GitLab adds support for GitHub

Posted by on 22 March, 2018

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Here is an interesting twist: GitLab, which in many ways competes with GitHub as a shared code repository service for teams, is bringing its continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) features to GitHub.

The new service is launching today as part of GitLab’s hosted service. It will remain free to developers until March 22, 2019. After that, it’s moving to GitLab.com’s paid Silver tier.

GitHub itself offers some basic project and task management services on top of its core tools, but for the most part, it leaves the rest of the DevOps lifecycle to partners. GitLab offers a more complete CI/CD solution with integrated code repositories, but while GitLab has grown in popularity, GitHub is surely better known among developers and businesses. With this move, GitLab hopes to gain new users — and especially enterprise users — who are currently storing their code on GitHub but are looking for a CI/CD solution.

The new GitHub integration allows developers to set up their projects in GitLab and connect them to a GitHub repository. So whenever developers push code to their GitHub repository, GitLab will kick off that project’s CI/CD pipeline with automated builds, tests and deployments.

“Continuous integration and deployment form the backbone of modern DevOps,” said Sid Sijbrandij, CEO and co-founder of GitLab. “With this new offering, businesses and open source projects that use GitHub as a code repository will have access to GitLab’s industry leading CI/CD capabilities.”

It’s worth noting that GitLab offers a very similar integration with Atlassian’s BitBucket, too.

Posted Under: Tech News
Ansarada gets $18M in Series A funding to help companies better prepare for major deals

Posted by on 22 March, 2018

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Australian startup Ansarada, which provides tools for companies preparing for a major transaction, will expand in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Africa after raising an $18 million Series A. The funding was led by Ellerston Capital, with participation from Tempus Partners, Belay Capital and Australian Ethical Investments. A noteworthy detail about the raise is that all advisory fees from the deal will be donated to Ugandan and Nepalese charities through Ansarada’s partnership with Adara Partners, a corporate advisory firm made up of financial services experts who donate their fees to help women and children living in poverty.

Ansarada provides data rooms, or secure virtual spaces that enable companies about to undergo a complex event or transaction, like a merger or fundraising, gather all relevant data and files in one place. This allows the process of performing due diligence, legal compliance, writing contracts and other tasks to go more smoothly and also lets companies track who accesses which documents. Ansarada’s clients have included some of the biggest names in tech and financial services, including Google, VMWare, Sony, Microsoft, Deloitte, PwC and KPMG. The Sydney-based company, which claims up to 80% of deals in Australia happen through its platform, will use its new funding for sales and marketing in its target countries, especially the United States, and on product development.

Other virtual data room providers include Firmex, Intralinks and Merrill Corporation, but Ansarada chief executive officer Sam Riley says one of its competitive advantages is its recently launched Material Information Platform (MIP), which serves as a complement to its data rooms. MIP uses machine learning and natural language processing algorithms trained with a dataset gathered from more than 20,000 transactions to give companies information that can potentially reduce deal risks and improve their ongoing business operations. These include an algorithm that Riley says is “up to 97% accurate by day 21 into an M&A deal at benchmarking a bidder’s behavior, scoring their engagement levels and predicting their likelihood to submit an offer and win.” It also scores the completeness of material information and tracks if risk and compliance requirements are being met.

“We’ve seen thousands of companies find out their biggest risks and opportunities too late in their life cycle, which prevents them from performing better pre-deal and ultimately getting less-than-ideal outcomes when they sell or raise capital,” Riley told TechCrunch in an email. He added “We define readiness as being able to express the value of your company very well and very fast, especially to an investor, advisor, auditor or any party that’s critical to success in your company’s most important events. Companies get control and visibility over their most important information and ensure improvement by scorecarding and assigning accountability to their management teams.”

As one would expect, Ansarada used its own products while raising its Series A.

“We eat our own ice cream, so even using the product for our own capital raise resulted in less time by our management team to prepare for the deal and more time spent executing our strategy,” said Riley. “We are now using the platform to give our board an objective score over how well our vital information and key risks are being managed. Simultaneously we are now ready for the next event on our calendar, which is likely to be a financial audit.”

Posted Under: Tech News
Clari raises $35M for its AI-based sales platform, expands into marketing and supply chain management

Posted by on 21 March, 2018

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Clari — a startup that has built a predictive sales tool that provides just-in-time assistance for sales people close deals and for those who work in the bigger chain of command to monitor the progress of the sales operation — is capitalising on the big boom in interest for all things AI in the business world. The company is today announcing that it has closed a Series B round of $35 million, funding that it will be using to build out its own sales and marketing team and expand its platform capabilities.

The round was led by Tenaya Capital, the VC fund that started its life as a part of Lehman Brothers, along with participation from other new investors Thomvest Ventures and Blue Cloud Ventures, and previous investors Sequoia Capital, Bain Capital Ventures and Northgate Capital. It brings the total raised by Clari to $61 million.

Andy Byrne, the founder and CEO who is a repeat entrepreneur and has been involved in several exits, said the funding closed “definitely at an upround, and much bigger than we thought it was going to be,” but declined to give a number. For some context, Clari, according to Pitchbook, had a relatively modest post-money valuation of $83.5 million in its last round in 2014, so my guess is that it’s now comfortably into hundred-million territory, once you add in this latest $35 million.

The funding comes at an interesting time for AI startups, particularly those aimed at enterprise IT.

When Clari first emerged from stealth in April 2014, the idea of applying AI to solve pain points for non-technical people in organizations was a fairly nascent and still-novel concept.

Fast forward to today, things have moved very fast, as is often the case in the tech world. Now, you can’t seem to move for all the enterprise IT startups that are either using or claiming to use AI in their solutions. There are so many startup hopefuls, and so many organizations looking for the best way to use AI to improve their business and operations, that there are even startups being founded to manage that opportunity of connecting the two pieces together, such as Element AI.

“I’m not saying we were clairvoyant for targeting the idea of using AI for sales in 2013,” Byrne said. “There has been a large macro trend and if you happen to be a small company that is along for the ride. When we first launched, we had this thesis about AI for sales. Now it’s not the number three or two priority for sales teams, it’s number one. It’s everywhere. Businesses want to invest and spend more money on AI and making things more efficient.”

Clari says that its customer base has tripled in the last year, with customers including Adobe, Audi, Check Point Software, Equinix, Epicor Software Corporation, GE, and PerkinElmer.

Clari’s approach for using AI for the sales team comes in two main areas. First, the company’s system is aimed to reduce some of the busywork that salespeople have in maintaining and updating files on people, by bringing in a number of different data sources and using them to provide composite pictures of target companies that salespeople might have had to otherwise compile with more manual means. Second, Clari puts a lot of focus on its “Opportunity-to-Close (OTC) solutions” — a type of risk-analysis for salespeople and their managers to help them figure out which leads and strategic directly would be the most likely to produce sales.

“Working with Clari since inception, we have been impressed with its growth and strong execution,” said Aaref Hilaly, Partner at Sequoia Capital, in a statement. “Clari has fast become indispensable to many of the most successful sales teams, giving them visibility into their most important metrics: rep productivity, pipeline health, and forecast accuracy.”

Indeed, risk and outcome is a smart area to be in: using AI to help model this is a key area of focus in enterprise IT at the moment, according to feedback I’ve had from a number of others in the enterprise world.

“If you have 150 opportunities presented to you as a salesperson, how do you choose 10 where you should spend your time?” Byrne asked. “A more traditional CRM platform has never showcased your risk and outcomes.”

While up to now Clari has focused on providing intelligence on what is already in a company’s account database, the next step, Byrne noted, is to draw on data from around the web, providing completely new business leads to the sales team.

When we last covered a funding round for Clari, we noted that the company’s laser focus on sales was something that made the company stand out for investors: nailing one aspect of a business’s operations without distractions from other parts of the organization and what it could be spending time solving elsewhere (in fact, when you think about it, the very goal that Clari has been aiming to achieve for salespeople through its product).

But four years on, the company is now widening that ambition. It’s applying its AI engine now to help marketeers weigh up the best opportunities for reaching out to prospective customers; and interestingly it sounds like it will also be applying its engine to product development and specifically supply chain management.

Byrne described one customer, a medical device maker, that was encountering “inefficiencies” around what they should build and when to meet market demand. “Now that they can predict and forecast order bookings and revenue targets, and what’s happened is that their supply chain has become more efficient,” he said. “It is great example of how our AI is now being expanded.”

“The Clari team has leveraged its deep AI expertise to build a unique platform that surfaces predictive insights for sales reps, managers, and execs during the opportunity-to-close process,” said Brian Paul, MD at Tenaya Capital, in a statement. “We see a massive opportunity for AI to transform how sales teams operate which is clearly validated by Clari’s customers and the impressive growth the team has achieved.”

Posted Under: Tech News
Dropbox boosts its price range for its IPO as it nears an $8B valuation

Posted by on 21 March, 2018

This post was originally published on this site

Dropbox said it would be increasing its IPO price range – the range for which it will sell its shares for its initial public offering — from $16-$18 per share to $18-$20 per share, giving the company a valuation that could reach close to $8 billion, according to an updated filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Including all shares offered from stockholders selling in this offering, the “greenshoe” and the actual IPO, Dropbox will have a valuation between $7.2 billion and $7.96 billion. It’s below Dropbox’s previous $10 billion valuation, but it’s still a signal that investors are interested in buying up Dropbox’s IPO, which will be the most well-known enterprise name to go public this year. Cloud security company Zscaler went public earlier this month and immediately saw a massive pop, but Dropbox will probably be lumped into a similar boat as Snap as a signal to whether investors are going to be interested in hyped startups.

There will indeed be some shareholders selling stock in this offering, though it looks like for the most part the ownership is going to stay the same. There are a lot of reasons to sell a stock beyond just getting liquidation, such as paying taxes for other share options and exercises, so it’s not clear exactly what the motivations are for some employees for now.

Dropbox has more than 500 million users, 11 million of which are paying users. While originally born as a consumer service, the company has sought to crack into the enterprise in order to help build a robust second line of business to tack alongside its typical consumer operations. Dropbox at the start had the benefit of spreading via word of mouth thanks to its dead-simple interface, but since then has started building out new tools geared toward larger businesses, such as Dropbox Paper.

It’s also what’s made this IPO a somewhat tricky one. The process for this is normally the same, with the company setting a price range and then throwing it out there to see who bites. If things go well, the range goes up. If things go poorly, like the case of Blue Apron, the range is going to drop. This could always change at the last minute, but you can take this as another step toward its eventual listing, which is expected to happen later this week.

Posted Under: Tech News
Microsoft Power Apps update includes new Common Data Service

Posted by on 21 March, 2018

This post was originally published on this site

Microsoft announced the spring update to its Power BI and Power Apps platform today with a significant enhancement, a new common data service that enables companies to build data-based applications from a variety of data sources.

This is part of a wider strategy that is designed to remove some of the complexity associated with gathering, processing and incorporating data into applications.

Microsoft is essentially giving customers access to the same set of tools and services it has used internally to build Dynamics 365, its enterprise suite of tools that includes CRM, marketing automation and field service along with enterprise resource planning tools (ERP).

While the company has been allowing third party developers to build application on the platform for about 18 months with its Power Apps tools, they haven’t been able to take advantage of the data under the hood without some heavy lifting. Microsoft aims to change that with the Common Data Service.

Diagram: Microsoft

“What that service means, practically speaking, is that it’s not only a place to store data, but a model (schema) that is stamped out there with everything you would need to build a business app around [elements] such as contacts, events, customers [and so forth], Ryan Cunningham, Microsoft program manager for Power Apps explained. This allows the programmer to take advantage of pre-built relationships and rules and how they should be enforced without having to code them from scratch.

Cunningham points out that they tried to make it fairly simple to build the apps, while still providing a level of customization and the ability to use Microsoft data or data from another source. That’s where the Common Data Store comes in.

He says that developers can take advantage of the 200 connectors that come pre-built out of the box and connect to all that data you’ve been collecting in the Microsoft products, but they aren’t limited to the Microsoft data. “You can still build custom applications on top of the platform, and get the benefit of the platform we’ve built our tools on,” he said.

The Common Data Store is part of a much broader set of announcements around the spring releases of Dynamics 365, Office 365 and Power BI platforms all announced today.

Posted Under: Tech News
Travis Kalanick is already back running a company with a $150M investment

Posted by on 20 March, 2018

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Travis Kalanick, the former Uber CEO who was shown the door in June last year amid a series of major controversies, has already found his next leading role following his announcement of a new investment fund just weeks ago.

Kalanick said on Twitter that his fund would be investing $150 million to take a controlling interest in City Storage Systems, or CSS. He will also be running the company as CEO, according to Recode. It’s a holding company focused on redevelopment of distressed real estate. Kalanick resigned from Uber after facing a lawsuit with Waymo over trade secrets, an ongoing battle with existing shareholders Benchmark Capital, and the fallout from a harassment probe led by former attorney general Eric Holder. Uber brought on new CEO Dara Kosrowshahi in August last year.

Travis announced that he would be starting a new fund with his windfall from Uber shares sold in its most recent major secondary round. At the time, Kalanick said the new fund — called 10100, or “ten one hundred” — would be geared toward “large-scale job creation,” with investments in real estate, ecommerce, and “emerging innovation in India and China.” CSS has two businesses, CloudKitchens and CloudRetail, which focus on redevelopment of distressed assets in those two areas.

The former is pretty interesting given that Uber has its own food delivery service, UberEats. Should Kalanick’s new venture find ways to acquire distressed food-related real estate — kitchens around a city, for example — there may be a natural overlap with his experience at Uber as it started to explore food. Having massive operating kitchens located in one area with a delivery fleet associated with it is one thing, but having an array of smaller kitchens redeveloped through a company like CSS could provide a kind of distributed network that might make it easier to get food from one kitchen to its delivery in a shorter period of time.

It’s not that we know CSS is focusing on that explicitly, but Amazon also bought a bunch of buildings for $13.7 billion, and now it has a two-hour delivery service in major metropolitan areas. Of course, Travis was shown the door at Uber, so it remains to be seen how this one is going to play out. The Information notes that CSS was owned by a friend of Kalanick’s as well as having a loose connection with Uber.

Posted Under: Tech News
Salesforce is buying MuleSoft at enterprise value of $6.5 billion

Posted by on 20 March, 2018

This post was originally published on this site

Salesforce today announced that it intends to buy MuleSoft in a deal valued at a whopping $6.5 billion. That’s not the selling price, but the amount the company has been valued at based on stocks, bonds and cash on hand. The exact price was not available yet, but the company did indicate it was paying 44.89 per share for Mulesoft, a price that represents 36 percent premium over yesterday’s closing price, according to Salesforce .

What’s more, the deal values each MuleSoft share at $36 in cash and 0.0711 shares of Salesforce common stock.

Rumors began swirling this morning after a story broke by Reuters that the CRM giant was interested in MuleSoft, which launched in 2006, and went public almost exactly a year ago.  It gives Salesforce a mature company to add to its arsenal with 1200 customers. It also gives them an API integration engine that should help the company access data across organizations regardless of where it lives.

This is particularly important for Salesforce, which tends to come in and work with a company across enterprise systems. As it builds out its artificial intelligence and machine learning layer, which it has branded as Einstein, it needs access to data across the company. A company like MuleSoft gives them that.

But of course, Salesforce gets more than tech with this purchase, which it can integrate into its growing family of products. It also gets major customers like Coca-Cola, VMware, GE, Accenture, Airbus, AT&T and Cisco. While Salesforce may have a presence already in some of these companies already, Mulesoft gives them entree into areas they might not have had and gives them the ability to expand that presence.

What’s more, the company has big revenue goals. Having reached $10 billion in revenue faster than any software company ever has, a point that Chairman and co-founder Marc Benioff has been happy to make, they have actually set their sites on $60 billion by 2034. That’s a long way away, of course, but having a company like MuleSoft in the fold, which made $300 million in revenue will certainly help.

This is a developing story.

Posted Under: Tech News
Oracle’s cloud biz heading in the wrong direction right now

Posted by on 20 March, 2018

This post was originally published on this site

Oracle announced its quarterly earnings last night, detailing that its cloud business grew 32 percent to $1.6 billion in the quarter. That might sound good at first blush, but it’s part of three straight quarters of reduced growth — a fact that had investors jittery over night. It didn’t get better throughout the day today with Oracle’s stock plunging over 9 percent as of this writing.

When you consider that enterprise business is shifting rapidly to the cloud, and that the cloud business in general is growing quickly, Oracle’s cloud numbers could be reason for concern. While it’s hard to nail down what “cloud” means when it comes to technology companies’ earnings because it varies so much in how each one counts infrastructure, software, or platform; the general trend from Oracle seems contrary to the eye-popping growth numbers we have seen from other companies.

Oracle against the world

Oracle’s cloud revenue broke down as follows: SaaS, up 33 percent to $1.2 billion, and platform and infrastructure revenue combined up 28 percent to $415 million. To put those figures into context, consider that last quarter Alibaba reported overall cloud revenue of $533 million,which was up a whopping 104 percent year over year.

Looking purely at Infrastructure services, Canalys reported that in the third quarter of 2017, Microsoft grew at around 90 percent year over year, while Google grew around 75 percent YoY. Even market leader Amazon, which controls over 30 percent of the market, had around a 40 percent growth rate, fairly remarkable given its size.

All of that suggests that Oracle, which came to the cloud late, should be on a higher growth trajectory than it’s currently showing.That’s because it’s generally easier to grow from a small number than it is from a big number to bigger number (as Amazon has had to do).

The company’s on-prem software revenue continues to grow (which includes lucrative license and maintenance revenue from existing customers), and still accounts for the vast majority of its top line. However, at this point, you would think Oracle would want to see that revenue growth shifting away from on-prem and towards its cloud business.

What’s worse is that co-CEO Safra Catz predicted in the earnings call with analysts that the cloud growth could dive even further next quarter. “Cloud revenues including SaaS, PaaS and IaaS [all cloud business combined] are expected to grow 19% to 23% in USD, 17% to 21% in constant currency,” she told analysts this week.

Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz Photo: KIMIHIRO HOSHINO/AFP/Getty Images

Looking for a brighter future

Chairman Larry Ellison tried to point to the fully automated cloud database product announced at Oracle OpenWorld last fall as a proof point of a brighter cloud future, but so far the numbers are not bearing that out. It’s worth noting that he did also indicate that more automated cloud products are on the way.

Oracle has spent the last several years putting a lot of cloud pieces together, and as Catz pointed out, they don’t have to invest further to handle additional capacity in their SaaS business, but with the numbers heading in the wrong direction that may not be the problem.

Oracle certainly has enterprise credibility, and that should bode well for its cloud business, but as a late comer to the market we should be seeing much brisker overall growth than this. Over time that may happen, but for now Wall Street was not happy with Oracle’s results and the firm probably has to show more from its cloud products before they can change investors’ minds.

Posted Under: Tech News
Windows Server 2019 is now available in preview

Posted by on 20 March, 2018

This post was originally published on this site

Microsoft today announced the next version of Windows Server, which launches later this year under the not completely unexpected moniker of “Windows Server 2019.” Developers and operations teams that want to get access to the bits can now get the first preview build through Microsoft’s Insider Program.

This next version comes with plenty of new features, but it’s also worth noting that this is the next release in the Long-Term Servicing Channel for Windows Server, which means that customers will get five years of mainstream support and can get an extra five years of extended support. Users also can opt for a semi-annual channel that features — surprise — two releases per year for those teams that want to get faster access to new features. Microsoft recommends the long-term option for infrastructure scenarios like running SQL Server or SharePoint.

So what’s new in Windows Server 2019? Given Microsoft’s focus on hybrid cloud deployments, it’s no surprise that Windows Server also embraces these scenarios. Specifically, this means that Windows Server 2019 will be able to easily connect to Microsoft Azure and that users will be able to integrate Azure Backup, File Sync, disaster recover and other services into they Windows Server deployments.

Microsoft also added a number of new security features, which are mostly based on what the company has learned from running Azure and previous version of Windows. These include new shielded VMs for protecting Linux applications and support for Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection, one of Microsoft’s flagship security products that helps guard machines against attacks and zero-day exploits.

With this release, Microsoft is also bringing its container technologies from the semi-annual release channel to the long-term release channel. These include the ability to run Linux containers on Windows and the Windows Subsystem for Linux that enables this, as well as the ability to run Bash scripts on Windows. And for those of you who are really into containers, Microsoft also today noted that it will offer more container orchestration choices, including Kubernetes support, soon. These will first come to the semi-annual channel, though.

You can find a more detailed breakdown of what’s new in this release here.

Posted Under: Tech News
Salesforce is reportedly in talks to acquire Mulesoft and the stock is going nuts

Posted by on 20 March, 2018

This post was originally published on this site

After previously investing in Mulesoft, it looks like Salesforce may finish off the deal and is in advanced talks to acquire the data management software provider altogether, according to a report from Reuters this morning.

Mulesoft works with companies to bring together different sources of data like varying APIs. That’s important for companies that have data coming in from all over the place, whether that’s online applications or actual devices, and the company says it has Netflix and Spotify as customers. It would also give Salesforce another piece of the lock-in puzzle for enterprises that need to increasingly manage larger and larger pools of data as they look to start pumping out machine learning tools that can act on all that data.

As usual, these talks could fall apart — we saw this happen with Twitter a few years ago after the company looked at buying what was essentially the largest customer service channel on the planet (as in, great for whining at brands) — but Reuters reports that the deal could be announced as soon as this week. Mulesoft’s stock jumped nearly 20% this year after it went public last year amid a wave of enterprise IPOs jumping through the so-called IPO window while it’s open.

Salesforce is increasingly making a push into AI with products like Einstein, which it launched in 2016. Those tools give businesses predictive services and recommendations, a hallmark of what can come out of increasing piles of data based on customer activity. But all of that data has to come from somewhere, and for now, there are providers outside of the Salesforce ecosystem that stitch all that together. Having it all in one central place makes it easier to parse them through these machine learning algorithms and start building predictive models for their operations.

We reached out to Salesforce and Mulesoft for comment and will update the post when we hear back.

Posted Under: Tech News
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