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Data Sheet—Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Good morning, Data Sheet readers. Oracle’s security executive raises eyebrows. Financial troubles at startup Zirtual stoke the heated debate over how on-demand companies classify employees. Watch for Cisco’s year-end financials later today. Plus, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba missed its latest quarter with its slowest growth in three years.

TOP OF MIND

That’s a wrap. Cisco’s new leader Chuck Robbins will run his first official earnings call as CEO today, as the tech giant reports on fiscal 2015. Two things to watch closely: a potential sales drag caused by software-defined networking startups and progress in the security business, where former CEO John Chambers is an adviser.

TRENDING

Oracle’s bizarre, and public, security stance. Some competitors, like Microsoft and Google, offer “bounties” to hackers who find flaws in their software. The database giant’s chief security officer resents reverse engineers, as evidenced by her “Please Stop It Already” blog post. The rant was promptly removed.

Google’s name change isn’t so crazy. Just ask Unilever or United Technologies, which operate under similar structures. But it could find inspire a trademark fight with BMW, which uses “Alphabet” for one of its subsidiaries.

Question of the day: Why is YouTube still part of Google under the new Alphabet structure? After all, Susan Wojcicki is well respected. There are plenty of theories including this one: Google still needs the revenue, while it sorts through how to really cash in on mobile advertising.

Big data will be big theme for Hewlett-Packard Enterprise after split. Unlike rival IBM, you can expect the company’s consulting division to focus mainly on very pragmatic concerns, such as how to detect financial fraud.

Diametrically opposed ad strategy changes for Facebook, Amazon. The social network’s “autoplay” video format now works inside other apps. Meanwhile, the e-commerce giant is shutting down a service that enabled retailers to divert traffic off its platform to their own web sites.

What would it cost to turn Uber drivers into full-time employees? Based on its current benefits plan, the annual expense would average around $5,500. The founder of Zirtual offers this real-world math: it costs an extra 20% to 30% per employee to add them to the full-time payroll. She should know: the on-demand temp service closed down this week because of those expenses, until it was bought (and saved) by one of its customers.

THE DOWNLOAD

Microsoft cloud guru: We don’t notice Google that much. Mark Russinovich, Microsoft’s CTO of its Azure cloud computing platform, claims not to have “had time to even digest” Google’s decision to create a new holding company called Alphabet. He has noticed, however, that Google is way behind his company and Amazon in the business of renting out data center capacity to other businesses. In an interview with Fortune on Tuesday, the day after Google’s surprise announcement, Russinovich called Google a “wild card” compared to Microsoft and Amazon, adding that he’s “unclear what their strategy is.” We’re still waiting for the Google cloud team’s response, but here’s more from Fortune writer Jonathan Vanian’s interview.

ALSO WORTH SHARING

Drug-store chain Rite Aid changes mobile payments prescription. It will accept Apple Pay after all, alongside a rival service being developed by Merchant Customer Exchange. Tests of the latter are set to begin soon.

Wondering if you can write off your Apple Watch as a business expense? A batch of 20 new Salesforce-related apps might make it easier.

Cloud software upstart Infor bets bigs on supply chain management with its $675 million buyout of GT Nexus. The latter manages more than $100 billion in orders for the likes of Adidas Group, Caterpillar, Maersk, and Procter & Gamble.

Microsoft’s overhaul of the Skype collaboration service has finally made it to non-Windows mobile platforms.

It’s only been online three weeks, but e-commerce startup Jet.com could be valued at $2 billion after a new fundraising round.

Staying at a Hilton hotel on your next business trip? Your smartphone now doubles as a room key.

Online education company Coursera is turning more attention to corporate training, especially big data and Internet of things classes. Partners in its new Global Skills Initiative include Bank of New York Mellon, UBS, Qualcomm, Cisco and Microsoft.

MY FORTUNE BOOKMARKS

Supreme Court ruling gives startups a new weapon against regulators by Jeff John Roberts

eSports are huge on YouTube—even though most coverage isn’t live by John Gaudiosi

Ellen Pao appeals order to pay Kleiner Perkins trial costs by Kia Kokalitcheva

Free Spotify may be about to change dramatically by Claire Groden

How Google is helping in the fight against ISIS by Michal Addady

Here’s why Tinder flipped out on Twitter last night by Jonathan Chew

ONE MORE THING

If you could share just one link daily on social media, which would you pick?

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

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)