As traditional enterprise companies like IBM, Oracle and SAP try to transform into more modern cloud companies, they are finding that making that transition, while absolutely necessary, could require difficult adjustments along the way. Just this morning, SAP announced that it was restructuring in order to save between $ 750 million and 800 million euro (between approximately $ 856 million an $ 914 million).
While the company tried to put as positive a spin on the announcement as possible, it could involve up to 4000 job cuts as SAP shifts into more modern technologies. “We are going to move our people and our focus to the areas where the new economy needs SAP the most: artificial intelligence, deep machine learning, IoT, blockchain and quantum computing,” CEO Bill McDermott told a post-earnings press conference.
If that sounds familiar, it should. It is precisely the areas that IBM has been trying to concentrate on its transformation over the last several years. IBM has struggled to make this change and has also framed workforce reduction as moving to modern skill sets. It’s worth pointing out that SAP’s financial picture has been more positive than IBM’s.
CFO Luca Mucic tried to stress this was not about cost cutting, so much as ensuring the long-term health of the company, but did admit it did involve job cuts. These could include early retirement and other incentives to leave the company voluntarily. “We still expect that there will be a number probably slightly higher than what we saw in the 2015 program where we had around 3000 employees leave the company, where at the end of this process will leave SAP,” he said.
The company believes that in spite of these cuts, it will actually have more employees by this time next year than it has now, but they will be shifted to these new technology areas. “This is a growth company move, not a cost cutting move every dollar that we gain from a restructuring initiative will be invested back into headcount and more jobs,” McDermott said. SAP kept stressing that cloud revenue will reach $ 35 billion in revenue by 2023.
Holger Mueller, an analyst who watches enterprise companies like SAP for Constellation Research, says the company is doing what it has to do in terms of transformation. “SAP is in the midst of upgrading its product portfolio to the 21st century demands of its customer base,” Mueller told TechCrunch. He added that this is not easy to pull off, and it requires new skill sets to build, operate and sell the new technologies.
McDermott stressed that the company would be offering a generous severance package to any employee leaving the company as a result of today’s announcement.
M&A activity was brisk in the enterprise market this year, with 10 high-profile deals totaling almost $ 88 billion. Companies were opening up their wallets and pouring money into mega acquisitions. It’s worth noting that the $ 88 billion figure doesn’t include Dell paying investors more than $ 23 billion for VMware tracking stock to take the company public again or several other deals of over a billion dollars that didn’t make our list.
Last year’s big deals included Intel buying MobileEye for $ 15 billion and Cisco getting AppDynamics for $ 3.7 billion, but there were not as many big ones. Adobe, which made two large acquisitions this year, was mostly quiet last year, only making a minor purchase. Salesforce too was mostly quiet in 2017, only buying a digital creative agency, after an active 2016. SAP also made only one purchase in 2017, paying $ 350 million for Gigya. Microsoft was active buying nine companies, but these were primarily minor. Perhaps everyone was saving their pennies for 2018.
This year, by contrast, was go big or go home, and we saw action across the board from the usual suspects. Large companies looking to change their fortunes or grow their markets went shopping and came home with some expensive trinkets for their collections. Some of the deals are still waiting to pass regulatory hurdles and won’t be closing until 2019. Regardless, it’s too soon to judge whether these big-bucks ventures will pay the dividends that their buyers hope, or if they end up being M&A dust in the wind.
IBM acquires Red Hat for $ 34 billion
By far the biggest and splashiest deal of the year goes to IBM, which bet the farm to acquire Red Hat for a staggering $ 34 billion. IBM sees this acquisition as a way to build out its hybrid cloud business. It’s a huge bet and one that could determine the success of Big Blue as an organization in the coming years.
Broadcom nets CA Technologies for $ 18.5 billion
This deal was unexpected, as Broadcom, a chip maker, spent the second largest amount of money in a year of big spending. What Broadcom got for its many billions was an old-school IT management and software solutions provider. Perhaps Broadcom felt it needed to branch out beyond pure chip making, and CA offered a way to do it, albeit a rather expensive one.
