It is a truism, and always has been, that every company is a technology company. Beyond the cliché of the assertion, every business that succeeds embraces the technology available to it. Leaders that embrace it better, more aggressively, and more creatively tend to be the winners. My own organization, for example, thrived when its co-founder, Henry Luce, prodded his printer to deploy the latest technology, heatset printing, so Time Inc. could publish a new, glossy magazine called Life. That was in the 1930s.
There are many reasons sneaker maker Nike is one of the best companies in the world and also why Fortune has named Nike’s CEO, Mark Parker, its Businessperson of the Year. Nike’s use of technology is one of those reasons, and I describe how Nike uses technology in a cover story in the new issue of Fortune.
Though it doesn’t disclose specific numbers, Nike spends heavily on technology. It noodles on ways to measure athletic performance, the use of lasers and additive manufacturing to make shoes, and completely new forms of fabric, like its lightweight Flyknit weave. Nike is opening an Advanced Product Creation Center on its Beaverton, Ore., campus, a building devoted to tinkering with new technologies.
It even is expanding the type of partners it works with. Nike recently hooked up with Flex, the electronics contract manufacturer, in part to help its other partners learn new manufacturing techniques. Nike Chief Operating Officer Eric Sprunk told me Flex already has been collaborating with an existing Nike contract manufacturer in Southeast Asia. One goal: dramatically reduce waste in the manufacturing process.
For any company that sells anything, one big technology opportunity remains e-commerce. Nike recently forecasted that its “digital” sales should increase from $1 billion to $7 billion by 2020. I was surprised to learn Nike.com doesn’t operate in Canada yet but will soon. “We’re in the early stages of our dot-com geographical expansion,” CEO Parker told me during an interview in his art-strewn office. “I think as aggressive as we are, as we’ve talked about being in dot-com, there’s room to get even more aggressive.”
An even more aggressive Nike has to be a frightening prospect for its competitors.
BITS AND BYTES
Will Apple challenge PayPal’s peer-to-peer payment service? PayPal’s popular Venmo app allows individuals to transfer money to each other digitally, much like sending a text message. Square, a startup planning to go public, has a similar offering, and the concept has a big following among millennials. WSJ says Apple is talking to banks about entering the fray. (Wall Street Journal)
Uber finds digital mapping partner in TomTom. The deal covers maps and traffic management services for 300 cities, which will be fed into the ride-sharing company’s mobile app. Dutch company TomTom competes with Google Maps and Nokia’s former mapping division, recently bought by a consortium of auto companies. It also supplies content for Apple Maps. (New York Times)
Airbnb extends olive branch to municipal authorities. After a bitter fight in San Francisco over rental limit legislation that would have penalized Airbnb hosts, the company is pledging closer cooperation with city governments around the world. It wants a role in shaping legislation or tax policies that could hinder growth. (New York Times)
Alibaba smashes its own single-day sales record. China’s “Singles Day” is a bonafide shopping holiday on Nov. 11, when unmarried adults are encouraged to buy something nice for themselves. The magnitude dwarfs the U.S.’s CyberMonday and Black Friday, combined. The Chinese e-commerce giant recorded $14.3 billion in transactions, up significantly from $9.3 billion last year. (Fortune)
Microsoft sidesteps privacy concerns with more European data centers. An arrangement with Germany’s Deutsche Telekom will enable the software giant’s cloud services customers to avoid sending data to the U.S. Microsoft expanded its U.K. presence earlier this week. Both moves were partially motivated by a recent ruling nullifying the safe harbor data-sharing agreement between the U.S. and the E.U. (Wall Street Journal, Fortune)
Snapchat’s valuation suffers. According to the Financial Times, Fidelity has written down the value of its stake in the messaging startup by 25%. The company’s private valuation reached $16 billion in May. Snapchat is becoming a force in mobile video, but many question how it will make money. (Fortune)
What makes Atlassian’s IPO case sexy
In filing for an initial public offering earlier this week, the Australian-born collaboration software company finally offered proof to back up years of claims by its executives that it was profitable.
The paperwork also showed why: Compared with other hot startups, Atlassian spends far less on sales and marketing— about 21% of its overall revenue. Instead, it relies on word-of-mouth to help win accounts.
For years, Atlassian has touted its “viral” approach to sales as a big differentiator from other cloud software companies, which are notorious for taking years to become profitable. (For perspective, consider that Salesforce still loses money.) As Heather Clancy reports, you can expect to hear that theme more often from other collaboration software companies like Slack, Asana, and Trello as they mature as businesses.
MORE FORTUNE TECH COVERAGE
Here’s why 3D printing needs more metal by Andrew Zaleski
How Revolve became the biggest, trendiest, most profitable e-commerce startup you’ve never heard of by Erin Griffith
Facebook launches Notify, its much anticipated news-alerts app by Mathew Ingram
Too many meetings? This startup consults conference rooms for feedback by Heather Clancy
Want an iPad Pro? Read this before you buy by Don Resigner
Here’s how Procter & Gamble is thinking about the smart home by Stacey Higginbotham
ONE MORE THING
Formula 1 race cars aren’t just fast, they’re smart. Dozens of sensors are buckled into the chassis, tires, and engine—measuring everything from speed to stress. Here’s why pit crews crave all that data. (Fortune)
This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy: