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Data Sheet—Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Google can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to antitrust scrutiny. Now that it has officially scorned the European Commission’s accusations, consulting firm Avisa Partners and law firm Hausfeld & Co. are betting against it. They’re looking for European businesses willing to share their stories about anti-competitive behavior by the Internet search giant.

They’ve created a Web site (of course!) called Google Redress & Integrity Platform (aka GRIP) where companies can share details of their potential case for review. That assessment isn’t free, but if a case looks especially promising, these two companies would love to represent it. From the company’s site:

“So far, some individuals and businesses found it very difficult or simply did not know how to assess or progress any potential rights of claim they may have. This partially explains why the share of Google’s victims who dare to seek redress remains to this day astonishingly small. With many players in technology markets being relatively small and spread across the European continent, we want to create an independent and accessible way to help evaluate your situation.”

Scrutiny is escalating elsewhere. The New York Times reports that India’s antitrust regulators last week delivered an official report outlining their own concerns about its dominance in search and other potentially anticompetitive behavior.

Google isn’t the only tech company consulting its lawyers this morning. Read on for the latest on Uber’s legal challenges. Other breaking news: the lead executive for Intel’s Internet of things has jumped ship to become CEO of smart-grid specialist Silver Lake Networks; Apple is making over its retail stores; and cybersecurity firm just disclosed another $120 million infusion. As Fortune‘s Leena Rao and Dan Primack reported last month, the company carries a valuation of at least $2.5 billion.



Salesforce wants to revolutionize healthcare management. Its latest offering, called Health Cloud, combines data from electronic medical records, medical devices, and wearables so that caregivers have a more holistic view of patients. The platform should be available commercially next February. (Fortune)


Uber officially has a class-action lawsuit on its hands. A California judge believes its drivers look more like employees than contractors. That means the ride-sharing company may wind up paying much larger settlement if it is required to pay the plaintiffs for certain expenses and benefits. Similar cases are pending against Lyft, Instacart, Postmates, and Homejoy. (Fortune)

Were you personally impacted by the huge federal data breach? The U.S. government still hasn’t notified the 21.5 million or so affected employees, contractors or their relatives. But it will pay at least $133 million to protect their identities. (Reuters, Wall Street Journal)

Intel seeks sales revival with new processor line. The “Skylake” processors promise dramatic improvements in performance and energy consumption, for systems ranging from skinny notebooks to tricked-out graphics workstations. Lenovo is among the first ready with an extensive overhaul of its business computers. (Journal, ZDNet )

Amazon is backing away from hardware. Why it should leave consumer electronics manufacturing to other companies like Apple or Samsung. (Fortune)

Nasdaq will help Chinese firms with surveillance. Several domestic brokerages will begin using its trading systems technology early next year, in large part to help thwart market manipulation. (Journal)


Why this home improvements retailer is unifying how to handle customer feedback

David Buckley, CMO of $2 billion retailer Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, believes feedback is feedback. It doesn’t matter whether a customer’s comments relate to an experience in a local store or in cyberspace.

Yet many retailers still manage online reviews as an e-commerce function, leaving it up to that team to handle comments left in forums such as Facebook, Google+, and Yelp while surveys about store visits are analyzed elsewhere. That’s a huge disconnect. Sound familiar?

Buckley believes most retailers overlook a golden opportunity to benefit from the power of their customers’ voices, regardless of whether what’s being said is positive or negative. “It’s very simple for people to leave feedback that the entire world can see,” he told me in July. “The consumer has taken controls of brands. … Marketers have irreversibly lost control over branding. We guide it, but the consumer owns it.”

As a point of reference, Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores is a $2 billion company with more than 1,200 locations. It’s a separate entity from just plain Sears. Buckley’s team began unifying management of customer commentary, reviews and surveys in May using software from Yotpo, a New York startup backed with $30 million from U.S. and Israeli investors.

Yotpo’s service gives marketers more control over how comments are verified, and how they are used for either marketing purposes in places such as Twitter or Facebook or even alongside Google Maps when someone is searching for a store location. Buckley’s main motivation was to standardize the process of who sees feedback, and what someone should do if a customer’s experience is less than ideal. Previously, store managers weren’t always exposed to reviews, he noted.

That alone will be worth the investment, Buckley believes: “The platform itself isn’t going to be the thing that changes our results, it will be the changes we make based on the information. It will lead to better decisions.”

Yotpo founder and CEO Tomer Tagrin, previously an Intel chip designer, said his company grew more than 400% over the past 12 months along pretty much any metric you can name: revenue, customer sign-ups, content creation, and Internet traffic. It will exit this year with about 120 employees on the payroll, although Tagrin anticipates doubling that headcount by the end of 2016.

“We are trying to maximize the power of user-generated content,” he said.


This new tool makes IBM mainframe computers more Big Data friendly

Mainframes. They’ve been the butt of IT jokes since at least the 1990s, but they’re still a remarkably solid business for their biggest manufacturer, IBM. While Big Blue’s hardware business continues to lose money overall, mainframe revenue keeps growing—including by a whopping 118% in the second quarter (third-quarter growth was a more earthly 9%). Now, a new open source tool lets IBM mainframe customers access data from those systems using Apache Spark, a popular Big Data technology. Derek Harris, the latest addition to Fortune‘s tech coverage team, reports.


SAP plugs its big data gap. Its new technology, Vora, accelerates processing for “voracious” quantities of information. (Fortune)

Some Seattle landlords give discounts to tech workers. That doesn’t sit right with the city’s civil rights agency. (Money)

Thermostat or smartphone? With the latest Nest update, Google is blurring the lines. (Fortune)

Here are the Web’s 10 most dangerous neighborhoods. Don’t visit, unless you’re a fan of spam and malware. (Computerworld)

Be careful what you say in instant messages. This technology helps your employer organize and analyze chat threads. (Fortune)

Hey, Google has a new logo. One optimized for smartphones and other teeny-tiny screens. (Fortune)

GM CEO Mary Barra now has a public Facebook profile. It took some convincing from another high-profile female exec, Sheryl Sandberg. (Fortune)

Is this the new “it” gadget? The Robin smartphone, designed by two ex-Google employees, uses the cloud to store data—giving it an almost infinite storage capacity. (Fortune)

Drone fleet cleared for takeoff. Startup Measure, focused on business analytics services, can put more than 300 collection systems into flight. (Fortune)

Woz leans left. Apple’s co-founder supports Bernie Sanders for President. (Fortune)


Why Bill Gates is so excited about ‘scuba rice’ by Katie Fehrenbacher

Telsa Roadster now has a 400-mile range—for a price by Kirsten Korosec

As the music industry changes, Pandora’s tune stays the same by Erin Griffith

5 big takeaways from VMworld by Jonathan Vanian

This app guy thinks computer science degrees are a waste of money by Jeff John Roberts

Magic Leap files for a big pile of patents, including for a sci-fi contact lens by Kia Kokalitcheva



Maybe Amazon’s workplace isn’t so bad after all. Another former employee used to illustrate the company’s “bruising” on-the-job pace believes her comments were misrepresented in the New York Times’ well-read expose. (Fortune)