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Data Sheet—Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Welcome to Wednesday, Data Sheet readers. Microsoft could release details about major headcount reductions early this morning. Symantec may have a buyer for Veritas. Plus, Oracle just changed the terms for executive stock options. Read on for this morning’s download on the business of technology. Have a productive day!


More Microsoft layoffs are coming. Signs of an impending slim down emerged just before the software giant’s new fiscal year started July 1. It let 18,000 people go over the past 12 months but still had 118,000 employees globally on the payroll as of March 31. Keep your eyes on the company’s mobile division, which could also soon disclose a huge write-down related to the ill-fated Nokia acquisition. Details on the cuts are likely early Wednesday.


Sign of a tough market? EMC sold off its cloud file-synchronization and storage service, Syncplicity, just three years after buying it in the first place. The storage giant will retain a stake in the new company, to be known as Sycamore. Activist investor Elliott Management has been pushing EMC to exit non-core businesses. Cloud storage has fast becoming a commodity market, thanks to aggressive price cuts by the likes of Google and Microsoft.

Symantec may have a buyer for its Veritas division. As an option to splitting in two, the security software company has been entertaining offers for its data management technology business. Reuters reports that it may be close to a deal with Carlyle Group, citing a source close to the matter.

Cisco just bought another cloud software company. It is paying $139 million for MaintenanceNet, which sells sales software that helps businesses manage service contracts. The idea is to track when contracts are up for renewal and identify cross-selling opportunities. The technology likely will play a key role in Cisco’s Internet of things strategy.

Oracle cuts value of executive compensation. The company just granted millions of stock options to Safra Catz, Larry Ellison, and Mark Hurd—the same amount as last year. But they expire far more quickly: in five years instead of 10.

Why Airbnb is having an easier time than Uber in new cities and countries. Since some early hiccups, it has been far more adept at courting local politicians and lawmakers. “We want to explain what is happening out there because at some point, they will want to regulate this.” Patrick Robinson, head of public policy in Europe for Airbnb, told The New York Times.


Shouldn’t digital strategy be a board-level concern?

Many business leaders view the rise of digital disruptors in their industry as a “sign of progress.” What’s more, at least one-third believe that seemingly invulnerable incumbents will lose stature or market share because of them.

Yet far fewer executives are taking a proactive approach to meeting that challenge, according to original research conducted by Cisco and the International Institute of Management Development, through the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation. The center polled 941 business leaders across 12 industries and 13 countries.

Here’s one of the more telling metrics from the stats-laden analysis of the results: only 44% of the surveyed executives indicated that they work for companies where digital disruption is a board-level concern. There are parallels to the rather blithe attitudes toward cybersecurity just a few years ago, before massive breaches like those suffered by retailer Target and insurer Anthem Health crowded into headlines.

That level of inattention holds true even for industries such as travel and hospitality where digital disruption is already happening quickly—courtesy of technology startups that rely heavily on mobile apps, the Internet of things and cloud services to facilitate transactions, such as Uber and Airbnb. The figure below shows the level of risk the survey respondents associated with each industry considered.

The center describes digital business models in three categories, based on where value across an industry is redefined: Cost Value (i.e., price transparency, buyer aggregation, reverse auctions, consumption-based pricing), Experience Value (customer choice, personalization, automation) and Platform Value (marketplaces, sharing economy, and data monetization).

The most successful disruptors of the past decade combine elements of the three models, the report suggests. For example, Uber is succeeding not simply because it offers a lower cost alternative to riding from Point A to Point B, but because it makes the process of completing a transaction via its mobile application so simple.

“Digital disruptors are particularly dangerous because they grow enormous user bases seemingly overnight, and then are agile enough to convert those users into business models that threaten incumbents in multiple markets,” notes the analysis, dubbed “Digital Vortex, How Digital Disruption is Redefining Industries.”

According to this particular study, the five industries most in danger of disruption are: technology products and services, media and entertainment, retail, financial services and telecommunications. Among the 12 industries studied, pharmaceutical companies were the least likely to be disrupted, according to the surveyed executives.

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Former LinkedIn engineers raise $24 million for big data startup. Confluent specializes in open source software that can analyze information in real time, building on technology used internally by the social network called Apache Kafka. Other big users of Kafka include Cisco, Goldman Sachs, Netflix, and Uber.

Industrial applications aren’t the be-all and end-all. Why consumers also need to be at the center of any corporate Internet of things strategy.

$1 trillion. That’s the estimated damage that a major cyberattack on the power grid could inflict on the U.S. economy.

Apple’s magic number? The company doesn’t break out sales of Apple Watch, but analysts estimate it sold 3 million to 5.7 million in its third fiscal quarter.

Wind will power Facebook’s next data center, a $1 billion facility being built on 17,000 acres in Texas.

What’s in a name? Can a corporate rebranding reenergize Logitech, er Logi?


Does Facebook have a duty to the news or to journalism, and if so what is it? by Mathew Ingram

Solar panels: Not just for rich homeowners anymore by Katie Fehrenbacher

Oculus VR CEO: Why build exclusive games when you can fund them? by John Gaudiosi

GoPro hires former Hulu director to boost original content by Jason Cipriani

Top crypto experts warn governments over encryption backdoors by Robert Hackett

A subtle change gave Facebook’s icons more gender equality by Kia Kokalitcheva


Someone thought this was a good idea? Law enforcement officials are up in arms over an iPhone case that makes the smartphone look like a handgun.


Brainstorm Tech: Fortune’s invite-only gathering of thinkers, influencers and entrepreneurs. (July 13 – 15; Aspen, Colorado)

Esri Business Summit: Mapping the value of data. (July 18 – 21; San Diego)

LinuxCon North America: All about open source. (Aug. 17 – 19; Seattle)

SuccessConnect: Simplify the way the world works. (Aug. 10 – 12; Las Vegas)

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)

I Love APIs 2015: Apigee’s annual conference. (Oct. 12 – 14; San Jose, California)

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)