Amazon wants to depose president and secretary of Defense as part of JEDI protest

Posted by on 10 February, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

Today, AWS made public its Motion to Supplement the Record in its protest of the JEDI contract decision. As part of that process, the company has announced it wants to depose President Trump and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

When Amazon announced at the end of last year that it was protesting the DoD’s decision to award the $10 billion, decade-long JEDI contract to Microsoft, the company made clear that it was not happy with the decision. The company believes that the president steered the contract away from Amazon because of personal political differences with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post.

“President Trump has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to use his position as President and Commander in Chief to interfere with government functions – including federal procurements – to advance his personal agenda. The preservation of public confidence in the nation’s procurement process requires discovery and supplementation of the administrative record, particularly in light of President Trump’s order to ‘screw Amazon.’ The question is whether the President of the United States should be allowed to use the budget of the DoD to pursue his own personal and political ends,” an AWS spokesperson said in a statement.

This is consistent with public statements the company has been making since the DoD made the surprise decision in October to go with Microsoft. It had been widely believed that Amazon would win the contract, and there was much wrangling and complaining throughout the procurement process that the contract had been designed to favor Amazon, something that the DoD repeatedly denied.

At AWS re:Invent at the end last year, AWS CEO Andy Jassy made it clear he was unhappy with the decision and that he believed the president showed bias. “I think that we ended up with a situation where there was political interference. When you have a sitting president, who has shared openly his disdain for a company, and the leader of that company, it makes it really difficult for government agencies, including the DoD, to make objective decisions without fear of reprisal,” Jassy said last year.

Sources say that the DoD gave Amazon a written debriefing after the decision to award the contract to Microsoft, but the company is particularly upset that the department has failed to respond in a timely fashion to requests for additional information and questions, as required by law.

Posted Under: Tech News
Xerox sweetens HP offer to $24 per share as take-over drama continues

Posted by on 10 February, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

Ever since Xerox set its sights on HP last November, the companies have been engaged in an ongoing battle. Xerox would like very much to take over the much larger HP, while the printer giant has so far rejected Xerox’s advances. Today, Xerox decided to sweeten the pot, raising its offer by two dollars per share from $22 to $24 or about $34 billion in total.

The company says it will make a tender offer officially on around March 2nd, which should give it more time to lobby shareholders, but Xerox claims to have spoken to larger HP stockholders, and they believe the larger number could finally push this over the finish line. Given HP’s previous reluctance, that remains to be seen.

“Xerox has met, in some cases multiple times, with many of HP’s largest stockholders. These stockholders consistently state that they want the enhanced returns, improved growth prospects and best-in-class human capital that will result from a combination of Xerox and HP. The tender offer announced today will enable these stockholders to accept Xerox’s compelling offer despite HP’s consistent refusal to pursue the opportunity,” the company wrote in a statement today.

The current dance between the two companies dates back to last Fall with Xerox believing the two companies would match up well together to become a printer giant, while HP’s board unanimously rejected the offer.

In a rejection letter last November, the company made clear, it didn’t appreciate or welcome Xerox’s overtures:

“We reiterate that we reject Xerox’s proposal as it significantly undervalues HP.

“Additionally, it is highly conditional and uncertain. In particular, there continues to be uncertainty regarding Xerox’s ability to raise the cash portion of the proposed consideration and concerns regarding the prudence of the resulting outsized debt burden on the value of the combined company’s stock even if the financing were obtained,” the letter stated.

At the end of November, Xerox vowed to take the offer to shareholders. More recently, it said it would try to replace all of the HP board members, who rejected the offer previously, with a friendlier slate of candidates. That is slated to be voted on by stockholders at the HP stockholders meeting in April.

HP has not responded yet to this latest offer. Surprisingly, HP stock was down .12/share or 0.81% in early trading.

Note: We have requested comment from HP, but have not heard from the company as we went to publish. Should this change we will update the report.

Posted Under: Tech News
After $479M round on $12.4B valuation, Snowflake CEO says IPO is next step

Posted by on 9 February, 2020

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Snowflake, the cloud-based data warehouse company, doesn’t tend to do small rounds. On Friday night word leaked out about its latest mega round. This one was for $479 million on a $12.4 billion valuation. That’s triple the company’s previous $3.9 billion valuation from October 2018, and CEO Frank Slootman suggested that the company’s next finance event is likely an IPO.

