5 Technology Observations: 19 June 2015

Good morning, I.T. entrepreneurs. Here are five technology news insights, updates, gossip, observations and plenty more to start your day for Thursday, June 19, 2015.

Actually, today's update involves 12 items...

12. Tech Entrepreneurs Take Note: Techstars, the startup accelerator, just acquired Up Global -- including a portfolio of startup events. It's a really, really big deal for entrepreneurs and upstarts that are seeking funding, education, training and plenty more. Accelerators -- unlike incubators -- typically have intense boot camp programs that whip executives into shape as they build their businesses. 

11. AirBnB More Valuable Than Marriott?: Yes indeed, according to the latest funding chatter. The pundits say AirBnB's revenues will be about $900 million this year -- compared to Marriott's $13.8 billion in revenue last year. But here's the thing: AirBnB's valuation will be $24 billion when the company's next round of funding closes, compared to Marriott's current $21 billion valuation, according to The Wall Street Journal. Why the Sky High valuation for AirBnB? The answer involves (A) growth rates and (B) no need to acquire physical property. Indeed, AirBnB is telling potential investors that revenues will likely hit $10 billion by 2020 -- up from that $900 million estimate this year. My reaction? Careful with such lofty projections... The love affair with unicorns ($1 billion startups) can't last forever

10. Oracle's Key Question: Oracle delivered disappointing quarterly results yesterday and also forecast weaker-than-expected performance going forward. Everybody is talking about the shift from on-premises applications and infrastructure to the cloud. Oracle insists its business is performing well -- urging analysts to stop over-reacting to near-term software license declines because that revenue is shifting to long-term cloud servicesBut here's the question everybody forgot to ask: Is Oracle's own cloud actually built on Oracle's high-end Engineered Systems -- particularly SPARC and Solaris? I get the feeling the answer is "no." Instead, I think the vast majority of Oracle Cloud is built on commodity x86 hardware -- and potentially Linux (maybe Oracle Linux?). And that potentially undermines Oracle's own messaging about Engineered Systems as the company tries to sell both on-premises and cloud solutions.

9. Apple Watch Finally Available in Apple Stores: Finally, the opportunity to feel far closer to the smartwatch that I have no immediate plans to buy.

8. Triple Play: At long last, I think we've solved the R&D triple play challenge (awesome user experience across smartphone, tablet and desktop). Or maybe I'm wrong. But I hope I'm right. Hush, hush for now. 

7. Twitter Doubles Down on Analytics... But Needs...: The social media site acquired Whetlab, a machine learning startup, to help analyze and manage all those tweets. Twitter's big problem, in my mind: Too many microphones (tweeters) and too few listeners. We're all so busy sending tweets, we don't find the time or the need to consume and read tweets from others. Perhaps Whetlab can help to fix that problem -- making tweet consumption far easier for those of us who feel overwhelmed by all the promotional noise on the social network.

6. Working With Apple On Content Distribution?: Sorry, but I think After Nines Inc. will skip that opportunity -- because of these harsh Apple News App restrictions

5. Why I'd Still Bet on Microsoft: Notice I said "Microsoft" ... not "Windows." The software giant announced a major reorganization and some staff departures yesterday. (Here's the memo from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella). I suspect Windows 10's nearing launch will be a yawn with no big upside on earnings. But here's the thing: Despite all of the Microsoft's statements about moving into devices, the company remains software-driven overall -- and most of that portfolio is now available on-demand via Azure, Office 365 and thousands of third-party hosting providers. Microsoft has CIO relationships and its ecosystem reaches down into small business. The net result? While hardware companies are struggling to remain relevant in the age of mobile and cloud computing, software companies that bet early on the cloud are starting to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Microsoft ranks among those early cloud movers.

"Brandtelling" pioneer Arthur Germain

"Brandtelling" pioneer Arthur Germain

4. Brandtelling, Storytelling and Analytics: PR expert Arthur Germain often talks about Brandtelling -- in fact, he has a registered trademark on the term. Brandtelling, he says, is all about helping "companies share the value they provide their customers." In some ways, that strategy is now spilling over into the analytics market. Over and over again, I keep hearing how storytelling is the real secret to analytics success. As one SAS executive recently stated, "What we need are translators, people who understand data but can tell the human story from which it arose." That very theme -- storytelling meets analytics -- surfaced in today's Wall Street Journal. But how exactly will this impact my life as an IT industry watcher? I think I'll potentially tell you that story -- backed by data insights -- later this year.

3. Amazon's Next Cloud Focus: It involves Apache Spark -- the open source storage grid technology for big data applications. Check Amazon's EMR (Elastic MapReduce) service, and you'll notice that it now supports Spark -- a very big deal for anybody that wants to develop or deploy real-time analytics applications.

2. Apology: To Ian, one of our loyal readers. He values our newsletter arriving by around 9:01 a.m. ET each morning. I'm not sure how frequently we can hit that deadline due to all the items we're allegedly juggling behind the curtains. Today surely wasn't a good deadline day -- mostly because of personal commitments that both Amy Katz and I had offline. Hence, the newsletter's arrival at 11:01 a.m. ET. Still, we love the fact that folks like Ian reach out to us directly with feedback. Thanks so much.

1. Reminder: We don't publish a blog or newsletter on Fridays, which frees us up to work on R&D and/or go see the latest Pixar movie premier. Fingers crossed, we'll be back Monday, June 22 with more content -- though I'm scheduled to visit the Bronx Zoo with my son that day. 

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