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Data Sheet—Friday, March 25, 2016

I’ve published a lot of words this week, including a feature in the current issue of Fortune on the evolution of Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, as a leader. I thought I’d end the week with some words from Bezos himself from my interview with him in Seattle on March 10. I asked Bezos to reflect on some areas Amazon has gone into that are new to him, including fashion merchandising, and how he approaches new things. Here’s an edited version of his response:

“I have always needed to learn about things that were new to me. And to be a leader of any kind I think you need to be interested in self-improvement and growth. If you go back to the very beginning of Amazon, we had to learn about logistics. I’m thinking back 20 years, when I was driving all the packages to the post office myself. Today we have a lot of automation and robotics.

“We seek to hire our tutors. In the early days, we hired some of the best logistics people in the world, and then I studied at their feet. To start Kindle, we had to learn about the hardware business. Kindle is now more than 10 years old. That was a very steep learning curve. We spent three years learning how to build hardware devices before we launched Kindle 1, and now we’ve actually gotten pretty good at it.

“The best inventors have a high level of expertise in a particular arena, and they simultaneously maintain a beginners’ mind. And that’s hard to do. But that’s what you have to do if you want to invent and pioneer. The world is so complex and deeply rich with prior invention that it’s very unlikely that as a naive beginner you’re going to invent anything of use. So you have to be an expert in the state of the art and then somehow let that expertness not make you jaded.

“That’s one of the things that culturally we do really well at Amazon. We’re willing to learn new skills, willing to do that big price of admission. There’s a lot of tuition to become an expert in something new but then while doing that, maintain a beginner’s mind so that we actually end up with a differentiated offering instead of a me-too offering.”


I plan to have a vacationer’s mind next week, and you’ll be hearing from a medley of my Fortune colleagues in my place. Have a great weekend.

Adam Lashinsky

Find past editions of Data Sheet.


Microsoft considers funding Yahoo takeover. The software giant may be willing to lend money to private equity firms interested in buying the Internet company, reports Re/code. Yahoo’s board is entertaining suitors, but the process is taking longer than the company’s big investors would like and CEO Marissa Mayer wants to focus on her second turnaround attempt instead. Analysts estimate the value of the core business at $6 billion to $8 billion. (Re/code)

Why Apple is designing its own server hardware. Many big Internet giants including Amazon, Facebook and Google build their own data center equipment to keep the design consistent and the costs low. Apple is doing so for another reason, security concerns, reports The Information. Apple currently relies on Google, Amazon and Microsoft for its cloud infrastructure. (Fortune, Ars Technica)

Sharp reduces financial outlook. The struggling Japanese display maker, which is engaged in prolonged takeover talks with iPhone maker Foxconn, says slower growth in China will cause it to miss its annual earnings forecast. The revelation could become another bargaining chip for its avid suitor. The two were close to a deal last month, until Foxconn balked over new information about Sharp’s debt. They’re still talking. (Reuters)

China pours $24 billion into chip manufacturing. XMC, a government-owned contract manufacturer allied with U.S. chipmaker Cypress Semiconductor, is breaking ground on the country’s first locally owned plant for memory chips. The project underscores China’s dream of becoming a big player in spite of substantial, years-long leads by suppliers in Korea and Taiwan. (Wall Street Journal)

Activist investor targets Boingo Wireless. Ides Capital Management is angling for two seats on the Wi-Fi service provider’s six-person board, even after Boingo tried to negotiate with the hedge fund privately. It’s the usual issue—concern over stock performance—but one of Ides’ other causes is board diversity. (Wall Street Journal)

Is Google developing a live-streaming video app? A recent news report suggests Google is working on something called YouTube Connect, which would channel real-time broadcasts. That makes sense, since it needs something to compete with Facebook Live, as well as Periscope, which Twitter acquired in January 2015. (Fortune)

Snapchat buys bitmoji maker. The messaging service will pay an estimated $100 million to buy Bitstrips, according to sources. The Toronto-based company’s software turns someone’s portrait into a personalized, cartoon-ish avatar. (Fortune)

Microsoft silences controversial chatbot. One of Microsoft’s latest experiments in real-time machine learning, an AI-driven chat-bot called Tay, was switched off after it started posting racist and sexist messages on Twitter in response to questions from users. At least part of the problem seems to be that Tay is designed to repeat statements made by others. (Fortune, Ars Technica)

IBM takes stand against controversial North Carolina law. The tech giant criticized a decision by the state’s governor to overturn a local ordinance that would have let transgender people use public bathrooms that match their gender identities. IBM hasn’t said what it will do if the action stands, but the company has a huge presence in the state. (Fortune)


Mess at Nest echoes the mess in smart home technology. In January 2014, Google (now under the parent umbrella corporation Alphabet) purchased Nest for $3.2 billion, which validated the hopes and dreams of hundreds of startups that were also building connected products for the consumer home.

Two years later, reality has set in as entrepreneurs in the space deal with a skeptical customer base and the challenges of seeing their grand vision for a connected home get mired in rival standards. Meanwhile, as Fortune contributor Stacey Higginbotham reports, economic concerns are prompting tech companies to prepare for everything from a nuclear winter to a mild recession.


Oracle and Google write a tale of two clouds by Barb Darrow

The IRS technology nightmare is far from over by Jen Wieczner

You can now preorder Apple’s latest iPhone and iPad Pro editions
by Don Reisinger

5 things to consider when shopping for a new iPad Pro by Jason Cipriani

Google overhauls security alerts by Robert Hackett

Food delivery upstart DoorDash bets on restaurant ratings
by Kia Kokalitcheva

Instartcart is … generating profits? by Dan Primack

Sony launches new company for mobile PlayStation games by Tom Huddleston, Jr.


Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen pledges $100 million to bioscience. He’s funding grants for new centers at Stanford and Tufts universities dedicated to research on tissue regeneration, antibiotic resistance, gene editing, and brain circuitry. (Washington Post)


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

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

DocuSign Momentum’16: Imagine what you can do. (April 5-7; San Francisco)

Zuora Subscribed: Turn customers into subscribers. (April 12-13; San Francisco)

Apttus Accelerate: Innovation in the sales process. (April 12-14; San Francisco)

Adaptive Live: Journey to insight for financial executives. (April 25-28; San Jose, Calif.)

Modern Marketing Experience: The Oracle Marketing Cloud ecosystem. (April 26 – 28; Las Vegas)

Qlik Qonnections: Business intelligence trends. (May 1-4; Orlando)

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)

Coupa Inspire: Rethink the possible. (May 10-12; San Francisco)

Knowledge16: ServiceNow’s service management conference. (May 15-20; Las Vegas)

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

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

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)

MongoDB World: For giant ideas. (June 28-29; New York)

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, Colo.)

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)

Oracle OpenWorld: The future of the cloud is now. (Sept. 18-22; San Francisco)

Dreamforce: The Salesforce ecosystem gathers. (Oct. 4-7; San Francisco)

Drone World Expo: Commercial apps for unmanned aircraft. (Nov. 15-16; San Jose, Calif.)

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy.