Posts Tagged ‘business’

NetSuite Acquires HR Software Player TribeHR

October 22, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Interesting development in the enterprise cloud software business today. NetSuite, the company that sells a cloud-based enterprise-resource management suite — applications that are used to run a company’s operations — is extending into the human resources area. NetSuite (that’s CEO Zach Nelson in the picture) said today it would acquire TribeHR, which is a player in the Human Capital Management space, and which, like NetSuite, goes after mid-market companies. So think of it as a Workday or a SuccessFactors for smaller companies. TribeHR is a four-year-old company based in Waterloo, Canada, and it has 450 customers in 50 countries. Financial terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, but NetSuite said it will talk about it in more detail when it reports quarterly earnings later this week. It’s NetSuite’s second acquisition this year. In January it got into the retail point-of-sale business by acquiring Retail Anywhere . Looks like NetSuite is going to remain acquisitive for the time being. NetSuite shares rose by less than one percent after the deal was announced to close at $109.19 today. The rise probably had more to do with the fact that JMP Securities hiked its price target on NetSuite to $115 from $98 in a research report today. And the reason for that was word from SAP over the weekend that it intends to cut back on development of Business ByDesign , a product that was created to compete with NetSuite.

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Managing Platforms Is a Human Art

October 21, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Image copyright Pictofigo In March 2012, I left the suburban enclaves of San Jose and went on safari to Kenya. Early in the trip I toured the Ngorongoro crater, filled with African lions, rhinos, hippos and giraffes. But my favorites were the monkeys. I loved Curious George as a boy. Seeing George’s real cousins, I asked our tour guide, “Can I give a banana to the monkey?” I had become the real-life Man with the Yellow Hat. The tour guide responded with an immediate and stern refusal, “Absolutely not.” He explained with a calm voice, “If you give a banana to a monkey you will destroy our ecosystem. You will teach monkeys to beg, and not forage, for food. You will pose danger to your fellow safari goers who might not have bananas to offer. And your action will cause other actions, for the plants, the wolves, the trees and everything else. You must not give a banana to the monkey.” He was right, and I knew it. Prior to visiting Kenya, I had managed the seller platform at eBay for over eleven years.

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SAP Cutting Back on Development of Business ByDesign

October 20, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

German software giant SAP appears close to ending active development of its Business ByDesign suite of applications. The company said Saturday that it will shift its development resources away from the software platform aimed at smaller businesses and instead move the Business ByDesign applications into its mainstream HANA cloud software platform, as part of a larger effort to unify all of its applications on HANA. SAP disputed a Saturday report by German magazine WirtschaftsWoche ( English translation here ) that portrayed the move as essentially sounding a death knell for the product, calling it the “biggest flop” in SAP’s history. The publication claims that Business ByDesign cost the company 3 billion Euros and required seven years of development work. But after three years on the market it has only managed to attract 785 customers and brings in no more than 23 million euro ($31.5 million) in annual revenue. Either way, SAP’s new plans for Business ByDesign mark a rare market retreat for the company, which has been aggressive in its efforts to rejigger it’s existing suite of applications to run more off-premise, or in the cloud. Launched in 2010, Business ByDesign is SAP’s Enterprise Resource Management suite aimed at small- and medium-sized businesses. ERP is a fancy way of describing software that’s used to run a company’s operations and basic business processes such as supply chain, manufacturing capacity and paying suppliers. SAP’s main rival in the category is NetSuite, the cloud software firm occasionally known as “Larry Ellison’s other company,” because the Oracle CEO invested in its founding. SAP spokesman Jim Dever said the company’s plan for Business ByDesign is a little more nuanced than the total shutdown of the product, as portrayed by WirtschaftsWoche

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More iPhone 5c Supply Chain Rumors

October 18, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Has Apple reduced orders for its new iPhone 5c? A growing chorus of reports suggests that it has. Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple has told manufacturing partners Pegatron and Hon Hai to ramp down production of the device. Reuters echoed that report later the same day, and now NPD DisplaySearch is making similar claims . In a report published Friday, the research outfit said recent channel checks suggest that Apple has dialed back iPhone 5c production by 35 percent, while increasing iPhone 5s production by 75 percent. NPD attributes the 5c production cuts to demand weakened by the device’s higher-than-expected price. “Rumors about iPhone 5c being ‘cheap’ were circulating as early as Q3 2012,” NPD analysts Tina Teng and Shawn Lee theorize. “The fact that the iPhone 5c is nearly identical to the iPhone 5 — and is not cheap — disappointed some consumers.” Perhaps. That’s certainly an easy explanation for such production cuts following a nine-million-new-iPhones-sold opening weekend . But easy explanations aren’t always accurate, and as similarly pessimistic reports about iPhone 5 demand last year proved, supply chain production volume rumors sometimes aren’t the best information on which to gauge iPhone sales. Things can go from “FLASH: Apple has cut orders for iPhone components due to weaker-than-expected demand!” to “My bad! Apple actually sold 47.8 million iPhones this quarter” pretty quickly. As Apple CEO Tim Cook said in January , “I’d recommend questioning the accuracy of any kind of rumor about build plans. I’d also stress that even if a particular data point were to be factual it would be impossible to interpret what it really means to our business. Our supply chain is very complex and we have multiple sources for our components

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Hulu Names Mike Hopkins CEO, Forssell Out

October 17, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

As reported , Hulu has struck a deal to make former Fox Networks Group president of distribution Mike Hopkins its new CEO, effective immediately. Less expectedly, interim CEO Andy Forssell will leave the business he's run for the past six months after serving as the company's head of content. Forssell has overseen quite a few changes at Hulu recently, including the introduction of a broad slate of originals and co-productions unveiled at its upfront earlier this year. Hulu is the most traditional and TV-like of the new wave of digital networks that includes Netflix, over-the-top service (and perpetual litigant) Aereo, and, increasingly, portals like AOL, Yahoo and YouTube. This year's NewFront ad buyer presentation was easily the slickest of a disparate (and disorganized) lot, but speculation about instability among stakeholders has made many in the market wary. If nothing else, the choice of Hopkins to lead the company suggests that Disney and 21st Century might not, in fact, starve trying to order a pizza together (NBCU is barred from making management decisions as a condition of its merger with Comcast)—the appointment from within of a new CEO bodes well for the decision-making abilities of the joint venture's partners. “After an extensive search, Mike was simply the best candidate for the job," said Anne Sweeney, co-chairman, Disney media networks and president, Disney/ABC television group. "He has a strong understanding of programming, digital distribution and consumer behavior, and a great vision for Hulu’s next chapter." What that vision will consist of remains to be seen—the company's The Awesomes premiered recently with a sponsorship (Jack Link's) behind it, and it's set to roll out more originals in the coming months. But the departure of Forssell isn't exactly a ringing endorsement of the original content strategy. “On behalf of the Hulu board I want to thank Andy Forssell for his leadership during this past year, and for the vital role he played in building Hulu into the amazing product it is today," said Fox Networks Group chairman and CEO Peter Rice. "We wish him the best on his next venture." Whatever Hopkins has planned, he'll certainly have the cash to do it: "With the foundation you have built, the significant capital infusion of three quarters of a billion dollars, and our partners aligned and fully supportive of what we need to get it done, the sky is the limit for Hulu," he said in a note to staff made public by the streaming service today.

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Actually, the Pool Is Quite Deep

October 9, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

“Dick Costolo, Twitter’s chief executive, has prioritized finding a woman to be on the board, but has found it difficult.” “The issue isn’t the intention, the issue is just the paucity of candidates.” “… the pool for board-qualified women in technology is shallow …” “There is definitely a supply-side problem.” So asserts Twitter’s Chief Technology Officer, Adam Messinger when asked about women on boards … – New York Times, October 5, 2013 Wow. Where to begin? Let’s start with a fact: There are fewer women then men who write and debug software code for a living. No denying that. Now an observation: Having been in many, many board meetings over the years as a director, and other times as an adviser, I have never, not even once, been in a meeting where at any time, even for five minutes, any board member of any gender was asked to give a company directive in machine language, scratch out a decision policy in Ruby on Rails or, for that matter, code anything at all in any language. Image copyright hxdbzxy Most of the meetings I have attended have called on board members to ask questions, make introductions, discuss potential acquisitions or acquisition inquiries and, most importantly, to debate and discuss product strategies, marketing plans, management challenges, compensation structures, financial progress, financing options, investment decisions, how to deal with Wall Street and short- and long-term business goals. None of these topics requires a CS degree or years in the CTO’s office. Tech companies may well choose to have some engineering prowess on the board, but companies with nothing but technical directors will, in all likelihood, lose out to companies strategically advised by those with a diverse set of opinions, perspectives and experiences. The problem isn’t a “shallow pool” of qualified candidates; it’s a dearth of high-profile individuals with the right skill set. The real question is how many companies are building boards to provide actual advice versus how many are looking to put impressive, “A-list” names on a list. Sure, it would help any organization to have Marissa or Sheryl on the board, but as genuinely gifted as those two leaders are, they are not the only females in the Valley with demonstrable talent for thinking strategically, solving problems creatively, analyzing financial performance, negotiating terms and perhaps most importantly, assessing management skills

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Oscar Insurance Founders Bring a Techie Take to Obamacare (Interview)

October 7, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Image copyright Michael Seto/Business Insider Oscar co-founders Josh Kushner and Mario Schlosser The technology industry likes to think of itself as working on legitimately hard problems with the potential for massive positive impact on the world. Sometimes that’s true, other times… it’s hard to make the case. But in cases where startups bring tech smarts and design into large, hidebound industries, the good fight may actually be getting fought. The latest such effort is Oscar , a new healthcare startup. It offers its own health insurance. Oscar is the only new commercial health insurance provider in New York State in the last 15 years. The Oscar service includes three free physician visits, unlimited calls to a doctor at any time of day or night, and unlimited generic drugs. It is priced near the bottom of the market — currently the third cheapest of 17 options on the new Obamacare health insurance exchange in New York. To be clear, Oscar has not even begun to offer its service yet (January 1 is the kickoff). It’s getting a steady stream of press due in part to a famous co-founder, but that means little for its long-term prospects. Add the uncharted territory of health insurance to the gazillions of reasons that technology startups could fail. And the Affordable Care Act is not exact a beacon of stability. But here’s the Oscar pitch, honed over the last two years, which has raised $40 million from investors including General Catalyst, Khosla Ventures and Founders Fund, and is exceedingly well-timed to the launch of Obamacare, straight from the mouths of co-founders Josh Kushner and Mario Schlosser via a recent phone interview. Health insurance in the United States is traditionally sold to employers. That misaligns incentives around care for actual people, and creates data gaps between something happening, the availability of a provider, and the billing process. By bridging the healthcare process together, Oscar thinks it can be more effective and cheaper. And, not a pain in the ass for all involved. “We actually can make an impact because we control the relationship,” said Kushner, a real estate scion who invested in Instagram via his VC firm Thrive Capital and already has his own Wikipedia page .

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Column: Web Video is Way Too Confusing for Brands

October 7, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

"Please don't suck" is my mantra as I wheel my hand luggage into a town essentially owned by the large TV advertiser I am set to meet. I am here to discuss their strategy for the transition of TV advertising into Internet connected devices. As I wipe the red arc of Bloody Mary away from my top lip, I know for sure that this particular large TV advertiser, once their defenses are eased, will admit to being completely and utterly confused about to how to buy and track online video in a manner that makes sense for their business needs. Damn, and you were thinking the transition to online video is already underway and most advertisers just need a gentle nudge to fulfill the media prophecy.

