Supplier Report: 8/25/2017

SoftBank acted on investment rumors by pumping $4B into office sharing company WeWorks.  As SoftBank invests, Cisco made their 5th acquisition this year.  Cisco purchased software company Springpath for $320M.

Amazon and Microsoft are currently tied for #1 in cloud performance according to Gartner, Oracle and IBM weren’t even in the conversation.  Google also performed well in Gartner’s study and the company announced a discounted price tier for their cloud network services.

Blockchain was a popular topic this week as companies are figuring out more ways to use it outside of crypto-currency (supply chain being one very popular target).

Acquisitions

  • SoftBank Finalizes $4.4 Billion WeWork Investment

    The funding, which comes from SoftBank as well as its $93 billion technology-focused Vision Fund, is an audacious bet on WeWork’s burgeoning strategy to rent out chunks of office within a larger communal space, pitched with a hip, millennial-conscious vibe. It is one of the largest single slugs of capital ever in a venture-backed startup, according to Dow Jones VentureSource, and brings WeWork’s valuation to about $20 billion, making it the fourth-most valuable startup in the U.S. behind ride-hailing company Uber Technologies Inc., home-rental site Airbnb Inc. and rocket maker Space Exploration Technologies Corp.

    SoftBank also took two board seats at the seven-year-old company, suggesting an unusually large level of control for a late-stage investor.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/softbank-invests-additional-3-billion-in-wework-1503597860

  • Cisco to acquire key software partner Springpath for $320M

    Three months after picking up artificial intelligence startup MindMeld Inc. for $125 million, Cisco Systems Inc. has inked another nine-figure acquisition.

    The networking giant plans to shell out $320 million to buy Springpath Inc., a firm that develops software for hyperconverged systems. It’s Cisco’s fifth acquisition of the year, and arguably the least surprising. Rumors about the deal have been making rounds since 2015, which is when the two companies first crossed paths.

    https://siliconangle.com/blog/2017/08/21/cisco-acquires-key-software-partner-springpath-320m/
    Cisco CEO: Here Is Our Acquisition Strategy

    As part of a wide-ranging interview, TheStreet recently had a chance to talk with Cisco’s CEO about the company’s M&A strategy and what kinds of companies it could be targeting next. Robbins pointed to Cisco’s previously stated “build, buy, partner, invest and co-develop” M&A strategy. Cisco has been known to acquire companies to seize their emerging technology, rather than build it itself, like its $3.7 billion purchase of AppDynamics Inc. in March. AppDynamics creates software that helps companies monitor how their applications and websites are running to prevent them from crashing.

    Looking forward, Robbins said Cisco plans to keep being opportunistic when it comes to M&A, by using the same “build, buy, partner” approach it always has.

    “[We] intend to continue to use smart M&A as a way to seize market transactions in new markets as well as extend our leadership in our current business,” Robbins said. “Our M&A approach will strive to remain balanced — maintaining discipline in light of market conditions while making key strategic moves that cement Cisco’s competitive differentiation for the future.”

    https://www.thestreet.com/story/14279045/1/cisco-ceo-here-is-our-acquisition-strategy.html

Artificial Intelligence

  • How Artificial Intelligence Could Change the Asset-Management Game

    As leagues look to leverage their vast video archives to create new revenue streams, AI has become a key tool in efforts to properly digitize and log this content. NASCAR Productions, for example, owns one of the largest sports archives in the world, with 500,000 hours of content and 3 million assets. However, that content has only 9.5 million metadata tags – far short of what’s required to efficiently search, find, and monetize the assets effectively. As a result, NASCAR is actively ramping up its AI efforts in hopes that it will improve on the time-consuming and inefficient human-powered tagging process.

    “The reason we are looking at [AI] is that humans are highly inefficient,” said Chris Witmayer, director, broadcast, production and new media technology, NASCAR Productions. “We have found that humans are 4-to-1 on the efficiency scale. For every hour of footage, it takes a human about four hours to enter metadata. We need to find a way to do this because, although we have an entire archive that goes back to the 1930s, we can’t actually find anything efficiently. If you can’t find anything, you can’t sell it, and you can’t make money. So this is big for us.”

    https://www.sportsvideo.org/2017/08/18/the-ai-factor-how-artificial-intelligence-could-change-the-asset-management-game/

  • IBM, JDRF to unravel Type 1 diabetes risk factors with machine learning

    IBM scientists still use machine learning algorithms to analyze at least three datasets, according to a statement. Specifically, they are looking to pinpoint patterns that could lead to new ways of preventing or delaying Type 1 diabetes in children. Using previously collected data from global research projects, they will create a “foundational set of features” that is common to all of the data sets.

    “The models that will be produced will quantify the risk for T1D from the combined data set using this foundational set of features,” IBM said in the statement.

    http://www.fiercebiotech.com/medtech/ibm-jdrf-to-unravel-type-1-diabetes-risk-factors-machine-learning

Cloud

  • AWS, Azure tie for top spot in 2017 Gartner ranking

    This year, there was no one winner. Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure tied for first place, both garnering a score of 94%. Google Cloud Platform followed with 80%.

    Each provider rose in the ranking from 2016 — AWS is up from 92% and Azure from 88%. The increases reflect an enormous amount of innovation from the vendors, Khnaser said, especially Microsoft. “Microsoft has had a long way to go to catch up.”

