Tech Weekly Newsletter: May 15, 2016

 

Last week, today

  • 5/7 – Business Insider has a review (with interviews) of what it’s like to use Facebook at Work, which is the Company’s initiative to go after the Slack/Yammer/HipChat etc. etc. etc. market (Business Insider)
  • 5/8 – WSJ breaks news that Twitter recently cut off the access that US Intelligence agencies have to social media postings through Dataminr (which provides real-time analytics). Twitter reportedly was worried about the optics of seeming too close to the federal agencies (WSJ)
  • 5/9 – Spotify is looking to release original video with 12 original series that include actors like Tim Robbins and Def Jam Records co-founder Russell Simmons (Bloomberg)
  • 5/9 – Chris Tsakalakis, who had served as President of StubHub for 8 years, has joined Benchmark as an EIR (Business Wire)
  • 5/9 – In an exercise in streamlining, Groupon has sold its restaurant software business, Breadcrumb, to Upserve (fka Swipely), a company that also makes restaurant software (Re/Code)
  • 5/9 – John McAfee, the former CEO of McAfee and legitimately a crazy person and maybe a murderer, has been named the CEO of some $10M market cap social gaming, public company that is renaming itself John McAfee Global Technologies. He’ll likely be the Republican Nominee for President in 2020 (TechCrunch)
  • 5/9 – Despite early failures, media companies are still “flocking” to use Facebook Messenger, but looking to tweak the type of content they’re pushing according to the Information (The Information)
  • 5/9 – Renaud Laplanche, Chairman, CEO and founder of LendingClub, resigned following an internal investigation that found that several managers sold $22M in near-prime loans to a single investor in violation of the investor’s instructions. It’s unclear what Laplanche knew when, but he was fired without severance and the stock was down 25% in trading on Monday (Fortune). CNBC has a report that says it was the cover up and not the crime that did him in and that the board lost confidence in him after he wasn’t full cooperative and transparent during the internal investigation (CNBC)
  • 5/9 – Pivotal’s $253M Series C led by Ford and Microsoft last week was actually a $653M round after “one of its parent companies” converted debt into equity, helping to further clear the path for an IPO (Fortune)
  • 5/9 – Uber and Lyft finally agree on something. The two companies have pulled their services from Austin, Texas after city voters failed to overturn legislation that required the fingerprinting of drivers (WSJ)
  • 5/9 – Just when you thought we were done with Zenefits news… NO!  Turns out CEO Parker Conrad sold $10M worth of his own stock, later negotiated a $130K payment as a condition of his departure, was able to keep unvested stock and more according to a report released by Cooley and a blog post by now CEO David Sacks. Sounds like Conrad was a bit of the judge, jury and executioner at Zenefits as well, serving as human resources administrator, approving vacation requests, offer letters and then also had the whole sales team reporting to him. Buzzfeed has more here and Bloomberg has a new detailed story calling Zenefits “The Perfect Startup. Then it self-disrupted,” which also mentions Conrad regrets resigning and that he’s already working on a new start-up (Bloomberg)
    • Side note in all of this, but there is a  cool story that as all of this was breaking, David Sacks was at the Super Bowl. He had to leave but realized he still had his Super Bowl ticket around his neck so he gave it to his Uber driver
  • 5/9 – Debatable if this is newsworthy, but here it is. Peter Thiel is apparently supporting Donald Trump? (The Guardian)
  • 5/9 – Salesforce is reportedly buying Tel-Aviv-based Implisit Insights, a provider of data automation, for “tens of millions” (Dow Jones Business News)
  • 5/9 – Facebook responds to the Gizmodo article that says it suppresses conservative news stories by saying that it doesn’t actually suppress conservative news stories (Business Insider), following by Marky Z posting the same thing on Facebook. But thankfully, the Senate wants to get involved so this should be taken care of quickly (Re/Code)
  • 5/9 – Re/Code has its usually detailed update on Yahoo’s sale process, which includes a look into the changed behavior of Marissa Mayer, who has either decided she wants to try and keep her job or not like explicitly break her fiduciary responsibility (Re/Code)
  • 5/9 – Groupon and IBM are officially in a patent war with one another (Fortune)
  • 5/9 – Amazon launches a video service where Amazon account holders can upload original or their own licensed videos to a new Video Direct platform (WSJ). Despite the headlines, this is likely more of a competitor to Netflix in the long-term and not YouTube
  • 5/9 – Uber is taking bids from public cloud providers AWS, Google and Microsoft for its “dispatch engine.” The contract won’t be large, but it will be important/symbolic to whoever wins it (The Information)
