Data Sheet—Tuesday, March 17, 2015

March 17, 2015, 12:14 PM UTC

Top of the morning to you from historic Savannah, Georgia! Twitter’s role as a data analytics tool is becoming clearer. Business intelligence startup Birst and big data company Health Catalyst closed big funding rounds, and apparently Barbie can be too smart. By the way, Oracle is set to report its Q3 financial results after the market close this afternoon. Analysts don’t have high expectations but I’ll be watching for the uptick in its cloud software business. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


Atwitter about Twitter data. The number of businesses officially mining Twitter data for insights is small, but it’s growing rapidly with two big developments today pointing to that future.

First, a funding revelation. Tweet-analysis company Dataminr has raised another $130 million from several mutual funds including Fidelity Investments and Wellington Management. The company makes software that watches Twitter for specific patterns and creates alerts based on its analysis of that information. Its services include stock market insights used by hedge funds and trading organizations, and insights about security risks (both cyber and physical.)

This morning also sees the official debut of the first services from the IBM-Twitter partnership, which help businesses write applications that mine the service for specific trends. IBM has trained more than 4,000 consultants and engineers to support the offering—it plans to educate at least another 6,000 over time. So far, more than 100 corporate clients are working on applications for everything from fine-tuning customer service schedules to guiding manufacturing plans.

IBM’s general manager of analytics, Alistair Rennie, told the New York Times: “We thought the early interest would be in consumer products and marketing, but it has turned out to be much broader than that.”


LinkedIn recruits from without. It has acquired software startup Careerify in a move intended to build out its services for recruiters. The company, which counts SunGard and Good Technology as customers, makes software for automating employee referrals. (It analyzes someone’s contact information or social connections and “suggests” potential candidates based on job openings.)

Sotheby’s takes live auctions virtual. That’s not so new. But its relationship with eBay will vastly increase the number of potential bidders, starting in April.

$70 million for health analytics. The Series D round for data warehousing company Health Catalyst was led by existing investor Norwest Venture Partners. The post-money valuation is more than $500 million. A notable new backer is Sands Capital Management, which has money behind Apple, Google, Cerner, and athenahealth.

Apparently, this Barbie is too smart. The Hello Barbie edition uses speech recognition to record “conversations” that children have with the doll—and wireless communications to share that data with the toymaker. How will Mattel use it? Privacy advocates are pushing for a clearer policy.

Rather blasé about privacy. Fewer than one-third of U.S. adults have adjusted what data they share (or don’t share) in the two years since Edward Snowden’s disclosure of widespread government surveillance.

Phone calls are back! Frustration over email is benefitting startups that enable voice connections via computer or that can escalate an Internet chat or messaging exchange to a conversation. Among the companies to watch: Switch (which calls you at the start of conference calls), Talko (a mobile app for voice memos) and Twilio (the messaging service behind sites including Uber).

Are you an after-hours email sender? Here’s how that habit can undermine your team.


Business intelligence upstart Birst gets $65 million venture infusion

Some business intelligence companies cater to data science teams that want to centralize control. Others appeal to departmental managers eager for insights about sales, inventory and other front-line business concerns.

Birst, which this morning disclosed a $65 million late-stage funding round led by Wellington Management, wants to play in both worlds. The new round basically doubles the San Francisco-based software company’s funding, bringing it to a total of about $129 million. It isn’t disclosing the valuation.

“It’s hard to create a data-driven organization if you don’t meld both approaches,” said Brad Peters, co-founder and chief product officer of the 10-year-old cloud software company, based in San Francisco. “You need to have some sets that are managed centrally. … But you also need to blend data that you’re buying or gathering.”

That message is resonating with hundreds of customers across more than 10,000 organizations, including AT&T, Aetna, Citrix, Kellogg’s, Reckitt Benckiser, and Royal Bank of Canada.

Some Birst customers from the consumer packaged goods industry, as an example, use its software to manage business-specific information about sales pipeline and supply-chain metrics. Those sets can be commingled with point-of-sale data or marketing campaign metrics as needed. “You get an dramatic increase in agility and leverage when you can stand this data up side-by-side,” Peters said.

Last October, Birst disclosed a strategic relationship with SAP that positions its cloud analytics as a complement to the HANA platform. “The real opportunity in business intelligence lies in our ability to push data to the front lines, empowering ever person to make every decision better,” Peters said at the time.

Birst’s CEO, who has been in place for about one year, is former Jive Software sales executive Jay Larson. His resume includes Oracle, Mercury Interactive (now part of Hewlett-Packard) and SuccessFactors (SAP). Peters, who was CEO when Larson joined, stepped into the product strategy role. He previously managed analytics products for Siebel Systems (Oracle).


Big interest in Pinterest. The social scrapbooking site, seen as a powerful shaper of shopping and e-commerce habits, has raised another $367 million. That money more than doubles its valuation to $11 billion, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Is Uber getting ready for its IPO? The resignation of its CFO has tongues wagging.

Apple prevails in jury-decided wireless patent lawsuit, saving itself $100 million in damages. Meanwhile, another case pitting Motorola Mobility against patent-holding company Intellectual Ventures is just getting started.

SAP, Huawei link up. The two companies are teaming on research and development, with the goal of creating industry-specific applications for energy, transportation, banks and other sectors, reports the WSJ.

Security speculation. According to a Bloomberg report, defense company Raytheon is considering a $1 billion buyout of Websense just four months after paying $420 million for another cybersecurity vendor, Blackbird Technology.


Apple’s TV service could be ready this fall by Geoffrey Smith

Google’s Eric Schmidt: Apple and Google are tech’s top companies by Leena Rao

Mary Meeker defends Kleiner Perkins in Ellen Pao sexism trial by Kia Kokalitcheva

Starbucks to encourage baristas to discuss race relations with customers by Phil Wahba

10 inventors who apologized for their inventions by Colleen Kane

Yahoo says goodbye to passwords. Is it a good idea? by Dan Primack

Where in the world at the J.P. Morgan hackers? by Robert Hackett

Apple Watch: A Meerkat chat worth watching by Philip Elmer-DeWitt


There’s a not-so-nice word for this policy. If your marketing team wants to protect your company’s name or brands under the new “” domain system, it will have to pay $2,500—per trademark.



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)

BoxWorks 2015: Cloud collaboration solutions. (Sept. 28 - 30; 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)

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