Data Sheet—Wednesday, December 10, 2014

December 10, 2014, 1:50 PM UTC

Welcome to the middle of the workweek, Data Sheet readers. Intel is improving its technology for the “Internet of things.” Plus, Yammer’s founder is trying his hand at human resources software and Facebook’s former chief technology officer wants to unseat Microsoft’s hold on office productivity applications.

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Intel advances 'Internet of things' mission. It just released technology that simplifies the process of connecting sensors on industrial equipment and other smart devices to corporate data centers through wireless communications. Reuters

While I'm thinking about connected "things," a top executive from Qualcomm—one of Intel's biggest competitors in this space—just showed up at startup Helium. The latter also is addressing connectivity options. Re/code

And, in case you missed it, networking company Belden, just bought industrial cybersecurity expert Tripwire for $ 710 million. That's to help you keep things safe. GeekWire

Samsung combines mobile, electronics sales groups. It already reassigned many of the top executives, as part of its financial turnaround plan. Wall Street Journal

AMD trades exchanges. After the New Year, it will trade on the tech-heavy NASDAQ, despite the NYSE's recent success with technology IPOs (including Box's anticipated debut, now pushed into 2015). WSJ, ZDNet


Social media threats. A troubling number of Facebook (40%) and Twitter (20%) accounts aren’t officially sanctioned by the company they claim to represent, according to new research by security company Proofpoint (registration required). Plus, social spam is skyrocketing, and an average of at least one Fortune 100 social account is compromised daily.

You choose when the doctor will see you. By the end of 2019, two-in-three patients will make medical appointments using online or mobile scheduling technology (rather than a human receptionist). This could shortcut the process significantly—shrinking the time it takes to about one minute, compared with the 8.1 minutes it takes now. Plus, it could save healthcare providers about $3.2 billion in productivity. Of course, you'll still spend much longer than that in the waiting room. Accenture


With new field service software, waiting is no longer the hardest part

In late November, Comcast started testing a mobile application intended to shrink the insanely long windows many telecommunications companies specify for on-site service visits. Customers now get an alert about 30 minutes ahead of time.

Comcast's embattled customer support organization certainly has plenty of ground to make up, so offering something like this is smart. Then again, my first thought when hearing about this technology was, "Why isn't every other field service organization doing something like this?"

That's a question that Boston-based software startup Dispatch would love the chance to debate with large home improvement retailers. Co-founder and CEO Avi Goldberg has obsessed over this issue since the day his washing machine broke and the company managing his warranty service couldn't connect him with a local repair person. After several phone calls, Goldberg got an appointment—two weeks into the future. Mere hours later, he was the owner of a new washer.

Last month, Goldberg's 13-person team got $3.1 million in seed funding from backers including Salesforce Ventures and former Oracle exec Ray Lane to refine software that streamlines scheduling, billing and communications associated with service appointments.

"Customers want a seamless experience that enables them to book immediately, know exactly when their service professional is going to arrive and then pay with ease," Goldberg said.

They receive that information in the form of a text, which estimates the wait time before someone is scheduled to arrive. Homeowners can even see what the person looks like, so they know whether or not to open the door.

Dispatch's technology connects with existing workforce management and invoicing systems. Goldberg said that integration takes two to four weeks to set up, compared with the six-month timeframe often required to create this sort of application from scratch. Dispatch charges a transaction fee based on how many visits it orchestrates, ranging from "pennies" per job to close to a dollar, he said.

Dispatch's customers are businesses (both large and small) that need to organize service teams. Its primary target right now is the $4.5 billion home improvements and services sector. Another software company addressing the mobile field-service management opportunity is ServiceMax, although its mission is broader and also tackles internal workforce automation.

Goldberg is cagey about customer names, although he disclosed that Dispatch is working with one of the largest warranty service companies in the United States. Its technology is also used by Handyman Connection, which manages about 1,000 technicians across 50 franchise locations. "Dispatch's service will help us create a much better customer experience," said Handyman Connection CEO Jeff Wall.


Former Facebook CTO takes on Microsoft Office. Quip co-founder and CEO Bret Taylor (a creator of the Google Maps service) wants to cure "versionitis"—the process of using email to share and revise that various documents, spreadsheets, presentations that companies create with aging productivity software like Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

His prescription is Quip, a cloud service that bridges the different features and functions those individual applications offer. "With Quip, we've sort of thrown out all the old metaphors," he said. Fortune

Yammer founder joins hot HR software company. David Sachs doesn't need another job, but he just signed on as chief operating officer for San Francisco-based cloud business software company Zenefits. As of June, its valuation was approximately $500 million. Fortune

Ex-Cisco exec seeks data center balance. Emerging from stealth with $33 million in funding, Avi Networks from Sunnyvale, Calif., makes software that distributes network traffic intelligently from server to server. A similar approach is used by hyperscale Internet companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

The founder, Umesh Mahajan, ran Cisco's data center business. The company's initial financing comes from Greylock Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Menlo Ventures. Early customers include two top U.S. telecommunications companies, a top five financial services firm, and a top three retailer.

Programming prodigy. The 25-year-old founder of HashiCorp started writing code when he was 12—there have been more than 1 million downloads of software Mitchell Hashimoto has created. GGV Capital, Mayfield Fund, and True Ventures are participating in the $10 million Series A round into his new company, which is focused on speeding up corporate application development and management.

"Gone are the days of long development cycles and the division of development from operations and production," wrote GGV Capital managing partner Glenn Solomon, explaining his firm's decision to invest. "Today's developers need immediate feedback on the performance of newly shipped code in product, while operations and reliability professionals need a deep understanding of the software they're managing and processes that enable scalability."

HashiCorp's first commercial offering, called Atlas, is scheduled for widespread release in the first quarter of 2015.

$30 million for Hadoop software company. Altiscale raised its Series B round from Northgate, Sequoia Capital and General Catalyst Partners—bringing its total backing to $42 million. The Yahoo-incubated company offers its Apache Hadoop data management technology as a cloud service, which reduces installation complexity and speeds delivery time.


How analytics helped Kimberly-Clark solve its diversity problem By Molly Petrilla

How to run a corporation like a startup By Lila Ibrahim

Techstars helps startups get a little more corporate By Erin Griffith

Pixar vets raise another $15 million for their talking toy company By Dan Primack

Russia, Orbital Sciences, and the American rocket problem By Clay Dillow

Magic Johnson: The businessman behind the basketball legend By Benjamin Snyder

Microsoft Band reviewed: A fine fitness tracker, but little more By Jason Cipriani


Mobile keyboard cornucopia. If you're all thumbs when it comes to typing on a tablet computer but yearning to ditch your laptop for business trips, these are your best new options. WSJ


Could your company's e-commerce app use a makeover? eBay just redesigned its iPad application to look more like Pinterest, the photo-heavy social network. Here's why. Re/code


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 extravaganza. (May 4 – 8, 2015; Chicago)

NetSuite SuiteWorld: Cloud ERP strategy. (May 4 – 7, 2015; San Jose, Calif.)

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