Some interesting tech moves in the news today, as Microsoft eyes a bid for Salesforce and IBM teams up with Facebook. Both Microsoft and IBM are scrambling to transform their companies and build new suites of services that can help their customers navigate the new tech industrial revolution. The stock market seems particularly impressed with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s early moves.
But if Nadella wants a lesson in how badly things can go wrong in a merger, he may want to read the latest court filings from HP in its case against the former CEO and CFO of Autonomy, the company HP acquired for $10.3 billion in 2011. Ugly.
We had a visit yesterday from Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, talking about her now three-year effort to resuscitate the early Internet icon. By all reports, she’s made remarkable progress transforming the company’s once-stultified culture — more than half its employees are new since she arrived — and improving its offerings on mobile devices. She’s not concerned that her company lags far behind Facebook in advertising on mobile devices. “Mobile is a big enough pie that you don’t have to be first,” she says.
• Is a Microsoft bid for Salesforce possible?
The big splashy news making waves in the tech world is a report from Bloomberg that says Microsoft is evaluating a bid for Salesforce.com, a potential deal that comes after the cloud software provider was approached by another suitor. Any deal for Salesforce would be huge as the company has a market value of almost $50 billion. Why would Microsoft, or any of its rivals, want to buy Salesforce? Well, the company has a leading position in customer relationship management, or CRM, software, as well as cloud computing. Bloomberg
• AT&T-DirecTV deal now in spotlight
With the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal squashed by pressure from regulators, attention is turning to what the government could make of AT&T’s $48 billion takeover of DirecTV. That deal has largely avoided intense examination, even though it would create the nation’s largest television distributor (even bigger than Comcast). Netflix, a vocal opponent of the Comcast-Time Warner deal, has also criticized the AT&T bid. That could be a losing battle this time, as experts don’t expect regulators to raise significant concerns about the AT&T transaction. New York Times (subscription required)
• IBM, Facebook team up
IBM has signed a fairly notable collaboration with Facebook, a move that makes marketing campaigns more personal with the right message delivered at just the right moment. In an example of how this would work, an athletic apparel retailer could use Facebook’s metrics, along with location-specific information, to identify potential targets when advertising shoes to long-distance runners. For Facebook, partnerships like this makes good business sense. The company ultimately wants to make its ads more useful for members. Fortune
• U.S. trade gap widens as imports surge
The nation’s trade deficit for March posted the largest monthly widening since 1996, as huge non-petroleum imports flowed into the U.S. after a labor dispute at West Coast ports ended. The reading was far larger than economists forecasted, and as a result, the initial first-quarter gross domestic product growth of just 0.2% could face revisions into negative territory. The setback might not mean a permanent slowdown, however. Just last year, the economy experienced a contraction in the first quarter only to rebound and grow at almost a 4% pace for the rest of the year. WSJ (subscription required)
• Loved ones celebrate Dave Goldberg
SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg, who died suddenly at age 47 on Friday, was much more than his success as an entrepreneur and investor. Though he is also known publicly for his marriage to Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, very little about what was said about Goldberg to celebrate his life was about business. Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky writes about how loved ones honored Goldberg’s life. Fortune
Around the Water Cooler
• Fortune 500’s longest serving CEOs
After John Chambers announced he would step down from his role as Cisco’s CEO, Fortune couldn’t help but note that his 20-year tenure is a fairly remarkable achievement especially compared to the average for the rest of the Fortune 500 chiefs: just 6.9 years. But even Chambers’ run can’t compete with some of the other Fortune 500 veterans. Fortune compiled a list of the 14 longest serving CEOs in the 500, including L Brands’ Leslie Wexner and Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett, who have each served in that role for over half a century. Fortune
• Can Comcast fix its customer service problems?
As some recent headlines attest, customer service isn’t one of Comcast’s strengths. With that in mind, the cable operator is hiring thousands of new call center workers and instituting mandatory service training. Some of the initiatives also include an Uber-like app that lets customers track and rate technicians, as well as a $20 credit when a technician is late or doesn’t show up. But any improvement will likely take years, Fortune reports. Fortune
• Humans don’t want this job
If humans don’t want to tackle on long haul trucking jobs, can robots take the wheel? With some predicting the industry could be short 240,000 drivers by 2022, technology may be the answer to step up and save an industry that is set to face even stiffer regulations to help improve safety. Daimler is showing off a tech-up version of the Daimler 18-wheeler it sells around the world, which it argues will make long-haul road transportation safer and cheaper. Wired
• Sears won’t be keeping up with the Kardashians
Whether you pay attention to the Kardashian family or do all that you can to avoid acknowledging their presence in pop culture, it is hard to deny the family has got some business savvy. One of its more famous deals, however, has fallen apart. Sears says it stopped offering items in in the Kardashian Kollection in its stores earlier this year. The split-up ends an exclusive department store collaboration begun in 2011 that had been intended to raise Sears’ fashion quotient and bring in much-needed new shoppers. Fortune
Fortune's 5 things to know today
Bud finds favor and EU looks at big tech — 5 things to watch in the week ahead. This week’s story can be found here.