Data Sheet—Tuesday, December 22, 2015

December 22, 2015, 1:42 PM UTC

Your regular host Adam Lashinsky is enjoying a short break. He’ll return Monday, Dec. 28, with his final essay of 2015. Data Sheet will publish on an abbreviated schedule until after the New Year.

For the most part, I resist the “best” this or that lists pitched my way by all manner of market research and technology companies at the end of the year. Still, I was intrigued by one flung my way this week by Okta, a software purveyor that created a system that centralizes sign-on privileges for cloud applications.

The list reflects log-in data from the several thousand businesses that use Okta’s access management technology, including MGM Resorts, Chiquita Brands, FICO, and Western Union. Right now, it supports more than 4,000 software applications sold as a service. One of the more intriguing lists Okta cooked up based on usage trends over the past year was a ranking of the 15 fastest-growing apps. The top app in terms of adoption growth was Slack’s business messaging service.

I’m not surprised, although many of the other software companies near the top of the list are far less familiar.

Ever hear of New York-based Greenhouse? It sells a recruiting management service used by the likes of eyeglass retailer Warby Parker, social network Pinterest, and hospitality company Airbnb. The company raised a $35 million round in venture funding last August, barely five months after its previous infusion. It’s not the most widely used service supported by Okta; that honor goes to Jobvite, an analytic-driven recruiting software.

What about Envoy? Its mobile application helps Box, GoPro, and Yahoo manage the comings-and-goings of office visitors. The company’s $15 million Series A round last June was led by Andreessen Horowitz. Another thing in the San Francisco-based startup’s favor: it is part of Slack’s new certified application network.

You should also remember the name Zapier, which hails from Mountain View, Calif. Its mission is to help companies create connections between different cloud business applications. Why does this matter? Zapier’s Clio software makes the process of sharing data simpler. So far, it’s only disclosed outside funding of $1.2 million in its seed round.

Incidentally, the top three fastest-growing categories in Okta’s cloud application network were recruiting services, project management and business messaging. I’ll be watching its growth list closely.

Heather Clancy


Apple protests British plan that would weaken privacy. U.K. lawmakers are considering legislation that would require companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft to create "back doors" circumventing their encryption technologies. The surveillance law would allow law enforcement to monitor suspected criminals or terrorists. European governments previously prioritized personal privacy, but the Paris attacks reshaped the debate. Apple is worried about a wave of country-specific legislation that would make compliance difficult. (Financial Times, Fortune)

NetApp pays $870 million for flash storage upstart. NetApp's all-cash acquisition of SolidFire leaves it better-equipped to compete with rivals Pure Storage and EMC. Flash storage arrays can retrieve data more quickly than spinning disk drives, making them increasingly attractive for data center applications. (Fortune)

Alibaba hires Pfizer security exec to clean up counterfeiting. Days after the Chinese e-commerce giant received a slap on the wrist from the U.S. for selling fake goods, it has named Matthew Bassiur as head of global intellectual property enforcement. He most recently was the deputy security officer for pharmaceutical company Pfizer, but also worked on intellectual property issues for Apple. (Reuters)

Microsoft buys (another) startup founded by Lotus Notes creator Ray Ozzie. Boston-based Talko was developing collaboration apps for smartphones. Its technology will be absorbed into Skype. Microsoft bought Ozzie's previous collaboration startup, Groove Networks, 10 years ago. (Fortune)

PayPal talks up universal wallet. More than 10 million people have signed up to use the digital payment company's One Touch offering. The service stores
e-commerce site log-ins and credit-card information, allowing consumers to complete transactions across multiple cyber retailers without having to enter their information again and again. One Touch is used by more than 1 million merchants. (Fortune)

Uber rival Lyft is raising $1 billion. The new round was disclosed in regulatory filings late last Friday, and it's about twice the amount rumored last month. A Bloomberg report estimates Lyft's updated valuation at between $3.9 billion and $4.5 billion. That's impressive, but it's far less than Uber's valuation, now pegged at more than $60 billion. (Fortune)


Tech-enabled flight attendants upgrade customer service. Don’t be alarmed if the cabin attendants on your next flight seem to be spending a lot of time looking at their personal electronic devices.

They’re not checking Facebook, watching the latest viral animal video on YouTube or tweeting about the antics of the misbehaved passenger in row 12. More likely, they’re using their airline-issued devices to determine which passengers will have tight connections, who’s having a birthday, and who’s entitled to a complimentary drink.

In the same way mobile technology has literally lightened the loads of pilots by replacing stacks of paper charts and manuals with programmed iPads, apps on mobile devices that can facilitate sales and access passenger information are changing the way flight attendants work in and out of the cabin. They’re also helping airlines improve their bottom lines. (Time)


Elon Musk says Tesla vehicles will drive themselves in two years
by Kirsten Korosec

Amazon coaches merchants to sell smarter by Leena Rao

Facebook just added support for the iPhone's coolest feature
by Kia Kokalitcheva

Pivotal buys CloudCredo to stake bigger claim in Europe by Barb Darrow

Salesforce backs West Virginia wind farm by Heather Clancy

This software startup is battling slavery by Dan Primack

A Google spinoff is developing the first Pokémon game for smartphones by Kif Leswing


Cape Canaveral, we have a landing. Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's SpaceX venture on Monday evening successfully launched and landed its Falcon 9 rocket for the first time. Previous attempts all ended in crashes. (Fortune, Wired)

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by <strong>Heather Clancy.</strong>

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