Good morning, Data Sheet readers. Apple CEO Tim Cook is adding his voice to criticism of Indiana’s new “religious freedom” law. It looks like Intel is considering a takeover of chipmaker Altera. Plus, Google is teaming with Johnson & Johnson on surgical robotics. Read on for more details.
One final note: we will be sending Data Sheet from a new email address soon. Please add firstname.lastname@example.org to your address book and safe senders list. Have a productive Monday!
TOP OF MIND
Discrimination doesn’t discriminate. If we’re lucky, March 2015 may be remembered as the month when Silicon Valley finally starting taking meaningful action on diversity.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff’s outspoken attack against Indiana’s new “religious freedom law” is still snowballing. Apple CEO Tim Cook, one of the most prominent gay executives in the United States, added his voice via Twitter on Friday. Then, he followed up with an editorial in Sunday’s Washington Post slamming a wave of similar legislation now being considered by more than 20 states.
“These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear,” Cook wrote. “They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.”
His closing thought: more of us—including businesses—must be “courageous” in opposing discrimination.
Speaking of speaking out, by now, you’ll have heard that Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers prevailed completely against the gender discrimination lawsuit by former employee Ellen Pao. As the testimony unfolded, I found myself secretly wishing over the past few weeks that Pao seemed more sympathetic. That’s not to suggest that Kleiner Perkins looked lily-white by comparison.
Even though the verdict might seem a big blow to the cause, I do believe all the attention this case garnered will prompt more firms across the Valley to assess their behavior. Frankly, Kleiner Perkins now has a golden opportunity to polish its toiled reputation by demonstrating real leadership here.
As Pao noted after the verdict: “If I’ve helped to level the playing field for women and minorities in venture capital, then the battle was worth it.”
Intel may buy one of its biggest partners, Altera. A deal would dramatically expand the chip giant’s influence in the Internet of things (especially cars) and give it a much larger market share in networking. The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news, didn’t put a potential value on the buyout. However, Altera’s market capitalization is around $10.4 billion, and this would be Intel’s biggest acquisition to date.
This is why Mark Zuckerberg is racking up frequent flyer miles to China. Sure, the social network is banned there but domestic brands are very interested in reaching its 1.39 billion active users anyway.
Slack’s security admission. It detected “unauthorized access” that may have exposed phone numbers and Skype IDS for some user accounts. Not exactly the sort of thing you want people discussing when you’re looking for more venture capital.
Service denied. Github, used by the likes of Etsy, SAP and PayPal for software development projects, has been plagued with denial of service attacks over the past week intended to cripple the site. The possible origin: censors in China.
Why Periscope and Meerkat matter to marketers. Starbucks is using live video streaming to bring loyal customers into its Seattle roasting and tasting room for events. It’s the next best thing to being there.
Google’s anatomy. Robots come in many shapes, but they all have one thing in common—powerful software that helps them “think” for themselves.
Google wants to contribute that brain matter. Its latest coup came last Friday, when the company disclosed it is collaborating with Johnson & Johnson on next-generation surgical robotics. The exact nature of the partnership wasn’t disclosed, but the “transaction” will close during the second quarter and will see Google work closely J&J’s Ethicon medical devices division.
In a joint statement, the companies said they “seek to develop new robotic tools and capabilities for surgeons and operating room professionals that integrate best-in-class medical device technology with leading-edge robotic systems, imaging and data analysis.”
Although Google builds robotics hardware, its contribution for this project will center on processing massive amounts of data, in this case medical metrics that can be used to make procedures less invasive.
These robots won’t replace surgeons. Rather, they’ll help them “see” blood vessels, the idea is to use software to offer them more insights during an operation.
“Surgeons typically consult multiple separate screens in the operating room to view preoperative medical images (e.g., M.R.I.s), see results of previous surgeries and lab tests, or understand how to navigate an aberrant anatomical structure,” Google said in a statement. “Smart software could overlay these images on top of the interface where a surgeon is already viewing a robotic-assisted operation.”
ALSO WORTH SHARING
Cisco backs ad-tech startup. It’s a new investor contributing to a $10 million round for Innovid, which sells software for targeting and measuring video campaigns.
Better PowerPoints, through collaboration. Microsoft bought startup LiveLoop, a service that helps people make collaborative revisions to presentations. Users have until April 24 to retrieve their data from the current site, before it shuts down. The technology will show up later as part of the Office applications suite.
Will she or won’t she? Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina puts her chances of running for the Republican presidential nomination at higher than 90%. Expect an answer by May.
$45 million bet on live auction technology. Germany company Auctionata’s Series C round was led by MCI Management and Hearst Ventures. Its specialty is art and luxury collectibles, which makes its biggest competition venerable auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s (which just signed a big deal with eBay).
What your company can learn from anonymous office gossip. Memo, used by the likes of Amazon, Deloitte and Delta, lets employees vent in secret. The result, management gets a better pulse about employee sentiment.
MY FORTUNE BOOKMARKS
9 startup ideas that were ahead of their time by Erin Griffith
When is the best time to schedule a job interview by Ryan Smith
Man at center of Ellen Pao case still working in VC by Dan Primack
Why Max Levchin hates credit cards by Andrew Nusca
How Apple is making money off of its landmark solar deal by Katie Fehrenbacher
ONE MORE THING
Baseball. The Civil War. Now documentary film-maker Ken Burns is tackling his more personal project yet, a history of cancer.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
AWS Summit. First in a series of cloud strategy briefings. (April 9; San Francisco)
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)
Cornerstone Convergence: Connect, collaborate. (May 11 – 13; Los Angeles)
Annual Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference: JP Morgan’s 43rd invite-only event. (May 18 – 20; Boston)
MongoDB World: Scale the universe. (June 1 – 2; New York)
HP Discover: Trends and technologies. (June 2 – 4; Las Vegas)
Hadoop Summit San Jose: Mainstreaming adoption. (June 9 – 11; San Jose, California)
Red Hat Summit: Energize your enterprise. (June 23 – 26; Boston)
Brainstorm Tech: Fortune’s invite-only gathering of thinkers, influencers and entrepreneurs. (July 13 – 15; Aspen, Colorado)
VMworld: The virtualization ecosystem. (Aug. 30 – Sept. 3, 2015; San Francisco)
Dreamforce: The Salesforce community. (Sept. 15 – 18; San Francisco)
BoxWorks 2015: Cloud collaboration solutions. (Sept. 28 – 30; San Francisco)
Workday Rising: Meet and share. (Sept. 28 – Oct. 1; Las Vegas)
Gartner Symposium ITxpo: CIOs and senior IT executives. (Oct. 4 – 8; Orlando, Florida)
Oracle OpenWorld: Customer and partner conference. (Oct. 25 – 29; San Francisco)