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Data Sheet—Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Did you hear notorious whistleblower Edward Snowden is now on Twitter? He amassed close to 1 million followers in his first 24 hours. Incidentally, his criticisms of the government’s data policy might not be confined to 140 characters for long. The social network is considering ways to sidestep its trademark limit.

Here’s another way in which Tim Cook is not Steve Jobs. He glories in Apple’s influence within corporate accounts, which he estimates at an astonishing $25 billion this year. Cook talked up his enterprise aspirations on stage Tuesday with cloud entrepreneur Aaron Levie during the Box customer and partner conference. The file-sharing company, now 10 years old, is falling all over itself to win more business in big accounts through tighter relationships with Apple, IBM, and Microsoft.

The thought I’ll leave you with: don’t worry, humans! Just because a car can drive itself doesn’t mean you have to let it. Google co-founder Sergey Brin made a surprise appearance at the company’s briefing Tuesday about autonomous vehicles. “I don’t think we’re going to see [a world with] no human drivers anytime soon,” he told reporters. “And I think there’s always going to be pleasure in being able to hit the open road and enjoy that.” Read on for your midweek news roundup!

TRENDING

Court pledges quick ruling on longstanding trans-Atlantic data pact. A decision guiding the future of the Safe Harbor agreement, which lets companies store data from European citizens on U.S.-housed computer servers, is anticipated by next Tuesday. A high-ranking advisor last week recommended nullification. That could spell trouble not just for Facebook and Google but for thousands of businesses with distributed data centers and networks. (Wall Street Journal)

GE’s next billion-dollar business: energy efficiency solutions. Details are sparse, but the focus is part of the company’s master plan to rule the industrial Internet with sensors, software and new services such as predictive maintenance. Plus the company just disclosed another high-profile customer: Procter & Gamble. (Fortune)

London and Rio latest cities to challenge ride-sharing services. England’s capital may overhaul regulations governing private car services, including how availability is displayed in mobile apps. Meanwhile, the mayor of Brazil’s famed seaside metropolis is calling for an outright ban. (Journal, New York Times)

Want to buy the gadgets featured in a YouTube “how to” video? Its latest advertising service offers suggestions about where you can get an e-commerce deal on the products featured in a segment. (Wired)

Cloud company Rackspace gets more cloud-agnostic. Sure it sells its own cloud services, but Rackspace is willing to help businesses move to Microsoft’s platform if that’s what they prefer. Sources say it’s finalizing a similar deal with Amazon Web Services. That arrangement could be revealed next week at an AWS customer conference. Microsoft isn’t just sitting around: it just introduced a bunch of new Azure cloud services for its competitors to talk about, including better support for Internet of things applications. (Journal, Fortune)

THE DOWNLOAD

Why enterprise VR will be worth $4.5 billion in five years

Thanks to the advances in consumer virtual reality technology from big companies like Facebook-owned Oculus VR, Sony, HTC, Valve, Samsung, and Microsoft, Tractica forecasts the enterprise business to grow from $114 million in 2014 to more than $4.5 billion by 2020. Applications include everything from training to marketing and advertising.

BITS AND BYTES

Samsung’s mobile payments app has one big advantage over Apple’s rival service. It works with “old school” credit-card readers. (Journal)

An early impression of Google’s latest Nexus smartphones, which sport speedy, back-mounted fingerprint sensors. (Fortune)

Close to 1 million drones could be sold during the upcoming holiday retail season. That concerns the FAA. (Fortune)

Microsoft just bought another company. Technology from Adxstudio will advance the software giant’s customer relationship management application, Dynamics. (InformationWeek)

Is this startup suicidal? Sales software company Base just got another $30 million to challenge Salesforce. (Fortune)

Big data company Pivotal is open sourcing more technology. Up for grabs, database and advanced machine learning software. (Fortune)

MY FORTUNE BOOKMARKS

For companies, big energy savings are linked to the ‘Internet of things’ by Alan Murray

GitHub CEO: What I learned from our harassment scandal by Daniel Roberts

Workday’s next mission: improve hire learning by Heather Clancy

Ads are annoying. So what does the ad industry do about it? by Erin Griffith

Will Apple, Amazon make smart TVs obsolete? by Don Reisinger

ONE MORE THING

Even Google and Amazon find it tough to hang on to tech talent. Here are four tips for reversing the trend. (Fortune)