Good morning, Data Sheet readers. Twitter’s stock got a bump Tuesday on unconfirmed takeover rumors. IBM is testing controversial machine learning technology, and Microsoft is preparing a mobile payments service. Plus, those of you who follow me on Twitter may have seen my hints. Now I can say more: I’m super pleased to welcome six journalists from the highly regarded Gigaom site to the Fortune technology coverage team. Read on for details.
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TOP OF MIND
Get ready for more original business technology coverage
I’m thrilled to interrupt the space where I normally share what I figure to be the morning’s most intriguing news item with this exciting update about Fortune’s original technology coverage. Here’s the skinny from Senior Editor Andrew Nusca.
When technology industry executives visit Fortune‘s New York City headquarters, one of the things I enjoy most is when they inevitably slow to a stop in front of the “magazine wall,” a display of our last six to eight issues that greets new visitors.
They’re usually struck by the steady parade of tech execs staring back at them: Silicon Valley investor Ben Horowitz, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. Even Disney’s Bob Iger got the tech treatment: “EMPIRE OF TECH,” the type on our January 2015 issue screamed.
Fortune has long valued its technology coverage, and it’s no secret in our industry that the team behind it is tight-knit. In that spirit, we’re delighted to announce that we’ve hired six more talented journalists, all formerly of the well-regarded tech site Gigaom: Stacey Higginbotham, whose coverage has focused on the so-called Internet of things; Barb Darrow, who specializes in cloud computing; Katie Fehrenbacher, who covers energy technology; Mathew Ingram, who covers media and the social web; Jeff John Roberts, who focuses on technology law and policy; and Jonathan Vanian, who focuses on business technology.
They join a team composed of Heather Clancy, Philip Elmer-Dewitt, Erin Griffith, Robert Hackett, Kia Kokalitcheva, Adam Lashinsky, Michal Lev-Ram, Dan Primack, Leena Rao, and yours truly, plus a veritable army of talented contributing writers and editors.
Fortune has always covered how technology is changing the workplace—85 years of publishing prove it—but things are changing faster and more dramatically than ever before.
Look for our newly expanded team to double down on covering the technologies that are remaking the foundations of global business, from cloud computing and data analytics to machine learning and artificial intelligence, in the magazine, at our live events, in our daily Data Sheet newsletter (to which you should subscribe!), and on Fortune.com.
To the future!
Singtel pays $810 million for cybersecurity expert. Trustwave, based in Chicago, counts than 3 million subscribers for its threat management services. It also employs a well-respected ethical hacking and threat research team, plus five security operations centers globally.
Taking a pulse on Heartbeat. One year ago, security experts sounded the alarm about a bug that made “secure” servers vulnerable to unauthorized access. The weakness was later responsible for the breach of 4.5 million patient records at Community Health Systems. Today, most businesses still aren’t completely protected. Patched, yes. But many have stopped short of making all the changes suggested to safeguard their networks completely.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone. It looks like Microsoft is taking steps to launch a mobile payments platform.
From payments to promotions. Square is now in the business of email marketing.
Softbank prepares to downsize in Silicon Valley, where it works on accessories and acquisitions.
Think on this. IBM is testing controversial machine learning technology from Numenta that mimics the human brain to make decisions. The company’s founder is Jeff Hawkins, the technical entrepreneur behind mobile computing pioneer Palm.
Google treads on Angie’s List turf. According to reports by BuzzFeed and The Wall Street Journal, the search giant is planning specialized services that help consumers find home repair professionals such as roofers or electricians. Amazon introduced a similar offering last week.
You’re out of luck if you want to hire a foreign data scientist or programmer. Applications for H-1B work visas maxed out this year’s annual quota in just one week. Both declared Republican presidential candidates, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, are in favor of boosting the limit.
Hackers hit the White House, but it looks like they only breached the “unclassified” systems.
