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Data Sheet—Friday, January 22, 2016

I’d like to clear up a position I might have unintentionally made in my recent column suggesting Donald Trump’s trade-policy ideas are nutty: I’m all for businesspeople seeking public office. Not only is running a company one great avenue for preparing to govern, having a track record in commerce is a good way for voters to judge someone’s competence.

As it happens, two Republican aspirants for the White House have backgrounds in the business world. One has succeeded primarily by trading on his celebrity, becoming supremely famous by pretending to fire people on television. The other, with a deep background in the technology industry, was actually fired by a real board of directors. Neither has governed, though Carly Fiorina jumped into politics by attempting to be elected to the Senate in the country’s most populous state—and getting trounced.

That said, it’s a free country and a great credit to our democracy that people with so little experience can dream of holding the highest office in the land.

But wait, there’s a glimmer of hope, and it comes from the software business, of all places. Thanks to Fortune’s Barb Darrow, I learned Thursday of a Republican businessman who wants to be governor of North Dakota’s 740,000 people. His name is Doug Burgum, the former CEO of Great Plains Software and a seasoned executive at Microsoft, which bought Great Plains in 2000. (Its applications became the foundation for Microsoft’s successful foray into back-office software.)

Burgum sounds eminently qualified for the starter political job of running a small state. Great Plains for years represented Microsoft’s attempts to sell to small businesses, undoubtedly great preparation for retail politics. (Small business is the technology-business equivalent of the little guy in campaigns.) Burgum has created jobs in his home state. As Darrow reports, Microsoft’s employment rosters in North Dakota have risen since it acquired Great Plains in 2001. Burgum also has been associated with two successful startups since leaving Microsoft in 2007: He chaired human resources software company Success Factors, since sold to SAP, and he’s currently chairman of Atlassian, the collaboration software company that recently went public.

Like a good, honest entrepreneur Doug Burgum is starting small. It’s refreshing.

Adam Lashinsky
@adamlashinsky
adam_lashinsky@fortune.com

BITS AND BYTES

Optimistic SAP boosts cloud sales forecast. Even though its fourth-quarter profits declined, SAP is upbeat about customer adoption of software subscriptions as a way of buying its business applications. SAP believes by 2018 it will sell more cloud versions of its software than traditional license arrangements under which its products are installed in a company’s own data centers. (Wall Street Journal)

Apple, Facebook prepare for virtual reality. Sales of virtual reality headsets could reach more than 200 million by 2020, and big tech companies are positioning their businesses for that reality. Apple just hired respected Virginia Tech researcher and human-computer interaction expert Doug Bowman to lead its strategy. Facebook, meanwhile, has developed software for streaming 360-degree content without straining data center equipment. (Financial Times, Fortune)

Amazon extends European hiring spree. The e-commerce and cloud services powerhouse created 10,000 new positions in Europe last year and has plans for another 2,500 additions in 2016. Apple is also touting its presence there: suggesting it has influenced more than 1.4 million jobs related to mobile apps. The declarations come as both companies face scrutiny by local tax regulators. (Fortune)

Report: Yahoo will disclose next steps after Feb. 2 earnings disclosure. The company has declined several offers to buy its core advertising business, email services and content organization, resisting an ongoing push by vocal activist investors for swift action, according to Reuters. Yahoo has plans for a tax-free spinoff of these assets, but that could take up to a year and investors are worried that these businesses will lose market share—and value—during the interim. (Reuters)

Apple presses Supreme Court on e-books appeal. The tech giant has filed more papers arguing that it was unfairly penalized in a case over price fixing for digital books. Even if Apple was part of the discussion, the company argues, its intention was to help break up Amazon’s monopoly on the market. This isn’t the only thing keeping Apple’s lawyers busy. Even though the company is notorious for protecting its patents (just ask Samsung), it also challenges more of them than any other company. (Fortune)

JPMorgan Chase, Citi back bitcoin startup. A group of 13 financial giants has ponied up $52 million to fund Digital Asset Holdings, which is working on ways to verify and clear financial transactions. The company was founded by former JPMorgan bigwig Blythe Masters. (New York Times)

THE DOWNLOAD

How to make in-store tracking less creepy. Like it or not (and many people don’t), retailers, airports, and other businesses are increasingly tracking people’s faces and mobile devices as they walk through their premises, to better organize store layouts and provide tailored advertising. That obviously comes with privacy risks and the Berlin Group—made up of privacy watchdogs and academics from around the world—has detailed them in a pair of new reports published Thursday. (Fortune)

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Apple analysts scramble ahead of next week’s earnings report
by Philip Elmer-DeWitt

Amazon says its cloud will weather impending storm Jonas by Barb Darrow

IBM confirms UStream purchase, forms cloud video unit by Dan Primack

Why Twitter just added a gaming vertical by John Gaudiosi

Amazon offers refunds on all hoverboards by Don Reisinger

Life after Logitech: Cloud video pioneer sees torrid growth
by Heather Clancy

Nest, the poster child for smart homes, is having relationship issues
by Stacey Higginbotham

Radio Shack CEO quits after less than a year by Benjamin Snyder

Feds launch priority investigation into hoverboards by Michal Addady

 

ONE MORE THING

One relative bright spot in IBM’s latest financials. Its executives prefer to talk up cloud services and business intelligence software, but IBM’s computer server division actually did pretty well last quarter. Sales grew for the first time in four years. (Computerworld)

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Connect: IBM’s social business and digital experience event. (Jan. 31 – Feb. 3; Orlando, Florida)

Spark Summit: Open source data science. (Feb. 16 – 18; New York)

IBM InterConnect: Cloud and mobile issues. (Feb. 21 – 25; Las Vegas)

MarketingSherpa Summit: Advance your campaign and careers. (Feb. 22 – 24; Las Vegas)

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

Pure//Accelerate: The future of the modern data center. (March 14 – 15; San Francisco)

Next 2016: Google’s cloud platform strategy. (March 23 – 24; San Francisco)

Microsoft Build: Microsoft’s premier developer conference. (March 30 – April 1; San Francisco)

Microsoft Envision: Where business meets possibility. (April 4 – 7; New Orleans)

EMC World: What’s next for digital business. (May 2 – 5; Las Vegas)

The Marketing Nation Summit. Marketo’s annual conference. (May 9 – 12; Las Vegas)

Salesforce Connections. Cloud marketing trends. (May 10 – 12; Atlanta)

Knowledge 16: ServiceNow’s annual service management conference. (May 15 – 20; Las Vegas)

Fortune Brainstorm E: The intersection of technology, energy, and sustainable business. (May 16 – 17; Carlsbad, California)

SAPPHIRE Now: SAP’s annual conference. (May 17 – 19; Orlando, Florida)

Gartner Digital Marketing: How to move from vision to execution. (May 17 – 19; San Diego)

Gartner Supply Chain Executive: Creating a value chain. (May 17 – 19; Phoenix)

Google I/O (registration link coming soon): For creative software coders. (May 18 – 20; Mountain View, Calif.)

MuleSoft Connect: Enable your digital transformation. (May 21 – 25; San Francisco)

Inforum: Infor’s annual user conference. (July 10 – 13; New York)

Fortune Brainstorm Tech: The world’s top tech and media thinkers, operators, entrepreneurs, innovators, and influencers. (July 11 – 13; Aspen, Colorado)

Sage Summit. For fast-growth businesses. (July 25 – 28; Chicago)

Workday Rising: Talent management in the cloud. (Sept. 26 – 29; Chicago)

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:

@greentechlady
heather@heatherclancy.com