Data Sheet—Thursday, October 8, 2015

October 8, 2015, 12:11 PM UTC

It’s a safe bet that talk by the water cooler this morning will center on speculation over the potential merger between Dell and EMC, which has been dealing with strategy distractions for months and months.

You’ve got to feel some sympathy for EMC’s sales team, which probably spends half of every meeting defending the company’s “federation” of related business, including virtualization giant VMware, security company RSA, and cloud software development concern Pivotal. That uncertainty must be a persistent drag on revenue.

You can credit the Wall Street Journal with breaking the news about the potential union, which would rate as one of the biggest high-tech mergers ever. In retrospect, hints that Dell was studying EMC’s federation”model were evident for some time. Dell director Egon Durban mentioned it was considering a similar strategy during an interview at the Fortune Brainstorm conference in June. Durban is managing partner of Silver Lake, which took the technology giant private in a $25 billion deal.

EMC has been exploring strategic alternatives to appease activist investor Elliott Management, which owns a 2% stake. Elliott’s biggest request: spin out VMware. It looks like it might finally get its way. According to the Journal, that’s one thing being discussed seriously as part of the “advanced” Dell-EMC negotiations.

The devil is in the details, of course. It’s difficult to imagine who is really calling the shots, given that EMC’s market capitalization is $50 billion. That’s twice Dell’s value when it left the public market in late 2013.

Other news to consider while we’re waiting for the cliffhanger to play out: Average annual compensation for chief information officers now tops $1.1 million, but more are being held to the same financial metrics as their CEOs. That means they have to pay far more attention to revenue-generating technology investments. Plus, Amazon Web Services promises to make it far simpler for big businesses to switch to its cloud data centers. See today’s Download for more details.


Energy efficiency is GE's latest billion-dollar business. The company officially rolled its LED lighting, energy storage, and solar technologies into a new division called Current. Its customers already include Walgreens, Hilton, and JPMorgan Chase. (Fortune)

Volvo will accept liability for self-driving cars. The traditionally safety-minded automaker is one of the first car makers to state its policy in the absence of clear federal guidelines. (Fortune)

Zendesk can tell you which of your customers is most unhappy. The help desk software company has created a new "satisfaction prediction" feature that analyzes interactions. The idea is to escalate encounters that have the potential to result in lost business. (Journal)

Pure Storage stumbles in public market debut. The flash-storage company wound up the day about 5.8% below its IPO price of $17. Sure, it's still valued around $3 billion, but that's less than it was worth as a private company. (Fortune)

Many companies weren't ready for the overturn of Safe Harbor. Big tech companies like Amazon and Facebook have contingency plans in place, as the data pact between Europe and the United States collapses. But close to 60% of the businesses that relied on the agreement to support international offices or clients are much smaller. Many are worried about the aftermath. (Journal, Reuters)

Google has a new plan to speed up the mobile Web. Like similar offerings from Apple and Facebook, the service appeals to news publishers. The big difference: Accelerate Mobile Pages are open, which means pretty much anyone can take advantage of it without being an official partner. (Fortune)

Looking for the latest Goldman Sachs earnings report? Try consulting your Twitter feed. (Journal)


Amazon Web Services to legacy Windows shops: Come on over

One common complaint of corporate Windows users was that putting Windows licenses on Amazon Web Services was expensive. Amazon is attacking that problem with a new way to use Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances, dedicating them to specific workloads. That means licensees can bring their software over to AWS without breaking the rules. AWS also introduced a new storage appliance to make data transfers quicker—you can actually load it up and mail it to the cloud data center of your choice. The Web services giant is also talking up a new business intelligence service, one price substantially lower than competitive offerings.


House Republicans want to pull off a net neutrality ban, by cutting off enforcement funds in the federal budget proposal. (Ars Technica)

Amazon takes on Etsy. Its new handmade craft marketplace is open for business. (New York Times)

E-commerce startup Jet eliminates membership fee, which is odd considering that it was originally supposed to be its main source of profit. (Fortune)

Polycom reinvents videoconferencing lineup. The overhaul includes a nod to cloud collaboration software and better support for mobile participants. (ZDNet)

Microsoft's new Lumia smartphones can do things that Android gadgets and iPhones can't. For one thing, they can lead a double life as desktop computers. (Fortune)

Pandora will sell concert tickets. The Internet radio service is paying $450 million to buy Ticketfly, which represents about 1,200 North American venues. (Journal)

We know you were worried, but Alphabet now owns its entire URL, A to Z. (Journal)



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"A talky, nerdy, brilliant drama in three acts." You can add Apple design chief Jony Ives to the list of people who don't want you to see the new Steve Jobs movie. Fortune's intrepid Apple columnist has already seen a screening. (Journal, Fortune)

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