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Nathan Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures Said to Be Hunting for New Capital

October 5, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Intellectual Ventures founder Nathan Myhrvold It appears that Intellectual Ventures, the controversial company founded on the idea that it could create a capital marketplace in patents, is having trouble raising money for a new fund. According to a Reuters report Thursday which cites sources familiar with the matter, I.V. has slowed down its purchasing of patents and is on the hunt for new sources of funding. Having raised about $6 billion since its founding in 2000, it has gathered up a portfolio of some 70,000 patents. The story said the firm is on the hunt for another $3 billion. One problem: Early investors, including Microsoft and Google, are taking a pass. Google in particular has been on the business end of I.V.-spawned lawsuits against its Motorola Mobility unit. Most of those cases began before Google owned Motorola, but I.V. sued again in June. As it happens, I.V. had a busy summer. It raised its profile in Washington, D.C., boosting its spending on lobbyists against the backdrop of an increase in White House interest in crafting policies meant to regulate patent-trading firms. And last month it struck a licensing deal with Nest , the smart thermostat company. Founder Nathan Myhrvold, a former Microsoft CTO, likes to describe his business model as “invention capital.” Others, namely Google, have labeled I.V. a “patent troll.” And as Myhrvold readily acknowledged in an unapologetic interview with Walt Mossberg at the tenth D: All Things Digital conference in 2012, he’s never going to be the popular kid in the class. Here’s the video of that interview, which in light of I.V.’s reported troubles, bears watching again. [ See post to watch video ]

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Despite Hedging, LivingSocial Is in Discussions to Sell Korean Deals Site Ticket Monster

October 4, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

LivingSocial is engaged in serious talks to sell its Korean deals business Ticket Monster, which it bought in 2011 , according to sources familiar with the discussions. At this point, sources said, it appears more that it’s a matter of when the deal gets done, not if. Sources noted that the troubled daily deals site has been engaged in discussions with a number of possible buyers over the past months, but declined to name them. In a carefully worded statement, LivingSocial CFO John Bax said this week that a deal had not been reached, but little else. Bax said that “there is no transaction pending or anything like that. A lot of people are interested in it, because it’s a great business,” in an interview with the Washington Business Journal . Added Bax: “There has been no transaction.” Clever! Briefed on the details of this post, a LivingSocial spokeswoman said in an email, “the information in the WBJ story is correct and we have no further comment.” ( PandoDaily also reported recently that a deal was in the works, citing a report in a Korean newspaper.) Ticket Monster, or TMon as it is better known in Korea, is perhaps LivingSocial’s easiest and most obvious asset to unload. It sells services and products at a discount, much like LivingSocial and Groupon — the two businesses it looked to for inspiration when it launched in 2010. But unlike its two American counterparts, its ratio of products to services skews much more toward products. When LivingSocial acquired Ticket Monster in 2011 for what was likely at least $100 million in cash and stock, the deal seemed to make some sense; LivingSocial was expanding internationally at a furious pace, and Ticket Monster was expected to be the crown jewel of LivingSocial’s international strategy and the beachhead into the rest of Asia. But as the daily-deal fad started to lose momentum, LivingSocial began abandoning its international expansion in favor of trying to steady its core U.S. business, and the acquisition began to make a lot less sense. This year, Ticket Monster is on track to generate $1 billion in gross billings, Bax told AllThingsD in a recent interview. But TMon’s cut of that is in the low teens percent, at best, according to a person familiar with the business, meaning revenue this year will be at best slightly more than $100 million. TMon did record positive EBITDA in the first half of this year, Bax also said in the previous interview. But neither LivingSocial nor Ticket Monster are throwing off the profits necessary to help each other, and since the companies are run as separate entities, there’s probably no longer any strategic reason for the marriage. In addition, LivingSocial could certainly use the money from a sale as it looks to stabilize its business and carve out a new identity and differentiated path for itself. The company’s revenue grew just six percent in the first half of this year to $264 million, while it recorded a net loss of $81 million. Along the way, it got hit with a hack of customer information and later shut down its local-events business ( in quite the sloppy manner ).

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