In case you missed it: Informatica went private. The $5.3 billion leveraged buyout of the data integration software company was engineered by Permira Advisers and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board—and inspired by activist investor Elliott Management. It’s the largest transaction of this nature this year, dwarfing the $4.3 billion deal that took rival TIBCO Software private last fall.
Google even uses analytics to prioritize patents. Sure, its intellectual property portfolio is relatively modest compared with the monster one managed by IBM—just 2,566 added last year compared with the 7,534 awarded to the older company.
But that’s changing. Last year, the Internet, mobile and cloud services giant earned 38% more patents compared with 2014, pushing it way higher on the list of top U.S. patentholders. Not to mention the ones it has gained through acquisitions, such as Motorola Mobility.
As you might expect, Google’s legal team uses many different systems and services to manage the thousands of awards and applications in its innovation pipeline. One application it relies on heavily is an emerging offering called PatentIQ. It’s essentially a database with insights about 100 million-plus patents from more than 100 jurisdictions including the United States, Japan, Germany, South Korea, Russia, Great Britain, Australia and India.
The software is sold by upstart Innography in Austin, Texas, founded (not so ironically) by an IBM inventor, Tyron Stading, who got sick of reading hundreds of patents whenever he wanted to protect his own work.
Google uses PatentIQ to visualize litigation trends, find out more about new areas of innovation that could inform its own inventions, and investigate the relative strengths (or weaknesses) of specific patents, said Jeremiah Chan, a senior member of Google’s global patent team. “You can watch real-time data for each different company you care about,” he said.
Google’s legal team uses this intelligence to prioritize new applications or even to decide whether or not certain claims are worth renewing in the future. Typically, companies rely on manual searches to surface information of this nature, he said.
“You can see where people are making investments. In the past, you would have to go out and get all this data from a number of different sources. What I think is really innovative and different about PatentIQ is the way [it brings] very disparate data sources together,” Chan said.
Innography is backed with $13 million in venture financing from Austin Ventures, Hunt Ventures and others. It just gained a record 33 clients in the first quarter. Notably, that includes at least a half-dozen Chinese accounts that have signed on this year, said CEO and Chairman John Martin.
What convinces companies to invest? “Generally the case is around time savings for the analyst as well as cost savings in the form of search fees and maintenance fees,” he said.
ALSO WORTH SHARING
Microsoft, Getty kiss and make up. The two companies have resolved their dispute over copyright payments for digital photos. Instead, they’re working together on new applications for both the Bing online search engine and Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri mobile assistant.
$23 million more for energy insights company. FirstFuel Software’s analytics platform is used by more than two dozen utilities—and federal agencies such as the GSA—to prioritize energy efficiency initiatives. Its Series C round, led by New World Capital along with Electronova Capital, brings total funding to $45 million.
Jeff Bezos, rocket man. The Amazon.com founder’s space company, Blue Origin, hopes to launch suborbital test flights before the end of the year.
MY FORTUNE BOOKMARKS
Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina condemns “crony capitalism” by Nina Easton
American workers are moonlighting less and less by Claire Zillman
Amazon Prime members are way more likely to shop on only Amazon by Benjamin Snyder
ONE MORE THING
Here’s another group Silicon Valley doesn’t seem understand: parents. How is someone with a family expected to participate in an all-night hackathon? Bret Taylor, the former Facebook engineer who founded productivity software company Quip, leaves the office before dinner so his employees will follow suit.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
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)
Cloud Foundry Summit: Open source development. (May 11 – 12; Santa Clara, California)
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)
LinuxCon North America: All about open source. (Aug. 17 – 19; Seattle)
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)
HP Engage: Big data, big engagement. (Oct. 4 – 6; San Diego)
Gartner Symposium ITxpo: CIOs and senior IT executives. (Oct. 4 – 8; Orlando, Florida)
Oracle OpenWorld: Customer and partner conference. (Oct. 25 – 29; San Francisco)