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Data Sheet—Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Good morning, Data Sheet readers. By turning Google into a conglomerate, does Larry Page aspire to be the next Warren Buffett? Hewlett-Packard discloses more details about the upcoming separation. Meanwhile, Symantec just completed its own breakup the old-fashioned way, by selling the Veritas division outright. Plus, just for grins: Apple CEO Tim Cook has invested personally in this rather unique water-conservation technology. Enjoy your Tuesday!


Google recasts itself as Alphabet, the world’s biggest tech conglomerate. Or incubator, if you prefer the term. It’s been quite a while since the company was “just” a search and advertising business. The new corporate entity, headed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, forces new financial accountability onto what many viewed as side projects. It gives the fast-rising Sundar Pichai a very high-profile position as Google’s CEO. It also makes it simpler to insulate the entire company from ongoing antitrust investigations in Europe involving the search and mobile businesses.

Come Q4, we’ll find out much more about Calico, the health and longevity effort; Nest, its connected home business; Fiber, the gigabit Internet arm; and the investment divisions Google Ventures and Google Capital, plus classic incubator projects, such as Google X.

Page, the “most ambitious CEO in the universe,” last fall called Google’s projects a “bucket of investments.” Alphabet formalizes that vision. “By the time you know you want to put a significant amount of money into something, you’re pretty sure you’re going to make money from it,” he told Fortune.


HP Enterprise will start life with $10 billion in cash, $16 billion in debt. That’s just one revelation in the company’s latest pre-separation regulatory filing, which it filed last night after the market close. Stifel analysts estimate its total capitalization at slightly less than $48 billion. Look for way more details Sept. 15, when HP is scheduled to hold an analyst briefing.

Symantec will get $8 billion for Veritas, in the largest leveraged tech buyout this year. (At least, so far.) The deal was engineered by Carlyle Group.

Warren Buffett is holding onto his IBM stock, despite the buffeting its value has taken since the company’s latest earnings report. He might even buy more. Berkshire Hathaway owns 79.57 million shares, which have lost about $700 million in value since late July.

Apple shares managed a 3.6% gain on Monday after two weeks of declines. Here’s what analysts are saying about the reversal.

Twitter kicks off a new business venture next month. It’s now an official distributor of “uniquely packaged” video and news for the NFL. Incidentally, its stock was up 9% on Monday, not because of this deal but because interim CEO Jack Dorsey and other insiders decided to talk up some big stock purchases. Plus, we’ve heard of two CEOs sharing the top job—Oracle is a great example—but could Twitter be considering a triumvirate?

Returning to football for a moment, the San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings, and Dallas Cowboys are all using virtual reality technology to analyze plays.


The problem with ‘Uber for X’

Uber, the $51 billion king of the unicorns, is among the most celebrated and imitated of tech startups addressing the on-demand economy. The company set a record recently, surpassing the highest valuation Facebook reached as a private company.

But last week we learned a key difference between Uber and Facebook: One was very profitable at that stage and the other is very much not. Five years in, Facebook had healthy net profits of $200 million on $777 million in revenue. (It has maintained those profits, reporting 31% operating margins last quarter.)

Uber is nowhere close, according to financial information leaked to Gawker. . Its losses keep growing much faster than its top line: In the first half of 2014, Uber’s fifth year, the company lost $160 million on $101 million in revenue. The losses are even more unsettling when you consider how much venture capital is chasing startups emulating its model. Fortune writer Erin Griffith weighs in.



SuccessFactors calms ripple effect caused by workforce reassignments

These days, it’s relatively simple for human resources teams to set up automated notifications signaling an employee status change in email or voicemail, alerting others to an extended leave of absence, job transition, or transfer.

What happens next, however, is often quite unpredictable. Every promotion, relocation or reassignment can affect dozens of day-to-day processes: everything from payroll or expense report sign-offs to travel approvals to on-the-job training. It often takes days to sort through which ones are affected and reroute them accordingly. This week, SuccessFactors is introducing its proposed solution: intelligent agents in its core human capital management application that “cascade” changes to someone’s status throughout the processes they touch.

The lawsuit against virtual reality specialist Oculus VR just got more real. A federal judge green-lighted the trade secret theft complaint filed by a games publisher against both the company, bought for $2 billion by Facebook last year, and its founder, Palmer Luckey.

Adobe joins Netflix, Microsoft in offering better family leave benefits, not just for new parents but also for primary caregivers.

Microsoft knows what your employees are doing with Windows 10, and there’s very little you can do to prevent it from collecting that data. It’s all in the name of a better customer experience. Meanwhile, the company is going to extra lengths to woo startups that could help build its Internet of things business.

A game changer for T&E? Amex corporate cards now work with Apple Pay.

Former Salesforce, IBM exec joins Jive Software as president of worldwide field operations. Jeff Lautenbach was previously at digital health company

Well that was quick! Fin-tech company Yodlee has been bought out for $590 million, less than a year after going public.


Hey lawmakers, patents and innovation aren’t the same—here’s a reminder by Jeff John Roberts

Why is the ‘Rooney Rule’ suddenly tech’s answer to hiring more women? by Valentina Zarya

Here’s everything we know about Tesla’s grid battery business by Katie Fehrenbacher

No more ‘Bendgate’ with the next iPhone by Kia Kokalitcheva

The cellphone contract era is so dead by Kevin Fitchard

Fraudsters duped this company into handing over $40 million by Robert Hackett


What makes a New Yorker cartoon funny? The captions, of course, and Microsoft is using artificial intelligence to pick ones that make humans laugh.


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: “Get your data on” with Splunk. (Sept. 21 – 24; Las Vegas)

Cassandra Summit: Largest gathering of Cassandra database developers. (Sept. 22 – 24; San Francisco)

nginx.conf: The modern web. (Sept. 22 – 24; San Francisco)

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

BoxWorks: Cloud collaboration solutions. (Sept. 28 – 30; San Francisco)

Workday Rising: Meet and share. (Sept. 28 – Oct. 1; Las Vegas)

Minds+Machines: GE’s annual industrial Internet event. (Sept. 29 – Oct. 1; San Francisco)

HP Engage: Big data, big engagement. (Oct. 4 – 6; San Diego)

Gartner Symposium ITxpo: CIOs and senior IT executives. (Oct. 4 – 8; Orlando, Florida)

AWS re:Invent: The global Amazon Web services community. (Oct. 6 – 9; Las Vegas)

I Love APIs: 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)

Tableau Conference 2015: Tableau’s annual customer conference. (Oct 19 -23; Las Vegas)

Dell World: Global conference for customers and partners. (Oct. 20 – 22; Austin, Texas)

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: 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)

Oktane: Identity management trends. (Nov. 2 – 4; Las Vegas)

FutureStack: Define your future with New Relic. (Nov. 11 – 13; San Francisco)