Data Sheet—Tuesday, March 7, 2017
All these partnerships are making my head hurt. To keep up you need a scorecard. Yesterday I wrote about NBC Universal taking a big slug of the initial public offering of “camera” company Snap. That was about sprinkling NBCU’s vast “content”—what we used to call news, films, and TV shows—across the Snapchat platform.
Today’s news is about a tie-up between Salesforce.com and IBM over artificial intelligence. Or, as Andrew Nusca cleverly wrote on Fortune.com Monday, the deal represents the marriage of “two nerdily-named artificial intelligence platforms,” Salesforce’s Einstein and IBM’s Watson.
The two companies plan to integrate the AI products but sell them separately. This would let IBM turn its prediction engine loose on Salesforce’s sales-oriented clients. And it would inject Salesforce’s customer-focused analytics on IBM’s business customers.
Both companies are big on buzzwords and the transformative power of headlines. Actual products from their relationship are “expected” in the “second half of 2017,” the companies said. They’ll reveal pricing “at the time of general availability,” a handy euphemistic way of saying this partnership exists merely on paper for now.
There was one more concrete element of the announcement. IBM agreed to become a paying user of Salesforce’s customer-support product. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said his company will displace Microsoft for this business.
Benioff and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty each divulged a related nugget to Fortune’s Nusca. “These are the best of both worlds for artificial intelligence. These are the two best players coming together,” said Benioff. “We have almost no overlap in our businesses.” In agreement, Rometty added: “We share over 5,000 joint clients.”
Salesforce is worth $57 billion and struggles to make money. IBM’s market value is $172 billion and it has a tough time growing. Might this almost-no-overlap, thousands-of-shared-clients relationship someday be more than a partnership?
BITS AND BYTES
Hewlett Packard Enterprise pays premium for storage upstart. HPE is offering $1.09 billion in cash for Nimble Storage, which makes flash memory technology. It's the company's second big acquisition so far this year; it bought cloud firm SimpliVity in January for $650 million. (Reuters)
EMC's cloud spinout Pivotal claims impressive sales growth. The company, which sells technology to help developers build cloud software applications, doubled its revenue in 2016 to around $270 million. Dell Technologies controls slightly more than half of Pivotal while GE, Ford, Microsoft, and VMware own the rest. (Fortune)
Verizon could be big winner from the unlimited data frenzy. The telecommunications giant reports "significant interest" in the new offering it introduced last month, including new contracts from people switching to its service. Could all that streaming video slow things down for everyone? It looks like Verizon could be in a better position to handle the extra load than its major rivals—AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile—thanks to investments it has made to its network. (Fortune)
Institutional investors complain about Snap's lack of voting rights. The Council of Institutional Investors is asking index providers S&P Dow Jones Indices and MSCI to bar Snap and any other company that sells investors non-voting shares from their benchmarks. Otherwise, managers might feel obligated to buy them—without allowing investors a voice in how things are run. (Reuters)
The charges against Samsung's vice chairman are broader than expected. The 99-page court document detailing the bribery indictment alleges that Jay Y. Lee and four other executives asked for other favors beyond the original issue that prosecutors were investigating, which centered on special government consideration for a 2015 merger. (Wall Street Journal)
CA Technologies snaps up security upstart Veracode. It will pay $614 million for the company, which makes technology for testing the security of software applications. Veracode contemplated an initial public offering back in 2015. (MarketWatch)
Lowe's wants to help people fix their bathrooms using VR. Not the sort of person who can visualize what a completed renovation will look like? Customers at one of the retailer's Massachusetts' stores can now use an HTC Vive to experiment with installing things like tiles. The technology should show up in other locations next month. (Fortune)
There aren't 1 billion iPhones in use, but the number is still impressive. A new analysis by BMO Capital Markets suggests there are 700 million devices currently in use worldwide. Apple last July said it has sold about 1 billion units since the introduction, but not all of them are still alive. (Fortune)
Here's what Google should talk about at its big cloud event. At the Google Cloud Next conference this week in San Francisco, Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google parent company Alphabet, and other executives will tout Google Cloud Platform as ideal for running big business applications.
To boost its credibility, experts suggest Google needs to focus on improvements to its technology—such as more database options and management features that help thwart big outages like the one experienced by its biggest rival Amazon Web Services last week. Fortune's Barb Darrow sets the scene.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Here's What Fitbit Is Focusing on With Its Latest Update, by Aaron Pressman
Google's Fake News Problem Could Be Worse Than on Facebook, by Mathew Ingram
Major Spammer Accidentally Releases Data on a Billion People, by Jonathan Vanian
Snap Will Be a Stock Market Dog, by Lucinda Shen
These Crystal-Clear Photos May Show Samsung's Galaxy S8, by Don Reisinger
4 Gadgets That Will Help You Relax, by Chris Morris
ONE MORE THING
Can Facebook's 'disputed' tag really thwart fake news? Not very likely nor should it be in the business of trying, argues Fortune's Andrew Nusca. Spare two minutes for this week's latest video-captured Tech Debate.