 13-16, San Francisco)
Strata/Hadoop World: Big data tools and techniques. (Oct. 15 – 17, New York)
TBM Conference 2014: Manage the business of IT. (Oct. 28- 30, Miami Beach)
AWS re:Invent: The latest about Amazon Web Services. (Nov. 11 – 14, Las Vegas)
Gartner Data Center Conference: Ideas for operations and management. (Dec. 2 – 5, Las Vegas)