Greetings from northern New Jersey, where the leprechaun on my St. Patrick’s Day flag is dancing in wind gusts from the late-season winter storm Stella. Heather Clancy here, filling in for Adam Lashinsky, who is experiencing technical difficulties this morning.
The snowplows navigating my dead-end street could really benefit from the driver assistance technology from Mobileye, the Israeli company snapped up for $15 billion on Monday by Intel in the latest example of the closer ties that Silicon Valley is building with the automotive industry. Mobileye, which has deals with nearly two dozen car companies including Audi, BMW, General Motors, and Ford, is the top supplier of the computer vision chips that help warn against collisions, like getting too close to a curb while parking (or plowing).
As Fortune‘s Kirsten Korosec writes in her analysis of the deal, the acquisition should improve Intel’s post position in the self-driving vehicle race very quickly. The two companies have already been working together—they previously announced a plan to put a test fleet of several dozen autonomous BMW vehicles on the road before the end of 2017. While there are many laps to go before the finish of that one, Mobileye has the potential to contribute to the chip giant’s bottom line immediately—its net profit margin last year was 30%.
Intel isn’t exactly new to the automotive chip business. Its Wind River division, which makes software and hardware for navigation and diagnostics, will factor here. So will several other acquisitions it has made in the past two years, including programmable chipmaker Altera ($16.7 billion), safety tech company Yogitech, machine vision company Itseez, and artificial intelligence firm Movidius.
But rivals Nvidia and Qualcomm are stepping on the gas with their own autonomous vehicle initiatives. Intel needs to gain momentum before it can put them in the rear-view mirror, and Mobileye could be the fuel it needs.
BITS AND BYTES
A former IAC executive will be taking Marissa Mayer’s job. Yahoo said its post-merger CEO will be director Thomas McInerney, previously chief financial officer for the Internet media company that owns Match.com, HomeAdvisor, and Vimeo. He’ll be paid a base salary of $2 million to lead Altaba (as Yahoo will be known after the $4.5 billion sale is complete), twice that of his predecessor. Mayer could still get $23 million in severance as she walks away. By the way, Verizon wanted a $925 million price cut because of Yahoo’s security breach fiasco, three times what it eventually received. (Fortune, Fortune, Reuters)
Business software firm Citrix may be for sale. The company has hired Goldman Sachs to discuss its options, reports Bloomberg. Activist investor Elliott Management motivated the company’s decision to sell off its GoToMeeting service to LogMeIn for $1.8 billion last year. Apparently, that wasn’t enough. (Bloomberg)
Toshiba needs more time to get its financials together. The Japanese conglomerate wants another month before reporting audited results for its third quarter, so it can cope with the financial mess at its U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse. Its strategic options include selling the company’s prized memory business and declaring bankruptcy for the nuclear group, although it hasn’t publicly acknowledged the latter alternative. (Reuters)
Meet the new technical advisor to Jeff Bezos. A former vice president from the Kindle division, Jeffrey Helbling, was tapped to become the Amazon CEO’s “shadow” over the next couple of years. People in this role often show up later in prominent posts: Exhibit A is Andy Jassy, now head of the company’s cloud services business. (Recode)
Identity management upstart Okta files to go public. The software firm makes an access control service that companies can use to help their employees log into multiple cloud apps—anything from the Google and Microsoft suite to the Workday human resources system. Okta, last valued at $1.2 billion, was founded by former Salesforce engineering exec Todd McKinnon. (Fortune, Fortune)
Airbnb could pull off an IPO in 2018, that is if it wants to. During a lunch on Monday, CEO Brian Chesky said preparing for an initial public offering is a two-year process and the home-sharing company (worth about $32 billion) is about “halfway through.” Then again, he said something similar two years ago. Chesky likes the big bets that being private allows businesses to make more easily. (Fortune)
Can AT&T retrain 100,000 people? With almost 1 million boxes in service around the world—dedicated computers that perform functions like routing data packets or blocking hackers—AT&T has so far managed to convert 34% of its network to a software-defined model, with a goal of 55% by the end of 2017.
But even more difficult than replacing its hardware is finding the people to run and maintain it. Three years ago, senior managers crunched the data and found that, although only 50% of the 135,000 employees in its technology and services unit had training in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, the projected need for employees with that training by 2020 would hit 95%.
To address the problem, AT&T has embarked on what may be the most ambitious retraining program in corporate American history. That investment this year landed the giant telecommunications company on Fortune’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work for the very first time. Fortune’s Aaron Pressman has the story.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Facebook Warns Firms Not to Build Surveillance Tools, by Jeff John Roberts
Microsoft Wants You to Sample Apps Before Buying Them, by Jonathan Vanian
How to Protect Yourself From Ransomware, by Robert Hackett
Sports Gadgets That Make March Madness Even More Fun, by Chris Morris
The Google-Levi’s ‘Smart Jacket’ Is Finally Dropping This Fall, by Lucinda Shen
ONE MORE THING
Meet the woman who controls the look and feel of Microsoft products. It took Julie Larson Green, the technology giant’s chief experience officer, two tries to land her first job as a development manager with the company 20 years ago. Often the only female on many of her early teams, this week’s guest on the Fortune Unfiltered podcast grew up admiring the women who worked on Apollo 13, and didn’t realize math and science were considered “boys things” when she was a girl. Listen here.