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CEO Daily: Thursday, September 3

If “plastics” was the word for 1967, “cybersecurity” may be it for 2015. In the age of the mega-hack, companies are scrambling to protect themselves. And that has spawned a bewildering array of products and services for cyber protection. Tanium yesterday jumped to the head of the pack, closing a $120 million fundraising that left it with a value of $3.5 billion — overshooting by a billion our report earlier this month that it would hit $2.5 billion.


That’s a huge number. But unlike many of the new unicorns, whose billion-dollar-plus valuations seem filled with helium, Tanium is a real business. The company, founded in 2007 by a father-son team of David and Orion Hindawi, has been cash-positive since 2012 and funded most of its growth with its own money. It claims to have half the Fortune 100 as its client base. It is raising the new money now not because it needs it, but rather to take advantage of the current funding environment and build a cash reserve for future growth.


The company doesn’t promise to keep hackers out. Rather, its service does real-time scans of millions of computers, spots intrusions or bugs, and deploys a patch or quarantines the problem within seconds.


When we surveyed Fortune 500 CEOs earlier this year, the rapid pace of technological change emerged as the top challenge facing their companies. But cyber security was number two. No surprise some new fortunes are being made on that anxiety.


More below.



Alan Murray

Top News

• Uber’s battle in China intensifies

Our memories can certainly be fickle. In a story involving Uber and the ride-hailing startup’s top China rival, there are some conflicting memories about what was said at a meeting held a little over a year ago. Uber recalls the meeting being “super friendly” while Cheng Wei – CEO of a recently merged Didi Kuaidi – claims he told Uber his company would one day surpass them. The rivalry between the two companies has been intensifying and for good reason. China has the world’s largest market of urban commuters, including 25 cities more populous than Los Angeles.  WSJ (subscription required)

• More turmoil on Wall Street

“What we’re seeing [on Wednesday] is not a recovery. It’s market volatility, it’s nervousness, it’s an inability to call the direction of the market.” That’s a strong take on why Wall Street shares jumped on Wednesday in yet another volatile session. There have now been over two weeks of wild swings, though mostly shares have been declining as investors are vexed by worries about the sputtering Chinese economy and the Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates. Reuters

Tesla sets date for Model X deliveries

Elon Musk announced that Tesla’s first Model X electric sports utility vehicles will be delivered on September 29, just a day before the auto company’s self-imposed deadline. The electric car maker expects to ramp up production in the fourth quarter and overall, plans to deliver 55,000 cars throughout 2015. Early customers have already started to pick their paint colors, wheel sizes and other key details.  Fortune

• HP visualizes 3D printing group

A Hewlett-Packard executive will oversee a new 3D printing group after the tech giant splits into two separate businesses, Fortune has learned, as HP gears up for the company’s first 3D printing product that will be commercially available. HP has been developing this technology for years, though it has yet to release a printer. The company has said it plans to do so next year.  Fortune

• Massive pension fund mulls shift

Top investment officers of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System – the nation’s second-largest pension fund – are mulling a move of as much as $20 billion of the fund’s portfolio into U.S. Treasuries, hedge funds and other complex investments. The hope is that those investments would perform well if markets were to tumble. Essentially, the system (known as Calstrs to many) is considering a shift away from stocks and bonds in a move that could protect it from a possible downturn.  MarketWatch

Around the Water Cooler

• Big Tobacco’s big profit driver

With fewer Americans smoking traditional cigarettes, the largest manufacturers have been forced to consistently raise prices to boost profit. But the industry is benefiting from another tailwind: the expiration of a federal assessment that forced tobacco producers to make 10 years of payments to farmers, averaging nearly $1 billion each year. The annual savings are estimated at about 9.9% of the U.S. tobacco industry’s profit. USA Today

• .sex a big headache for big business

A website registry service has started to sell the first “.sex” domain names, part of a massive expansion of Internet real estate that began in 2012. This change presents a conundrum to large companies as they face the risk of a third party using the domain name to create potential confusion with their brands. There is a period of time when trademarked owners are allowed to buy the new domain names before they become publicly available. That grace period runs until October 1.  Fortune

• Backpack makers pivot on design

Many readers may fondly remember using backpacks for a core function: lugging massive books and notepads between home to school. But as students are carrying fewer textbooks thanks to technology advances, the $2.7 billion industry is having to rethink how it designs the accessories for the market. More slots are needed for smartphones, USB thumb drives and other small gadgets, and of course, there needs to be a place to store laptops and chargers.  New York Times (subscription required)