Data Sheet—Friday, February 6, 2015


Good morning, Data Sheet readers and welcome to a busy Friday morning. Corporate security concerns didn’t help much in Symantec’s latest quarter. Sprint is losing subscribers, but more slowly. Analytics upstart Palantir just made its fourth acquisition. Plus, why the 80-million record data breach at health insurer Anthem is a cause for big concern.

Forward this newsletter to fellow technophiles, and tell them to sign up! Did you miss one? Here’s an archive of past editions. Enjoy your weekend.


Surprise, eBay was actually profitable last year! It accidentally overestimated some income tax expenses.

This, too, shall come to pass. I’ll say what you’re thinking: didn’t RadioShack declare bankruptcy years ago? Actually “No,” but the 94-year-old electronics retailer finally filed for protection on Thursday. Some of its stores will be sold to previous white knight General Wireless, which will turn them into retail locations for Sprint.

Tweet this: Twitter beats Street. Revenue nearly doubles. Loss shrinks. New user growth slow, but respectable. Mixed reaction.

Can we talk, confidentially? The scandalous cyber breach last November just cost Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal her job. Little wonder that Confide—billed as “Snapchat for professionals” is taking so many meetings. Its technology automatically deletes certain messages after a preordained amount of time.

IBM books room for Marriott. The 4,000-property hospitality company is one of the latest high-profile customers for cloud services. Yes, I’ve lost count, too.

No. 3 wireless carrier Sprint is still losing mobile subscribers, albeit more slowly. Looks like chairman Masayoshi Son will need some patience. Meanwhile, Verizon is selling $15 billion worth of equipment in California, Florida, and Texas to Frontier Communications to reduce debt and buy wireless spectrum.

Now that’s counter-intuitive. Even though people are scared about cyber security, they’re apparently not doing anything about it. Software giant Symantec recorded a 10% third-quarter dip for that product line—mainly because its struggling with its cloud strategy. A bright spot: its backup technology posted a slight improvement, justifying plans for a split-up later this year. Meanwhile, it will spend $1 billion more on a stock buyback to get investors excited.


Under the microscope. The Justice Department is poking into allegations that Olympus Corp. of America used kickbacks to encourage medical professionals to buy its technology. Apparently, the investigation started in November 2011.

Remember that juicy BlackBerry-Samsung takeover rumor? Turns out the talks were just between corporate advisers, not the companies themselves. And what’s this? The SEC is investigating unusual, high-volume options trading activity in the hours beforehand.

Monster return for Groupon. It could quadruple the investment it made in South Korean mobile commerce site Ticket Monster last year if divestment talks pan out.

VMware CIO leaves for White House. Tony Scott, who once upon a time led tech strategy for The Walt Disney Company, is the latest private-sector executive leaving for a similar federal post.

Dell loses chief enterprise techie. CTO Sam Greenblatt is leaving to become an advisor for storage software startup Nexenta, which lists the likes of NBC and Fidelity Investments as customers. The company has roughly $50 million in venture backing, according to CrunchBase.


Palantir adds to retail arsenal. Terms weren’t disclosed, but the analytics and security company’s fourth acquisition is company called Fancy That. The latter’s specialty is optimizing omnichannel commerce strategies.

The Docker effect. Software startup ClusterHQ snagged $12 million in venture backing led by Accel Partners. It’s working on technology that “contains” business database applications so that they can be moved around from server to server. The idea is to minimize downtime.

Is this the secret to writing better software code? Startup Sauce Labs disclosed $15 million in Series D backing led by Toba Capital, bringing its total to $36 million. Customers include Bank of America, Salesforce, Twitter, and Yahoo.


Barely two months after adding $51 million in Series D funding to its venture capital pool, outsider Morten Brogger is stepping to replace co-founder Alastair Mitchell.

The latter’s new role: president and CMO. “The soul of this company is embedded in his gene pool,” Brogger told me, when we caught up by telephone this week.

Over the next 12 months, you can expect the Danish executive to focus on territorial expansion and sales operations, while Mitchell devotes attention to articulating and evangelizing its approach.

