Data Sheet—Wednesday, December 3, 2014

December 3, 2014, 1:34 PM UTC

Good morning, Data Sheet readers. Scrappy e-commerce payments company Stripe is worth more than $3.6 billion after its latest venture infusion. That’s thanks in part to the forthcoming eBay-PayPal split. (Coming next year.) Plus, meet BlackLine Systems, a software company that thinks accounting teams spend too much time with spreadsheets.

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$3.6 billion valuation for PayPal rival Stripe. Add this one up: a $70 million round from Sequoia Capital and Thrive Capital just doubled the e-commerce payments company's potential worth. The money is earmarked for international expansion. So far, the four-year-old startup has raised about $200 million, including money from PayPal founder Peter Thiel. Wall Street Journal

Debate on Internet traffic rules delayed. The Congressional committee that oversees technology issues has postponed a hearing with the Federal Communications into next year. Reuters

Google: Why waste ad dollars on TV? The Internet giant is targeting big brand advertisers more aggressively. Its pitch: better (and quicker) measurement of the audience impact. WSJ


Is it any wonder? The second quarter was a record-breaking one for investments in security startups, which more than $767 million through 56 deals. That compares with $1.7 billion for all of 2013. The estimated annual market for this technology: $80 billion. New York Times


Sprint's half-off plan. The wireless carrier is promising to cut monthly bills for AT&T and Verizon customers by 50%. Permanently. Fortune


IBM: Wait, there's more! The company signed two more big contracts for its cloud services on the heels of the relationship announced Monday with big Dutch bank ABN AMRO. The deals with marketing communications company WPP and media giant Thomson Reuters bring the value of recent wins to $3.5 billion.

Reserve Amazon Web Services, no money down. The company introduced new billing tiers that let customers reserve servers without paying upfront. It's not exactly a price cut, but it’s a big strategy shift as competition grows fiercer.

Forget all or nothing. Close to 75% of the 1,000 C-level executives recently surveyed by Wakefield Research (on behalf of consulting company Avanade) say their company will rely on multiple cloud-sourced applications or servers within the next three years. Among the first to move: data and analytics software, and customer-facing services.


Can this financial software company liberate accounting teams from spreadsheets?

If you've never heard of BlackLine, that's precisely the point.

The company's financial management software is intended to keep companies out of the headlines. It automates balance sheet reconciliation, overhauling a process that relies heavily on mind-numbing, manual workflows at many companies large and small. "There are still many things that many people do in spreadsheets," said BlackLine CEO and founder Therese Tucker. "It's a very uncontrolled process, which is not something that the market loves."

As of October, Los Angeles-based BlackLine had signed up more than 900 companies as customers—100 from the Fortune 500, including AT&T, Boeing, Costco, eBay, Kimberly-Clark, Northrop Grumman, and United Airlines.

Aside from eliminating literally hours of work every month, BlackLine's financial controls software lets controllers pay more attention to identifying patterns that deserve closer attention and that could be indicative of potential fraud. "You don't have to send your auditors into the closet to make copies. It allows you to concentrate on the things that require accounting training," Tucker said.

For the first nine years of its existence, BlackLine relied on self-funding and its own revenue to fund its strategy. In August 2013, however, it accepted a $200 million investment from Silver Lake Sumeru.

"We see an enormous opportunity to bring world-class transaction analytics and workflow technology to financial process management," said Hollie Moore Haynes, managing director of the private equity firm.

The investment is meant to position BlackLine for an eventual public offering. Even though the company's sales have consistently grown more than 50% annually for the last six years, the backing lends more credibility as the category attracts more players. Among the other vendors vying for share are big names including Oracle and SAP, and smaller players such as Runbook and Trintech.

Tucker said: "You can only take a bootstrapped company so far. … We'd like to get to the IPO."


Piper Kerman on employment barriers for ex-cons By Heather Muse

Why Mellody Hobson stopped apologizing for being a black woman By Beth Kowitt

CEOs see investment slowing, but they're ready to do more hiring By Laura Lorenzetti

7 surprising facts about the Victoria's Secret business By Benjamin Snyder

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos: 'I've made billions of dollars of failures' By Erin Griffith

Body cam stocks are soaring after Obama urges greater use by police By Ben Geier

The war on drugs comes to Corporate America By Chris Matthews

Fortune's Blue Ribbon Companies By Fortune Editors


Inside job. Isn't it annoying how many mobile phones lose their signal when you walk into an office building or warehouse? Verizon has a plan to improve coverage in elevators and cubicles. Gigaom


A game-changing all-girls robotics team. Ever hear the one about the two (male) high-school teachers from Arizona who assembled the first all-girls team to compete at inventor Dean Kamen's annual FIRST robotics competition? This is no joke. It's the subject of a new book (and a forthcoming movie) with this great title: Spare Parts: Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream. Wired


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

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

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

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

SAPPHIRE NOW: The SAP universe. (May 5 – 7, 2015; Orlando, Fla.)