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Data Sheet—Friday, November 7, 2014

As my high school track & field coach once said: “Finish strong.” Happy Friday!

(Heather will return next week. Suggestions on how this newsletter can approve? Drop me a line: andrew dot nusca at fortune dot com.)


The F.B.I. seized the successor to the Silk Road, a “dark web” site used for drug trade via Bitcoin. The alleged operator is 26 years old. Wired

Michael Dell and Silver Lake Management “have made a paper gain of at least 90 percent on their investment” in Dell. Bloomberg

Spyware, a.k.a. “intrusion software,” lands on the EU’s list of technologies that could be used for military applications. The Guardian

LinkedIn engineers spin out to launch a startup called Confluent that will focus on Apache Kafka, a piece of software that underpins data feeds at companies such as Netflix and Goldman Sachs. Fortune

Twitter will open a sales office in Hong Kong. The service has been blocked in China since 2009. WSJ

Nvidia’s quarterly earnings beat expectations. The company makes, in its own words, “visual computing platforms.” ZDNet

High-frequency online ad trading is a thing, and success is measured in billions of dollars. Bloomberg

Aereo lays off most, but not all, of its employees. But the over-the-air TV service insists it’s not dead. Gigaom

LivingSocial, the once-popular deals service, does the same thing. Re/code

Microsoft Office for Android takes another step forward. It’s expected to land on Google’s mobile operating system next year. ZDNet

Ali Rowghani, formerly of Pixar and Twitter, joins Y Combinator. TechCrunch


Amazon’s Echo, an Internet-connected speaker with speech recognition. TechCrunch

Mark Zuckerberg’s first public Q&A shows how far he’s come as a public speaker. FB

Who’s really winning the consumer cloud storage wars? The answer may surprise you. Fortune

Lenovo’s CEO: “The market is changing and China will not see further hypergrowth.” Bloomberg


53 million: How many Home Depot customer email addresses were stolen during the company’s hacking. That’s in addition to 56 million credit card accounts. WSJ

13.3%: The share of employees at Dropbox that aren’t “white” or “Asian.” Dropbox

$57 million: The amount of money social game maker Zynga posted for its latest quarter. Gamespot


Michal Lev-Ram is a senior writer at Fortune who has long covered the business technology industry. (She was also just named co-chair of our fabulous annual Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo.) She recently dropped in on Workday Rising, the software company’s annual customer conference, to find out what’s cooking. Here is her report from the show floor.

Another week, another technology conference in San Francisco.

This time around, it was cloud-based software provider Workday’s annual customer conference, which took place this week at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. The Pleasanton, Calif.-based company hasn’t been shy about its ambitions to branch out well beyond its roots in human resources tools. Workday has already gotten into the financial management software space and, earlier this week, announced a handful of new applications that utilize predictive analytics and big data, though most of these will still be used by HR professionals.

“The early wave of predictive analytics let us predict what might happen in the future,” Aneel Bhusri, co-founder and CEO of Workday, said in an interview with Fortune shortly after his keynote address at this week’s conference. “But now we can really recommend what people should do.”

How can predictive analytics be used when it comes to HR? Bhusri points to a scenario in which an HR manager would be notified when an employee is likely to leave their job. The new Workday apps cull data from both internal systems and outside sources like LinkedIn—an employee who is thinking of leaving is likely to update his or her profile page, which would then trigger a notification to the HR professional using the software, along with some recommendations for how to reduce the risk that the employee quits (offer leadership training, for example). This particular predictive app, one of six the company announced this week, is aptly called “Retention Risk.”

“The goal isn’t just to make transactions, it’s to make better decisions in the way you run your business,” Bhusri says. “If that’s not at the top of every executive’s priorities, then they shouldn’t be an executive.”

Workday’s not the only company trying to introduce predictive analytics into the world of HR software. Its traditional competitors like Oracle and SAP are also dabbling in the space and have each made large-scale acquisitions in HR tools, plus there is a growing number of startups entering the fray. In fact, Workday recently acquired one of those startups: Identified, the San Francisco-based company it snapped up earlier this year, is the backbone of its new “Insight Applications,” the suite of predictive analytics tools announced at this week’s conference.

Not all of the new applications are made for HR professionals, but Bhusri believes that is where the company will get the most traction, at least initially.

“It’s not surprising that a lot of the early use cases are around HR, because that’s where we have a bigger footprint,” Bhusri says.

Workday’s annual revenues are expected to reach $1 billion in its next fiscal year, but to keep growth on a stellar pace—and eventually turn a profit—the company will need to keep not only expanding its customer base but also its range of products. While predictive analytics capabilities are not necessarily a new standalone product, it’s a strong add-on to the company’s growing line of applications. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Workday can be as convincing in core financials and other enterprise applications that companies like SAP and Oracle were built on as they appear to be in HR software.


Remember when “data mashups” were the hot new Internet thing? I like culture mashups better.


Techonomy14: Tech-driven transformation. (Nov. 9–11, Half Moon Bay, Calif.)

Samsung Developer’s Conference: Connected living. (Nov. 11—13; San Francisco)

AWS re:Invent: The latest about Amazon Web Services. (Nov. 11–14, Las Vegas)

Gartner Data Center Conference: Ideas for operations and management. (Dec. 2–5, Las Vegas)

Consumer Electronics Show: The annual industry powwow. (Jan. 6—9, 2015; Las Vegas)

IBM Interconnect 2015: Cloud and mobile strategy. (Feb. 22–26, 2015; Las Vegas)

Mobile World Congress: Can you hear me now? (Mar. 2—5, 2015; Barcelona)

Microsoft Convergence 2015: Dynamics solutions. (March 16–19, 2015; Atlanta)

Knowledge15: Automate enterprise IT services. (April 19—24, 2015; Las Vegas)

MicrosoftIgnite: Enterprise tech extravaganza. (May 4–8, 2015; Chicago)

SAP Sapphire Now: The German software company’s universe. (May 5–7, 2015; Orlando, Fla.)

VMworld: The virtualization ecosystem. (Aug. 30–Sept. 3, 2015; San Francisco)