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Data Sheet—Thursday, June 11, 2015

Good morning, Data Sheet readers. If it seems like a lot of companies are lawyering up, you’re not mistaken. Jawbone is having another go at rival Fitbit. ADP thinks it was defamed by scrappy Zenefits. Counsels for Amazon, eBay and PayPal are working on explanations for regulators in Europe and New York. Plus, Box just beat expectations for its second quarter as a public company. Read on for the download. Have a terrific Thursday!


Companies should think bigger when it comes to connected devices. Connectivity changes how someone uses an old gadget, often turning it into a product that can surpass the expectations of the original. A new report from Accenture recognizes this shift and calls for businesses to develop what it calls “living services.” So, a connected TV becomes a window to the Internet or a big screen for photos could become the avenue for a new service or use case over time. Fortune’s Stacey Higginbotham analyzes the implications.


Google wants to improve city living. The Internet giant has launched a new company, Sidewalk Labs, dedicated to technologies for making urban transportation and energy consumption far more efficient. “As more and more people around the world live, work and settle in cities, the opportunities for improving our urban environments are endless,” wrote CEO Larry Page in a blog post.

European antitrust officials take issue with Amazon’s e-books strategy. They’ve launched an official investigation into distribution agreements with domestic publishers.

Jawbone takes another legal swing at Fitbit. This time, it’s suing the rival wearables technology company for patent infringement. The specific area in question: wellness applications on a “data-capable band.”

New York scrutinizes new user agreements from eBay and PayPal. Remember that item earlier this week about how PayPal’s updated privacy policy gives it broader rights to robocall or text users for marketing purposes? eBay’s new one is similar, and both have the attention of the New York attorney general.

Reddit takes a stand against mean people. The online forum shut down five groups that were dedicated to ridiculing gays, blacks and obese people. It’s another example of the delicate balance that companies face between encouraging honest digital dialogs and policing abuse.

ADP-Zenefits dispute escalates. The payroll services giant is officially accusing the human resources software company of defamation. The two have been bitterly vocal in their disagreement over the way Zenefits collects and uses ADP customer data. ADP claims the startup went too far with its criticism.

Why Delta’s decision to tighten access to its flight data is notable. It lets the airline experiment with new revenue streams and (at least for now) prop up some of the margins on seat sales.

Better mattresses? Free breakfast? Marriott’s latest competitive weapon is digital: in-room streaming video from Netflix.

What apps do you have on your smartphone? Twitter knows, and marketers can now serve up ads based on that information, reports Re/code.

Why physical stores are integral to J.C. Penney’s e-commerce strategy.

Wanted: Republican campaigners with digital talents. The crowded GOP field is snapping up talent with analytics and social media expertise. “This is the first time that there have been more campaigns that view digital as an actual weapon, as opposed to a box they have to check,” a specialist from Targeted Victory (responsible for Mitt Romney’s 2012 operation) told The New York Times. Still, a new report suggests Democrats retain a tech advantage over Republications.


Aaron Levie talks up $500,000 deals, industry ambitions

Box just reported a bang-up Q1, at least when you consider its rather rocky experience last quarter.

Highlights include the addition of more than 2,000 paying customers, bringing its total to 47,000. New on that list are big-name corporate accounts like Hewlett-Packard, Halliburton, Deloitte, Chevron, and Nationwide and a big public sector client, the Department of Justice. During the quarter, in fact, Box recorded 20 deals worth more than $100,000; five exceeded $500,000, according to management.

What’s more, the company’s prospects for the rest of the year are brighter. That’s largely due to investments in industry-specific applications and a new developer edition, which is intended to help large businesses build compelling, content services and digital services for their own customers.

“We had a great start to the year. … As we continue to scale, we are strengthening our finances and progressing on our path to profitability,” Box CEO Aaron Levie said during the company’s earnings call. That’s quite a contrast from last quarter, when Levie found himself clarifying share counts.

Read the rest of my report of Box’s first-quarter financials.


This may have been Apple’s most strategic move this week. It’s open sourcing Swift, which is the coding language for writing iOS apps. Microsoft did the same last year for its development platform, called .NET. Both moves will shape the creation of future mobile apps—and make it simpler for companies to create one application that works on multiple operating systems for mobile devices and the Internet of things .

By the way, LinkedIn is making good on its plan to open source Pinot, the analytics technology it uses internally.

Amazon responds to criticism on clean energy for its cloud operations with a contract to buy electricity from a Virginia solar farm.

Qualcomm’s latest shakeup in China. The chipmaker’s president there, Wang Xiang, has resigned to take a job with smartphone company Xiaomi. Leadership of the division, which accounts for roughly half of Qualcomm’s revenue, is now in the hands of long-time executive Frank Meng.

The Intercloud alliance, Cisco’s not-so-secret weapon against Amazon Web Services, just signed up 35 new software partners including Basho, Chef, Hortonworks, and MongoDB.

Here’s everything you need to know about Microsoft’s giant new Surface tablet, meant to replace conference room whiteboards and (incidentally) made in the United States.


TechShop gives the Maker Movement a big boost by Rick Wartzman

Small-business services get Uber-ized by Jennifer Alsever

Spotify to Apple: You want a music war? You’ve got one by Mathew Ingram

What Bitcoin consolidation in Mexico tells us about the industry by Daniel Roberts

This startup is convincing brands to pay for charging electric cars by Katie Fehrenbacher

New BMW gives drivers ‘gesture control’ by Doron Levin



An experiment in collaboration. At the IBM design center in Austin, Texas, everything is movable, including walls.


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)

.conf2015: Splunk’s “get your data on” gathering. (Sept. 21 – 24; Las Vegas)

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)

TBM Conference 2015: Manage IT like a business. (Oct. 26 – 29; Chicago)

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