SAP buys Qualtrics for $ 8 billion
While not anywhere close to the money IBM or Broadcom spent, SAP went out and nabbed Qualtrics last month just before the company was about to IPO, still paying a healthy $ 8 billion. The company believes that the new company could help build a bridge between SAP operational data inside its back-end ERP systems and Qualtrics customer data on the front end. Time will tell if they are right.
Microsoft gets GitHub for $ 7.5 billion
In June, Microsoft swooped in and bought GitHub, giving it a key developer code repository. It was a lot of money to pay, and Diane Greene expressed regret that Google hadn’t been able to get it. That’s because cloud companies are working hard to win developer hearts and minds. Microsoft has a chance to push GitHub users toward its products, but it has to tread carefully because they will balk if Microsoft goes too far.
Salesforce snares MuleSoft for $ 6.5 billion
Salesforce wasn’t about to be left out of the party in 2018 and in March, the CRM giant announced it was buying API integration vendor Mulesoft for a cool $ 6.5 billion. It was a big deal for Salesforce, which tends to be acquisitive, but typically on smaller deals. This one was a key purchase though because it gives the company the ability to access data wherever it lives, on premises or in the cloud, and that could be key for them moving forward.
Adobe snags Marketo for $ 4.75 billion
Adobe has built a strong company primarily on the strength of its Creative Cloud, but it has been trying to generate more revenue on the marketing side of the business. To that end, it acquired Marketo for $ 4.75 billion and immediately boosted its marketing business, especially when combined with the $ 1.68 billion Magento purchase earlier in the year.
SAP acquires CallidusCloud for $ 2.4 billion
SAP doesn’t do as many acquisitions as some of its fellow large tech companies mentioned here, but this year it did two. Not only did it buy Qualtrics for $ 8 billion, it also grabbed CallidusCloud for $ 2.4 billion. SAP is best known for managing back-office components with its ERP software, but this adds a cloud-based, front-office sales process piece to the mix.
Cisco grabs Duo Security for $ 2.35 billion
Cisco has been hard at work buying up a variety of software services over the years, and this year it added to its security portfolio when it acquired Duo Security for $ 2.35 billion. The Michigan-based company helps companies secure applications using their own mobile devices and could be a key part of the Cisco security strategy moving forward.
Twilio buys SendGrid for $ 2 billion
Twilio got into the act this year too. While not in the same league as the other large tech companies on this list, it saw a piece it felt would enhance its product set and it was willing to spend big to get it. Twilio, which made its name as a communications API company, saw a kindred spirit in SendGrid, spending $ 2 billion to get the API-based email service.
Vista snares Apttio for $ 1.94 billion
Vista Equity Partners is the only private equity firm on the list, but it’s one with an appetite for enterprise technology. With Apttio, it gets a company that can help companies understand their cloud assets alongside their on-prem ones. The company had been public before Vista bought it for $ 1.94 billion last month.
When it comes to shift workers communicating with each other in the workplace when they are not face-to-face, gone are the days of cork announcement boards. Now, the messaging app is the medium, and today one of the startups tackling that opportunity in a unique way has raised a round of funding to get to the next stage of growth.
Crew, a chat app that specifically targets businesses that employ shift workers who do not typically sit at computers all day, has now raised $ 35 million in Series C funding from DAG Ventures, Tenaya Capital and previous backers Greylock Partners, Sequoia Capital, Harrison Metal Capital and Aspect Ventures. With the funding news, it’s also announcing the launch of a new feature called Crew Enterprise, which helps businesses better manage messaging across large groups of these workers.
The funding and new product come on the heels of the company hitting 25,000 organizations using its service — many of them multi-store retailers with an emphasis in the food industry; household names like Domino’s Pizza and Burger King — with some strong engagement. Its users are together sending some 25 million messages or responses to other messages each week, on average six times per day per user, with more than 55 percent of its whole user base logging in on an average day.
