Good morning, Data Sheet readers. Apparently, Microsoft has a different system of counting than most other companies. What does Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg think of fast-growing competitor Ello (which promises not to sell your data)? She’s not a member but is more worried about her employees losing their ability to innovate. Plus: beware siloed marketing technologies that focus too much on one campaign or medium. That theme resonated loudly during last night’s expert panel during an exclusive Fortune Brainstorm TECH gathering. Read on for my coverage in today’s FAQ column.
What keeps Sheryl Sandberg up at night. It has less to do with any specific competitor and more to do with Facebook getting too big to move quickly. (It has a relatively modest 8,000 people on payroll when you consider it supports almost 1.3 billion members.) “Most companies mess it up all on their own because they don’t execute very well,” Sandberg said during a special Fortune Brainstorm TECH dinner coinciding with Advertising Week in New York. “We are our own biggest risk.” Plus Sandberg riffs on her company’s new Atlas advertising platform and its near miss on mobile. Fortune
Number 9? Number 9? In one of its more baffling branding decisions, Microsoft will call the next version of its operating system Windows 10, perhaps to put as much distance between the update and the much-maligned Windows 8 as possible. Execs say it’s a recognition that this will be the last major overhaul. Future updates will be ongoing, befitting the cloud services world. Here’s a closer look at what’s under the covers. And yes, the Start menu is back. Verge
What, me worry? The cloud security paradox is underscored in a recent BT Group survey. The results (spanning 11 countries) show that while more than three-quarters of IT professionals are “extremely anxious” about whether cloud security can be trusted, an even higher number are adding cloud storage options and applications anyway. Here are some ideas for mitigating the risk. ZDNet
Expensify takes advantage of Concur buyout. The small expense management software company is offering free account switchover to customers spooked by SAP’s $8.3 billion acquisition of its much larger competitor (which is ranked as the biggest takeover ever in cloud applications). To help, it just got $3.5 million in strategic funding from Barracuda networks. TechCrunch
STATS & SPECS
Cisco security executive lands Intel strategy job. Christopher Young, whose resume also includes VMware, RSA and startup Cyveillance, is now the senior vice president and general manager for Intel Security. His new boss is Intel President Renee James. eWeek
STARTUPS & DISRUPTORS
Big data apps player reinvents itself. The original idea behind Continuuity, a three-year-old company started by two former Facebook and Yahoo! executives, was to help businesses write applications for the Hadoop big data platform. But its model and name are changing. Now redubbed Cask, the startup just hired Intel data center software executive Boyd Davis as its COO. What’s more, it is releasing its previously proprietary software to the open source development community to entice support. In its previous incarnation, the company raised $12.5 million from Andreessen Horowitz, Data Collective and Battery Ventures, among others.
Enterprise collaboration company bulks up. Slack, which has raised $60 million from the likes of Andreessen Horowitz and Accel Partners, just paid an undisclosed amount for Space. Its software lets teams revise documents in one central location. Slack has about 200,00 customers, a number that doubled in the past 11 weeks. WSJ
Why stories, not software still rule marketing
Ever searched for a product online, only to be bombarded soon thereafter with a flood of related suggestions in your Facebook news feed or Google search results?
Now imagine the dinner conversation in Google marketing exec Lorraine Twohill’s household several days after she used her husband’s computer to order “Dora the Explorer” underpants for their three-year-old daughter, subjecting him to at least a month’s worth of misdirected personalization attempts meant especially for toddlers. Welcome to the Cro-Magnon era of digital marketing, one Google ironically helped invent.
“It can be a blunt instrument. Some of my most favorite brands, I see them kind of stalking me now,” Twohill said during a panel discussion about emerging marketing technologies at Fortune‘s Brainstorm TECH dinner last night in New York.
Many of us have become numb to technology-aided personalization except when it’s really irrelevant or rife with offensive stereotypes. But here’s a statistic that should give marketers pause, shared earlier during the evening by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg: “We think 40%, close to 40%, of targeting—that’s just age and gender, the most basic part of what anyone does online—is not hitting the right people.”
That’s the underlying problem Facebook’s new Atlas platform aims to fix, by helping advertisers use Facebook data to help improve targeting. (More in this video of Sandberg’s Brainstorm TECH conversation with Fortune managing editor Alan Murray, and senior editor Andrew Nusca’s coverage of their talk.)
Sandberg said by far the biggest complaint by Facebook network members today center not on concerns about privacy, not on frequency but on ones that miss the mark. “When you’re going specific, you want it to be relevant. The No. 1 thing we hear from people on Facebook, the No. 1 thing by far, when we ask about ads, is ‘Why aren’t they more relevant?’ ” she said.
Her comments underscore a big distraction for the marketing professionals at the Brainstorm TECH event: the siren song of sexy, specialized software applications for social marketing or display advertising, none of which seem to work together.
“We need to get back to the storytelling, get back to a brand representing a story, a brand standing for something and telling that story consistently,” said Brad Rencher, senior vice president and general manager of digital marketing at Adobe Systems. “What’s happened, I think is the technology ecosystem, we have done the industry a disservice. We have created tools that are used to do one thing. …. You have to become a specialist to use it and specialists, by definition, exist in siloes.”
Here’s complete coverage of last night’s panel.
ONE MORE THING ...
Apple, Oracle and Cisco scrambling to fix “Shellshock” vulnerabilities. When reports about the security threat in Linux and Macintosh servers emerged last week, early reports compared its potential magnitude to the Heartbleed flaw, which can be used to expose protected data. The reality is it could be far worse, because Shellshock lets hackers do more things, like infect systems with malware or launch denial-of-service attacks that can shut down Internet sites. There could be millions of vulnerable systems, but no one really knows because the flaw has been around for 20 years. Among affected enterprise tech companies: Apple, Cisco, Oracle and Red Hat (the original whistleblower). MIT Technology Review
Gartner Symposium ITxpo 2014: Compare notes with peers. (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)
QuickBooks Connect: SMBs, entrepreneurs, accountants and developers. (Oct. 21 – 23, San Jose, Calif.)
IBM Insight 2014: Big data and analytics. (Oct. 26 – Oct. 30, Las Vegas)
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)