  • 5/10 – Marketo* spikes 24.7% on the report from Bloomberg that Morgan Stanley has been hired to help the Company find a buyer. Credit Suisse speculates that SAP is the most likely acquirer (Fortune)
  • 5/10 – HP has launched HP Tech Ventures (HP)
  • 5/10 – Salesforce is building its Internet of Things Cloud on AWS, which is obviously a big coup for AWS (Business Insider)
  • 5/10 – Slack debuts “Sign In with Slack,” which will essentially make Slack an identity management platform for B2B applications (TechCrunch)
  • 5/11 – Re/Code has a detailed profile of Google Fiber, which it calls the most audacious part of Alphabet (Re/Code)
  • 5/11 – Tis the season for gossip on venture firm splits with the latest (again from Fortune after breaking the Xfund news last week) on the split at SV Angel between David Lee and Ron Conway. Primack has the story, but apparently the split was far less amicable than was let on and Conway was quick to throw Lee under the bus to LPs (Fortune)
  • 5/11 – This week in Theranos, the Company’s President and COO is “retiring” (Business Insider)
  • 5/11 – Dell is coming to market with a $16B bond offering to finance the acquisition of EMC (Fortune)
  • 5/11 – According to testimony by Google Chairman, Eric Schmidt, in the on-going litigation between Oracle and Google, in 2006 Google considered paying $30-40M for a 5 year license to use Java on Android, but talks ultimately broke down (WSJ)
  • 5/11 – The founders of Siri, finally unveiled Viv, their smarter, better, faster personal assistant that is capable of answering more complex questions that has raised $30M from Iconiq and the Pritzker Group, on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt in NYC  (Time)
  • 5/11 – Someone claiming to be the former VP of Engineering at uBeam, a company that is trying to transform charging technology by building wireless capabilities, has written a series of blog posts saying that the product is a fraud. The Company has never given a live demo despite raising $23M from Upfront Ventures, a16z, Founders Fund, Marissa Mayer and Mark Cuban (TechCrunch). Mark Suster from Upfront has responded on the Company’s behalf to the charges (Medium)
  • 5/11 – Google is building a product in response to Amazon Echo and its code name is Chirp (Re/Code)
  • 5/11 – Salesforce reportedly has a secret project called “Project Sayonara” that is working to wean the Company off of its Oracle Database dependency. Obviously as you’d expect, this move will likely take years and it’s unclear where it is in the process (Fortune)
  • 5/11 – Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware, has denied a report that he will step down as CEO of the Company following the close of the EMC/Dell acquisition. This comes after a string of departures for VMware at the executive level (Business Insider)
  • 5/11 – Berlin-based Cherry Ventures closes a €150M fund to focus on early stage investing in Europe (TechCrunch)
  • 5/11 – Infoblox has received an offer from Thoma Bravo to take the Company private, a month after activist investor Starboard took a stake in the Company. Shares popped 20% on the news giving the stock a $1.1B market cap (Bloomberg)
  • 5/11 – Salesforce deleted four hours of customer data after a major outage (Business Insider)
  • 5/11 – Days after announcing a $50M round of funding led by Pamplona Capital, Dyn has announced that CEO Jeremy Hitchcock will be stepping down as CEO and that Jim Baum, the old CEO of Netezza and Endeca will be stepping in (TechCrunch)
  • 5/11 – The FTC is reportedly looking at re-opening its anti-trust investigation against Google and search, which it had closed three years ago (Politico)
  • 5/11 – Microsoft will shut-down the popular Sunrise calendar app on August 31. The team is currently working on embedding the features into Microsoft’s Outlook mobile app (TechCrunch)
  • 5/12 – Paddle8 and Auctionata are set to merge to form one online art auction site and take it global (NYT)
  • 5/12 – Apple has moved to shorten the app review time for the App Store (from an average of 8.8 days a year ago to 1.95 days last week) as it tries to generate more revenue from mobile (Bloomberg)
  • 5/12 – Symantec announced that it will cut 10% (or ~1,200 employees) of its workforce, which will result in a charge of up to $280M (WSJ)
  • 5/13 – In only the second tech IPO of the year (and the first venture-backed one), Acacia Communications, a fiber optic transmission business backed by Matrix, Summit and others, went public and traded up 35% (TechCrunch)
  • 5/13 – Donald Trump finally goes too far and attacks the most powerful man in America.  Jeff Bezos will probably imminently cause Trump’s demise by undercutting margins (Fortune)
  • 5/13 – Apple invested $1B into Didi, the Chinese Uber although their motivations aren’t entirely clear. People seem to think it probably involves autonomous cars because what doesn’t? (WSJ)
  • 5/13 – A judge has ruled that T Rowe Price cannot sue Dell over its take private because it mistakenly voted for the deal (and someone has certainly been fired) (Reuters)

