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Data Sheet—Friday, April 28, 2017

Welcome to let’s-sort-through-all-the-tech-financials Friday, Data Sheet readers. This is Heather Clancy, understudying Adam Lashinsky for one final performance.

I take a special interest in matters Microsoft. That’s partly because it was one of the first software companies I ever covered in depth as a junior tech reporter two decades ago. Mostly, it’s because I’m as curious as the next person as to whether the 42-year-old company can steal the spotlight from 20-something Amazon when it comes to replacing corporate data centers (at least most of them) with cloud computing services.

Microsoft’s latest financial results—delivered last night alongside acts from tech powerhouses Amazon, Intel, and Google parent Alphabet—talk up all the right things. It recorded a very respectable 11% revenue growth for the unit that represents its cloud offerings—the Azure business alone grew a scene-grabbing 93%. And just this week, the company scored another huge Fortune 500 account: shipping company Maersk. I’m sure that follows CEO Satya Nadella’s turnaround script just fine.

But the acknowledged market leader, Amazon Web Services, managed to upstage those results. It pulled off an overall revenue expansion of almost 43% during the same period. Plus, AWS added several marquee names to its cast of customers, including the parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, and the newly public Snap Inc., which will buy $1 billion in AWS services over the next five years.

You can also expect Google to add dramatic tension. While it doesn’t break out the revenue from its cloud services (yet), the “other” category into which it lumps those results grew close to 50% in the first three months of 2017. Just last weekend, Google cloud guru Diane Greene said she believes her company can steal the spotlight from AWS by 2022.

Clearly, the last scene in the cloud drama is still being written—Fortune‘s Barb Darrow offers her own review of what’s up next. Meanwhile, this will make for good theater. Some creative improvisation required.

Speaking of bowing out, this is my last day curating this newsletter, which I helped launch in August 2014. It’s been simultaneously the most exhausting and enriching experience of my career, and I’m grateful to Fortune for including me as part of the cast for so long. And now, exit stage left.

Heather Clancy


A cheat sheet for last night’s earnings bonanza. Intel’s data center business didn’t grow as fast as expected. Alphabet recorded a surge in mobile and video advertising, despite boycotts from some huge advertisers over its YouTube content policing policies. Amazon’s Prime subscription business grew almost 50% amid a monster quarter. And GoPro is managing to get more efficient, without compromising the release schedule for its next digital camera. (ReutersFortune, ReutersReutersFortune)

The dispute between Apple and Qualcomm has escalated. Apple has stopped paying Qualcomm-related royalties to its iPhone contract manufacturers, according to a statement made by the chipmaker Friday morning. That forced Qualcomm to slash its revenue projections for the second quarter by about $500 million to between $4.8 billion and $5.6 billion. Qualcomm’s licensing agreements are with Apple’s manufacturers directly, who in turn charge Apple. (Fortune)

Uber moves controversial self-driving car exec into another role. Anthony Levandowski—the former Google engineer in the middle of a bitter intellectual property fight with Alphabet’s Waymo division—is no longer in charge of autonomous vehicle research at the ride-sharing company. Waymo has accused Levandowski of taking information about its LiDAR sensing technology when he left to start Otto, the self-driving truck company Uber bought last year. (Fortune, New York Times)

It looks like Apple has a case of Venmo envy. The technology giant is working on an alternative to PayPal’s peer-to-peer mobile payments platform, reports Recode. Given how well the app did in PayPal’s latest quarter—transaction volumes doubled to $6.8 billion—the revelation isn’t so surprising and this rumor has surfaced before. (Fortune, Recode)

The smartphone market grew last quarter, no thanks to Apple and Samsung. Unit shipments for the category grew 4.3%, reports International Data Corp. Chinese handset makers like Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo—which target lower price points—were responsible for most of the growth. (Fortune)

Chinese ride-sharing giant Didi Chuxing closes record $5.5 billion round. The new funding reportedly raises the valuation for Uber’s rival to more than $50 billion. Didi Chuxing hasn’t disclosed who participated, but the buzz is that both SoftBank and Silver Lake Kraftwerk were involved. (Bloomberg, TechCrunch)

It looks like analytics software firm Domo isn’t going public soon. Instead, the Utah-based startup has raised at least half of a new $200 million funding round that will help it grow as a private company for a bit longer, according to paperwork it filed this week and flagged Thursday by Bloomberg. BlackRock led that infusion, which values the company around $2.3 billion. (Bloomberg)

Cloudera will undershoot its last valuation when it starts trading today. The data management software firm priced its initial public offering at $15 per share, raising about $225 million and giving it a market capitalization of about $1.9 billion. That’s higher than expected but still much lower than the $4.1 billion it was once worth as a private company. (Reuters)


Aurora is the secretive new startup from the best minds in self-driving cars. Before Google launched its moonshot factory, Uber disrupted the taxi industry, and Tesla delivered its first electric vehicle—Sterling Anderson, Drew Bagnell, and Chris Urmson were working on self-driving cars.

Their positions at Google, Tesla, and Uber, perhaps the most watched autonomous vehicle programs in the world, are an indication of their esteem. Now, they’re striking out on their own—and likely competing with at least one of their former employers—with a self-driving car company called Aurora Innovation. Fortune‘s Kirsten Korosec has more details about the venture’s, which settled a lawsuit with Tesla just last week. 

How McAfee’s CEO is securing the future. Chris Young has a long to-do list. As CEO of McAfee, which popularized antivirus software in the 1980s and 1990s, he has to prove to investors that his company can operate on its own following a $4.2 billion spinout from Intel in April.

He needs to show peers that McAfee can succeed in a new era. And he must teach customers that the company can once more be on the cutting edge. Fortune‘s Michal LevRam spoke with Young ahead of his company’s spinoff about how he plans to execute.


Facebook Admits It’s Being Used by Political Actors to Shape Opinion, by Mathew Ingram

A Hacker Group Hijacked Some Medium Blogs (Including Ours), by Robert Hackett & Jeff John Roberts

Google Snags Former Salesforce Cloud Exec, by Barb Darrow

Why Comcast Already Sounds So Bored With Wireless, by Aaron Pressman 

You Shouldn’t Get Too Excited About Flying Cars, by Aric Jenkins

Apple’s iPhone 7 Performance Is a Mixed Bag, by Don Reisinger

How Keyboard Lovers Can Get the New BlackBerry KeyOne Phone, by Aaron Pressman


MIT figured out a way to “print” a building in less than a day. The company is experimenting with 3D printer-slash-robotics that could be used to create structures in difficult-to-reach locations. (Fortune)


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

Data Citizens: Strategies for data governance. (May 2-3; New York)

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)

Red Hat Summit: The premier open source technology event. (May 2-4; Boston)

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)

MarkLogic World: Enterprise database strategies and insights. (May 16-17; Chicago)

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)

Couchbase Connect: How the database powers digital experiences. (May 22-23; New York)

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

Apple Worldwide Developer Conference: An annual gathering of iOS, macOS, and watchOS coders. (June 5-9; San Francisco)

Zuora Subscribed: A conference dedicated to the subscription economy. (June 5-7; San Francisco).

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

HR Tech World: An event about people, technology, and organizations. (June 14-15; 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)

.NEXT: Nutanix’s conference on the future of enterprise cloud services. (June 28-30; Washington, D.C.)

Fortune Brainstorm Tech: An invitation-only summer retreat for business leaders. (July 17-19, Aspen, Colo.)

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

Tableau Conference: Tableau’s annual customer conference (Oct. 9 -12; Las Vegas)

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy.
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