Dragoneer Investment led the round along with new investor Salesforce Ventures. Existing Snowflake investors Altimeter Capital, ICONIQ Capital, Madrona Venture Group, Redpoint Ventures, Sequoia, and Sutter Hill Ventures also participated. The new round brings the total raised to over $1.4 billion, according to PitchBook data.

All of this investment begs the question when this company goes public. As you might expect, Slootman is keeping his cards close to the vest, but he acknowledges that is the next logical step for his organization, even if he is not feeling pressure to make that move right now.

“I think the earliest that we could actually pull that trigger is probably early- to mid-summer timeframe. But whether we do that or not is a totally different question because we’re not in a hurry, and we’re not getting pressure from investors,” he said.

He grants that the pressure is about allowing employees to get their equity out of the company, which can only happen once the company goes public. “The only reason that there’s always a sense of pressure around this is because it’s important for employees, and I’m not minimizing that at all. That’s a legitimate thing. So, you know, it’s certainly a possibility in 2020 but it’s also a possibility the year thereafter. I don’t see it happening any later than that,” he said.

The company’s most recent round prior to this was $450 million in October 2018. Slootman says that he absolutely didn’t need the money, but the capital was there, and the chance to forge a relationship with Salesforce also was key in their thinking in taking this funding.

“At a high level, the relationship is really about allowing Salesforce data to be easily accessed inside Snowflake. Not that it’s impossible to do that today because there are lots of tools that will help you do that, but this relationship is about making that seamless and frictionless, which we find is really important,” Slootman said.

Snowflake now has relationships with AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, and has a broad content strategy to have as much quality data (like Salesforce) on the platform. Slootman says that this helps induce a network effect, while helping move data easily between major cloud platforms, a big concern as more companies adopt a multiple cloud vendor strategy.

“One of the key distinguishing architectural aspects of Snowflake is that once you’re on our platform, it’s extremely easy to exchange data with other Snowflake users. That’s one of the key architectural underpinnings. So content strategy induces network effect which in turn causes more people, more data to land on the platform, and that serves our business model,” he said.

Slootman says investors want to be part of his company because it’s solving some real data interchange pain points in the cloud market, and the company’s growth shows that in spite of its size, that continues to attract new customers at high rate.

“We just closed off our previous fiscal year which ended last Friday, and our revenue grew at 174%. For the scale that we are, this by far the fastest growing company out there…So, that’s not your average asset,” he said.

The company has 3400 active customers, which he defines as customers who were actively using the platform in the last month. He says that they have added 500 new customers alone in the last quarter.

Posted Under: Tech News
Daily Crunch: LinkedIn is getting a new CEO

Posted by on 6 February, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Jeff Weiner will step down as CEO of LinkedIn June 1, product head Ryan Roslansky steps up

The changes are LinkedIn’s first big executive shakeup since the company was acquired by Microsoft in 2016. It’s notable that both of the new appointments (Roslansky and new product head Tomer Cohen) involve long-time LinkedIn executives — they’re not looking to rock the boat too much.

Weiner, meanwhile, says that LinkedIn was his “dream job” and that he’s moving on to the next “dream job” as executive chairman. But we expect to start seeing his name floated for other CEO roles very shortly.

2. Ancestry lays off 6% of staff as consumer genetic testing market continues to decline

The move from Ancestry follows job cuts at 23andMe in late January, which saw 100 staffers lose their jobs (or roughly 14% of its workforce). The genetic testing company Illumina has been warning of softness in the direct-to-consumer genetic testing market as well.

3. Twitter reports $1.01B in Q4 revenues with 152M monetizable daily active users

Twitter posted $1.01 billion in sales — the first time its revenues have broken past the billion-dollar mark — due to a strong quarter in advertising sales. However, net income and earnings per share both saw significant drops from the same period a year ago.

4. Google Maps adds more crowdsourced transit data and gets a new navigation bar

Google is updating Google Maps on Android and iOS with a revamped tab bar at the bottom, a new icon and a couple of new features. In particular, the company is putting more emphasis on user-generated content and recommendations.

5. Where top VCs are investing in open source and dev tools (Part 1 of 2)

We asked 18 of the top open-source-focused VCs to share what’s exciting them most and where they see opportunities. For purposes of length and clarity, responses have been edited and split (in no particular order) into part one and part two of this survey. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

6. Reddit partners with Tagboard to bring its content to TV broadcasts

Through this partnership, broadcast networks will be able to easily display Reddit’s content on TV. That includes Reddit’s unique content like AMA (Ask Me Anything) recaps and Photoshop battles, as well as popular posts and comments.

7. NASA astronaut Christina Koch returns to Earth after record-setting stay in space

Koch spent 328 consecutive days at the International Space Station. She’s second only to Scott Kelley, who spent 340 days in space, and she’s officially the woman with the longest stay in space worldwide, passing fellow U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson’s record of 289 days.

Posted Under: Tech News
Forescout to be acquired by a pair of private equity firms for $1.9B

Posted by on 6 February, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

Forescout, the network security company that has been publicly traded since 2017, announced today it was going private again. Private equity firms Advent International and Crosspoint Capital are acquiring the company in an all-cash purchase of $1.9 billion.

The two private equity firms will pay $33 per share, which represented a premium of 30% over the company’s closing price of $25.45 on October 19, 2019. The stock hit $39.87 on October 4th before starting a precipitous drop later that month, dropping to $24.57 on October 10th.

 

Not coincidentally, that was the day the company reported its earnings and had a bad revenue miss. Projections had revenue in the $98.8 million – $101.8 million range. Actual reported revenue was far less at $91.6 million, according to data from the company.

In the earnings call that followed on November 7th, Forescout president and CEO Michael DeCesare tried to blame the bad results on extended sales, but it didn’t really help as private equity firms swooped in to make the deal. “We experienced extended sales cycles across several of our customers that pushed out deals and which did not become apparent until we entered the final days of the quarter. We do not believe that any of these deals have been lost to competitors,” he told analysts.

In a statement today, DeCesare tried to put a positive spin on the acquisition. “This transaction represents an exciting new phase in the evolution of Forescout. We are excited to be partnering with Advent International and Crosspoint Capital, premier firms with security DNA and track records of success in strengthening companies and supporting them through transitionary times.”

Forescout is not a young company, having launched way back in 2000. It raised almost $290 million, according to PitchBook data. It went public on October 26, 2017.

The deal is not finalized as of yet. The company has a go-shop provision in place until March 8th in which it can try to find a better deal, but that seems unlikely. Should they fail to find a better suitor, the deal is expected to close in the second quarter, at which point the company will cease to be publicly traded.

Posted Under: Tech News
Netskope hauls in another $340M investment on nearly $3B valuation

Posted by on 6 February, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

Netskope has always focused its particular flavor of security on the cloud, and as more workloads have moved there, it has certainly worked in its favor. Today the company announced a $340 million investment on a valuation of nearly $3 billion.

Sequoia Capital Global Equities led the round, but in a round this large, there were a bunch of others participating firms including new investors Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and PSP Investments, along with existing investors Lightspeed Venture Partners, Accel, Base Partners, ICONIQ Capital, Sapphire Ventures, Geodesic Capital and Social Capital. Today’s investment brings the total raised to over $740 million, according to Crunchbase data.

As with so many large rounds recently, CEO Sanjay Beri said the company wasn’t necessarily looking for more capital, but when brand name investors came knocking, they decided to act. “We did not necessarily need this level of capital but having a large balance sheet and a legendary set of investors like Sequoia, Lightspeed and Accel putting all their chips behind Netskope for the long term to dominate the largest market in security is a very strong signal to the industry,” Beri said.

From the start, Netskope has taken aim at cloud and mobile security, eschewing the traditional perimeter security that was still popular when the company launched in 2012. “Legacy products based on traditional notions of perimeter security have gone obsolete and inhibit the needs of digital businesses. Today’s urgent requirement is security that is fast, delivered from the cloud, and provides real-time protection against network and data threats when cloud services, websites, and private apps are being accessed from anywhere, anytime, on any device,” he explained.

When Netskope announced its $168.7 million round at the end of 2018, the company had a valuation over $1 billion at that time. Today, it announced it has almost tripled that number with a valuation close to $3 billion. That’s a big leap in just two years, but it reports 80% year-over-year growth, and claims to be “the fastest-growing company at scale in the fastest-growing areas of cybersecurity: secure access server edge (SASE) and cloud security,” according to Beri.

The next natural step for a company at this stage of maturity would be to look to become a public company, but Beri wasn’t ready to commit to one just yet. “An IPO is definitely a possible milestone in the journey, but it’s certainly not limited to that and we’re not in a rush and have no capital needs, so we’re not commenting on timing.”

Posted Under: Tech News
Datree announces $8M Series A as it joins Y Combinator

Posted by on 6 February, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

Datree, the early stage startup building a DevOps policy engine on GitHub, announced an $8 million Series A today. It also announced it has joined the Y Combinator Winter 20 cohort.

