Good morning and welcome to the last official five-day workweek of 2014! Software companies Hortonworks and New Relic completed strong IPOs last Friday, but their valuations don't live up to expectations from just six months ago. That's one reason more software startups—especially in the big data space—are boosting revenue through custom development and consulting services.
So much for that $1 trillion tech trade deal with China. Negotiators in Geneva failed to finalize an agreement announced last month by President Obama and China President Xi Jinping. The accord would have reduced tariffs on technologies ranging from video game consoles to sophisticated medical equipment such as magnetic resonance imaging systems. The final straw apparently was a dispute between China and South Korea over how to accommodate liquid-crystal displays. New York Times
Strong debuts for big data, analytics upstarts. The good news is that both Hortonworks (Hadoop data management) and New Relic (app diagnostics) opened and closed well above their initial prices last Friday after trading debuts. The not-so-good news is both were initially priced higher in the lead-up to their IPOs. At least 30 other companies hold that dubious distinction this year, compared with just 10 in 2013. Wall Street Journal
Palantir officially records another $50 million. The new money was disclosed in an SEC filing. It is believed to be part of a $400 million round that would bring the big data company's total valuation to approximately $1.35 billion. TechCrunch
Makeover for Juniper Networks board? To avoid a proxy fight, the networking tech company is considering director candidates suggested by activist investor Elliott Management (the same hedge fund pressuring EMC to spin out VMware). Stay tuned: Elliot's ownership stake is about 9%, and it's also pushing for the struggling company to consider "strategic alternatives." WSJ
Biz-tech giants join net neutrality debate. Cisco, IBM and IBM are among approximately 60 companies that last week sent a letter to Congress and the Federal Communications Commission arguing against the idea of treating broadband service as a public utility. The motivation is self-interest. They're afraid it will discourage Internet service providers from making network improvements (and therefore buying equipment from the aforementioned companies). The letter notes: "If you don't know that you can recover on your investment, you won't make it." The Register
More trouble at 'patent troll' Intellectual Ventures? One of the company's co-founders, lawyer and former Intel exec Peter Detkin, is stepping down as vice chairman effective Jan. 1. The firm's business model is increasingly unpopular with high-tech companies, even among previous investors like Apple. Gigaom
POLICY & STRATEGY
More big data software companies become consulting experts. Some significant players in the fast-moving market, including Palantir Technologies and Cask (previously known as Continuuity), are winning early success through custom development, technical support and other services. Not what they originally intended but often this is what it takes to get big data projects off paper and into the pilot phase. NYT
STARTUPS & DISRUPTORS
Can this startup make existing business intelligence software smarter?
Talk to a top-ranking executive at pretty much any business intelligence software company, and you'll hear a lot about gee-whiz dashboards and reports that promise to unlock the secrets of business data.
But most of those technologies require analysts or business-line managers to hunt for those hidden trends on a manual, ad hoc basis—based on whenever they happen to think about it.
Enter Metric Insights. The startup's technology lets business teams create alerts for corporate analytics reports based on key performance indicators they select. Want to be informed about a dip or spike in sales for a specific product? Hear when someone has commented about a market development? Metric Insights software basically acts as a personal assistant that reminds you of when it's probably worth taking another look at incoming data.
"We call this idea push intelligence—we get people to focus, collaborate and act on critical events based on what the data is telling them," said Metric Insights CEO and founder Marius Moscovici.
The company's software works in collaboration with widely used analytics, reporting and data visualization technologies from the likes of Amazon, Business Objects, Microsoft, Microstrategy, MongoDB, Oracle, Qlik, and Tableau Software. "It pulls you into the application so that you can engage when the data is actionable and relevant," Moscovici said.
In the past six months, his company—based in San Francisco with a development operation in the Ukraine—has more than doubled its contracts with large companies. Some named customers include software developer Adobe, bookseller Barnes & Noble, and cable company Comcast.
Last week, Metric Insights disclosed a $2.1 million seed funding round led by First Round Capital and several individual investors, including the founder of Linden Lab. Alongside the funding disclosure, Metric Insight revealed it is assembling a board of directors; the first members bring experience from companies including Business Objects, Hyperion, and FrontRange Solutions. Their master plan: help more business teams use the data at their disposal, when the time is right.
"What we're all about is taking ideas from the consumer model and applying them to the enterprise model," Moscovici said.
MY FORTUNE.COM BOOKMARKS
Will more women economists lead to a stronger economy? By Nina Easton
Meet President Obama's small business guru By Benjamin Snyder
Why Apple's e-book appeal is a big deal By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Drug-resistant infections could cost the global economy $100 trillion by 2050 By Laura Lorenzetti
How Samuel Adams founder Jim Koch pays it forward By John Kell
ONE MORE THING
Single pilot planes? Right now, every commercial jet takes off with at least two pilots in the cockpit. NASA and Rockwell Collins are studying how technology and "co-pilots" on the ground could reshape flight procedures. The project has dual motivators: advances in automation and concerns over potential future pilot shortages. WSJ
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
IBM Interconnect 2015: Cloud and mobile strategy. (Feb. 22 – 26, 2015; Las Vegas)
Gartner CIO Leadership Forum: Digital business strategy. (March 1 – 3, 2015; Phoenix)
Microsoft Convergence 2015: Dynamics solutions. (March 16 – 19, 2015; Atlanta)
Gartner Business Intelligence & Analytics Summit: Crossing the divide. (March 30 – April 1, 2015; Las Vegas)
Knowledge15: Automate enterprise IT services. (April 19 – 24, 2015; Las Vegas)
RSA Conference 2015: The world talks security. (April 20 – 24, 2015; San Francisco)
MicrosoftIgnite: Enterprise tech extravaganza. (May 4 – 8, 2015; Chicago)
NetSuite SuiteWorld: Cloud ERP strategy. (May 4 – 7, 2015; San Jose, Calif.)
SAPPHIRE NOW: The SAP universe. (May 5 – 7, 2015; Orlando, Fla.)
Gartner Digital Marketing Conference 2015: Reach your destination faster. (May 5 – 7; San Diego)