5 Technology Observations: 11 March 2015

Good morning, I.T. entrepreneurs. Here are five technology news insights, show tunes and Broadway classics (just testing your attention span) to start your day for Wednesday, March 11, 2015.

Actually, today's update involves 11 items, freshly brewed for your complete enjoyment.

11. Crazy Numbers: Jet.com, a potential Amazon.com rival, has a $600 million valuation -- and no revenue. The business model calls on a range of discounts -- based on user location and user engagement -- to compete against Amazon... Thanks, but I'll sit this one out -- at least on the investor side. Now, about those discounts?

10. Force Touch: Keep an eye on Apple's Force Touch technology -- which can distinguish between a light tap and a deep press. Force Touch will become ubiquitous across the Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad and Macbook. The big question: How will Apple and app developers leverage Force Touch in their offerings?

9. Google Stores: The first Google-branded store has opened in London. It's a familiar model: See Google-branded merchandise, and sign up for educational classes about Chrome, Android, etc. If the model succeeds in London, it's a safe bet you'll see Google set up similar stores in the U.S.

8. Solving the Riddle: After Gigaom shut down this week, the CEO of a travel site told The Wall Street Journal: "When everybody from The Wall Street Journal to the New York Times to everybody else has doubled down on covering tech, what's your value?" That's a big, important question. At some point, After Nines Inc. hopes to answer it...

7. Fresh Funding: Companies raising new money include...

  • Appedo (Sunnyvale, CA), which focuses on application performance management and predictive analytics, has raised $1 million in funding. The funder's name was not disclosed. We're not sure if or how the company intends to compete with APM giants like AppDynamics.
  • ChargeBee (Chennai), which helps companies manage their subscription billing models, has raised $5 million in Series B funding. Tiger Global is the largest investor. Hmmm... Recurring revenue. There could be something to that trend...
  • E8 Security (Redwood City, CA), focused on cyber security analytics, has raised nearly $10 million in Series A funding. March Capital Partners led the round.
  • Looker (Santa Cruz, CA), a business intelligence startup, has raised $30 million in Series B funding. Company revenues grew 400 percent last year -- though actual revenue figures were not disclosed. Meritech Capital Partners led this round.
  • Platypi (Austin, TX), focused on mobile and web application development, raised $2 million in seed funding. Financial backers were not disclosed.
  • Prevoty (Los Angeles), which develops security applications that protect applications at runtime, has raised $8 million in Series A financing. US Venture Partners led the round.
  • Trendkite (Austin, TX), which offers PR-related analytics software, has raised $5 million in funding -- led by Silverton Partners.
  • Zuora (Foster City, CA), which helps businesses manages their subscription models, has raised another $115 million -- bringing total investments to $250 million. Hmmm... Recurring revenue deja vu. There really could be something to that trend...

6. Lou Gerstner's Twin?: EMC CEO Joe Tucci and other executives addressed Wall Street analysts yesterday in New York. During Q&A sessions, Tucci defended EMC's multi-company strategy across VMware, Pivotal, and RSA. Generally speaking, I fully agree. Far too often, tech executives bow to the whims of Wall Street pundits who call for breakups and spinoffs. Instead, Tucci is keeping the EMC core together -- similar to Lou Gerstner's IBM strategy in the 1990s. But while Gerstner bet most on IT services, Tucci is leaning on multiple bets -- including the software defined data center (SDDC, from VMware), cloud and big data opportunities (Pivotal) and security and privacy (RSA). Think of it this way: IBM is scrambling to buy its way into those markets. Why would EMC, therefore, try to exit or spin off businesses in those hot spaces?

5. Red Hat Reunion (At Docker): Pivotal VP Iian Gray has jumped to Docker as senior VP of customer success. Gray also is a Red Hat veteran. And that makes me wonder: Did Red Hat veteran Roger Egan -- now a Docker senior VP -- help to recruit Gray to Docker?

4. Oracle Buying Salesforce.com?: That's the unsubstantiated, unconfirmed rumor. I promised you show tunes and Broadway classics at the top of this blog. While I can't deliver the goods on that, would you settle for Larry Ellison serenading Marc Benioff for a few billion dollars? I have no first-hand knowledge of any Oracle-Salesforce takeover discussions. But then again, plenty of readers claim I have no first-hand knowledge, period.

3. Hooking Up: SingleHop, a Chicago-based on-demand cloud management firm, has acquired Server Intellect -- a Microsoft-focused managed hosting solutions provider based in Orlando, Fla. I'm heading to Orlando later today. Shirley, that's a coincidence (and don't call me Shirley).

2. Google's SMB Push: The search giant is hiring evangelists for its small and midsize business push. Keep a close eye on related Brand Evangelist and Executive Summits (BEES). Sources say Google is getting ready to crank up the buzz about BEES events. 

1. Keeping it Real: Take some time and read Google CFO Patrick Pichette's resignation. Now, I realize most of us don't have Pichette's bank account -- and his ability to walk away from it all to spend more time with his wife. But here's the thing. I bet you're constantly working overtime on career goals. What if we all worked just as hard on life and family goals?

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