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Data Sheet—Monday, March 23, 2015

March 23, 2015, 12:36 PM UTC

Good morning, Data Sheet readers. More big businesses are requiring proof that their digital ads were seen by humans, not machines. The jury in the Ellen Pao vs. Kleiner Perkins sex discrimination case is cleared to add punitive damages, if they want. Plus, astonishingly few big brands are using Instagram as part of their social marketing strategy. Enjoy your Monday!


Should TV ads be more like Internet ads? Google thinks so, and it has the leeway to experiment (albeit in a limited way) with its new broadband service.

Among other things, the Internet giant plans to test options that target marketing content based on the programs viewers select or their geographic location. Don’t want to annoy couch potatoes with too many repetitions of the same ad? Google’s service will allow advertisers to set a broadcasting limit.

The caveat, of course, is that this is only available in Kansas City right now, the first rollout location for Google Fiber. But Google’s experiment could force other broadband service providers to consider upping their game.

Of course, Internet ads are far from perfect. More online advertisers are taking action against “click fraud”—in which computers are hijacked to make it look like people are clicking through on online ads.

The estimated price tag related to this criminal activity: $6.3 billion. As a result, more companies are including clauses in digital advertising contracts requiring proof of human viewership. Among the recommended responses: requiring that ads run during “waking hours” and insisting on independent traffic verifications.


Ex-employee can seek punitive damages from Kleiner Perkins. The judge in the Silicon Valley gender discrimination case says Ellen Pao is eligible to receive more money than the $16 million she is already seeking. She still needs to convince the jury she was treated maliciously. Deliberations are expected to start by mid-week. Meanwhile, you can add Twitter’s name to the list of high-profile technology companies facing gender discrimination cases. Facebook was sued last week, too.

Children’s data should be off limits. As educational technology becomes more prominent in the classroom, more parents and teachers are worrying about the potential for exploitation. That’s the inspiration for the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act, which would prevent businesses from using information to cook up new digital marketing services. The bill will be introduced early this week.

Pssst, you overlooked something important in your mobile app. Almost 40% of big companies aren’t taking proper security precautions, according to a new study by IBM and researcher Ponemon Institute. The average company tests fewer than half the apps released to customers. Even worse: half of the companies surveyed devoted zero budget to customer data protection.

Here’s why SAP opened a Silicon Valley coffee shop. It hopes HanaHaus in Palo Alto, California, will raise the company’s profile among entrepreneurs. Just like the cafe that inspired Lloyds of London! Additional java meeting places are planned for Berlin, London and Shanghai.

The pros and cons of self-service technology. Allowing customers to place in-store or in-restaurant orders using kiosks or mobile apps may increase average order sizes—just ask companies like McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Chili’s and Cinemark. The downside is that they can dehumanize everything that happens behind the scenes to enable automation. This Harvard Business Review article offers insight on what works, and what doesn’t.

Fear of hacking intensifies. Security professionals aren’t feeling all that confident about their cyber defenses. More than half believe their companies may fall victim to an attack in 2015, up from 39% last year. That mindset is exactly why so many security startups such as Veracode and Bit9 + Carbon Black—which offer solutions to assuage those fears—are planning to go public this year. Three new names to add to that list, according to Reuters: Rapid7, LogRhythm, and Mimecast.

More retirement accounts contain unicorn investments. If you own mutual funds from Fidelity Investments, T. Rowe Price, or BlackRock, you could own private shares in Uber, Airbnb, and Pinterest. Last year, there were at least 29 transactions of this nature. The trend is continuing this year: a great example is the $115 million round for Zuora earlier this month.


Just one-quarter of top brands use Instagram. Considering how quickly the photo-sharing social network is growing (heck, even I use it), I was astonished last week to read that adoption is still far lower than for Facebook or Twitter.

It’s even lower than the pickup for Google+. Considering that the strategy for the latter is in limbo, that’s saying a lot.

Among the 2,000 brands analyzed by marketing services company Yes Lifecycle Marketing, 80% managed Facebook pages and 82% are active on Twitter. That compares with just 23% for Instagram. YouTube’s brand engagement number is 60%.

“It surprises me that more brands are not developing their presence on Instagram,” said Yes Lifecycle Marketing President Michael Fisher, commenting on the research. “With over 300 million users and 70 million photos and videos shared daily, by not investing in a social strategy that includes Instagram, brands are missing a sizable opportunity to further engage their customers.”

Among the trailblazers are restaurants, hotels, and retailers (in that order), according to the Yes research.

The latter group, in particular, might want to get with the picture, so to speak. That’s because fashion brands dominate Instagram’s statistics on the most popular brands. Nike is No. 1 (with 13.3 million account followers), followed by fellow athletic shoemaker Adidas (4.6 million). Zara, Prada, Dior and Gucci all make the top 10 if you count followers, as do Starbucks and GoPro.


Match made in heaven? Dating app startup Tinder has hired former eBay executive Chris Payne as its new CEO. Plus, it looks like Dell may have a new chief operating officer, former AMD CEO Rory Read, who was ousted last fall. The latter hire was reported by Re/code and Bloomberg.

More money for Meerkat. The viral video broadcasting app company raised $12 million in Series B funding, mostly from angel investors, according to TechCrunch.

Can this Google tablet slow the spread of Ebola? It’s certainly helping doctors on the front line of the epidemic share information more safely.

Informatica may be the latest enterprise software company to go private. Several private equity firms including Silver Lake Partners and Hellman & Friedman are vying for the honor, reports Reuters. It looks like “advice” from activist investor Elliott Management may have inspired this development, one of the things that inspired TIBCO Software to bow to a $4.3 billion buyout last year.

All in two days’ work. The annual Pwn2Own “bug bounty” contest—in which software researchers are paid to uncover flaws in popular Internet browsers and operating systems—this year uncovered 21 weaknesses of concern. One bounty hunter was paid a record $225,00 for finding three, almost half the total payout.

Foxconn looking for good investment. One recipient of the contract manufacturer’s goodwill could be struggling electronics company Sharp. Foxconn, which makes most of Apple’s iPhones and iPads, previously agreed to buy a 10% stake in the company but the deal fell apart. Apparently, it’s interested again, according to comments made late last week by its top executive.

Smartphone share still growing. They could account for almost 80% of “smart connected devices” by 2019, continuing to gain ground against notebook computers and tablets (and despite interest in wearable gadgets).


You won’t believe where the world’s best whiskey comes from by David Stout

Becoming Steve Jobs: the journalist and the genius by Philip Elmer-DeWitt

Why you shouldn’t buy an Apple TV anytime soon by Ben Geier

Mort Rosenthal, pioneer of enterprise software sales, passes away by Barbara Darrow

These 10 companies offer big incentives for volunteering by Benjamin Snyder

Kleiner Perkins recruiter denies calling colleague a ‘sex addict’ by Kia Kokalitcheva

Google’s life in Europe is about to get a lot harder by Ben Geier


On the occasion of Twitter’s ninth birthday, some totally random first Tweets from some very high-profile CEOs.


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)