Earnings

  • 5/9 – Wayfair* stock trades up 10% after posting higher than expected revenue for the quarter (Boston Globe)
  • 5/9 – AppFolio releases earnings and trades up slightly on the news (Pac Biz)
  • 5/9 – Opower announced what is likely their last earnings as a public company.  Stock doesn’t change as it’s likely being bought (Business Wire)
  • 5/10 – Former hotshot enterprise stocks Jive and Castlight release earnings. Everyone collectively shrugs (Jive) (Castlight)
  • 5/10 – New Relic posts solid earnings, but wider than expected loss for their fiscal Q4.  The stock traded down 1% on the news (The Street)
  • 5/11 – CA Technologies shares traded up 3% on earnings that topped analyst expectations (Barrons)
  • 5/11 – Rapid7 posts earnings and trades down 3.6% on the news (Washington News Wire)

Financings

  • 5/9 – CoreOS, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based company behind the container-centric CoreOS Linux distribution and Tectonic container management service, has raised $28 million in Series B funding led by GV
  • 5/9 – Musikki, a 5.5-year-old, London-based image management and distribution platform, has raised $1 million in fresh funding from Portugal Ventures
  • 5/9 – Pivotal, a three-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based software company that helps its customers build up their own software development capabilities, has raised more than everyone thought. Recode reported last Friday that it had garnered $253 million in Series C funding at a $2.8 billion valuation from Ford, Microsoft, EMC, VMware and GE
  • 5/10 – Bayshore Networks, a four-year-old, Bethesda, Ma.-based company that makes cybersecurity software for the Industrial Internet of Things, has raised $6.6 million in Series A funding from Trident Capital Cybersecurity
  • 5/10 – Dyn, an 18-year-old, Manchester, N.H.-based internet performance management company, has raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Pamplona Capital Management
  • 5/10 – E8 Storage, a 1.5-year-old, Ramat Gan, Israel-based enterprise storage company, has raised $12 million in Series B funding led by Accel Partners
  • 5/10 – MegaBots, a two-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based company that company that aims to bring the robot-fighting stuff of manga and anime to a venue near you, has raised has raised $2.4 million in seed funding from Azure Capital Partners, AME Cloud Ventures, Autodesk, Maveron, and angel investor Ray Rothrock
  • 5/10 – Rancher Labs, a two-year-old, Cupertino, Ca.-based company that makes container management software, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by GRC SinoGreen
  • 5/10 – Simplee, a five-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based healthcare expenses startup, has raised $20 million in Series C funding led by Social Capital
  • 5/10 – SPEAKABOOS, an eight-year-old, New York-based company whose app aims to turn “screen time into reading time” for kids ages 2 to 6, has raised $12.5 million in Series B-1 funding led by Wellington Management Company
  • 5/11 – ConnXus, a six-year-old, Cincinnati, Oh.-based company whose tech platform helps connect large corporations with minority- and women-owned suppliers, has raised $5 million in Series A funding from Techstars Ventures, Serious Change and Impact America Fund
  • 5/11 – Orderbird, a five-year-old, Berlin-based company that claims to be the leading iPad point-of-sale solution in German-speaking markets, has raised €20 million ($22.8 million) in Series C funding co-led by Digital+ Partners and Metro Group
  • 5/11 – Weaveworks, a 1.5-year-old, London-based startup that’s creating open source tools for managing, monitoring and securing containers, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by GV
  • 5/12 – Bolt Threads, an Emeryville, Calif.-based maker of spider silk threads, has raised $50 million in Series C funding. Formation 8 led the round
  • 5/12 – Pwnie Express, a Boston-based provider of wireless and wired threat protection solutions, has raised $12.9 million in Series B funding. Ascent Venture Partners led the round
  • 5/12 – Kontor, a New York-based market network for commercial interior design, has raised $4.6 million in new VC funding from FF Angel, Wellington Partners, Female Founders Fund and BBG Ventures
  • 5/12 – Accion Systems, a three-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based company that’s developing miniature space propulsion systems using penny-size ion engines, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding led by Shasta Ventures
  • 5/12 – Bigcommerce, a seven-year-old, Austin- and Australia-based start-up whose software-as-a-service helps more than 55,000 companies create and manage their online stores has raised $30 million financing round led by GGV Capital
  • 5/12 – Evaneos, a seven-year-old, Paris-based European travel marketplace, has raised $21 million in its third round of funding, from Serena Capital, Fonds Ambition Numérique (managed by Bpifrance), ISAI and XAnge
  • 5/12 – Medal, a year-old, San Francisco-based online platform for unifying medical records, has raised $3.78 million in new funding. Investors aren’t disclosed
  • 5/12 – Lattice, a CA-based goal-oriented enterprise task management platform that recently graduated from Y Combinator, raised 2.8m led by Thrive Capital

