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Time of the Season for Innovating?
June 25, 2015
Not all innovation is good. Let me illustrate with a few examples of how poor innovation can harm a company. Bad innovation can quickly cut down a brand that took years to build. Generally speaking, innovation is good. Without innovation, we would still be driving a Model T and getting blocks of ice delivered to keep our refrigerator cool while sitting in our uncooled home listening to our radio.
Spotify Ain't Afraid of No Apple
June 11, 2015
Spotify has raised $526 million in its latest round of funding, according to reports that surfaced Wednesday. That's more than half the $1 billion Spotify raised in funding over the past nine years, said Susan Schreiner, analyst at C4 trends. Given that Apple just announced its new music-streaming service, why would companies pump all this money into Spotify?
WWDC 2015 Didn't Need to Rouse Investors
June 10, 2015
Apple shares were down half a percent about an hour before the company set the tone for the next 12 months with its keynote address at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday. That story continued through day two of WWDC 2015. Still, the lead that couldn't be buried was the fact that Apple was still moving at a pace that saw the biggest quarterly profits in corporate history.
HP vs. Apple: The Contrast Is in the Turnaround
June 1, 2015
I was at Dell's analyst conference last week and HP Discover is this week. As I was considering the contrast between the two companies, I started to think the contrast between Apple and HP is greater. There is a lot of cross-pollination between the firms -- and given how often Apple has embarrassed HP in the market, you'd think HP would have learned from its mistakes. Apparently, it hasn't.
Xactly: From Transaction to Process
May 20, 2015
It is subtle, but in the spring conferences I see a pattern emerging around the importance of process. Admittedly, my analysis in this case is less than scientific, and I have no statistics to support my idea, but I my instinct says a trend toward process is beginning. Two conferences that support my contention include Xactly and Zuora, both of which are taking place this week in San Francisco.
Walmart Banks on Shaking Up E-Commerce
May 18, 2015
Walmart will be releasing its earnings report on Tuesday, and analysts are expecting hear a lot about the role of e-commerce in the current quarter, as well as an important factor in the company's growth strategy. One of things it's planning to do is to take on Amazon Prime. Walmart last week confirmed that it will roll out its own subscription shipping service, reportedly code-named "Tahoe," this summer.
Comcast Blithely Juggles Its Options
May 4, 2015
Although its year-long effort to merge with TWC was derailed last month, Comcast gave investors good news about its first-quarter performance. It reported a 10 percent earnings hike for its first quarter, driven by growth in its high-speed Internet business. Total revenue increased by 2.6 percent to $17.9 billion for the quarter, despite $99 million in costs related to its failed merger attempt.
Twitter Takes It on the Chin
April 30, 2015
Twitter's stock took a hit when investors got an early look at first quarter earnings, leaked just ahead of closing time on Tuesday, ahead of the company's Wednesday announcement. Shares plummeted about 18 percent from Tuesday's opening price of $51.84. The slide continued on Wednesday, with the loss of a couple more percentage points, and the share price hovered near that level through Thursday.
Shiny Apple Has a Few Soft Spots
April 29, 2015
Apple on Monday reported another quarter of stellar earnings, detailing its drive to 27 percent revenue growth on the backs of its iPhone, Mac and App Store sales. The company generated $58 billion in revenue in the second quarter -- about a $12 billion increase year over year -- and posted a net profit of $13.6 billion, roughly $3 billion more than the year-ago quarter.
VCs Cough Up $100M for Cybersecurity Startup Illumio
April 23, 2015
Illumio, a 2-year-old cybersecurity startup, last week announced it had raised $100 million in a Series C round of financing, bringing its total funding over the past 27 months to more than $142 million. Illumio will use the fresh funds to meet demand for its Adaptive Security Platform software, to invest in R&D, to grow sales and marketing efforts, and to fuel international expansion.
Investors Squirm as Zynga Founder Takes Back Reins
April 13, 2015
News last week that Zynga founder Mark Pincus had replaced Don Mattrick as CEO, less than two years after vacating the position, sent the company's shares tumbling. The sharp reaction was a clear indicator of investors' concern over the management change. Pincus' return to the helm sparked concern from investors worried about the company's lackluster earnings.
BlackBerry's Q4 Profit Small Comfort as Revenue Slips
March 30, 2015
BlackBerry last week reported fourth-quarter revenue of $660 million -- well under analyst expectations, but enough to put the company back in the black. Approximately 42 percent of that revenue came from hardware sales, about 47 percent from services, and about 10 percent from software. BlackBerry declined to comment on which areas of the accounting sheets reassured its leadership and investors.
