I saw a musical in New York last night about one of America’s greatest entrepreneurs, Alexander Hamilton.
The entrepreneur label might seem at first blush to be a stretch for the founding father whose face is on the ten-dollar bill. After all, he was a soldier, a politician, and a lawyer, not a businessman. But the best and scrappiest of Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurs will recognize plenty of themselves in Hamilton. An immigrant, an orphan, and a striver of the first degree, Hamilton saw what he wanted, a new kind of country, and he went for it. Or, in the melodically memorable words of lyricist, composer, and title-role actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton took his “shot.”
And what a shot it was. An indispensable aide to George Washington in the Revolutionary War, a chief author of the Constitution and the Federalist Papers that explained it, and the first treasury secretary, Hamilton left his mark on a young nation. And he did it quickly, like so many great entrepreneurs. It should be no spoiler that Hamilton died in a duel with friend-turned-enemy Aaron Burr at the tender age of 49.
What’s amazing about “Hamilton,” the smash hit on Broadway, is that it tells all this in the most accessible of ways, through the words of hip-hop. In other words, Miranda is bringing a new language to the art of the mainstream musical. This 21st-century artist is a true disruptor. In fact, Miranda tells Hamilton’s story so well that he’s able, through the technique of a rap poetry slam competition between Hamilton and political rival Thomas Jefferson, to explain to a general audience why it was so important that Hamilton established the first national bank. (By assuming the debts of the new states, the bank bound the young country together.)
Entrepreneurs are a scrappy, misunderstood lot. They persevere even when no one believes in them. They’re also nakedly ambitious, as was Hamilton. (Uber CEO Travis Kalanick put the founding father’s face on his Twitter handle and called Hamilton “America’s first capitalist.”) Hamilton achieved so much and left his mark on history. Miranda’s accomplishment of a career is to bring this story to whole new audience. Come to think of it, he’s a pretty good entrepreneur himself.
See this play if you can. Who knows, it might just inspire your creative—and entrepreneurial—juices.
BITS AND BYTES
IBM buys trove of weather data. Just six months after entering into a strategic partnership with the Weather Company, the tech giant’s Watson analytics group agreed to acquire most of the organization outright in a deal disclosed Wednesday. The service collects information—such as temperatures and humidity metrics—from more than 100,000 sensors. It has 5,000-plus customers, including insurance companies , energy utilities, and aviation businesses. (Fortune)
Facebook must face shareholder lawsuit over director pay. The complaint challenges the method by which compensation for the company’s board was set and authorized during 2013. That year, the average compensation was a $461,000 stock grant—a package worth 43% more than what other companies pay. (Bloomberg)
Samsung is still king of smartphones. The South Korean electronics company shipped 84.5 million devices during the third quarter, close to 24% of the global market, said researcher IDC. Chinese company Huawei is growing the fastest. It delivered 26.5 million phones during the three-month period that ended in September—a unit shipment growth rate of close to 61%. (Fortune)
PayPal misses expectations in first quarter solo from eBay. The digital payments company recorded third-quarter revenue of $2.26 billion, slightly lower than analysts’ consensus. Its biggest success story centered on Venmo, a mobile app that enables people to transfer money to each other directly. It handled more than $2.1 billion in transfers during the quarter, triple the volume of the year-earlier period. (Fortune)
Intel may unload its firewall business. The chipmaker bought Finnish cybersecurity company Stonesoft just two years ago for $389 million but is nearing a deal to sell the division to Raytheon-Websense. Neither company is commenting, but technology trade publication CRN reports that the deal was disclosed in an internal employee memo. (Fortune)
Microsoft doubles down on email. Corporate collaboration technologies such as the Slack messaging platform and Facebook at Work are winning over information workers frustrated with bloated inboxes. That doesn’t faze the software giant, which is overhauling its flagship email product with the help of several apps it bought earlier this year. It now claims 30 million active users for its mobile Outlook product lines, compared with a few hundred thousand in early 2015. (Re/code)
How data analytics company Alteryx wins over business analysts
Most days, there are very few students to be found in business analytics software startup Alteryx’s training facilities. That actually makes chairman and CEO Dean Stoecker pretty happy.
“We have countless stories of customers finding success without even talking to us,” he says. In other words, things are going according to plan for the five-year-old company, which is on a mission to bring “self-service” business intelligence to the estimated 260 million people who work as corporate data analysts. The software company even hired game design experts to make the interface for its applications more appealing.
Business analysts at more than 1,000 companies use the software to organize disparate data sources that might be needed for a particular question, such as a history of sales transactions along with social media activity. Then, they can run queries against the “blended” information.
On Wednesday, Alteryx disclosed a $85 million venture capital round to energize its sales efforts. Read more of Fortune‘s coverage about how it’s winning converts.
MORE FORTUNE TECH COVERAGE
Mark Zuckerberg: We have a ‘moral responsibility’ to get millions more online by Vivienne Walt
Inside Verizon’s big plans for the Internet of things by Stacey Higginbotham
Facebook, Twitter and the death of the link by Mathew Ingram
Amazon is plotting a QVC killer for next year by Kia Kokalitcheva
Here’s why Samsung’s profits soared by Jason Cipriani
Why Huawei will be the biggest Chinese smartphone maker ever
by Don Reisinger
Why the Sacramento Kings are investing in VR by John Gaudiosi
ONE MORE THING
Attention “Back to the Future” buffs. If you’ve always coveted the movie’s unique brand of personal transportation, the hoverboard, here are three alternatives you might want to try. (Wall Street Journal)