Random, long reads
Inside Jon Gruden’s “Maniacal” Obsession with Football (Bleacher Report) – We should all aspire to have as much passion about what we’re doing in our daily life as Jon Gruden. The former Super Bowl winning coach turned Monday Night Football announcer is still at his desk most days by 4 AM and watches film like he’s still coaching.  He has tape on every game he’s ever coached, but also will regularly go back and watch video of Aaron Rodger while at Cal or Troy Polamalu at USC.  He has also saved every game plan from all 303 games he’s coached saved and on file.  He has potentially a life of luxury, but doesn’t know how to live it.  From the article:
He owns a Grady-White bay boat. But he doesn’t even know how to turn it on, let alone pilot it through the Gulf of Mexico. He recently got his hands on his dream car—a Ford Mustang GT350R. It’s a collector’s car, custom made for him in silver with a black racing stripe. It’s the most beautiful car he’s ever seen. But he can’t drive it because it’s a stick. He lives on an exclusive country club. But he’s not a golfer.

This Bleacher Report piece will make you appreciate that crazy, Chucky doll-looking coach a little bit more.

Meet the Ungers (Highline – Huffington Post) – Maryland is now undergoing a (n unintentional) social experiment where 230 men and one woman are being released decades after convictions of violent crimes that were supposed to have them locked up forever.  Due to the work of Merle Unger, a convicted murderer and escape artist turned self-educated criminal expert, these people are being unexpectedly released back into society with a new shot at life at an old age. While much of the rhetoric and efforts around the mass incarceration of mostly black men has focused on non-violent crimes, it’s actually the violent criminals that make for the most likely to avoid re-admission into prison (it should be noted that this is due at least in part to age). A study in California found that murderers actually violated parole with new crimes 0.58% of time vs. all paroled prisoners of 48.7%.

The group that has come to be known as the Ungers has an opportunity that they never thought they would and are cognizant of the risk if even one thing goes wrong for one person in the group.  Great journalism by the Highline, Huffington Post’s non-click baity journalistic arm.

Inside Mick Jagger and Keith Richards’s Five-Decade Bromance (Vanity Fair) – Mick and Keith have known each other for five decades, but probably not been mad at each other for 2/3 of that time. In an excerpt from Rich Cohen’s (he who has co-created Vinyl along with Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese) new book on the Rolling Stones, Cohen gives some new details and anecdotes about the relationship from the two most powerful members of the Rolling Stones and their 50 year plus working relationship.

Live Taping of “The Axe Files” with Jon Stewart (YouTube) – Not a long read, but a nice re-emergence of Jon Stewart for a 75 minute filming with David Axelrod. I just miss having Stewart in my life 4 nights a week.

 

*Battery portfolio company. For a list of all Battery portfolio companies, please click here.
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