Data Sheet—Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April 1, 2015, 12:05 PM UTC

Good morning, Data Sheet readers. I solemnly swear that everything in this newsletter this morning is serious—including how one trader made $2.4 million off a tweet and the report about Amazon’s new e-commerce “buttons” for instantly replenishing household goods.

The biggest news of the morning (so far): Internet hosting company GoDaddy has priced its IPO. Today’s startup spotlight shines on a software company that helps businesses make more of commercial drone data. Plus, we will be sending Data Sheet from a new email address soon. Add to your address book and safe senders list.

Remember, it’s April 1. I’ve already received one bogus pitch from a certain wireless carrier also known to compose holiday poems. Be careful out there.


Google: Think that’s innovative? You have two years to prove it. Projects from its Advanced Technology and Projects research group, which mainly focuses on mobile technology, are managed on a relatively tight timeline. Researchers and project leaders are also on roughly the same calendar. The approach comes from the former DARPA director, Regina Dugan, who runs the lab. “We like this model because it puts pressure on people to perform and do relevant things or stop,” Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt told The Wall Street Journal.


Amazon delivers instant gratification. If you can buy products online with just one click, why shouldn’t that carry over into the real world? The e-commerce giant created Internet-connected devices called “Dash Buttons” that do just that. There 17 brands participating so far, ranging from Brother (for replenishing ink) to Brita (water filters) to Whirlpool (laundry supplies).

Two interesting Twitter experiments. The social network now sells promoted tweets on user profile pages. So, in theory, you might see targeted technology ads placed if you visit the page of your favorite journalist or subject matter expert on that topic. The exception to the rule right: no verified users are included (at least right now). Twitter is also pushing tweet feeds out to media sites through a service called Curator. They can appear right next to related stories to create coverage packages.

GoDaddy goes public. According to several news reports, the company has priced its shares at $20, which will give it a market valuation of around $4.5 billion.

London lawsuits stem from HP-Autonomy acquisition. Hewlett-Packard seeks $5.1 billion from the British software company’s former CEO, Michael Lynch, and CFO for alleged financial mismanagement. Lynch plans a $149 million countersuit, claiming personal losses from the ongoing “smear campaign.” HP paid $10 billion for Autonomy in 2011, but wound up writing down $8.8 billion for what it has routinely labeled as accounting improprieties. U.S. and U.K. authorities are still investigating.

Silicon Valley goes to Washington. Entrepreneurs Ron Conway and Sean Parker have created Economic Innovation Group, which they describe as a bipartisan think tank to prompt the interest of startup companies. They’re also behind the lobbying firm,, which is focused on immigration reform.

Beware industrial espionage. Energy companies in the Middle East, the United States, the United Kingdom and Uganda have been targeted by a special breed of malware that collects confidential information. The attack originates through malicious emails.


This startup makes sense of commercial drone data. Dozens of companies are testing drones for real estate insights, agricultural applications and even package delivery, as is the case with Amazon.

Far less has been said about how the data that these devices collect will become part of real-world business applications. Enter Drone Deploy, a three-year-old cloud software startup that this week disclosed a $9 million Series A round led by Emergence Capital. Its service, priced starting at $99 per month, helps businesses incorporate aerial maps and images into mobile applications.

Notes Emergence Capital general partner Kevin Spain: “DroneDeploy’s software solutions in their ease-of-use, speed with which they generate data, and ability to leverage the cloud to instantly deliver critical information to users’ smartphones and tablets.”

The San Francisco-based company’s co-founder and CEO, Mike Winn, said DroneDeploy’s early adopters include farmers, constructions contractors and mining companies that need a bird’s-eye view into changing conditions on the ground. The software can even deliver maps while the drone is still in flight.

“You can turn the drone on and build a 3-D model or map of your farm or land, and you can do this very cheaply,” Winn said.

Winn, a former Google software engineer, began piloting drones as a hobbyist six years ago. Aside from the funding disclosed Tuesday, his company this week scored a high-profile partnership with DJI, the world’s largest consumer drone manufacturer. Famous owners include Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and media mogul Martha Stewart.

By some estimates, the global market for non-military applications is $2.5 billion and growing at a pace of at least 10% annually. That’s despite a very uncertain regulatory environment.


Polycom fined $750,000 over bogus expense reports. The videoconferencing technology company owes the SEC because of weak financial controls and its failure to tell investors about “irregularities” surrounding its former CEO’s personal expenses. Andrew Miller still faces federal charges for spending almost $200,000 of corporate money on personal stuff, and then approving checks to pay himself back.

Sprint saves RadioShack. The electronics retail chain will be allowed to sell 1,740 of its stores to hedge fund Standard General, over the objections of its largest creditor. Those locations will also carry the wireless carrier’s branding.

Groupon woos discount shoppers. Its latest foray into e-commerce, Groupon Stores, gives merchants a place to sell online. But they have to undercut pricing elsewhere on the Internet by at least 5% to be included.

Here’s Microsoft’s latest tablet computer attempt. Surface 3, which weighs 1.37 pounds, runs the full versions of Windows and the Office applications. You can get one for just $499.

What are your Web site comments telling you? Adobe, Cisco and eBay are among the companies using technology from Diffbot to keep tabs on the content—both to warn about negative feedback and to identify common themes.


Corporate America comes out swinging against ‘religious freedom’ laws by Phil Wahba

Etsy expects IPO will raise a handcrafted bundle of cash by Erin Griffith

M&A mania: Deal activity hits 8-year high by Dan Primack

Mark your calendars: Apple’s results for fiscal Q2 due April 27 by Phil Elmer-DeWitt

The perils of spending more time with your family by Stanley Bing

Famous brands that got pranked, April Fools’ Day-style by Colleen Kane


SAP co-founder dies unexpectedly. Klaus Tschira, 74, a physicist, was one of four former IBM employees who started the software company to create an alternative for data processing. Co-founder Hasso Plattner is still chairman.


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)

Signal: The modern communications conference. (May 19 - 20; San Francisco)

MuleSoft Connect: Tie together apps, data and devices. (May 27 - 29; San Francisco)

MongoDB World: Scale the universe. (June 1 - 2; New York)

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

Hadoop Summit San Jose: Mainstreaming adoption. (June 9 - 11; San Jose, California)

Red Hat Summit: Energize your enterprise. (June 23 - 26; Boston)

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)

Workday Rising: Meet and share. (Sept. 28 - Oct. 1; Las Vegas)

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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