By Heather Clancy
February 3, 2015

Good morning, Data Sheet readers. In hindsight, it looks like Lenovo’s buyout of Motorola Mobility was an extremely smart move. Plus, what to do with a useless manufacturing plant? Apple has a $2 billion idea.

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TRENDING

Apple: Let’s build a data center instead! Remember that useless sapphire manufacturing plant in Arizona? The company will spend $2 billion to convert the facility into a solar-powered “command center” for its entire global data center network. The site will eventually host 70 megawatts of generating capacity.

Upside surprise for Lenovo. It sold way more Motorola smartphones than anyone thought possible: 10 million units in its latest quarter. By the end of this year, mobile sales could account for one-third of revenue. That’s the CEO’s latest proclamation.

Some serious government dough for cybersecurity. President Obama is asking for $14 billion to better protect federal and private networks. Plus, he wants $105 million for a “digital strike force” that prevents project debacles a la the Healthcare.gov launch.

Alcatel-Lucent covets corporate business. It will sell its Internet gear to large multinational companies, putting it in direct competition with networking giant Cisco. On the prospect list: Google and Facebook.

Let’s free up some cash. Apple is selling $6.5 billion in bonds, in part to pay for its share buyback program, while Netflix is raising $1.5 billion in senior notes to invest in more original programming ala House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.

Meanwhile, Verizon may shed $15 billion worth of cellphone towers and landline teleco equipment to pay down debt. Meanwhile, AT&T hopes to raise $2 billion by divesting some data centers. The money will go toward recent acquisitions in Mexico the $18.2 billion in wireless licenses it bought last week.

Profits aren’t materializing for Stratasys. The 3D printing company is planning a $100 million to $110 million writedown for its MakerBot business. It also expects to fall short of projects for this year.

Game over for Sony. Its developers want to write titles for Microsoft Xbox, too. They now work for Daybreak Game Company, owned by investment management firm Columbus Nova.


SCUTTLEBUTT

Well, that was sudden. Samsung Electronics just named a new mobile marketing chief, barely one month before its most important smartphone introduction this year.

Two key hires for Microsoft. It poached Adobe’s design chief Michael Gough to lead a maker of its flagship software applications, including Office 365. Plus, the former head of Blackberry’s developer relations program, Alec Saunders, is now working for the software giant’s venture investment arm.

Sprint suggested as RadioShack’s white knight. That’s the latest rescue scenario for the perpetually struggling electronics retailer. How many lives is it on, anyway?

As anticipated, some eBay and PayPal employees have been given their walking papers as the company slashes expenses before its proposed split. The total cut could reach 2,400 positions.

Could Google’s driverless cars actually be a ploy to take on ride-sharing giant Uber? The latter’s new research center for autonomous vehicles suggests the idea isn’t as strange as it seems.


UP-AND-COMERS

Former CA exec lands at SnapLogic. Jack Kudale, who helped shape the software giant’s cloud services strategy, is on board as senior vice president of field operations. SnapLogic has raised almost $60 million for technology that creates links between cloud business applications including Anaplan, NetSuite, Oracle, Salesforce, SAP, ServiceNow and Workday.

$15 million for smarter data retention. Zapproved’s technology helps businesses cull the information they save, so less of it is kept in the first place. Its latest round led by K1 Investment Management brings total funding to more than $20 million.


GAZE INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL

Tablet sales tail off. Shipments slipped 3.2% in the fourth quarter to 76.1 million units worldwide—although the category managed 4.4% growth for the entire year. Apple is still the vendor to beat: iPads accounted for almost 30% of sales.

Eek! Just one in four big data initiatives meets its original promise. Still, 60% of executives surveyed by consulting firm Capgemini want to invest anyway.


ALL ABOUT THAT GRAPH

The old adage, “a picture is worth 1,000 words,” applies equally well to numbers.