    Google made an even greater jump, from 70% in 2016. But as the providers improve and reach something akin to parity on essential cloud capabilities, the ranking means less than in years past for a number of reasons, Khnaser said. Most companies are at a point now where, in addition to using the top contenders, they are also using their competitors to extend their cloud footprints and mitigate risk. Indeed, companies are hiring cloud providers not in the ranking at all, such as Oracle, IBM SoftLayer and China’s Alibaba Cloud — as they should.

    http://searchcio.techtarget.com/news/450424957/AWS-Azure-tie-for-top-spot-in-2017-Gartner-ranking

  • Google offers cheaper network pricing tier for its cloud

    The Network Service Tiers, released today in early “alpha” test mode, provide the capability of Google’s cloud computing customers to choose the existing “Premium Tier,” which uses Google’s own global network employed for Gmail, search and YouTube, and a new Standard Tier, which leverages the broader Internet more economically.

    Google said it’s the first major public cloud provider to allow customers to customize their cloud network. Although cloud computing’s appeal is partly the ability to buy levels of computing and storage on demand, generally providers haven’t offered the same kind of flexibility on network access.

    https://siliconangle.com/blog/2017/08/23/google-offers-cheaper-network-pricing-cloud/

Datacenter/Hardware

  • Higher Costs Chip Away at Lenovo’s Profitability

    Lenovo Chief Executive Yang Yuanqing said a sustained rise in the cost of memory chips hurt profitability across all of the company’s major business lines. He said the duration of the price increases—lasting in some cases more than a year—is unprecedented.

    “We have never seen this situation in the past,” Mr. Yang said in an interview. “Many materials costs, like memory, have increased for a couple of quarters, or even for over more than a year. That’s a significant impact on the industry’s profitability.”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/lenovo-swings-to-loss-as-memory-chip-prices-rise-1503033791

Software/SaaS

  • Walmart and 9 Food Giants Team Up on IBM Blockchain Plans

    The coalition includes retailers and food companies such as Unilever (UL, +0.83%), Nestlé, and Dole (DOLE). They will be aiming to use blockchains, a technology that made its name as the basis of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, to maintain secure digital records and improve the traceability of their foodstuffs, like chicken, chocolate, and bananas.

    These companies see blockchains as an opportunity to revamp their data management processes across a complex network that includes farmers, brokers, distributors, processors, retailers, regulators, and consumers. One potential benefit: investigations into food-borne illnesses to take weeks (see this summer’s fatal Salmonella outbreak linked to papayas), but a blockchain-based system has the ability to reduce that time to seconds.

    http://fortune.com/2017/08/22/walmart-blockchain-ibm-food-nestle-unilever-tyson-dole/

  • Oracle Plans To Move Java EE To Open Source Community

    Oracle feels that moving Java EE to an open source foundation may be beneficial in long-term as it will help the implementation adopt more agile process. Moreover, it can also help change its governance and introduce flexible licensing.

    “We plan on exploring this possibility with the community, our licensees and several candidate foundations to see if we can move Java EE forward in this direction,” Oracle writes in its blog post.

    These concerns regarding Java EE aren’t completely invalid. The Java EE community has expressed concern in the past and blamed Oracle for neglecting the open source implementation.

    https://fossbytes.com/java-ee-open-source-community/

Other

  • Apple to build Iowa data center, get $207.8 million in incentives

    Apple Inc will build a $1.375 billion data center in Waukee, Iowa, Apple and state officials said on Thursday, with $207.8 million in incentives approved by the Iowa Economic Development Authority and Waukee city council.

    Apple will purchase 2,000 acres (8.09 square km) of land in Waukee, about 20 miles (32 km) west of Des Moines, to build two data centers. The company will receive a $19.65 million investment tax credit for creating 50 jobs.

    Apple said the project will generate more than 550 jobs in construction and operations, but did not specify how many of those jobs would be long-term positions.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-apple-iowa-idUSKCN1B422L

  • Uber Wins Ruling on ’Terms of Service’ Agreements (this impacts more than just ride sharing)

    The case strikes at a fact of everyday life for users of websites and mobile phones, who come across these agreements before being allowed to use a site or app for the first time. There typically is no means for customers to strike out certain provisions or reject the terms outright and still hope to use the service.

    Circuit Judge Denny Chin overturned a district-court ruling that found Uber’s terms of service were difficult for customers to access, and therefore couldn’t be enforced because customers didn’t always know what they were agreeing to. New Uber customers agree to terms that include resolving disputes through arbitration when they click to register for the mobile app—even though the full list of provisions is only available on a separate Uber website.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-wins-ruling-on-terms-of-service-agreements-1503000236

  • Infosys CEO resigns after long-running feud with founders

    The tussle between Infosys and its founders began in February after founder and former chairman Narayana Murthy accused the company of corporate governance lapses.

    The Infosys board has denied the allegations repeatedly and on Friday blamed Sikka’s resignation on Murthy’s “continuous assault”, describing the billionaire’s latest salvo questioning the integrity of the directors and management as the final nail in the coffin.

    The board said Murthy’s campaign had undermined Sikka’s efforts to transform the business and it had no intention of asking him to play a formal role in the governance of the firm.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-infosys-ceo-idUSKCN1AY0DH

  • Uber’s Kalanick Fires Back at Investor in Legal Battle

    In a filing to the Delaware Chancery Court late Thursday, Travis Kalanick reiterated his call for the Benchmark legal dispute to be settled in arbitration, according to the terms of the voting agreement at the center of the case. Arbitration also would keep the deliberations private.

    Benchmark, which holds one Uber board seat, alleged in a suit filed a week earlier that Mr. Kalanick defrauded Uber’s board by keeping secret questionable business practices. Benchmark is seeking in its suit to oust Mr. Kalanick from the board and free up three board seats he effectively controls.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/ubers-kalanick-fires-back-at-investor-in-legal-battle-1503035464

Photo: Ryan Holloway

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