5 Tech Observations to Start Your Day 121114

Good morning, I.T. entrepreneurs. I'm heading out the door to catch a train. But before I do, here are five technology news nuggets, insights, gossip, rumors and chatter to start your day for Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014.

5. What's In the Box? As it tries to march toward an IPO, Box says revenue for the three months ended Oct. 31 jumped 70 percent to $57 million vs. the same quarter last year. That's actually a slowing growth rate for Box but the company also cut its spending rates... The company now spends 97 cents on sales and marketing for each dollar of revenue, down from $1.38. It looks like Box has a valuation of about $1.3 billion as of September, down from $1.8 billion in March. All of those data points come from The Wall Street Journal. As for me, I may wind up eating humble pie. I've been very skeptical of Box, Dropbox and other file sync services -- especially as free storage offers proliferate across the web.

4. Mulling Some Moves: As loyal readers know, I'm still trying my hand at angel investing. The latest potential step arrives today -- as I head to a monthly Golden Seeds meeting in New York. Golden Seeds is a nationwide group that invests in women-led startups. The key theme in the group: Diversity leads to better-run companies. And one way to rapidly advance diversity is to invest in women-led companies -- which are often overlooked by shortsighted angels, venture capitalists and lending organizations. As a bonus for today, I expect to catch up with Yada... And Yada. Names removed to protect the innocent. But they may have some good stories to share. Stay tuned...

3. Growing Child: Instagram, owned by Facebook since 2012, has added 100 million users since march -- hitting the 300 million mark. Instagram founder Kevin Systrom has vowed that the app won't get lost within the Facebook empire. Alas, Systrom ducked questions about Instagram's actual revenues and values in an interview. For I.T. entrepreneurs, Systrom says Instagram is a one-to-many communication platform -- where you can broadcast your message as your own station to your followers. Twitter... only hipper?

2. On the Move: Yammer founder David Sacks has joined Zenefits -- human resources as a service -- as COO. Yammer, which Microsoft acquired for $1.2 billion 2012, was an early hit in the corporate social network market. But that business could face new pressure as Facebook prepares to introduce business-focused capabilities. Meanwhile, Zenefits allows HR departments or small business owners to manage health benefits, vacation time, payroll and more. The user base is expected to grow 1,600 percent this year, but that figure could be misleading since Zenefits is a startup that's only 20 months old.

1. Here They Come: Apple and IBM have delivered the first wave of IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions. Basically, IBM's big data and analytics capabilities are now coming to iPhone and iPad users. Early adopters include Citi, Air Canada, Sprint and Banorte. I don't know how much the apps cost but that's likely besides the point. The real revenue will likely come from (A) Apple selling more hardware into enterprises and (B) IBM selling more of its cloud-based analytics applications to customers that want to run those mobile Apps. Apple and IBM first announced their mobile partnership in mid-2014.

That's all for now. Gotta catch that train. Thanks for reading.

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