5 Tech Observations: 29 January 2015

Good morning, I.T. entrepreneurs. Here are five technology news updates, insights, rumors, far-fetched conspiracy theories and plenty more to start your day for Thursday, January 29, 2015.

Actually, today's lineup involves 10 items...

10. We Know Them: Techstars, the startup accelerator, has raised a new $150 million investment fund for seed and Series A investments. Quite a few of our podcast guests -- including Distil Networks CEO Rami Essaid -- have leveraged Techstars to build and accelerate their businesses. Techstars President David Brown described his organization's strategy -- and its work with I.T. entrepreneurs -- in our January 21 podcast.

9. Hooking Up: VMware's cloud services will increasingly support Google solutions -- including BigQuery analytics, Google Cloud Storage, and plenty more. It's the latest sign that cloud rivals need each other amid the battle to gain ground on Amazon Web Services in particular, as well as Microsoft Azure on some fronts.

8. Locking Down Hadoop: Hortonworks, Target, Merck, Aetna and SAS are partnering to secure Hadoop, the open source platform often used for big data applications. But will their work assist all Hadoop distributions? Meanwhile, MapR is offering free Hadoop training -- which could help to accelerate the market for Hadoop services and deployments. 

7. Monitor This: Datadog, which develops cloud monitoring tools for Amazon, Microsoft, Google and other cloud platforms, has raised $31 million in Series C funding. Is this the latest "one dashboard for all" startup?

6. IBM Job Cuts: They've started. How many positions will disappear? Alliance@IBM, an IBM watchdog and employee rights service, typically has the inside scoop.

5. How Creative: When Symantec splits into two companies (security and storage), the two resulting entities will be called Symantec and Veritas Technologies. Deja Vu from 2005, but the names certainly make sense.

4. CEO Transitions: Amid EMC's latest earnings announcement, Wall Street is waiting to learn more about the storage giant's pending CEO transition. Joe Tucci is willing to stay on but has also indicated that he will be stepping down by February, according to Bloomberg. I wonder: Will the company's next CEO debut at EMC World 2015 in May? Meanwhile, Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers has also been mulling the CEO transition question for quite some time now...

3. Now THAT's A Commodity: Attention hosted Exchange providers. Even Amazon is getting into the cloud email business with WorkMail -- which will support existing desktop and mobile email clients. The system will be encrypted -- leveraging AWS Key Management Service. Also, look for Active Directory integration. It will start at $4 per user per month. So how can you stay ahead of email commoditization? Look at companies like MXhero, which connects the dots between email and cloud storage services like Box and Dropbox. I'm not endorsing MXhero's product (I haven't used it) but I am intrigued by the company's advanced integration work. We'll share more details in our Feb. 3 podcast.

2. Mobile Advertising: Tune, which offers reporting and analytics for mobile ads, has raised $27 million -- from Icon Ventures, Performance Equity Management and Accel Partners. 

1. New Media, Big Numbers: Mashable and Business Insider have each closed big, new financing rounds. Am I salivating from the sidelines, hoping After Nines Inc. builds an empire that attracts similar financing? Not really. Besides, we really don't have any branded media platforms right now...

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