5 Technology Observations: 11 June 2015

Good morning, I.T. entrepreneurs, from my final day at Hadoop Summit San Jose 2015. Here are five technology news insights, updates, perspectives, conspiracy theories and plenty more to start your day for Thursday, June 11, 2015.

Actually, today's update involves 11 items to sip on.

11. Wrong About Box?: I've been skeptical about Box's business prospects -- perhaps because I spend so much time using free, integrated services like Google Drive/Gmail/Google Apps. But Box yesterday impressed Wall Street, announcing quarterly results that were stronger than expected and also raising the company's revenue outlook for the year by $5 million. The company's freemium model has attracted 37 million registered users -- with roughly 10 percent of those users actually paying for the service... As Re/code bluntly puts it: Box is now doing better than expected.

10. A Sure Sign of Success: So, ADP (the big payroll service provider) is suing Zenefits (the fast growing digital upstart) for defamation. Is the lawsuit warranted? I have no idea. But I do know this. When an entrenched giant sues a fast-growth startup, it typically means the startup is onto something really, really, hot...

9. FinTech Regulations Coming: Yes, Wall Street giants and banks are heavily regulated. But many tech startups focused on financial services (FinTech) don't face all that much scrutiny. Sounds wonderful. But the party has to end at some point... and pundits suggest the compliance police will be taking a much closer look at the FinTech sector as a whole in the months to come...

8. Ironic: So, research firms like Gartner tell us where the IT world is heading. And customers pay big fees for that advice. Gartner warned us about so-called "Mobilegeddon" -- the updated Google Search algorithm from May 2015 that rewards mobile-optimized sites and essentially penalizes sites that perform poorly on mobile devices. Now, take a minute to visit the Gartner site from your mobile device. If you're on an iPhone 6 Plus like me... you may find that the research emperor is painfully behind the times... 

7. Riding the Unicorns: I keep warning that tech startup valuations seem lofty, and some so-called "unicorns" (startups with $1 billion+ valuations) will ultimately die -- pull the rest of us down with them. But that isn't stopping executives from Google -- yup, Google -- to change horses and ride the unicorn trend. (Pardon the terrible but warranted pun.) It sort of reminds me of the real estate market... where everyone starts buying up properties because it's the hot thing to do... until you realize you paid far too much for a little house potentially built on a bad foundation.

6. More IaaS Competition: Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, is launching cloud services to compete with Amazon, Microsoft Azure and other IaaS providers in the United States. How's this for ironic: Foreign countries worry about trusting their information in U.S.-owned cloud data centers. Will U.S. businesses trust their information in a China-based company's data centers?

5. Why Hadoop (Overall) Will Survive: I know skeptics think the Hadoop market is overhyped. Perhaps it is. But I sense Hadoop will be around for the long haul. The reason? Big companies -- Aetna, The Home Depot, Verizon and more -- are adopting the storage grid technology for big data and analytics projects. That's right. Big, profitable companies are finding value from Hadoop. But that doesn't mean all of the distributions will survive. Much like the Linux market, we'll ultimately see a Hadoop market shakeout resulting in fewer distributions. The big question: Who will emerge as the Red Hat of Hadoop platforms? Hortonworks keeps crowing about its rapid growth rate, but I can't make an apples to apples comparison vs. Cloudera and MapR because only Hortonworks is publicly held...

4. Fresh Funding: Tech startups raising money to fuel growth include...

  • Arcadia Data (San Mateo, Calif.), a business intelligence platform provider for big data applications, raised $11.5 million in Series A funding led by Mayfield.
  • Arrowlytics (Charlotte, N.C.), which develops business intelligence and analytics solutions for healthcare providers, raised $3 million led by Surgical Care Affiliates.
  • eFileCabinet (Lehi, Utah), a paperless document management company, raised $14 million in Series B funding led by multiple backers.
  • JethroData (New York), which develops a SQL-on-Hadoop solution, raised $8.1 million in Series B funding led by Square Peg Capital.
  • Lattice Engines (San Mateo, Calif.), focused on predictive marketing and sales applications, raised $28 million in Series D funding from multiple backers.
  • Rancher (Cupertino, Calif.) which offers infrastructure software for Docker, raised $10 million in Series A funding from multiple backers.
  • Talkdesk (San Francisco), which writes call center software for small businesses, raised $15 million in Series A funding led by DFJ.

2. Next Road Trip: My two most recent road trips involved EMC World (Las Vegas) and Hadoop Summit (San Jose). So what's next? Instead of offering a vague clue, I'll just give you the answer.

1. Reminder: After Nines Inc. does update its blog or newsletter on Friday's. That allows us to focus on R&D milestones -- or family road trips -- each Friday. We'll be back on Monday with a fresh batch of content. 

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