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Data Sheet—Monday, May 9, 2016

Heather Clancy is a contributing editor at Fortune.

Every salesperson dreams of connecting with a prospect at just the right moment, because he or she is far more likely to close the deal, earn a referral, extend a relationship, and so forth. That’s why the concept of “social selling”—tailoring pitches or timing outreach based on someone’s status updates on LinkedIn, Facebook, or other social networks—is so appealing.

Indeed, more than 70% of the salespeople surveyed for LinkedIn’s latest report about this topic published last week use social networks as tools for prospecting. The percentage was even higher among top performers, around 90%.

That probably doesn’t shock you, nor will the not-so-astonishing revelation that adoption of social-selling methods is higher among millennials. What might surprise you, however, is that other age groups aren’t that far behind their younger peers, especially among top closers.

Beth Wood, vice president and chief marketing officer for Guardian Life, said about 2,500 of the 3,000 advisers in the life insurance company’s network use social selling to connect with prospects and mine referrals on LinkedIn and (less often) Facebook. (Guardian’s advisers are required to use a system from software company Proofpoint to ensure that their messages and communications with clients comply with financial industry regulations.)

While millennials usually pick up these tools faster than their older colleagues, they don’t necessarily have a long-term advantage and some of Guardian’s biggest success stories come from advisers who are over 50 years old, Wood said. “It’s less about the generational makeup of an individual and more about their willingness to invest the time and energy,” she said.

One proof point: one adviser gleaned 35 referrals from a long-time client after peeking into her professional network on LinkedIn. That is a far great number than traditional word-of-mouth, which has yielded a few referrals here and there over the past two decades. Since he started using social networks for prospecting, this adviser’s business has more than doubled, Wood said.

Software company Hearsay Social has experienced a similar adoption curve, reports founder and CEO Clara Shih. “These behaviors that used to be so-called millennial, have become mainstream,” she said.

Hearsay’s social media management tools are used by more than 130,000 professionals representing financial services companies. Its most recent product is a service for mortgage bankers. “This is a relationship journey,” Shih said. “You have to be findable, you have to be reachable, and then you have to keep in touch.”

Heather Clancy

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Pivotal’s latest round is bigger than you thought. Last week, the software company made headlines with a $253 million Series C investment led by Ford Motor. Pivotal actually has more than $653 million in fresh funds at its disposal, according to an SEC filing. That’s because one of Pivotal’s parent companies, EMC, has transferred $400 million of its debt into equity. (Fortune)

Austin mandates fingerprint screening for Lyft, Uber drivers. The ride-sharing companies spent more than $8 million to fight a municipal ordinance that requires stricter background checks. Lyft plans to suspend operations there starting Monday. Other cities are considering similar requirements. (Reuters)

Twitter cuts off real-time alerts to U.S. spy agencies. The social media company has barred the intelligence community from receiving the feeds provided by Dataminr, one of Twitter’s closest analytics partners, reports The Wall Street Journal. The information—which provides hints about potential terror attacks and other developing events from around the world—will still be provided to customers from the financial services sector and news media. (Wall Street Journal, Fortune)

Investors are skeptical about Square’s burgeoning loans business. The company’s stock skidded more than 22% to $10.22 last Friday after Square’s first-quarter financial report revealed slow growth for its small-business loan services. That was the biggest decline since the company went public last November. Even though Square CFO characterized demand as strong, she also suggested market conditions are challenging. (Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg)

Groupon sells restaurant software business. Four years ago, the daily deals pioneer purchased startup Breadcrumb, a specialist in point-of-sale software for restaurants and food service organizations. This morning, Groupon got out of the business by selling Breadcrumb to another POS vendor, Upserve. (Recode)

Microsoft revamps Windows 10 app store. The tech giant wants to make it simpler for businesses to orchestrate downloads of applications written by other software companies. The online marketplace is visible in Windows 10, although administrators can lock access in certain enterprise editions. (Wall Street Journal)

High-profile VR executive resigns Facebook post. The head of display technology for its Oculus Rift division, Mary Lou Jepsen, will leave in August to work on medical technology applications. The former Google engineer joined Facebook barely a year ago. (Wall Street Journal)

Spotify plans more video content. The music streaming service plans at least a dozen original shows produced by (among others) Oscar-winning actor Tim Robbins. Spotify already has about 75 million users, but the company wants to broaden its audience, and its chief rivals Apple Music and YouTube already offer video programming. (Bloomberg)


Bad news for firms that scan faces. A California judge late last week ruled against Facebook in a lawsuit that says the company violated user privacy by scanning their faces without permission and inviting others to “tag” them in photographs.

The case is significant because it’s one of the first to test the boundaries of how companies use facial recognition software, a rapidly advancing technology that treats faces as the modern-day equivalent of a fingerprint. (At Facebook, the company has internally referred to the tool as a “faceprint.”)

While the ruling does not amount a final decision, it effectively puts Facebook on the hook for violating the biometrics law. The case could have ripple effects for the growing number of other tech companies—including Google—that use facial scanning software. (Fortune)


Apple’s stock near two-year low by Aaron Pressman

Why IBM is excited about the ‘special partnership’ between SAP and Apple by Heather Clancy

YouTube is no longer an underdog in the ad world by Erin Griffith

Google starts bridging its business products by Barb Darrow

Yelp’s stock is surging by Jen Wieczner

Jeff Bezos sells 1 million shares of Amazon stock by Aaron Pressman

Salesforce rewards Indiana for changing mind about gay rights
by Heather Clancy

Uber’s Chinese rival Didi Kuadi raises almost $2 billion in funding
by Valentina Zarya


Sheryl Sandberg reflects on single motherhood. The Facebook COO is advocating better corporate policies and community support for women who are raising their children alone. (Fortune)

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy.