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E-Commerce Startup Bolt Snags $68M to Grow Checkout Biz
July 11, 2019
E-commerce checkout platform vendor Bolt has raised $68 million to help it increase its engineering team, invest in additional enterprise functionality, partner with best-in-breed e-commerce platforms, and build and expand advanced features and functionality. Bolt's platform combines checkout, payments and fraud detection to provide a better buying experience and maximize conversions.
Signpost Secures $52M to Expand Its SMB Marketing Reach
July 10, 2019
Cloud marketing company Signpost has raised $52 million in new funding to "increase the scale of our business and invest in our technology," CEO Stuart Wall announced. The company's SaaS platform for SMBs consists of artificial intelligence-based customer relationship management and marketing automation technology powered by automated data collection and cross-channel marketing.
Anticipating the Merger of Apple and Oracle
July 8, 2019
After reading about the departure of Jony Ive, I'm trying to wrap my head around Apple without a design focus. Now this isn't as hard as you might think, given the last truly successful Apple product came out around a decade ago and was called the "iPad." It is also somewhat ironic that Apple just effectively relaunched the iPod, the product that Steve Jobs rode to Apple's massive success.
Oracle Does OK - Surprised?
June 22, 2019
To all the geniuses who advised selling Oracle shares ahead of this week's earnings call: You might want to recheck your calculations. On your slide rule. The headline on Oracle's statement is all you need to begin the self-recriminations: "Q4 FY19 GAAP EPS UP 36% TO $1.07 and NON-GAAP EPS UP 23% TO $1.16." What were the naysayers thinking? More importantly, what were they thinking with?
In Zuck We Trust: Facebook to Launch Own Cryptocurrency
June 19, 2019
Facebook's plans to mint its own digital coin will test the company's consumer credibility. After being savaged for months for its cavalier attitude toward users' privacy, the social network will be asking those same users to trust its new cryptocurrency. The currency, called "Libra," will be stashed in a digital wallet, the first product of new Facebook financial services subsidiary Calibra.
Facebook's Libra Cryptocurrency May Revolutionize E-Commerce
June 19, 2019
Facebook has released details about Libra, its long-rumored cryptocurrency. The company outlined plans "for a new decentralized blockchain, a low-volatility cryptocurrency, and a smart contract platform that together aim to create a new opportunity for responsible financial services innovation." The aim is to help people worldwide gain access to a cheaper, more connected global financial system.
Walmart Ups the Ante in Grocery Delivery Competition
June 18, 2019
Walmart has a new weapon in the grocery delivery wars. Online shoppers can subscribe to a $98-per-year "Delivery Unlimited" plan that aims to siphon customers from Amazon's Whole Foods and Target's home delivery programs. Online grocery shopping is growing steadily as a key revenue generator and customer draw. The food division was critical in boosting Walmart's e-commerce performance in Q1.
Internet's Crowds Stunting Its Growth: Trends Report
June 13, 2019
More than half the world's population -- 3.8 billion people -- have access to the Internet and that may not be a good thing for business, according to digital savant Mary Meeker's Internet Trends 2019 report. Global Internet user growth has slowed to 6 percent year over year, down from 7 percent, noted the Bond Capital general partner. The Asia-Pacific region leads in both users and potential.
When Retail Customers Take It on the Chin, Investors Win
June 6, 2019
I am a reluctant Costco shopper. My wife is one of the many who really love the chain. Me... not so much. Seriously -- someone should knock Costco's top officials on the head and wake them up to the need to focus on their customers. After all, it's the customers who make Costco successful. When my family owned lots of retail stores, I learned many important lessons that Costco needs to learn.
Philanthropy Is Good for Business
April 16, 2019
The other day Salesforce announced that it was integrating its philanthropic arm, the nonprofit Salesforce.org, into the larger organization, Salesforce.com. This makes a round trip for "the org." At its founding, Salesforce built its 1-1-1 model of philanthropy -- donating 1 percent of its equity, product and employee time to communities around the world -- into its core business.
Following Protests, Google Cuts Temps, Vendors, Contractors a Fairer Deal
April 4, 2019
Google has unveiled new minimum standards for temps, vendors and contractors in the United States, in response to demands from an employee coalition that included full-time Google staffers as well as temporary workers and contractors. "Yesterday, we shared an update on some new initiatives to support our extended U.S. workforce," Google spokesperson Jenn Kaiser said Wednesday.
Walmart E-Commerce Has Blowout Q4
February 20, 2019
Walmart's e-commerce sales were up 43 percent for Q4 FY 2019. Sam's Club e-commerce sales grew 21 percent. Customers "continue to respond to our increasingly omnichannel offerings. We're executing against our strategy and it's working," said Walmart spokesperson Robyn Babbitt. Walmart's e-commerce focus "remains on earning repeat visits and strengthening our assortment of merchandise."
Why Intel Is in Such Horrid Condition
January 28, 2019
Intel released earnings last week. It beat expectations on the bottom line, but it missed big on the top line and the outlook was dismal. Looking under the covers, the company is a mess. The expected CEO announcement didn't occur. AMD's earnings are expected to be very strong, and AMD just made some organizational changes that suggest an increase in its competitive attack.
Netflix Raises Subscriber Rates to Wall Street's Delight
January 16, 2019
Netflix has decided to hike prices by $1 to $2 for all 58 million of its subscribers in the United States, as well as customers in about 40 Latin American countries who are billed in U.S currency. Customers in key international markets such as Mexico and Brazil reportedly will be exempt from the increases. Netflix had nearly 79 million subscribers overseas at the end of September.
Oracle's Customer Transition Challenge
December 19, 2018
Oracle narrowly missed its number last quarter, so it was good to see the company come roaring back -- it made a lot of money. More importantly, many analysts have conceded that Oracle has reached a point in its infrastructure deployment where it can mount a serious challenge to other providers and supply the needed cloud services for its ERP and cloud database businesses.
Salesforce's Earnings Mystery
November 29, 2018
My only question about Salesforce's recent revenue announcement is why the company described the vast majority of its nonprofessional services revenues as "subscription and support." Proserv revenues were appropriately small, at $224 million, while subscription and support was $3.17 billion, or 26 percent more than the same quarter a year earlier. Nice going, by the way.
Oracle's Growing Pains
October 3, 2018
People at Oracle must sometimes feel like they're living in Mark Twain's reality. After hearing that his obituary had been published in the New York Journal, Twain published a quip for the ages when he wrote, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." So too with Oracle. Ever since its earnings miss for its first fiscal quarter, a chorus of financial analysts have predicted doom.
Oracle's Earnings Angst
September 22, 2018
OK, this is looking somewhat predictable. Oracle reported $9.20 billion in Q1 revenue, or $0.03 per share, against consensus estimates in the $9.24 to $9.29 range. In other words, it missed its number. How concerning is this? Excuse me while I yawn. It's important all right, but no reason to get crazy. Still, some representatives of the widows and orphans who own the stock went into a tizzy.
Blockchain (Re)Emerges
September 17, 2018
More often than you might think, disruptive innovations travel in pairs -- at least until they are separated by the markets, which decide one is useful and the other no so much. Sometimes they're symbiotic. Both may be useful or even necessary -- like hardware and software -- but that's not always the case. Consider the strange pairing of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.
ShipBob Gets $40M Injection to Fuel Growth
September 7, 2018
ShipBob, which offers Amazon-type fulfillment services to small and mid-sized businesses, on Thursday announced it had raised $40 million in a Series C funding round led by Menlo Ventures. ShipBob's end-to-end fulfillment solution involves a drop-ship model that lets clients deliver packages in one to two business days. Partners include Amazon, BigCommerce, Shopify and other e-commerce platforms.
Mobile App Financing Startup Gets $6M Helping Hand
August 23, 2018
Braavo Capital announced it has raised $6 million in Series A funding, and converted $2 million in seed capital from investors, bringing the total equity raised to date to nearly $8 million. Braavo, which claims to be the first company to offer Capital as a Service to mobile app entrepreneurs and developers, will use the funds to add personnel to further its mission.
Oracle Confronts Lawsuit on Its Path to the Cloud
August 18, 2018
The City of Sunrise Firefighters' Pension Fund has sued Oracle, alleging that its executives lied about the company's successes in the cloud and engaged in coercion and threats to sell its cloud products, "creating an unsustainable model that fell apart." The plaintiff apparently is seeking class-action status for the suit. Oracle has called the suit meritless and said it would defend against it.
Sugar's New Shot Clock
August 16, 2018
SugarCRM has agreed to acquisition by Accel-KKR, a leading technology-focused private equity firm. Although the announcement calls the deal "a significant investment," what typically happens when private equity moves in is that venture capital moves out. Private equity likes to own everything and thus have greater control. In basketball terms, Sugar just got a big rebound and a new shot clock.
Square's Cash App Supports Bitcoin in All US States
August 15, 2018
Square on Monday announced that Cash App users could buy and sell bitcoin in all 50 U.S. states. Square began testing Cash App's bitcoin purchasing option last fall and officially launched the option early this year. However, it was not available in four states -- New York, Georgia, Hawaii and Wyoming -- because of their more restrictive regulation of bitcoin transactions.
The Weird Mistakes Killing Tesla
August 13, 2018
Tesla is trending to fail spectacularly. It has been burning cash at an unsustainable rate, and it keeps making avoidable mistakes that weaken it. Here's what is weird: You'd think the firm's biggest problem would be that every large car maker was working behind the scenes to kill it. However, the car companies for the most part appear to have worked harder to emulate Tesla than to destroy it.
Behind Apple's Trillion-Dollar Company Numbers
August 6, 2018
Apple is one of the most popular and powerful companies in the U.S., and last week it became the most valuable as well. That news brought back some personal memories of my time at IBM, when it was the most powerful and valuable technology company in the world. For a long time, it seemed virtually untouchable. However, IBM went off the rails, and by the early 1990s the stock had collapsed.
Slide Over, Salesforce? Freshworks Scores $100M in Funding Round
August 1, 2018
Freshworks has secured $100 million in funding from Accel and Sequoia Capital India with the participation of CapitalG. That brings the total amount of capital raised since the firm's 2010 launch to $250 million. "The new funding will be used to invest in our platform and to continue scaling internationally," said Arvind Parthiban, Freshworks' director of marketing.
Oracle's Nice Numbers
June 30, 2018
Significant Q4 wins and earnings numbers reflect the strength of Oracle's resurgence as a cloud company. At its earnings call earlier this week, CEO Mark Hurd mentioned some big names -- including Johnson & Johnson, the Cleveland Clinic, Baylor University and AT&T -- that made significant commitments to Oracle in the quarter. For FY2018, total revenues were up 6 percent compared with fiscal 2017.
Challenger Banking Picks Up Steam
June 8, 2018
No-fee mobile bank Chime recently announced a $70 million Series C funding round led by Menlo Ventures. With the Series C funding, the company has raised more than $100 million in total funding. Investors seem to have confidence in Chime's business model because "it's very clean with extremely low overhead," remarked Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.
Feds Open Probe Into Bitcoin Price Manipulation: Report
May 25, 2018
The DoJ and the CFTC have opened a joint criminal investigation into price manipulation of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, according to a report. The illicit tactics reportedly being investigated include spoofing and wash trading. Bitcoin's share prices have been fluctuating wildly over the past year, ranging from $1,800 to almost $20,000, leading to rumors of price manipulation.
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Which type of cybersecurity threat concerns you the most?
Theft of my personal assets
A serious privacy invasion affecting me or a close family member
Reputation damage affecting my business
Child pornography, drug and weapon sales, and other Dark Web crimes
Activities that might compromise free and fair elections
A life-threatening attack on the nation's infrastructure