Mitchell’s official statement: “As Huddle starts on the next phase of its journey, it’s a wonderful opportunity to bring someone of Morten’s caliber on board to strengthen the already exceptional team we’ve built.”

Huddle’s pitch in the increasingly crowded collaboration space centers on how its software eases communications between teams, including not just internal groups but also valuable business partners. Its technology is used by more than 100,000 customers, including Procter & Gamble and Unilever, and is finding a fast following with government agencies and professional services firms.

Prior to joining Huddle, Brogger was chief sales officer at mobile tech company Syniverse. He joined after his previous employer, cloud services firm MACH, was acquired in 2013; Brogger left that post last summer to seek his next CEO position.

Brogger’s new position will relocate him to San Francisco, where he already has a desk alongside Mitchell’s. “We are already connected at the hip,” he said.


In the largest-ever security breach of a heath insurance company, Anthem revealed on Thursday that the personal data (unencrypted as it turns out) of 80 million customers may have been exposed. Fortune’s Erin Griffith explores why this breach is a big wake-up call.

It’s likely that hackers with criminal intentions will continue to target health care companies. For one thing, health data is a richer source of personal information than credit card data. Among the bounty: social security numbers, e-mail addresses, birthdays, street addresses, policy numbers, diagnosis codes, billing information, and the names of family members—the sort of information used in security questions for online accounts.

Malicious hackers can use that information for what’s sometimes called a “soft hack,” or unauthorized entry without the use of sophisticated software. Identity thieves can gain access to a person’s account by guessing the right answers to security questions and resetting a password. With the right combination of family and personal information, a thief can also use fake identities to score drugs from pharmacies. This is a major reason why stolen health credentials are worth 10 times more than credit cards on the black market, according to Reuters.

Secondly, health care companies haven’t focused on security as much as other industries have, and have been known to rely on outdated software. “Healthcare organizations have invested less in IT, including security technologies and services than other industries,” says Lynne Dunbrack, a vice president at market research firm IDC.

That’s true for insurers in part because they aren’t incentivized to make security a priority. Their end customers often have little choice as to which provider they use, since that choice is typically made by employers. Insurers are not likely to lose as much business over a data breach as, say, a retailer. For example, it is much easier for a shopper to choose Walmart over Target after the latter suffered a massive security breach last year.

In general, companies that administer their data in servers located on-premise are often less secure than companies that rely on major cloud computing vendors, according to Kevin Spain, a general partner at Emergence Capital. “The most vulnerable systems tend not to be cloud-based because security is what they do,” he says. A hack like this may not ruin a health insurance company like Anthem, but it could destroy a cloud software company like Salesforce, Spain says: “That’s why there’s a different level of priority."


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10 projects Hollywood couldn’t get right … but Netflix could by Daniel Bukszpan

Creative slumps: 5 ways to snap out of it by Anne Fisher

What would it cost to have mandatory, paid parental leave? by Dory Devlin


Meet “Super Bitch.” Comcast’s customer service organization continues its tradition of creative nicknames in cause of abysmal support. Who’s training these people, anyway?


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

Gartner CIO Leadership Forum: Digital business strategy. (March 1 – 3; Phoenix)

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

IDC Directions 2015: Innovation in the 3rd Platform era. (March 18; Boston)

Cisco Leadership Council: CIO-CEO thought leadership. (March 18 - 20; Kiawah Island, South Carolina)

Gartner Business Intelligence & Analytics Summit: Crossing the divide. (March 30 – April 1; Las Vegas)

Knowledge15: Automate IT services. (April 19 – 24; Las Vegas)

RSA Conference: The world talks security. (April 20 – 24; San Francisco)

Forrester’s Forum for Technology Leaders: Win in the age of the customer. (April 27 - 28; Orlando, Fla.)

MicrosoftIgnite: Business tech extravaganza. (May 4 – 8; Chicago)

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

EMC World: Data strategy. (May 4 - 7; Las Vegas)

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

Gartner Digital Marketing Conference: Reach your destination faster. (May 5 – 7; San Diego)

Annual Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference: JP Morgan’s 43rd invite-only event. (May 18 - 20; Boston)

HP Discover: Trends and technologies. (June 2 - 4; Las Vegas)

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