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Data Sheet—Thursday, October 22, 2015

Most would agree that the annual performance review process leaves much to be desired. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the role of recipient or messenger. Not only is it time-consuming, but it often flags issues out of context long after they occurred, which means the behavior is likely to continue.

As one Accenture executive recently told Fortune: “You know the world is no longer working in year-long cycles, so to set objectives at the beginning of the year and revisit them at the end of the year simply to see how people are doing is not really relevant any longer.”

Feedback needs to be year-round, and naturally many software startups are circling that opportunity. Last week two emerged from stealth, fueled with early funding.

Zugata, founded by former VMware and Jive executives, is thinking mobile-first with seed investments from General Catalyst, Formation 8, Redpoint Ventures, and several angels. Another company to watch is Reflektive, which recently raised $3.6 million from Andreessen Horowitz—including money from SuccessFactors founder Lars Dalgaard. Its early customers include Glassdoor, Lyft, and Pinterest.

Being able to take the pulse of a workforce on an ongoing basis, rather than just at specific times of the year, could be a valuable tool in improving employee retention.

That’s the focus of Kanjoya, which specializes in “sentiment analysis” based on the comments that people make in surveys or other internal forums (such as messages on a corporate intranet or blog). Intel hired the company to mine its annual employee survey for even more context, with an eye to decreasing turnover and putting more meat behind its ongoing diversity initiatives. (You can read more in this Wall Street Journal article.)

When I spoke with Kanjoya product manager Melanie Goldstein last week at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, she said her company’s software is useful for detecting the “unconscious bias” that lurks within every workplace. “Our clients are using us to understand emotion and intent,” she said.

Read on for a rundown of today’s news, and set your alarm for after the U.S. stock markets close. That’s when the company formerly known as Google will release its latest quarterly results. Are you reading this edition on the Fortune Web site? Subscribe to receive Data Sheet via email.

TOP OF MIND

Twitter CEO wants developers and other partners to feel welcome. Historically, the social network hasn’t been all that nice to software companies writing applications and services that overlay its social network. Jack Dorsey would like to put past “confusion” behind. His comments came during a company conference Wednesday, where Twitter launched several new initiatives including a new polling feature. (Fortune, MIT Technology Review)

TRENDING

Comcast may soon sell cellular service. Several cable companies have rights to enter the market through relationships with Verizon. Without naming names, the wireless company confirmed on its earnings call this week that at least one of them is preparing an imminent foray. (Re/code)

eBay surprises investors (in a good way) with rosy holiday forecast. The
e-commerce marketplace company beat expectations for its first quarter as an independent company, sending its stock up 9% overnight. But profits are still shrinking. (Wall Street Journal)

Tech industry protests bill that would mandate sharing information about cyberattacks. Apple and Twitter are the latest companies to decry the Cyber Information Sharing Act, currently being debated by the U.S. Senate. The House has already approved its version of the legislation. (Journal, InformationWeek)

Citrix appoints temporary CEO. Robert Calderoni, the former Ariba CEO who was named executive chairman last month, is taking over until a permanent replacement can be found for Mark Templeton. The latter man is retiring after 14 years at the helm. The virtualization software company is under pressure from activist investor Elliott Management. (Sun Sentinel)

Microsoft may buy yet another Israeli security company. Nine-year-old Secure Islands specializes in access control. Its technology encrypts documents on the fly if it looks like an unauthorized person is peeking. The company bought Aorato, an application firewall specialist, and Adallom, a cloud security provider, earlier this year. (Fortune)

Huawei unseats Xiaomi as China’s top smartphone maker. The research firm behind the numbers hasn’t released its entire report, but the network equipment grew its shipments 81% year over year. Meanwhile, Xiaomi is making modest progress in India and contemplating a U.S. market entry. (Computerworld, Journal)

Uber is nowhere near an IPO. CEO Travis Kalanick believes his company hasn’t reached the level of maturity needed for a successful public offering. It could take a “few years.” Proof point: the ride-sharing upstart will lose its chief international operations executive, Niall Wass, before the end of the year. (Fortune, Journal)

THE DOWNLOAD

Consternation over EMC, HP cloud computing strategies

EMC CEO Joe Tucci spent a chunk of his company’s earnings call Wednesday defending its latest joint venture, a cloud company called Virtustream that will mash up various services and technologies from both EMC and VMware. There are still many unresolved questions, including the future of Dell’s pre-existing alliances and who, exactly, is in charge. Meanwhile, after hemming and hawing over the future of its Helion public cloud service for more than a year, Hewlett-Packard is officially sunsetting the project. The soon-to-be-independent enterprise portion of the company will focus on building private cloud data centers instead, meaning that its clients will have sole control over the server and storage resources. (Fortune)

 

BITS AND BYTES

Official details for YouTube’s new, ad-free video subscription service. It will nurture the company’s second foray into original content. (Fortune)

Apple is a big fan of solar energy. Now it’s building renewable energy projects for its Chinese suppliers. (Reuters)

Trend Micro will pay $300 million for HP’s network security business. After the deal closes, the two will remain strategic partnership. (InfoWorld)

Michael Dell won’t need a hotel near EMC’s headquarters in Massachusetts. He has put down a deposit on some Boston real estate. (Fortune)

Trick or treat? Looks like you could get your hands on a new Apple TV by Halloween. (Fortune)

How much did iPhone sales grow in Apple’s fourth quarter? The consensus is 24% (from a unit perspective), but we won’t know for sure until Oct. 27. (Fortune)

Federal agencies seek commentary on consumer drone registration proposal. The response deadline is Nov. 20. (Fortune)

MORE FORTUNE BOOKMARKS

Why Walgreens uses interactive maps plus analytics to evaluate store locations
by Heather Clancy

Michael Dell takes a dig at Microsoft’s Surface (right in front of Satya!)
by Stacey Higginbotham

Now you can pilot a real-world drone from inside virtual reality by John Gaudiosi

Yahoo hopes for ‘historic event’ with its NFL livestream by Daniel Roberts

Spotify: Being number one is nice, but it also makes you a target by Mathew Ingram

 

ONE MORE THING

In the U.S., the lament goes, we used to know how to make things. In China, there’s a decent chance that’s how you got your computer. Check out an excerpt from NYU professor Clay Shirky’s new book, Little Rice: Smartphones, Xiaomi, and the Chinese Dream. (Fortune)