Good morning, Data Sheet readers! Data center startup Simplivity just joined the unicorn club. The European Union is finalizing stricter data privacy regulations. Plus, Salesforce is almost ready with one of the first business apps for Apple Watch. Here’s why.
TOP OF MIND
Can Apple Watch make your sales team smarter? Salesforce sure thinks so. Next month, it will release a specialized app for existing customers—something that works alongside its existing mobile software. Plus, it is encouraging the more than two million developers that support the Salesforce platform to do the same.
One thing that Apple Watch can provide that traditional mobile apps can’t? Instant gratification, in the form of alerts sent to your wrist.
In a blog post, Salesforce senior vice president Daniel Debow describes several ways that this capability could be used: “For example, sales managers can receive a discount approval request and take action right from the watch. Customer service managers can be alerted if a critical case is escalated or if call wait times are about to exceed thresholds. Digital marketers can be alerted when a marketing campaign surpasses a goal. And employees can receive updates on key topics they follow in their communities.”
These sorts of features earned Salesforce a demo on-stage Monday during the much-watched Apple Watch introduction. The app should be available in April, when the wearable device shows up in Apple stores.
Data center startup earns billion-dollar valuation. Simplivity sells hardware that combines computer server and storage functions into one system. It released its first edition less than two years ago. The company just raised a $175 million Series D round led by Swiss equity fund Waypoint Capital—which started out as a customer. The new round puts its valuation at more than $1 billion. Its total funding so far stands at $276 million.
Just a matter of time? For those keeping tabs on Europe’s evolving approach to data privacy, legislation that would enforce much stricter regulation across the entire union is almost complete. Among other things, the regulation would limit how consumer information can be collected and used to personalize marketing or search results.
Much ado about video streaming. According to several news reports, Twitter has acquired Periscope, which develops a mobile app for streaming live video. This revelation comes alongside the rise of a similar service called Meerkat. Both apps could become the framework for new marketing services. The latter has another notable feature: the videos aren’t archived.
$100 million to close digital talent gap. There are at least 500,000 jobs open requiring software coding knowledge and other technology skills, and the White House is urging Corporate America to rethink its recruiting practices. The TechHire initiative proposed by President Obama during a Monday speech emphasizes non-traditional training resources, such as coding boot camps and community colleges. The effort will tap $100 million generated through H1-B visa fees.
Spotlight on field service software. Cloud software company ServiceMax apparently is gaining some heavy-hitter board members this week, drawing new attention to the $18 billion field services application category.
The appointments, disclosed Monday by Re/code and set to be announced later this week, include former Jive Software CEO Tony Zingale (who used to work with ServiceMax CEO at Clarify Software) and former Epiphany Software CEO Roger Siboni.
ServiceMax specializes in software that automates tasks and processes for service technicians, delivery teams and other field workers that spend very little time at a desk—an estimated 80% of the U.S. workforce.
Over the course of its existence, ServiceMax has raised $120 million in venture financing. Its last round was a $71 million Series E led by Meritech Capital. Other investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Emergence Capital Partners, one of the companies behind Box. The appointments suggest that an initial public offering may be in the near future.
Field services software and other industry-specific applications that “democratize access” to technology are a big focus for Emergence’s new, oversubscribed $335 million enterprise cloud venture fund, according to general partner Kevin Spain, with whom I chatted last week.
The firm tracks at least 400 early stage companies that are building mobile-first apps for healthcare, retail, agriculture, construction and other industries where most people are constantly on the go, he said. The potential market size? Up to $100 billion, estimates Spain. “Mobile devices are making entirely new app categories possible,” he said. “This is a greenfield opportunity.”
Here are three existing Emergence portfolio companies that embody these characteritics:
- Augmedix, which is building applications for doctors that use Google’s SmartGlass technology to collect patient data. (It has raised approximately $23 million.)
- Doximity, a secure messaging app that counts at least half of U.S. doctors as registered users. (Its reported total funding is about $82 million.)
- Handshake, a developer seeking to bring wholesale trade into the digital age. (So far, it is supported by $8 million in Series A funding.)
Another example comes from Kofax, which develops electronic signature software and other workflow applications. Yesterday, it introduced mobile technology that uses photos of passports, driver’s licenses or national identity cards to initiate processes—such as opening a bank account.
“As customers demand to interact with businesses through their mobile devices, companies must respond by creating mobile applications or mobile web experiences that reduce customer friction at the start of the relationship,” wrote Sheryl King, research director of Yankee Group/451 Research, in a recent report.
ALSO WORTH SHARING
Apple’s $50 million diversity plan. To improve its pipeline of female and minority job candidates, the company is partnering with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the National Center for Women and Information Technology.
Activist investor thinks Yahoo needs “major overhaul.” Starboard Value, which owns a 1%-ish stake, still isn’t satisfied with the Internet giant’s stock price. Two suggestions sent via letter to CEO Marissa Mayer: sell some real estate or adopt a $4 billion stock buyback program.
Ellen Pao takes the witness stand. The former venture capitalist paints her former employer Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as an old boys club with “loosey-goosey” human resources policies.
Qualcomm authorizes $15 billion buyback. This is an extension of an existing program. The wireless technology company is also raising its dividend.
Utah reverses stances on Zenefits. The insurance benefits startup has been banned from offering services there legally since November. Legislators have moved to change the law that was getting in the way.
We’re in this together. Next-generation CAD startup Onshape is courting engineers everywhere with the commercial release of design software that makes it simpler to manage complex, multi-component projects. The company, backed with $64 million, was founded by executives from Solidworks, now part of Dassault Systemes.
MY FORTUNE BOOKMARKS
Class, reimagined by Nina Easton
The cutting edge of care by Adam Lashinsky
This Google exec says we can live to 500 by Benjamin Snyder
As stocks surge, IPOs sag by Dan Primack
Melinda Gates: Why hiring women is good by business by Melinda Gates
ONE MORE THING
Follow the sun. Two pilots affiliated with Swiss startup Solar Impulse (they are the co-founders) are attempting to circumnavigate the globe without using any jet fuel. You’ll have to wait 25 flight days over the next five months to find out if they are successful.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
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)
Technomy Bio: The big picture on transformation. (March 25; Mountain View, California)
Gartner Business Intelligence & Analytics Summit: Crossing the divide. (March 30 – April 1; Las Vegas)
AWS Summit. First in a series of cloud strategy briefings. (April 9; San Francisco)
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)
Cornerstone Convergence: Connect, collaborate. (May 11 - 13; Los Angeles)
Annual Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference: JP Morgan’s 43rd invite-only event. (May 18 - 20; Boston)
MongoDB World: Scale the universe. (June 1 - 2; New York)
HP Discover: Trends and technologies. (June 2 - 4; Las Vegas)
Brainstorm Tech: Fortune’s invite-only gathering of thinkers, influencers and entrepreneurs. (July 13 - 15; Aspen, Colorado)
VMworld: The virtualization ecosystem. (Aug. 30 – Sept. 3, 2015; San Francisco)
Dreamforce: The Salesforce community. (Sept. 15 - 18; San Francisco)
Gartner Symposium ITxpo: CIOs and senior IT executives. (Oct. 4 - 8; Orlando, Florida)
Oracle OpenWorld: Customer and partner conference. (Oct. 25 - 29; San Francisco)