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Data Sheet—Friday, June 19, 2015

June 19, 2015, 12:35 PM UTC

Good morning, Data Sheet readers. Twitter is reinventing the way tweeps receive information about real-time events, while Google is experimenting with crowd-sourced journalism. Oracle is re-architecting its data center hardware strategy. Plus, database legend Michael Stonebraker—who will accept the Turing Award this weekend—has raised more money for his latest venture.

For a mid-afternoon break, watch Fortune Live at 3 pm Eastern. This week’s tech-related segment explores the implications of a California court ruling that classified an Uber driver as an employee. Could this spell trouble for sites that exist for the purpose of managing freelance resources? Enjoy your weekend!


Is this the future of news? Both Twitter and Google are championing projects that will reshape expectations for real-time information consumption. Twitter’s newly disclosed Project Lightning adds a button to the mobile app, leading to curated videos, Tweets and content about live events from around the world. Meanwhile, the Google News Lab is backing several new experiments in citizen journalism. One project will showcase verified social media content.


In China, consumers are coming to expect same-day delivery. There’s one big area in which Chinese e-commerce companies are way ahead of their U.S. counterparts: getting packages to buyers quickly.

High-profile Oracle hardware hire. Dave Donatelli, who has carried executive business cards for both Hewlett-Packard and EMC, now heads the data center equipment group. He reports to his former boss, Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd.

It’s easy to see why investors are excited by Fitbit. It’s profitable. But few people in the wearable technology space believe the fitness band form factor is the future. So scrutiny will be intense.

Wait just a moment. Facebook’s new facial-recognition technology won’t be available in Europe until privacy regulators are more comfortable about how this data will be protected.

Google slips in privacy ranking. The Electronic Frontier Foundation just issued its latest report card rating notable Internet companies on how well they protect consumer information from government surveillance and censorship. Among the tech giants earning the highest ratings: Adobe, Apple and Yahoo.


For big companies, the question is not which cloud but which clouds

Whenever a cloud provider touts a new customer win, don’t assume this is an exclusive arrangement. Big companies have many constituencies, each with its own cloud preference. Fortune writer Barb Darrow analyzes the implications. 

There’s no disputing that the big public cloud vendors want more of your data, your applications, your digital stuff to live in their respective clouds. But for most big customers, the decision is not about which cloud to go with but which of several cloud options best fits the job at hand.

This week Google announced HTC, the Taiwanese smart phone and tablet maker, as a big customer of Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

HTC is using Google Compute Engine, Cloud Google Cloud Storage and Google Data Store to build mobile apps that suck up less bandwidth and are less likely to freeze in dead-zone situations, according to a Google blog post by John Song, HTC’s senior director of cloud computing. He is one happy GCP customer.

But in a subsequent email exchange, Song noted that HTC corporate uses cloud services from Amazon and Microsoft as well. Why? Because some clouds suit some jobs better than others. Or the given department has a pre-existing relationship with the vendor, perhaps from the pre-cloud era. HTC’s information technology department, for example uses Microsoft Azure while HTC’s Connected Services unit is in the Amazon Web Services camp.

“When my group built our infrastructure, we were open-minded. We talked to Azure, AWS, SoftLayer/IBM, Ali Cloud in addition to Google,” he said via email. “In fact we were more inclined to stick with AWS as none of us had used GCP before and we knew AWS pretty well.”

In this case, Google won partly because of its data center replication story. Because Google owns its own fiber it is better able to control latency fluctuations between its data centers than the other vendors, Song said via e-mail. While big latency spikes and dips won’t necessary cause replication to fall apart, they can significantly ding performance, so that’s an issue.

He also credited Google for being the only one of the contending vendors to send an engineer for a pre-sales support call. The others all sent sales people.

This one customer-several clouds story jibes with what Sebastian Stadil, CEO of Scalr, a cloud management company, sees in the field. Projects within companies tend to be on either Amazon, Google, Microsoft or the OpenStack cloud framework available from many vendors, he said. But there are so many projects in large organizations that the organizations themselves end up being multi-cloud by necessity.

Visit for the rest of Barb’s analysis.


Another proof point for the ‘hybrid cloud’ thesis. Open source software darling Red Hat just reported a healthy 27% revenue increase for its May quarter.

Here’s what insurer American Family Insurance hopes to get out of its partnership with Nest for connected home services.

Stealthy storage startup emerges. Cohesity, which has raised $70 million in backing from the likes of Sequoia Capital and Google Ventures, was started two years ago by the founder of data center disruptor Nutanix. The company’s mission: unify management across storage resources used for archiving and data protection.

Data, be cleansed. Software startup Tamr, co-founded by serial database entrepreneur Michael Stonebraker, has closed another $25 million in venture funding from Hewlett-Packard Ventures, Thomson Reuters, MassMutual Ventures, and others.

The downside of native ads. More than 40% of U.S. readers felt “deceived” after discovering content they read online was sponsored. They were less likely to feel that way if ads were buried amid “soft” news focused on entertainment or sports.

Remember this name. Human resources software startup Namely has closed a $45 million Series C round. The company processes more than $1 billion in payroll for small and midsize businesses.


Marc Andreessen talks about that time Facebook almost lost 80% of its value by Dan Primack

The best games of E3 2015 by Chris Morris

Vote: Which woman should be shown on the new $10 bill? by Christina Austin

How Microsoft is making your golf game better by Benjamin Snyder

Pope Francis wants to change the way you think about climate change by Robert J. Bies


Death to robocalls? The FCC just approved stricter restrictions on automated telemarketing outreach and text barrages. Together, they represent the largest category of complaints the agency receives.


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)