Silicon Valley is one of the most privileged, entitled, accomplished, and prosperous places on earth. In reality, it’s not even strictly speaking a place so much as an idea embraced by a region, the San Francisco Bay area.
For a blissful, emotional, difficult hour Thursday morning over breakfast at the posh St. Regis hotel in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, Silicon Valley became an empathetic place too. The tech elite gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of its most prominent charitable organization, the Tipping Point Community, modeled after New York’s poverty-fighting Robin Hood outfit.
For people here, like me, who spend their days with overachievers who’ve been dealt all the right cards, the stories of the groups Tipping Point helps are an important reminder of just how fortunate those who’ve made it in tech are.
Akiko-Ariele White, a property manager for the Community Housing Partnership, told the heartbreaking tale of her own family’s descent into homelessness when she was growing up. Now her organization helps put roofs on people’s heads—and then encourages them to find homes of their own. Barrie Hathaway, a former up-from-nothing tech executive himself, runs an organization called The Stride Center, which trains adults for entry-level tech jobs. AnnJane Osborne, a mom whose own upbringing would move the most callous cynic to tears, explained how she was helped by the Nurse-Family Partnership, which works with at-risk pregnant women to provide prenatal and postnatal care.
Before it was time to jump on conference calls and attend meetings and dash off to another holiday party in a land of almost unimaginable wealth, Silicon Valley paused Thursday morning to remind itself that poverty, violence, homelessness, and despair are the reality for too many among us. From time to time, even the privileged are forced to confront the situation on San Francisco’s frightening streets. “I know people are scared and frustrated,” said Daniel Lurie, the prominent San Franciscan who founded Tipping Point a decade ago. Thanks to his group, they can be at least a little hopeful that some of those who are less fortunate have reason to be hopeful too.
BITS AND BYTES
Uber’s valuation nears stratospheric levels. The ride-sharing company is raising another $2.1 billion, according to a legal filing examined by Fortune. The new money values Uber at almost $62.5 billion, compared with the $52 billion number used for its previous round. (Fortune)
Toshiba may exit PC business. The Japanese conglomerate is shedding unprofitable divisions to get beyond an accounting scandal that forced it to write off more than $1.2 billion. Several speculative news reports suggest Toshiba’s personal computer unit is on the block. One option may involve an alliance with Fujitsu, which also wants out of the PC market. (Wall Street Journal, Reuters)
Fitbit still rules wearables. More than 21 million fitness trackers, smartwatches, and other wearable gadgets shipped in the third quarter, according to new data from IDC. Fitbit sold approximately 22% of them, but Apple isn’t all that far behind with an 18.6% share of the market—after just two quarters in the game. The big difference in their strategies to rule your wrists: price. (Fortune)
Google makes another huge investment in clean energy. The tech giant signed deals with a solar plant in Chile and a wind farm in Sweden, covering 842 megawatts of capacity. That doubles the amount of power Google buys from renewable generating sources and represents one of the largest-ever purchases of green energy by a non-utility. (Fortune)
Apple seeks credibility among corporate software developers. In order to win share within big businesses, Apple needs to make it far simpler for them to write custom applications that run on iPads, iPhones and Macintosh computers. It just moved a step closer by releasing Swift, the programming language at the center of that plan, to the open source community. That should convince more developers to use it. (Fortune)
Storage upstart triples revenue in latest quarter. Pure Storage, which replaces disk drives with flash memory chips, easily beat expectations for its first quarter as a public company with $131 million in revenue. According to its CEO, Pure Storage’s technology is especially popular with companies that sell software as a service such as LinkedIn, Workday, and ServiceNow. (Wall Street Journal)
Can Nikesh Arora make SoftBank the Berkshire Hathaway of tech? The anointed successor to SoftBank founder and CEO Masayoshi Son whipped Google into a disciplined organization capable of scaling innovation. Now, he’s bringing that same focused attention to the sprawling empire of holdings assembled by his boss—everything from a Japanese pro-baseball team to struggling U.S. telecommunications company Sprint to a big share of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
“[Son] has never had a problem taking big bets,” Arora tells Fortune‘s Erin Griffith, who crafted the magazine’s must-read profile published online this morning. “What we have to do now is take that genius and figure out a way to at least institutionalize some of his values, so the future generation of SoftBank can actually execute in the same way that he does.” (Fortune)
MORE FORTUNE TECH COVERAGE
Mark Zuckerberg takes on critics of his $45 billion giveaway
by Kia Kokalitcheva
How Box just put its content management rivals on notice
by Heather Clancy
Alipay’s next frontier: U.S. holiday shopping sales by Leena Rao
Apple is partnering with Ford to bring this service to your car
by Michal Addady
Who needs C-3PO when you have Skype Translator? by Barb Darrow
ONE MORE THING
Could cybersecurity technology make guns safer? As America contemplates yet another mass shooting, manufacturers are testing smartwatches, RFID chips, and biometrics scanners that would make it more difficult to pull the trigger. (Fortune)
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
CES: The big show for consumer technology. (Jan. 6 – 9; Las Vegas)
Google Ubiquitous Computing Summit: Platforms and protocols for wearables, home automation, and the Internet of things. (Jan. 11 – 12; San Francisco area)
Connect: IBM’s social business and digital experience event. (Jan. 31 – Feb. 3; Orlando, Florida)
IBM InterConnect: Cloud and mobile issues. (Feb. 21 – 25; Las Vegas)
Enterprise Connect: Communications and collaboration trends. (March 7 – 10; Orlando, Florida)
Microsoft Convergence: Where business meets possibility. (April 4 – 7; New Orleans)
EMC World: What’s next for digital business. (May 2 – 5; Las Vegas)
SAPPHIRE Now: SAP’s annual conference. (May 17 – 19; Orlando, Florida)
Microsoft Ignite: Product roadmaps and innovation. (Sept. 26 – 30; Atlanta)
OracleWorld. The future of the cloud is now. (Sept. 18 – 22, San Francisco)
Dreamforce: The Salesforce ecosystem gathers. (Oct. 4 – 7; San Francisco)
This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy: