Jack Dorsey told the world to “stay woke” this week (#StayWoke, naturally) but I’m finding that rather challenging after a busy week in Los Angeles. (#TGIF, naturally.)
Why L.A.? Besides the boundless sun and bottomless Moscow Mules, the City of Angels is also home to the Code conference. A number of tech luminaries were in attendance, including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, and a surprisingly clean-shaven Dorsey. (Jack, you rascal.)
You know who wasn’t there? Investor Peter Thiel.
Don’t get me wrong—he was invited. They had a fancy Steelcase chair for him, right up there onstage next to Gawker Media founder Nick Denton. But Thiel can be forgiven for not wanting to share the air with Denton—he is bankrolling a lawsuit against the publisher, after all. (#Awkward.)
Thiel claimed an awful lot of mindshare anyway. On day one he was clearly top of mind for the Amazon CEO and The Washington Post owner. “Is that really how you want to spend your time?” Bezos asked a Thiel who was not there. “I don’t think so.”
On Day Two Thiel’s name was certainly on the lips of Sandberg, on whose company’s board he sits. “Peter did what he did on his own. Not as a Facebook board member,” she said with slight agitation. “We didn’t know about it. You’ll have to ask him about it.” But Thiel wasn’t there.
And of course Thiel was front and center during a Day Three session with Denton—metaphorically speaking, anyway. “A Silicon Valley billionaire is a hundred times, a thousand times, more powerful than a congressman” yet not subject to anywhere near the scrutiny, the Manhattan media baron said, gesturing to the empty chair beside him. But Thiel was not there to respond.
In a 2009 interview, Thiel told peHub that Silicon Valley “is supposed to be about people who are willing to think out loud and be different.” I agree, and I bet many of the readers of this newsletter do, too.
So if you’re out there, Peter, a suggestion: Come join us at Fortune Brainstorm Tech in Aspen and do just that. I guarantee we’ll have a fancy Herman Miller chair there waiting for you, and I’ll personally mix you the Moscow Mule you missed. I can’t promise you the Southern California sunshine, but I am utterly convinced that we can shed some light on this whole thing.
Have a great weekend.
BITS AND BYTES
Oracle will retaliate against whistleblower. The software giant intends to sue the former employee who has alleged that the company fudges the way it accounts for sales of its cloud-delivered software applications and services. Oracle refutes the claims and suggests the person who filed the lawsuit was fired for performance issues. (Fortune)
Blue Coat is going for it with IPO filing. Bain Capital wants to push the cybersecurity firm, which it bought last year for $2.4 billion, out onto the public market. This despite the lackluster demand for tech company IPOs (the quietest year since 2009!) and weak performance of other publicly traded security companies. (Fortune)
Feds to Huawei: What’s up with your exports to North Korea? The U.S. Commerce Department has subpoenaed the Chinese networking company for more information about sales into U.S.-sanctioned countries including Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria, reports The New York Times. Huawei relies heavily on U.S. suppliers, who could be restricted from selling to the company if it is found to have violated U.S. sanctions. (New York Times, Fortune)
Walmart finds great way to use drones. The mammoth retailer is just six to nine months away from using the technology as a way to track inventory in its warehouses. Why? It can collect reams of data, in real time, about what’s on the shelves and what’s heading for the exits. (Fortune, New York Times)
Another day, another business software company goes private. This time it’s data analytics specialist Qlik Technologies, which has accepted a $3 billion offer from Thoma Bravo. Qlik was pushed into the private equity firm’s arms by activist investor Elliott Management. So far, this has been the most active year for business software mergers and buyouts in more than five years. We’re far from done. (Reuters, Bloomberg)
Don’t expect Microsoft to build a self-driving car. Instead it’s racing—as is Google—to negotiate relationships with automakers and others that are working on autonomous vehicle technologies. (Wall Street Journal)
Zuckerberg could lose voting control if he leaves Facebook management. A board proposal to be considered at the company’s annual meeting on June 20 would sharply control the founder’s influence when he decides to cede the CEO post to someone else. Right now, Zuckerberg controls close to 54% of the voting power. (Reuters)
Samsung enters Europe via Spain. That means the mobile payments service now works in four countries, along with the U.S., China, and South Korea. Neither Apple Pay nor Android Pay are available on the mainland of Europe, although they both manage services in the U.K. (Fortune)
Intel CEO cancels Trump fundraiser. The chipmaker is known historically as a Republican-leaning company, but Brian Krzanich’s plan to host a dinner for Donald Trump this week generated a public backlash so he took it off his calendar. Many found Krzanich’s tacit support of Trump odd, considering the proud immigrant status of late founder Andy Grove not to mention Intel’s $300 million initiative to attract more women and minorities. For the record, Krzanich won’t endorse any candidate. (Fortune)
What’s news in ride-sharing. Fierce rivals Uber and Didi Chuxing are prioritizing profitability in China. Uber’s $100 million settlement with drivers looks far from certain, plus it faces new legal trouble in New York. On a brighter note, it was just approved in Japan. The driver lawsuit against Lyft takes a detour. Meanwhile, it is angling for a larger share of the business travel market. One of its biggest accounts so far (apparently) is Apple. (Wall Street Journal, Ars Technica, Reuters, Reuters, Reuters, Bloomberg)
eBay is getting ‘really serious’ about artificial intelligence. Predictive modeling is not a new tool for the retail business, eBay CEO Devin Wenig says, but in the last year it’s gotten good.
