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Data Sheet—Thursday, May 21, 2015

May 21, 2015, 9:05 AM UTC

Good morning, Data Sheet readers. Apologies for the early somewhat abbreviated edition, necessitated by a challenging morning travel schedule with uncertain in-flight wireless access. Read on for what you need to know today: SoftBank named a new chairman. Salesforce posted a modest profit for its first quarter. Shopify priced its IPO. Plus, HP is about to announce a buyer for part of its Chinese operations.

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Salesforce tops forecast, manages small profit. CEO Marc Benioff loves bragging about the cloud business software company’s revenue expansion. The latest quarter gave him another opportunity: it could reach $7 billion this year, although the official guidance is lower. Even more unusual among the software-applications-sold-as-a-service set, the company managed a Q1 profit of $4 million, which seems impressive compared with its $97 million loss in the year-ago period.


Well, that was quick. Barely one week after SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son named former Google executive Nikesh Arora as chairman, the company's board elected him chairman. Son, who is ceding the title, will become a board member.

HP prepares to disclose deal for networking division in China. The Wall Street Journal reports that Tsinghua Holdings (affiliated with the university) will pay $2.3 billion for a 51% stake in a newly created company that will sell certain data center equipment and services domestically. Details are expected Thursday. The company will also disclose its second quarter financial results.

IBM CEO Ginny Rometty talks up the company’s security credentials. Its X-Force Exchange initiative, which encourages organizations to share details about cyberattacks they’ve experienced, now has more than 1,000 members, reports Re/code. The site quotes remarks she apparently prepared for a closed meeting: “The more you share, the greater you’ll be protected.”

What you should know about the latest twist in one Apple-Samsung patent case. A new ruling gives more weight to “design patents,” which cover the appearance of products rather than specific technical innovations. This is especially true if the litigation is filed in California.

NetApp disappoints, layoffs coming. The enterprise storage giant is eliminating about 500 positions as part of a restructuring plan meant to counter lower-than-expected results. Revenue for its fiscal year 2014 slipped 7% to $1.54 billion. “We are not satisfied with our fourth-quarter results and are taking concrete action to transition NetApp for the next phase of growth,” said NetApp Chairman and CEO Tom Georgens, in a statement.

Exclusive: TheLadders is for sale. Sources tell Fortune’s Erin Griffith that potential bidders include executive search firms Korn Ferry and Heidrick & Struggles. The deal could be worth around $75 million.

Shopify IPO tops expectations. The e-commerce software company offering was priced at $17 per share Wednesday night, rather than the $14-$16 range that was originally anticipated. That puts its valuation around $1.27 billion.

More venture money for Stripe? Re/code cites sources "familiar with the deal" who suggest the payments software startup is adding to the $190 million it already raised, boosting its valuation to $5 billion.

Lenovo misses profit forecast slightly, but it now accounts for about one-fifth of the world's personal computer sales. Notably, its corporate sales grew about 3%, even though the market as a whole shrank by about the same amount.


Is Facebook’s project a charitable effort or a customer acquisition strategy?

The social network says it wants to give people in poor countries free access to the Internet—but critics say what they are getting could be worse than having no access at all. Fortune senior writer Mathew Ingram reports on why the initiative is drawing so much criticism.

The sales pitch for Facebook’s initiative is pretty straightforward: In many countries, access to the Internet is either prohibitively expensive and/or simply unavailable, so the giant social network wants to help give those without access a way to get online. It sounds like a magnanimous and public-spirited effort by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg—but a growing number of critics say this plan could actually be worse than having no Internet access at all.

In a nutshell, the problem is that the project is being organized and controlled by Facebook, from the telecom partners who have agreed to participate—including Samsung, Ericsson, Microsoft and Qualcomm—to the selected websites and services that participants would be able to access through the initiative.

In other words, what Facebook and its partners are providing to users in countries like India, Guatemala and Zambia isn’t Internet access per se, it’s a specific subset of the Internet, composed of websites that have agreed to play ball with the social network. Some say that what Facebook is actually building is a “high-tech ghetto,” and that its approach amounts to “economic racism.”

For Mathew’s complete analysis, visit


What’s your objective? For the past 12 months, Twitter has been testing a service that prices advertisements based on specific marketing campaign goals. Early experimenters included e-commerce giant eBay and analytics software company Tableau. Now, the program is available globally.

Speaking of eBay, the e-commerce giant is experimenting in Germany with an elite membership level akin to the Amazon Prime service, which could now have more than 41 million subscribers.

Oracle is slimming down its bloated industry solutions group, reports Business Insider.

Microsoft is getting the message about email. Several reports suggest the software giant is working on a new application called Flow that is essentially another approach to chat and messaging.

Zenefits looks upmarket, trods on Workday’s turf. The cloud human resources software company is rolling out two new services it originally developed to manage its own workforce (now around 1,000 employees). They include department-level controls for salaries or job titles plus analytics that calculate things like turnover and compensation metrics. Zenefits usually focuses on smaller companies, so this is somewhat of a departure.

Video clips. Music to jog byPlaylists that predict the song you want to hear next. Those are several of the new services detailed Wednesday by streaming music service leader Spotify.

Twilio: Develop apps for our communications platform, we’ll help fund them. The startup, which has pledged to make communications “disappear,” created a $50 million pool for this purpose. The first investment is conference-calling app Speakeasy.

Another healthcare insurer has been hacked. Notices were sent to 1.1 million customers in the CareFirst Blue Cross and Blue Shield network, which serves Maryland, Washington and parts of Virginia. The breach happened last June.

Bankruptcy judge clears RadioShack data sale. The winning bidder is Standard General affiliate General Wireless, which will pay $26 million for the electronics retailer's brand and customer records.


How Marissa Mayer landed Katie Couric—and measures her value by Kristen Bellstrom

Elon Musk’s craziest project is coming closer to reality by Daniel Roberts

This website is like a Yelp for hospitals by Kia Kokalitcheva

Google might give you the best way to win a text message argument by Benjamin Snyder

Uber wins, GM loses when driverless cars rule the world by Kirsten Korosec

Formation 8 raising dedicated hardware VC fund by Dan Primack

Rumored Apple Watch update may open door for developers by Jason Cipriani



Who decided it was OK to create the “dot sucks” domain name? Apparently, no one objected. So, now your company might need to pay an exorbitant fee to keep someone else from abusing its brand in cyberspace.


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)