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Data Sheet—Friday, October 23, 2015

This week’s barrage of quarterly financial reports culminated after the stock market close last night with disclosures by three of the biggest names in tech: Alphabet (formerly known as Google), Amazon, and Microsoft.

While Google still doesn’t talk much about the growth of its cloud computing services (or any other discrete business for that matter), the other two companies are happy to do so. Maybe because the numbers look pretty good.

Exhibit A: Microsoft’s cloud division, which reflects sales for its Azure server and storage capacity on demand service, is now on an annual run rate of $8.2 billion. That’s double the previous year.

Technically speaking, you’ll notice that number is more than the $7.3 billion annual run rate that fierce rival Amazon Web Services hopes to reach shortly. But the two companies run on different fiscal calendars, which makes it tough to compare the projections directly. Microsoft just disclosed its first quarter results, while AWS just reported Q3. And based on its latest quarter, one in which AWS showed a $521 million profit, it looks like the cloud computer leader will surpass its full-year estimates. Expect more leapfrogging in the months to come.

This is my last day helming this newsletter. Adam Lashinsky, editorial director of Fortune Brainstorm Tech and the magazine’s most senior editor for technology coverage, steps in next Monday to reshape its mission.

I’ll still be a regular contributor on the Fortune Tech team, doubling down on my coverage of business software applications. I’m particularly keen on technologies that improve workplace collaboration, guide decision-making, or redefine the complex relationships between businesses and their customers. To stay in touch, connect with me on Twitter at @greentechlady. You can read my ongoing Fortune coverage by bookmarking my author page or subscribing to my RSS feed. Send story pitches to

I’d like to thank each of you for helping quadruple Data Sheet’s subscriber reach in the 14 months since its August 2014 launch. To quote the late Steve Jobs: “If today were the last day of your life, would you want to do what you are about to do today?” For me, the answer is an unequivocal “Yes.” I hope you all can say the same. Have a super Friday and enjoy the weekend!


Google’s mobile business fuels blockbuster Alphabet quarter. The company claims more than half of all searches now originate from mobile devices, but it still doesn’t disclose the data to prove it. There’s hope for far more transparency starting next quarter, when Alphabet starts breaking out results for its of its businesses and investments. Meanwhile, the company just approved a $5,099,019,513.59 stock buyback. How’d it come up with that amount? It’s a square root formula based on 26, the number of letters in the alphabet. (Fortune, Wall Street Journal)


Amazon’s upside surprise. The e-commerce and cloud computing company easily surpassed most investors’ expectations, turning a $79 million profit. Don’t necessarily expect more of the same when it winds up the current quarter: Amazon’s management team plans to plow that money back into strategic growth initiatives. (Fortune)

Dell articulates strategy for the Internet of things. Its initial plan includes a partnership with Intel to create miniature servers that collect and translate data from older sensors attached to everything from lighting to building management systems. (Fortune)

Jack Dorsey is giving one-third of his Twitter stake to employees. The shares, which represent 1% of the social media company’s outstanding shares, will be used for equity incentives. (Fortune)

Will it or won’t it? Secretive Magic Leap may be raising huge round. The report, which originates from a local Florida newspaper, suggests the augmented reality software company is negotiating another $1 billion infusion. Right now, it is backed with $542 million led by Google. (South Florida Business Journal)

Protests fall on deaf ears. Legislation that will require companies to share details about data breaches and hacking incidents was passed Thursday by the Senate. A who’s-who list of high-tech companies—from Apple to Yahoo—object to it on privacy grounds. (Reuters)


Starwood, Ford, PwC CIOs: Tech skills becoming part of every job description

The best way to get kids interested in coding and engineering? Show them how technology touches their everyday lives.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Chief Information Officer Martha Poulter shares the story of her encounter with a teenager at an inner city school in Philadelphia who challenged her to prove why he should be interested in engineering. In response, she asked the young man to give her a demonstration of the applications on his smartphone. Poulter was able to talk about some of Starwood’s own groundbreaking innovations, like an app that lets travelers check in with their phones. By the end of the encounter, he found the idea of a tech career far more intriguing, especially given how many openings exist. “All of us need to focus on connecting the dots in very simple ways,” she said. Read more about how Poulter and her peers from PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ford Motor approach tech skills recruiting.



Palantir adds another outside director. Investor Adam Ross was a Stanford University classmate of CEO Alex Karp. (Journal)

BlackBerry’s phone looks really expensive compared with other Android devices. It hopes rock-solid security will convince buyers to pay more. (Fortune)

Yahoo can’t handle any more advertisers for its first NFL livestream this weekend. The global reach convinced marketers at American Express, T-Mobile, Toyota, and a half-dozen other brands. (New York Times)

Analytics software startup Domo is offering an unusual maternity perk. $2,000 in clothes for expectant mothers. (Fortune)

Even using hands-free technology presents a driving distraction, raising new concerns about voice-activated applications. (Reuters)

Dell just lost two high-level executives. (Fortune)

Big losses for streaming music service Pandora. Plus, it’s on the hook for $90 million as part of a digital royalties settlement with the Recording Industry Association of America. (Reuters, Ars Technica)



GoPro CEO: Why more tech startups don’t go public by Dan Primack

This 3D laser printer startup has already made $19 million by Andrew Zaleski

Instagram has an answer to the iPhone’s coolest feature by Laura Lorenzetti

The real reason U.S. students lag behind in computer science by Marie desJardins

Cloud computing will keep these electric vehicle chargers humming by Barb Darrow


Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg are opening a private school, one targeted at disadvantaged youth who live in impoverished neighborhoods close to their home in Silicon Valley. The plan includes an on-site healthcare clinic. (San Jose Mercury News)



Oracle OpenWorld: Customer and partner conference. (Oct. 25 – 29; San Francisco)

IBM Insight: Lead in the insight economy. (Oct. 25 – 29; Las Vegas)

TBM Conference: Manage IT like a business. (Oct. 26 – 29; Chicago)

eBusiness Chicago: eBusiness and channel strategy. (Oct. 29 – 30)

QuickBooks Connect: SMBs, entrepreneurs, accountants and developers. (Nov. 2 – 4; San Jose, California)

SIMposium: CIOs, CTOs, and IT executives. (Nov. 1 – 3; Charlotte, North Carolina)

CMO+CIO: Forrester’s summit on strategy collaboration. (Nov. 2 – 4; Sarasota, Florida)

Oktane: Identity management trends. (Nov. 2 – 4; Las Vegas)

FutureStack: Define your future with New Relic. (Nov. 11 – 13; San Francisco)

Structure: Many choices, many clouds. (Nov. 18 – 19; San Francisco) Data Sheet subscribers get 25% off registration.

CES: The business of consumer technology. (Jan. 6 – 9, 2016; Las Vegas)

Google Ubiquitous Computing Summit: Platforms and protocols for wearables, home automation, and the Internet of things. (Jan. 11 – 12, 2016; San Francisco area)

Enterprise Connect: Communications and collaboration trends. (March 7 – 10, 2016; Orlando, Florida)