Blumberg and TLV Partners led the round with participation from Y Combinator . The company has now raised $11 million with the $3 million seed round announced in 2018.

Since that seed round, company co-founder and CEO Shimon Tolts says that the company learned that while scanning code for issues was something DevOps teams found useful, they wanted help defining the rules. So Datree has created a series of rules packages you can run against the code to find any gaps or issues.

“We offer development best practices, coding standards and security and compliance policies. What happens today is that, as you connect to Datree, we connect to your source code and scan the entire code base, and we recommend development best practices based on your technology stack,” Tolts explained.

He says that they build these rules packages based on the company’s own expertise, as well as getting help from the community, and in some cases partnering with experts. For instance, for its Docker security package, it teamed up with Aqua Security.

The focus remains on applying these rules in GitHub where developers are working. Before committing the code, they can run the appropriate rules packages against it to ensure they are in compliance with best practices.

Datree rules packages. Screenshot: Datree

Tolts says they began looking at Y Combinator after the seed round because they wanted more guidance on building out the business. “We knew that Y Combinator could really help us because our product is relevant to 95% of all YC companies, and the program has helped us go and work on six figure deals with more mature YC companies,” he said.

Datree is working directly with Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel, and he says being part of the Winter 20 cohort has helped him refine his go-to-market motion. He admits he is not a typical YC company having been around since 2017 with an existing product and 12 employees, but he thinks it will help propel the company in the long run.

Posted Under: Tech News
Google Cloud makes strides but still has a long way to go

Posted by on 5 February, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

In earnings reported this week, Alphabet announced that Google Cloud generated a robust $2.61 billion for the quarter, a number that includes revenue from both Google Cloud Platform and G Suite.

That puts the division on a nice little run rate of $10.44 billion. It feels like a lot until you consider that Microsoft had a combined software and infrastructure cloud revenue run rate of $12.5 billion in its most recent report, while AWS reported almost $10 billion for the quarter. While Google is not even close to these rivals, it’s picking up some much-needed steam.

As Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research, points out, crossing the $10 billion run rate mark is a rite of passage. “Ten billion dollars is the new mark for IaaS players, effectively the unicorn rating for them. And revenue/size matter, as the cloud business is an economies of scale business,” Mueller told TechCrunch.

More enterprise, please

When Thomas Kurian came on board last year after more than two decades at Oracle to replace Diane Greene as head of Google Cloud, prevailing wisdom suggested that he was hired to help shift the division’s focus firmly to the enterprise. The move appears to be working.

Posted Under: Tech News
Where top VCs are investing in open source and dev tools (Part 2 of 2)

Posted by on 5 February, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

In part two of a survey that asks top VCs about exciting opportunities in open source and dev tools, we dig into responses from 10 leading open-source-focused investors at firms that span early to growth stage across software-specific firms, corporate venture arms and prominent generalist firms.

In the conclusion to our survey, we’ll hear from:

These responses have been edited for clarity and length.

Posted Under: Tech News
Where top VCs are investing in open source and dev tools (Part 1 of 2)

Posted by on 5 February, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

The once-polarizing world of open-source software has recently become one of the hotter destinations for VCs.

As the popularity of open source increases among organizations and developers, startups in the space have reached new heights and monstrous valuations.

Over the past several years, we’ve seen surging open-source companies like Databricks reach unicorn status, as well as VCs who cashed out behind a serious number of exits involving open-source and dev tool companies, deals like IBM’s Red Hat acquisition or Elastic’s late-2018 IPO. Last year, the exit spree continued with transactions like F5 Networks’ acquisition of NGINX and a number of high-profile acquisitions from mainstays like Microsoft and GitHub.

Similarly, venture investment in new startups in the space has continued to swell. More investors are taking shots at finding the next big payout, with annual invested capital in open-source and dev tool startups increasing at a roughly 10% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) over the last five years, according to data from Crunchbase. Furthermore, attractive returns in the space seem to be adding more fuel to the fire, as open-source and dev tool startups saw more than $2 billion invested in the space in 2019 alone, per Crunchbase data.

As we close out another strong year for innovation and venture investing in the sector, we asked 18 of the top open-source-focused VCs who work at firms spanning early to growth stages to share what’s exciting them most and where they see opportunities. For purposes of length and clarity, responses have been edited and split (in no particular order) into part one and part two of this survey. In part one of our survey, we hear from:

Posted Under: Tech News
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