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Data Sheet—Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Life is a series of launch parties when you write about early-stage startups every day. Between 2012 and 2014, I profiled 488 of them—from 10gen and 10sheet to Zynga and Zypsee.

Conventional wisdom says 80% to 90% of those ventures were doomed to fail. But when I recently tried to measure my hit rate, I found it wasn’t easy to determine which companies had actually succeeded or failed. No one throws a party to announce that a startup is slowly fizzling out.

The list’s spectacular successes were rare, as I expected. But so were the spectacular failures. Most startups I profiled didn’t publicly flame out or melt down. (A notable exception: Rather, they’re living on in a state of limbo.

Their websites are still accessible and their apps are still available, but they haven’t raised money in a long time. Often their Twitter accounts are dormant, their hiring pages are quiet, and their apps are buggy and in need of an update. Some have faced hurdles such as layoffs or a departed co-founder. Some have simply lost a sense of momentum—­practically a death sentence in the technology industry. Whatever the case, they’re stuck in startup purgatory with little hope of escape.

In other words, startups are failing to fail fast.

Perhaps ill-advisedly, I volunteered to read the names of all 488 startups in alphabetical order for Fortune’s video team. You can watch that here.

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Erin Griffith is a senior writer at Fortune. Email her.


Intel hires former eBay exec as new CFO. Robert Swan helped engineer the eBay spinoff of PayPal before joining growth equity firm General Atlantic in 2015. His predecessor, Stacy Smith, was promoted to executive vice president with responsibility for sales, manufacturing and operations in April. (Wall Street Journal)

Here’s how Microsoft is appeasing Chinese security concerns. The software giant has opened a new “transparency center” in Beijing where government workers can test its products. (Fortune)

UPS expands 3D printing services to Asia. More manufacturers are producing parts on demand using 3D printers—anything from nozzles to brackets to prototype soap dispensers or multifaceted moving parts. Over the long term, that could mean fewer shipments over longer distance, so the giant logistics company is creating hubs where it can play a role in the process. (Reuters)

The Nutanix IPO is no longer on hold. The data center hardware company, which sells equipment that combines data storage and computer server features, plans to sell 14 million shares at $11 to $13 per share, according to SEC documents filed Monday. The sale could raise up to $209.3 million. Nutanix filed its IPO papers in January, but put things on hold because of the capricious market. (Fortune)

Walmart completes acquisition. The deal, which was the largest for an online startup, will give Walmart access to’s innovative pricing software and will help the huge retailer better compete with online rival (Fortune)

Former Siebel execs tackle industry-specific apps. Vlocity, a fast-growing startup that sells cloud software for specific industries like insurance and telecommunications, on Tuesday raised another $50 million led by Sutter Hill Ventures. The new funds almost double its previous backing. (Fortune)

Google preps big product launch in early October. The introduction is likely for new smartphones and home-automation gear. It’s also expected to introduce a bigger role for Google Now, the tech giant’s voice “assistant” software. (Bloomberg)

GoPro’s new drone is almost here. Karma, which will be priced starting at $799 when it ships Oct. 23, comes with a controller that makes it possible to see what the drone sees during flyovers. (Fortune)

Twilio acquisition points to video messaging strategy. The cloud communications software company is technology that will enable messaging software to accommodate new video applications, such as augmented reality, without the hassle of downloading plug-ins. (Reuters)

Apple pushes suppliers to use clean energy. Two iPhone production partners, Belgian antenna band maker Solvay Specialty Polymers and Chinese aluminum manufacturer Catcher Technology, will use solar, wind, or other renewable power sources to power all of their Apple-related production activities by 2018. Two other suppliers, Foxconn and Lens Technology, previously made similar pledges. (Fortune)


Why Oracle is obsessed with Amazon. Mark Hurd, who shares the CEO position at Oracle with Safra Catz, on Monday reiterated that Oracle’s cloud business grew 82% year-over-year in its most recent quarter to roughly $800 million.

Most of that, however, was related to applications sold as cloud services (aka software as a service). In the category known as Infrastructure-as-a-Service—in which companies sell computing capacity—Oracle is still far behind market leader Amazon with just $171 million in sales for its most recent quarter, compared with the whopping $2.89 billion posted by Amazon Web Services in sales for its latest quarter.

But Hurd sees plenty of upside: He projected that within a decade, 80% of IT budgets will be spent on cloud service. Oracle is angling for a big chunk of that spending.




Uber’s Biggest Rival in Southeast Asia Rounds Up Another $750 Million, by Kia Kokalitcheva

Twitter Finally Loosens Its 140-Character Limit, by Mathew Ingram

Sprint CEO Says Galaxy Note 7 Recall Will Be Forgotten in Six Months,
by Aaron Pressman

Here’s How Well the iPhone 7 Sold Its First Weekend, by Don Reisinger

Airbnb Buys Activity-Booking Platform, by David Meyer

Oracle Snaps Up Cloud Security Startup Palerra, by Barb Darrow


Bomber hunters solicit tips via Amber Alert. Usually, the emergency notification system helps find missing people, but the FBI used it Monday to blast out descriptions of a person wanted in weekend bombing incidents in New York and New Jersey. The suspect was taken into custody several hours later. (Fortune)

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy.

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