I must confess a habit of mine with you, Data Sheet readers. Every day, while I tap away on my laptop in Fortune’s San Francisco bureau, one tab in my browser remains constantly open: Facebook.com.
It’s not to see the new photos or funny jokes my friends publish to my News Feed, though I admit that I sometimes glance for that reason. It’s to leave it on in the background on the off-chance that I receive a chat message from someone I know.
Facebook has long been characterized as a place to store and share photos. (The “poke” is pretty much dead, people.) But one of its other killer functions is messaging, and Facebook knows it.
On Thursday the social network redesigned its Messenger mobile app, adding new features like birthday reminders and a section for favorite contacts, among others. But its addition of a “Home” tab speaks volumes about how important the chat function has become to the Facebook ecosystem.
Facebook first released the standalone Messenger app in August 2011. Almost three years later the company shut down the chat functionality within its namesake app and forced all of its mobile users to download Messenger instead. It was a not-so-subtle hint. Today, Facebook doesn’t even want you to use your smartphone’s most basic function—voice calls—instead baking the capability right into Messenger.
Expect to see more moves like this. The messaging app is the technology industry’s latest great hope—a millennial-seducing powerhouse of potential that, for Facebook anyway, could one day grab more of your attention than its flagship social media service. (You can thank Snapchat for that.) For those keeping score at home, today’s Messenger app now has more than 900 million monthly active users and features that include video calling, group chat, peer-to-peer payments, chat bots, and myriad other bells and whistles.
It’s only a matter of time before my friends’ updates and shared news articles show up in Messenger, too, sprinkled between relevant conversations. And maybe—just maybe!—I’ll never have to keep a browser tab open for Facebook’s classic News Feed ever again.
Have a great weekend.
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BITS AND BYTES
Microsoft’s new business partner? Mary Jane. The tech giant has partnered up with Kind Financial, a financial technology firm that focuses on the marijuana industry. Although cannabis is still mostly illegal in the United States, Microsoft is offering its services to regulators. Kind will use the company’s Azure cloud to crunch supply chain and compliance data. At present, New York State regulators use Oracle. (Fortune)
Salesforce considered a bid for LinkedIn. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff confirmed that his cloud company was a contender for the professional social networking site. “We gave it a solid look,” he said, but Microsoft ultimately offered the company a better deal: higher valuation, operational independence, cash. (Fortune, Recode)
AppDynamics confidentially files for IPO. The IT analytics company has quietly signed on Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to underwrite an initial public offering, potentially slated for later this year. Only two other tech firms have gone public this year: Acacia Communications and SecureWorks, though Twilio is expected to set its pricing next week. (Fortune, Wall Street Journal)
Magic Leap teams up in galaxy far, far away. The much-hyped, secretive mixed reality startup has joined forces (no pun intended) with ILMxLAB, LucasFilm’s augmented reality special effects lab. Leap’s founder, Rony Abovitz, announced the partnership at a Wired conference in New York where he played a clip demoing the company’s tech that featured two favorite droids from the Star Wars universe: C-3PO and R2-D2. (Wired)
Microsoft buys Wand Labs. Fresh off its LinkedIn acquisition, the Redmond, Wash. software giant has picked up a small chat app company. Wand’s tech connects features within messaging apps to other smartphone services. Imagine learning the song your friend is listening to, and being able to instantly stream the video through YouTube or purchase it on Amazon. It’s not hard to imagine integrations with Cortana, or chat bots. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. (Fortune)
Fortune’s Dan Primack explains why M&A deal-making is back in the cloud industry.
When Microsoft agreed to acquire LinkedIn earlier this week for $26.2 billion, it prompted speculation that the software market might finally be waking from its long M&A dormancy. But I don’t think this was the right way to think about it. Instead, Microsoft buying LinkedIn should have been viewed asconfirmation that software deal-making is back.
Just hours earlier, Symantec had agreed to pay $4.65 billion to purchase Blue Coat Systems, a private equity-owned cybersecurity provider that had been planning to go public. The previous week, Salesforce had agreed to buy Demandware for $2.8 billion. And then there was Vista Equity Partners recently agreeing to snap up both Marketo for $1.8 billion and Ping Identity for an undisclosed amount.
If three makes a trend, then Microsoft-LinkedIn is just part of something that has already been established.
So what has changed? In short, prices. Read the rest on Fortune.com.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Donald Trump Cable News Channel Could Be Coming by Michal Addady
How to Get iOS 10 and macOS Sierra Early by Don Reisinger
Hulu on Oculus Rift: Streaming TV in Virtual Reality by Tom Huddleston, Jr.
Appeals Court Just Gave a Big Copyright Victory to Music Sites by Jeff John Roberts
Uber Says It’s ‘Profitable’ in Its Most Developed Markets by Kia Kokalitcheva
Apple Sued In China For Allegedly Copying iPhone 6 Design by Don Reisinger
Nintendo Pokemon Go Smartphone Game Coming in July by Benjamin Snyder
‘Finding Dory’ Could Be the Biggest Disney Pixar Movie Ever by Tom Huddleston, Jr.
ONE MORE THING
Meet Ollie, a smart shuttle. The brains of this new 3D-printed self-driving shuttle created by Arizona startup Local Motors are powered by IBM’s Watson. The company plans to test the vehicle in Maryland and Washington D.C. this year—and potentially also in Miami, Las Vegas, Germany, and Denmark. (Fortune)
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
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)
DellWorld: Dell’s annual global customer conference. (Oct. 18-20; Austin, Texas)
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 Robert Hackett.