Data Sheet—Friday, March 17, 2017

March 17, 2017, 12:35 PM UTC

I had a trains-planes-and-automobiles day Thursday (minus the trains), so I thought I’d share three things that caught my eye this week and wish you a happy weekend.

* The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon is expanding its global shipping program by offering airborne delivery services to its sellers in China. This is a shot across the bow of Chinese incumbent Alibaba, which takes a totally different approach to logistics. Whereas Amazon is leasing planes to ensure its access to equipment needed to move goods, Alibaba has organized a network of shippers it does not own. It’s an example of diametrically opposed strategies: vertical integration for Amazon versus an “asset-light” platform for Alibaba. These two largely stay out of each other’s way. Where they don’t will be fun to watch.

* Adweek says America’s foremost man of letters on technology and other matters, Walter Isaacson, is getting into the podcast dodge. Walter typically does things right, and he’s doing this right too: He’s beginning his podcast about digital transformations with financial support from Dell Technologies. Isaacson—a friend and mentor to me as well as the former top dog at Time magazine—has likely forgotten more about this topic than most of us will ever learn. His biography Steve Jobs and his following book, The Innovators, make him perfect for the role, and I predict this podcast will be a delight—and informative too.

* I relived my many years covering financial markets when I saw news about a new study by two accounting professors at Florida International University that analyzes how research analysts talk on earnings calls with the companies they cover. The analysts ought to be ashamed of their sycophantic behavior, epitomized by the oft-repeated (and sexist) expression, “Great quarter, guys.” The paper counted some 3,000 instances of “great quarter” over a 10-year period, a sign of how much analysts, who are supposed to be representing their brokerage clients, suck up to management in the hopes of maintaining reliable access. It’s a weird system. But it’s not the only one.

Have a great weekend.


Uber wants to handle its trade secret dispute with Google privately. A lawyer for the ride-sharing company said the matter should be considered by an arbitrator, based on an employment contract signed by the central person in this case, Anthony Levandowski. Google has accused the former Waymo engineer of taking more than 14,000 confidential documents with him when he left to start his self-driving company Otto, which was bought by Uber last year. (Reuters)

Toshiba may have more than 10 bidders for its memory business. The Japanese conglomerate needs to sell all or part of the division to cover multibillion-dollar losses in its Westinghouse nuclear unit. It apparently will have plenty of options, based on the suitors it has already attracted before a March 29 deadline. (Bloomberg)

It's the end of the road for Microsoft Vista. The company is finally pulling the plug on support for the much-criticized operating system, which it first released 10 years ago. (Fortune)

Swatch is developing its own smartwatch software. The giant Swiss watchmaker has created an operating system that uses less energy than the dominant options offered by Apple or Google. It's a risky and unique strategy, but one that might work in this nascent market. (Reuters)

Lyft driver settlement gets official green light. A federal judge in San Francisco approved a $27 million agreement that will reimburse the ride-sharing company's contractors for certain gas and maintenance expenses. At issue was whether or not the drivers should be classified as employees. They're still considered independent. Uber faces similar cases in California and Massachusetts. (Reuters)


Business software unicorn MuleSoft starts trading on NYSE today. The company, which makes technology for connecting applications, priced its initial public offering at $17 on Thursday night—$1 above its projected range of $14-$16 per share. That puts its market cap at about $2.1 billion, above the $1.5 billion valuation it received at its last private funding. (Fortune)


Oracle Still Sees Databases as Its Mother Lode, by Barb Darrow

Twitter Goes After Facebook and YouTube With Streaming Video Move, by Mathew Ingram

Idaho Wants to Pay Millions for HP Inc. Campus, by Jonathan Vanian

74 Tech Leaders Stand With Planned Parenthood in Letter to Congress, by Jennifer Calfas

Uber Promotes Machine Learning Expert to Chief Scientist Role, by Polina Marinova

Judge Rejects Google Deal Over Email Scanning, by Jeff John Roberts

Alibaba Branches Out Into Mobile Gaming, by Ryan Kilpatrick


Would you prefer to talk to Siri or Alexa? You can now reach Amazon's voice-activated virtual assistant with an iPhone. No word on when she's coming to Android. (Fortune)


CIO Leadership Forum (East): Strategy in the age of digital disruption. (March 19-21; Hollywood, Fla.)

IBM Interconnect: Tap into advanced cloud technology. (March 19-23; Las Vegas)

Oracle Industry Connect: Thought leaders share domain expertise, insights, and best practices. Invite-only. (March 20–22; Orlando, Fla.)

Enterprise Data World: Become a data-driven business. (April 2-7; Atlanta)

AppianWorld: Accelerate your digital business transformation. (April 3-5; San Francisco)

Magento Imagine: Strategies and technologies for digital commerce. (April 3-5; Las Vegas)

Open Networking Summit: The future of open source communications. (April 7-9; Santa Clara, Calif.)

MuleSoft Connect: Connect apps, data and devices. (April 18-20; San Francisco)

F8: Facebook's developer conference. (April 18-19; San Jose, Calif.)

Marketing Nation Summit: Marketo's annual event for digital marketers. (April 23-26; San Francisco)

JiveWorld: Strategies and technologies for workplace collaboration. (May 1-3; Las Vegas)

Apttus Accelerate: Perspectives on automating the "quote-to-cash" process. (May 2-4; San Francisco)

Collision: A tech conference created by the organizers of Europe's Web Summit. (May 2-4; New Orleans)

Knowledge17: ServiceNow's annual customer gathering. (May 7-11; Orlando, Fla.)

Gartner IT Operations Strategies & Solutions Summit: How to accommodate cloud services and other "digital" technologies. (May 8-10; Orlando, Fla.)

Gartner Digital Marketing Conference: Actionable advice about martech. (May 10-12: San Diego)

Outperform: The PROS annual conference about omnichannel commerce technology. (May 10-12; Chicago)

Build: Microsoft's annual conference for software developers. (May 10-12; Seattle)

Google I/O: Alphabet's annual developer conference. (May 17-19; Mountain View, California)

Epicor Insights: Strategies for retail and resource planning. (May 22-25; Nashville)

Signal: Twilio's annual developer confab. (May 24-25; San Francisco)

Pure//Accelerate: The future of data storage. (June 12-14; San Francisco)

MongoDB World: A gathering of the world's fastest-growing database community. (June 20-21; Chicago)

Cisco Live: Education for technology innovators. (June 25-29; Las Vegas)

Microsoft Ignite: Hands-on learning and industry insights for business leaders. (Sept. 25-29; Orlando, Florida)

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy.
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