Ellen Pao Airs Kleiner Perkins' Dirty Laundry
March 10, 2015
Ellen Pao on Monday testified in a San Franciso courtroom that she was passed up for promotions and sexually harassed by a partner during her employment at prestigious venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers. Pao said that after she broke off a relationship with former Kleiner Perkins partner Ajit Nazre, he made it difficult for her to do her job.
Nextdoor Snags $110M for Community-Building Efforts
March 5, 2015
Nextdoor on Wednesday announced it has received $110 million in venture capital to grow its neighborhood-based network of residents and vendors. Nextdoor plans to use the money to develop additional ways for members to benefit from the recommendations shared on the social network. "People don't know their neighbors -- but we are changing that," said spokesperson Jennifer Burke.
Promoted Tweets Fly the Coop
February 4, 2015
With Wall Street breathing down its neck for growth, Twitter on Tuesday launched a new advertising initiative that aims to boost revenues and add to its more than 284 million members. The initiative aims to expand the reach of "Promoted Tweets" on Twitter. Promoted Tweets are ads that Twitter inserts into its members timelines. Now, the company wants them to be seen elsewhere, too.
Think Different: Apple's 10 Biggest, Riskiest Bets
February 3, 2015
Even the most vociferous Apple haters can surely admit that Apple -- judged upon the evidence of its record-breaking quarterly profit of $18 billion, the most of any public held company ever -- is not only firing on all cylinders but also creating products that consumers around the world are willing to pay a premium for. The sheer scope of Apple's success is mind-boggling.
Tune Strikes a Chord With Investors
January 30, 2015
Mobile marketing company Tune has raised $27 million in funding, it announced Thursday. Icon Ventures partner Jeb Miller will join Tune's board. Icon led the funding round; Accel Partners and Performance Equity Management also participated. Tune will use the proceeds to grow its engineering team, introduce new products and generally invest in the services it offers.
Engage.cx Makes Customers an Offer They Can't Lose
January 27, 2015
Engage.cx just secured $2.9 million in Series A financing. The round of participating investors is noteworthy, but for the CRM industry the real intrigue lays in Engage.cx's premise -- or rather, promise: how to present a unified cohesive customer service operationr, no matter which channel is used. Other vendors claim they can do this, but Engage.cx is taking a novel approach.
3 Reasons Apple Won't Pull the Rug Out From Under GoPro
January 16, 2015
Despite having the most popular camera on the planet in the form of the iPhone, the odds of Apple pulling the rug out from under GoPro by building its own action sports camera system -- even with using its forthcoming Apple Watch as a controller -- are so low they stand in stark contrast to the hysterical selloff of GoPro stock this week. What happened?
Report: Etsy Aims to Charm Wall Street
January 15, 2015
Etsy reportedly is working on an initial public offering that could debut this quarter. The crafts and antiques etailer hopes to raise $300 million. If the IPO does indeed materialize, it could give the New York City tech community some much-needed financial oomph. The last tech IPO to originate in the Big Apple occurred during the dot-com bubble.
Instacart Bags $220 Million
January 14, 2015
Instacart on Tuesday announced it has raised $220 million, following a $44 million investment round in June of last year. The company uses a fleet of personal shoppers, who are independent contractors, to purchase and deliver items to customers. "The two main differentiators for Instacart are our focus on grocery and our strategy to partner with retailers," said Instacart's Nilam Ganenthiran.
Starboard to Yahoo's Mayer: Our Way or the Highway
January 9, 2015
Activist hedge fund Starboard, which has been dissatisfied with Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's strategy for some time, on Thursday sent a letter advising her to toe the line or expect to be ousted. Starboard expressed concern over recent media reports that Mayer has been considering some large acquisitions. Starboard also appears worried about what Yahoo will do with its remaining shares of Alibaba.
Investors Quiver Over Twitter's Shaky Prospects
October 29, 2014
Twitter shares closed Tuesday at $43.78, down almost 10 percent, even though the company's Q3 earnings report showed monthly active users grew 23 percent. Granted, that was down a tick from the previous quarter's 24 percent growth -- but recall the World Cup was being held at that time, driving user growth explosively. Germany's win saw Twitter use peak at nearly 619,000 tweets a minute.
Most Everything's Coming Up Roses for Microsoft
October 27, 2014
Microsoft last week announced better-than-expected Q1 2015 earnings, giving pause to its critics. Granted, net income registered a year-over-year drop. However, revenue totaled $23.2 billion, compared to the previous year's $18.53 billion. Bear in mind the results include $1.14 billion in costs related to Microsoft's restructuring plan and the ongoing integration of Nokia's mobile business.

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