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Data Sheet—Tuesday, May 19, 2015

May 19, 2015, 12:36 PM UTC
Fortune

Good morning, Data Sheet readers. The President of the United States now has an official Twitter account, but you can forget about an Apple TV for a while. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer says her company never saw the case for a merger with AOL, although investors used to wish for one. Plus, MuleSoft, which sells software for connecting business applications and cloud services, just attained unicorn status.

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TOP OF MIND

Looks like there won’t be an Apple TV anytime soon. The team researching an ultra-high-definition television was moved to other projects more than a year ago, reports The Wall Street Journal. The company’s executives haven’t yet been inspired by a breakthrough feature they feel would justify an entry into the cutthroat market.

Technically speaking, an Apple TV isn’t dead just not imminent. Investor Carl Icahn has been hoping for Apple’s TV entry by late 2016. He still thinks Apple is undervalued. He’d love to see a share price of $240, roughly an 84% premium over current levels.

TRENDING

High-tech giants to President Obama: Don’t mess with smartphone privacy. More than 140 companies are sending a letter to the White House Tuesday urging the administration not to undermine data encryption technologies on smartphones, according to a Washington Post report. Both Google and Apple, for example, have made it much harder for thieves to extract information from stolen devices. Law enforcement officials, however, say this makes it much harder for them to protect the public. They want a “back door” that helps them unlock devices for investigations.

Here we go again. Google slashed its cloud pricing, a move likely to inspire cuts by two big rivals, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft. By the way, new research suggests global spending for cloud services offering server and storage capacity could grow almost 33% this year to $16.5 billion. Plus, it looks like Alibaba’s cloud expansion plans are proceeding rapidly now that it has a data center in California. Next stops: Europe, Japan, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.

Nutanix refutes Cisco takeover rumors. The unicorn-scale startup, which sells data center equipment that converges storage, server and networking functions, said it wants to go public in the not-so-distant future. CEO Dheeraj Pandey states his position in a letter to sales partner Dell. By the way, if Nutanix does decide to sell, Dell will have a “front-row seat” in the bidding.

WHY YAHOO-AOL NEVER HAPPENED

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer discussed content and distribution Monday at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women event in New York. Fortune writer Erin Griffith reports.

A merger between AOL and Yahoo, two classic, ad-driven Internet stalwarts that have struggled to return to their early dominance, was the stuff loud-mouthed shareholders dreamed of. When the rumors of such a deal sprung up late last year, the armchair analyses ricocheted around the Web, spelling out the upsides of the merger.

Last week, Verizon’s $4.4 billion takeover of AOL dashed those hopes. Tonight at a Fortune Most Powerful Women dinner in New York City, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer explained why such a deal never happened.

There was some overlap on the two companies’ video strategies, she conceded. But where AOL made a big bet on programmatic advertising, Yahoo has been focused on its “MaVeNS” businesses: mobile, video, native advertising, and social. (Fun fact: Mayer’s husband, an apparent Scrabble aficionado, came up with the acronym on the morning of the earnings call in which Mayer revealed it.)

“Some people on the outside saw similarities between the companies,” she said in an on-stage interview. “We didn’t.” It is more important to Mayer that Yahoo maintains its relationship and brand with its users and continues to provide services that those users value, “not simply help other sites monetize,” she said.

For more coverage of Fortune’s interview with Marissa Mayer, read the rest of Erin’s story. I also recommend her newly published Q&A with Adam Cahan, Yahoo’s head of emerging products. Find out why he laments investors’ disregard of the “massive, billion-dollar startups” inside his company.

DEAL OF THE DAY

MuleSoft, a specialist in software integration, joins the unicorn club

Sometimes, the role of the middleman simply cannot be understated. MuleSoft, which sells software used to stitch together business applications and disparate data sources, has raised another $128 million at a valuation of $1.5 billion.

The lead investor is Salesforce Ventures and a new strategic backer is ServiceNow, both of which are also key sales partners for the nine-year-old company.

The round also includes three institutional investors: Adage Capital Management, Brookside Capital, and Sands Capital Ventures. Goldman Sachs was the exclusive placement agent. The new money brings total financing to $259 million.

Like the company’s last $50 million round disclosed in March 2014, the round was oversubscribed, said MuleSoft CEO Greg Schott. “It is not too dissimilar from last time,” he said.