Database upstart DataStax, which pulled down a whopping $106 million round last autumn, just made its first-ever acquisition. The object of its affection: the small Seattle-based company, Aurelis, behind the open source “graph database” TitanDB.

Terms of the transaction aren’t being disclosed. But it comes just two weeks after another startup in this space, Neo Technology, raised $20 million in Series C funding (bringing its total to $44.1 million).

“We’ve been getting pressure from our customers to add this technology, so we’ve looked at building or buying it. This represents our best and fastest path to market,” said DataStax CEO Billy Bosworth.

What can graph technology do that traditional, relational databases can’t handle? Its forte is showing connections between disparate data points—in near real time. Potential applications might include product recommendations on an e-commerce site, suggested medications for certain patients, or cybersecurity.

Facebook is probably the best-known user of graph technology, but many big companies have been attempting to build this technology on their own, said Nick Heudecker, research director with Gartner. “A lot of problems can be boiled down into a graph,” he said. “A lot of companies are interested in doing more with this technology.” Indeed, some of Aurelis’ existing clients include Cisco Systems and Pearson, while rival Neo Technology includes Walmart on its account list.

This is a niche market today: Forrester Research estimates revenue at $400 million by 2018. Technically speaking graph technology won’t replace existing database systems, they will complement them, said Forrester analyst Noel Yuhanna.

That’s exactly what DataStax intends to do: build an extension to its Apache Cassandra software that will unify these capabilities. It hasn’t disclosed a timeframe for that product release. “There is a theory that everybody will need this, eventually,” said Martin Van Ryswyk, vice president of engineering for DataStax.

Aurelis managing partner Matthias Broecheler said joining DataStax will help his bootstrapped, eight-person team scale its work far more quickly than otherwise possible. (The larger company, based in San Jose, California, employs about 400 people, and is backed with close to $200 million in venture capital.)

“DataStax is one of the leading companies in the NoSQL market and has done well delivering a viable enterprise-class data platform,” Forrester’s Yuhanna said. “If you look at its top use cases such as fraud detection, consumer analytics, Internet of things, and recommendation engines, a lot has to do with connected data.”



ONE MORE THING

What’s this? Controversial Chinese solar entrepreneur Li Hejun is now worth more money than e-commerce tycoon Jack Ma. Actually, the Alibaba Group founder isn’t even the second richest billionaire in China. That would be real estate magnate Wang Jianlin.


MARK YOUR CALENDAR

IBM Interconnect: Cloud and mobile strategy. (Feb. 22 – 26; Las Vegas)

Gartner CIO Leadership Forum: Digital business strategy. (March 1 – 3; Phoenix)

Microsoft Convergence: Dynamics solutions. (March 16 – 19; Atlanta)

IDC Directions 2015: Innovation in the 3rd Platform era. (March 18; Boston)

Cisco Leadership Council: CIO-CEO thought leadership. (March 18 – 20; Kiawah Island, South Carolina)

Gartner Business Intelligence & Analytics Summit: Crossing the divide. (March 30 – April 1; Las Vegas)

Knowledge15: Automate IT services. (April 19 – 24; Las Vegas)

RSA Conference: The world talks security. (April 20 – 24; San Francisco)

Forrester’s Forum for Technology Leaders: Win in the age of the customer. (April 27 – 28; Orlando, Fla.)

MicrosoftIgnite: Business tech extravaganza. (May 4 – 8; Chicago)

NetSuite SuiteWorld: Cloud ERP strategy. (May 4 – 7; San Jose, California)

EMC World: Data strategy. (May 4 – 7; Las Vegas)

SAPPHIRE NOW: The SAP universe. (May 5 – 7; Orlando, Florida)

Gartner Digital Marketing Conference: Reach your destination faster. (May 5 – 7; San Diego)

Annual Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference: JP Morgan’s 43rd invite-only event. (May 18 – 20; Boston)

HP Discover: Trends and technologies. (June 2 – 4; Las Vegas)

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