Data Sheet—Tuesday, November 10, 2015

November 10, 2015, 2:03 PM UTC

Maybe it read better in the original Swedish.

Ericsson, the European maker of gear targeting mobile communications, and Cisco, the Silicon Valley company whose switches and routers make the Internet hum, announced a partnership Monday that feels like a merger but isn’t. What exactly the partnership will do is obscured by scores of words of gobbledygook (that’s a technical term) issued by both companies. These refer to a “multifaceted relationship” focused on “networks of the future” that will facilitate the cross-selling of both companies’ “end-to-end product and services portfolio.” (Fortune’s Jonathan Vanian has details here.)

Despite working on this arrangement for 13 months, Ericsson and Cisco weren’t prepared to discuss much about the commercial nature of their non-deal deal. They said neither company is taking an ownership position in the other, but they predict the combination will result in incremental revenues of $1 billion to each company by 2018.

There was one concrete-ish reference to money: Cisco is paying Ericsson a licensing fee for the use of its patents. Cisco’s stock declined a bit, and Ericsson’s rose about the same amount, percentagewise. Oh, and shares of Cisco competitor Juniper Networks dropped 8%. Deutsche Bank’s Vijay Bhagavath reckons the Cisco-Ericsson collaboration eliminates the “takeout premium” Juniper’s shares were enjoying.

So here’s what’s likely going on. Ericsson specializes in selling to telecommunications providers, a market Cisco craves. Cisco sells to big companies, a potentially massive market for communications products. Both companies are big and relatively old—Ericsson is really old—and both face slowing revenue growth. Rather than merging and all the headaches that would ensue, they reached multiple agreements, terms undisclosed, to work more closely together. Centerview Partners, an investment bank, advised on the partnership, according to a news release. That means money is involved.

Why be so cryptic? The kinds of equipment Ericsson and Cisco sell tend to make governments nervous. Nervous governments like to bless mergers before they happen. No merger, no blessing, no problem.

The history of the technology industry is littered with “strategic partnerships” that seemed like a big deal when announced but that didn’t amount to much. If Ericsson and Cisco follow up their press release with details, including how this deal affects their respective businesses, then and only then will we know how interesting the tie-up is.

Adam Lashinsky


Cybersecurity startup discloses $250 million infusion. Tenable Network Security, a Baltimore-area company founded by former NSA employee Ron Gula, says it is already profitable. The Series B funding led by Insight Venture Partners and Accel Partners is one of the largest rounds ever for the sector—double the amounts raised by peers Tanium, Cloudflare, and ZScaler in recent months. (Financial Times)

Apple's biggest tablet yet makes sales debut Wednesday. With its 12.9-inch screen and support for working with two apps simultaneously, the iPad Pro is billed as the company's best-yet option for business users. The product line definitely needs a jump start: year-over-year iPad shipments were off 20% during Apple's latest quarter. (Fortune)

Coalition addresses gig economy worker policies. More than three dozen venture capitalists, labor advocates and startups, including Lyft and Instacart, have formed a group to address benefits for contract help. The move follows a flood of worker lawsuits against companies including ride-sharing upstart Uber (not a part of the alliance) and household chores service Handy (a member). (New York Times)

Bank of America shuts off data. Sources tell the Wall Street Journal that BofA is the latest financial services firm, along with J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo, to temporarily block data feeds into personal finance sites and mobile apps such as or Quicken. The banks cite security concerns, but they are also concerned about protecting their relationships with accountholders. (Wall Street Journal)

Google open sources code behind artificial intelligence software. The technology, called TensorFlow, is the brain behind the visual search features in Google Photos. However, it could drive a wealth of other applications—from targeting digital advertisements to strengthening cybersecurity. So Google is making it available to other developers. (Wired)

Twitter prioritizes more diverse board of directors. Three of the seven seats—currently held by white men—are up before 2017. Sources tell Re/code that CEO Jack Dorsey wants the team searching for their replacements to focus first on women and minorities. (Fortune)



Atlassian moves closer to IPO

After declaring its intention to go public in the U.S. confidentially in late September, Australian-born collaboration software startup Atlassian has taken its IPO case to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Unlike many of its peers from the cloud software world, it is profitable—and has been so for the past decade. Its secret? A strong focus on customer experience, which translates into low sales-and-marketing overhead. “We know that one happy user will beget another, thereby expanding the large and organic word-of-mouth community that helps drive our growth,” the company notes in its F-1 filing. Read Heather Clancy's coverage for more details on potential risks.


What you need to know from Square's IPO roadshow video by Leena Rao
Facebook and the media have an increasingly landlord-tenant style relationship by Mathew Ingram
Bigcommerce founder puts 'mojo' into weekly employee check-ins
by Heather Clancy


Welcome to Facebook, Mr. President. Why the commander-in-chief 's 20-person social media team recommended joining the social network. (New York Times)

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy:

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