Your regular host Adam Lashinsky is enjoying a short break. He’ll return Monday, Dec. 28, with his final essay of 2015. Data Sheet will publish on an abbreviated schedule until after the New Year.
Over the years, I have grown skeptical about partnership proclamations. Last week, I received no fewer than five of them in my inbox—issued by up-and-coming software companies seeking a leg-up when it comes to winning business with big businesses.
Then again, not all partnerships are created equal. Box, the cloud file-sharing pioneer nearing its one-year anniversary as a public company, realized early on that it needed some very influential friends to become a respected supplier of software for managing everything from marketing presentations to business contracts. It has proved particularly adept at finding them.
An expanded relationship with Salesforce disclosed last week, for example, will turn the company’s service into a virtual file cabinet for Salesforce’s customer relationship management (CRM) system by the middle of 2016. “Files are available in context, exactly where they are needed—attached to an opportunity, a marketing campaign, a [support] case or any object—creating a frictionless experience for users,” notes Salesforce executive Nasi Jazayeri. Considering that Salesforce is by far the leader in CRM with about 18.4% of the market—almost double the marketshare it had five years ago—it makes sense for Box to hitch its wagon to those sales.
Box’s recent alliance with IBM could prove equally as strategic, especially because it basically turns IBM’s massive sales team into Box software advocates. The two companies first cozied up last June, pledging to make sure their various cloud applications work well together. Their common interest lies in automating processes, such as contract workflow or managing documents over the course of their lifetime.
Things must be going pretty well: Last Friday, the two announced a “long-term commitment” that could last at least a decade. Box hasn’t actually generated much in the way of new revenue from its IBM relationship yet, but it has at least 100 deals in the pipeline and could close some of them during its current quarter (which ends January 2016).
If you still doubt the importance of these partnerships, consider that Box rival Dropbox established its own official partnership network in early November, with more than 45 companies on board. In my mind, Dropbox’s most important friend among this group will be Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which will lend it some sales muscle in big businesses. Stay tuned.
BITS AND BYTES
Apple, Ericsson make peace on patents. The two companies have settled a dispute that started last January over ownership of wireless and mobile technologies. Terms weren’t disclosed, but one analyst estimates the pact could cost Apple about 0.5% of its sales revenue for iPads and iPhones. That’s less than the $233 million to $700 million amount that some analysts feared Apple would pay. (Reuters)
Toshiba plans drastic cuts. The company expects to lose an anticipated $4.5 billion this year related to one of Japan’s biggest accounting scandals ever. To hedge against future losses, it will eliminate 6,800 workers in the consumer electronics and appliance division and another 1,000 people from its headquarters operations. Toshiba also seeks a buyer for its healthcare division, which sells medical imaging equipment. (Wall Street Journal)
Target mulls mobile payments service. Walmart isn’t the only big U.S. retailer planning to challenge Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, reports Reuters. Target is preparing its own mobile wallet app, which could be released in early 2016. (Reuters)
Feds investigate rogue code in Juniper Networks firewalls. Late last week week, the networking company revealed it found “unauthorized code” in the software running its widely used firewalls technology, which is supposed to protect commercial and government networks from cybersecurity attacks and malware. Juniper said the software could allow unknown intruders—including other countries—to decrypt and spy on data traffic. Now, the Department of Homeland Security is involved. (Wired, Reuters)
Here’s why BlackBerry saw its first revenue gain in 9 quarters. It’s still losing money, but BlackBerry CEO John Chen’s determination to move the once-iconic Canadian smartphone company away from relying on hardware to focus on software sales is starting to pay off. (Fortune)
MORE FORTUNE TECH COVERAGE
Why Apple’s Tim Cook lost his cool on ’60 Minutes’
by Philip Elmer-DeWitt
What Mark Zuckerberg was doing the last time the Fed raised rates
by Patricia Sellers
Microsoft buys company that helps crunch messy data by Barb Darrow
PayPal is the latest tech player to revamp paid leave by Kirsten Bellstrom
Facebook expands its live video streaming feature by Mathew Ingram
ONE MORE THING
Relentless Frank Quattrone is still one of tech’s top deal makers. The controversial investment banker who took Amazon and Netscape public years ago is still in high demand. Over the past seven years, Quattrone and his firm Qatalyst Partners team have advised more than 85 transactions worth an estimated $165 billion. Two of his recent deals: SAP’s $8.6 billion acquisition of cloud expense software company Concur last year and the $10.6 billion buyout of semiconductor supply-chain powerhouse KLA-Tencor by Lam Research in October. (Wall Street Journal)