MuleSoft sells application programming interfaces that connect cloud applications—frequently services from Salesforce, ServiceNow, and Workday—with legacy software and databases. APIs underpin all manner of business services, such as the series of behind-the-scenes interactions and processes it takes for someone to hire a car using a ride-sharing app like Uber.

Historically speaking, this has required expensive, custom services and software from the likes of Tibco, IBM, Oracle or Informatica. What differentiates MuleSoft is its ability to accommodate both cloud and legacy software. “As might imagine, cloud applications are some of the biggest drivers of projects,” Schott said. “We take the heavy lifting out of integration.”

For example, MuleSoft’s work with the Sutter Health hospital system in California, which treats more than 10 million patients annually, ties together its electronic medical records with homegrown systems for diagnostics and research. It used to take at an average of nine months for the organization to deliver new applications, now it takes just one third of that time, Schott said.

MuleSoft counts more than 700 customers including named accounts like eBay, Mastercard, Nestle, Unilever, and Walmart. It also works with two of the top five global retailers, three of the world’s biggest banks, and two of the five largest insurance companies.

Aside from the companies already mentioned, the new financing includes existing backers Cisco Investments, NEA, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Meritech Capital Partners, Bay Partners, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Morgenthaler, and Sapphire Ventures.

MuleSoft’s latest round comes less than one month after the initial public offering of another API software company, Apigee, a relatively rare event so far this year.

When he spoke with Fortune last March, Schott predicted his company would reach at the “right scale” to go public by the end of 2014 but didn’t commit to any sort of timing.

MuleSoft reached that scale with an annual run rate of total bookings surpassing $100 million and subscription bookings growth of 110%. The company also more almost doubled its headcount to 500 employees in 10 locations globally. But don’t expect it to start using a ticker symbol any time soon.

“Frankly, the way the current funding climate stands, there are a lot of advantages to staying private,” Schott said. “It gives you the ultimate flexibility” in how you want to run the company and define strategy.

ALSO WORTH SHARING

But does it play well with others? High-profile cloud service providers that are part of the so-called OpenStack ecosystem are pledging better interoperability: Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Mirantis, Red Hat, SUSE, SwiftStack, Ubuntu, and VMware. Technically speaking, that means big businesses could (in theory) move applications around from service to service without a big software rewrite. That’s one big selling point vis-a-vis Amazon Web Services.

$16 million more for business messaging service. India’s Akosha aspires to help companies communicate directly with their customers via mobile chat or texts. It has about 130 customers of its own, including e-commerce company Snapdeal and carrier Airtel. Sequoia Capital was the lead investor. Facebook’s plan to turn Messenger into a customer support conduit is drawing more attention to this category. By the way, it looks like WhatApp may serve this role, too, according to a Bloomberg report.

Oh good, another reason to limit inflight Wi-Fi. Remember that security researcher who was yanked off a United flight after he joking about hacking into the plane's entertainment system? The FBI is investigating a far more serious issue: he may also have interfered with the flight controls.

How holograms and the Internet of things help GE make wind farms more efficient. The secret is in using sensors to track the production of entire installations, not individual turbines.

Meraki co-founders get $25 million for sensor startup. Samsara’s plan is to “make large-scale wireless sensor systems a reality.” The lead investor in its first-round funding is Andreessen Horowitz, plus Marc Andreessen is joining the board.

MY FORTUNE BOOKMARKS

Honeywell offers smart buildings a control panel straight out of Minority Report by Stacey Higginbotham

The next iPhone could have a much better camera by Kia Kokalitcheva

Amazon’s unlikely secret to delivering so fast by John Kell

Why 2015 is the year agriculture drones take off by Clay Dillow

In win for Google, court lifts ban on ‘Innocence of Muslims’ video by Jeff John Roberts

How Facebook overcame its disastrous IPO by Erin Griffith

Windows 10 won’t really be free for pirates by Dan Kedmey

 

ONE MORE THING

Finally, POTUS has a Twitter account. Barack Obama has actually been a Tweep for years, although his “named” profile is controlled by his former campaign organization.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

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)

Apple Worldwide Developers Conference: Future of iOS and OS X. (June 8 - 12; San Francisco)

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)

Cassandra Summit: Largest gathering of Cassandra database developers. (Sept. 22 - 24; 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)

Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing: World's largest gather of women technologists. (Oct. 14 - 16; Houston)

Oracle OpenWorld: Customer and partner conference. (Oct. 25 - 29; San Francisco)

QuickBooks Connect: SMBs, entrepreneurs, accountants and developers. (Nov. 2 - 4; San Jose, California)