Really, really good.
“Something changed in the last year,” Wenig said Thursday at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. “I think it’s a combination of computing power—GPUs being brought online to [manage] big data sets—and the sophistication of algorithms.”
Which is why eBay is all in, reports Fortune senior editor Andrew Nusca. Fresh from its split with payments company PayPal, the e-commerce company wants to overhaul how it targets and serves its customers. (Fortune)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
How Michael Dell shortchanged shareholders while doing nothing wrong by Roger Parloff
Goldman Sachs slashes Apple’s price target by Lucinda Shen
Troubled 3D printer maker Stratasys replaces CEO by Heather Clancy
How Tinder CEO Sean Rad felt after he was fired by Andrew Nusca
Walmart tests grocery deliveries with Uber and Lyft by Phil Wahba
Zenefits CEO David Sacks on compliance, mobile aspirations
by Heather Clancy
Google teaches self-driving cars the art of honking by Kirsten Korosec
Minecraft reaches milestone of 100 million copies sold
by Tom Huddleston, Jr.
Hoverboards return to Amazon by Don Reisinger
Uber-Saudi Arabia deal is the latest sign the tech bubble could be popping by Laura Silva Laughlin
ONE MORE THING
Ponder this stat: Snapchat could have more users than Twitter. The source still isn’t official but the messaging app may or may not have 150 million daily active users, up from its last official number of 110 million in December. Technically speaking, Twitter doesn’t release a comparative number. Its last publicly disclosed count was 310 million monthly active users. But the math suggests its daily tally is around 135 million people. (Fortune)
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
Cloud Identity Summit: The world’s leading identity industry event. (June 6-9; New Orleans)
Bullhorn Engage: New models for business-to-business relationships. (June 8-10; Boston)
Apple Worldwide Developer Conference: The Apple developer ecosystem. (June 13-17; San Francisco)
Information Builders Summit: Business intelligence and analytics trends. (June 13-17; Reno, Nev.)
Red Hat Summit: The premier open source technology event. (June 27-30; San Francisco)
MongoDB World: For giant ideas. (June 28-29; New York)
NewVoiceMedia Connect: Rethink sales and service. (June 30; 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, Colo.)
Sage Summit: For fast-growth businesses. (July 25-28; Chicago)
Gartner Catalyst: Takeways for technical professionals. (Aug. 15-18; San Diego)
Oktane 16: Explore the role identity plays in connecting people and technology. (Aug. 29-31; Las Vegas)
Oracle OpenWorld: The future of the cloud is now. (Sept. 18-22; San Francisco)
Gigaom Change: 7 transformational technologies. (Sept. 21-23; Austin)
Workday Rising: Talent management in the cloud. (Sept. 26-29; Chicago)
Microsoft Ignite: Product road maps and innovation. (Sept. 26-30; Atlanta)
Dreamforce: The Salesforce ecosystem gathers. (Oct. 4-7; San Francisco)
Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing: The world’s largest gathering of women technologists. (Oct. 19-21; Houston)
TBM Conference: Manage the business of IT. (Nov. 7-10; San Diego)
Drone World Expo: Commercial apps for unmanned aircraft. (Nov. 15-16; San Jose, Calif.)
AWS re:Invent: Amazon’s annual cloud conference. (Nov. 28-Dec. 2; Las Vegas)
This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy.