Skip to Content

Data Sheet—Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Good morning, Data Sheet readers! Thanks to those of you who have emailed asking, but I’m not actually at Brainstorm Tech 2015. Feel free to lobby for my attendance next year. Meanwhile, I’ve aggregated top-of-mind coverage from my colleagues who are enjoying the summer mountain air.

Back in the real world, it looks like a state-owned Chinese company may offer $23 billion for U.S. memory chipmaker Micron. It would be the largest such cross-border deal, one that would be scrutinized closely. Speaking of scrutiny, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton thinks the armies of contract employees used by sharing economy companies need more workplace protection. Enjoy a productive Tuesday!


Greetings from Aspen! 

Here are five must-read stories from Day 1 of the Brainstorm Tech 2015:

  1. YouTube video viewers are more engaged than Facebook watchers. That’s the storyline espoused by YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki. Plus, she may be open to pitches of the acquisition sort.
  2. Ben Silbermann: Don’t call Pinterest a “social network.” He’s also not keen on the term “advertising.
  3. Get ready for some adjustments. How Best Buy and Flextronics are adapting their business models for the Internet of things.
  4. Don’t be in such a rush. Buyout veteran Henry Kravis advises tech startups to take their time before going public.
  5. From she-robot to she-drone. Roomba creator and mechanical engineer Helen Grenier now leads dronemaker CyPhy Works. She expects a market breakthrough within five years.

What’s on the Day 2 agenda? Consult this link for a schedule and livestream of keynote interviews from the likes of Workday CEO Aneel Bhusri, Birchbox co-founder and CEO Katia Beauchamp, Pixar President Ed Catmull, and GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt.

Lurk at the Twitter feed, @brainstormtech. Here are the best tweets about Day 1.


More scrutiny of sharing economy hiring model. In a speech on Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton applauded the supplemental income individuals can make on sites like Airbnb or Etsy. (She did not mention any particular company by name.) But business models that rely on armies of contract employees who have no benefits or job security raise “hard questions” about workplace protection, Clinton observed. By the way, Instacart is the latest of these companies to convert some workers to payrolled status.

Micron may be the next to go. The wave of consolidation among U.S. chipmakers keeps crashing ashore. China’s biggest chipmaker Tsinhgua Unigroup may ofter a whopping $23 billion for the U.S. memory company, reports The Wall Street Journal. (The newspaper cites sources close to the potential deal.)

Uber was willing to pay $3 billion for Nokia’s mapping software, but The New York Times reports that it’s now out of the running. The spotlight remains on a consortium led by Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz.

Google’s new CFO is scrutinizing costs more closely, reports the WSJ. One of the most obvious signs: a much slower hiring pace.

Manufacturing issues delay Microsoft’s corporate whiteboard. The Surface Hub, a wall-mounted touchscreen, was supposed to ship by Sept. 1.


Workday ventures into startup seed investments

It’s pretty obvious that predictive analytics and machine learning will be central to future business software. So Workday is starting an investment fund to give early-stage innovators both some operating cash and some advice. In exchange, the cloud software company will get a peek into developments that could affect its own products, predominantly focused on human resources and financial operations management.

“This is about learning and staying current with new innovation around data,” said Dan Beck, Workday’s senior vice president of product marketing and technology. “In the next decade, the winners will be deeply grounded in data science and machine learning.”

The idea bubbled up organically, after executives noticed a pattern in inbound inquiries from early-stage companies looking to collaborate with Workday. Now, the company is actively seeking investment opportunities with the idea of closing approximately one dozen this year, said Adeyemi Ajao, vice president of technology product strategy at Workday.

A team of five senior executives evaluates each potential investment. Over the past three months, they have considered more than 100 companies, he said.

“We really have no target size … but they are not large enough [for us] to have financial control,” Ajao said. “We can operate very fast and get back to companies within days.”

So far, Workday has disclosed four investments (with a fifth one about to close), Ajao said. Learn more about Workday’s first investments.


Like Box or Dropbox, but behind the firewall. AeroFS, which counts more than 2,000 organizations as customers, has closed a $10 million Series B round led by Avalon Ventures and NHN Investment.

Who presents a risk? RedOwl, a security firm that analyzes behavior and anomalies to detect threats, raised $17 million in a Series B round led by Allegis Capital.

Here’s why this former Oracle CFO will advise NoSQL database startup Couchbase.


Facebook just became the fastest company to reach a $250 billion market capitalization, beating Google’s previous record.

Fed up with Adobe Flash flaws? So is Facebook’s security chief, who declares it’s time to set an end-of-life date.

More evidence of Snapchat’s advertising revenue aspirations, can be found in the emerging redesign of the messaging service’s “Discover” content section.

CIOs with financial services or healthcare companies are bigger IT spenders this year, but their focus is very different. For health care, the mantra is modernization. In financial services, customer engagement is top of mind.

BlackBerry poaches Cisco executive to lead global sales.

Rackspace to rival Microsoft’s cloud team: You can count on our “fanatical support.” Is Amazon Web Services next?


IBM’s Watson supercomputer is learning Arabic in move to Middle East by Jonathan Vanian

Tesla’s CTO envisions a future in which low cost batteries change everything by Katie Fehrenbacher

A new training ground for 3D printing opens in Louisville by Andrew Zaleski

What the Apple Music antitrust inquiry is really about by Jeff John Roberts

Meet GigJam: a post-Office productivity tool from Microsoft by Barb Darrow

Amazon to power cloud with big wind farm in North Carolina by Katie Fehrenbacher


More intrigue at Reddit. Apparently, it wasn’t interim CEO Ellen Pao who fired the beloved editor who handled the site’s “Ask Me Anything” sessions. She just took the fall. Plus, the community’s engineering chief quit after less than two months.


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)

Gartner Customer 360 Summit: Strategies for digital engagement. (Sept. 9 – 11; San Diego)

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)

AppSec USA 2015: Application security principles. (Sept. 22 – 25; 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)

DevOps Enterprise Summit: Lean principles meet technology management. (Oct. 19 – 21; San Francisco)

CX San Francisco: Forrester’s forum for customer experience professionals. (Oct. 22 – 23)

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

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

eBusiness Chicago: eBusiness and channel strategy. (Oct. 29 – 30)

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

CMO+CIO: Forrester’s summit on strategy collaboration. (Nov. 2 – 4; Sarasota, Florida)