There are quite a lot of messaging apps out in the market today, but the majority of them are aimed at so-called knowledge workers, people who might be using a number of apps throughout their day, who often sit at desks and use computers alongside their phones and tablets. Crew takes a different approach in that it targets the vast swathe of other workers in the job market and their priorities.
As it turns out, co-founder and CEO Danny Leffel tells me that those priorities are focused around a few specific things that are not the same as those for the other employment sector. One is to get the latest shift schedules for work, especially when they are not at work; another is to be able to swap those shifts when they need to; and a third, largely coming from the management end, is to make sure that everything gets communicated to the staff even when they are not in for work to attend a staff meeting.
“Some of the older practices feel like versions of a Rube Goldberg machine,” he said. “The stories we hear are quite insane.” Shift schedules, he said, are an example. “Lots of workplaces have rules, where you can’t call in to check the schedule because it causes employees to come off the floor. One hotel manager told us he couldn’t hold staff meetings with everyone there because he runs a 24/7 workplace so some people would have to come in especially. One store GM from a supermarket chain told us that the whole store has only one email address, so when an announcement goes out, the GM prints that and hands it to everyone. And the problems just compound when you talk to them.”
Crew is by no means the only business internal messaging service that is aiming to provide a product specifically for shift workers. Workplace, Facebook’s own take on enterprise communications, has also positioned itself as a platform for “every worker,” and has snagged a clutch of huge clients such as Walmart (2.2 million employees globally) and Starbucks (254,000) to fill out that vision.
Leffel, however, paints a sightly different picture of how this is playing out, since in many cases even when a company has been “won” as a global customer that hasn’t translated to a global roll out.
“Starbucks is theoretically using Workplace, but it’s been deployed only to managers,” he said. “We have almost 1,000 Starbucks locations using Crew. We knew we had a huge presence there, and we were worried when Facebook won them, but we haven’t seen even a dent in our business so far.”
Leffel has had some previous experience of getting into the ring with Facebook — although it hasn’t ended with him the winner. His previous startup, Yardsellr, positioned itself as the “eBay of Facebook,” working as a layer on top of the big social network for people to sell items. It died in 2013, when Facebook took a less friendly turn to Yardsellr using Facebook’s social graph to grow its own business (it was a time when it was cutting off apps from Zynga for similar reasons). Today, Facebook itself owns the experience of selling on its platform via Marketplace.
Crew seems to have found a strong foothold among enterprises in terms of its usefulness, not just use, which is one sign of how it might have more staying power.
A survey it conducted among 50,000 of its users found that 63 percent of leaders who use Crew report fewer missed shifts and 70 percent see increased motivation on their team. Crew worked out that among respondents, it is generating time savings of four or more hours per week for 93 percent of surveyed managers. And because of better communication, people are working faster when handing off things to each other on the front line — a Domino’s Pizza franchisee sped up delivery punctuality by 23 percent as one example. (The company offers services on three tiers, ranging from free for small teams, Pro at $ 10 per month per location and to Enterprise priced on negotiation.)
Crew’s new enterprise tier is aiming to take the company to the next step. Today, Leffel says that a lot of its customers are buying on a location-by-location basis. The idea with Crew Enterprise is that larger organizations will be able to provide a more unified experience across all of those locations (not to mention pay more for the functionality). Managers can use the service to message out details about promotions, and they have a better ability to manage conversations across the platform and also get more feedback from people who are directly interacting with customers. Meanwhile, admins also gain better ability to manage compliance.
If some of this sounds familiar, it’s not just because Workplace is the only one that is also targeting the same users. Dynamic Signal and Zinc (formerly Cotap) are two other startups that are also trying to provide better messaging-based communications to more than just white-collar knowledge workers. Crew will have its work cut out for it, but there is a lot of room for now for multiple players.
“We are seeing a shift in the marketplace, going from ‘absolutely don’t use your phone at work’ to ‘don’t use it when customers are present,’” Leffel said of the opportunity. “Some have started to change the rules to allow workers to use their own phones to perform price checks. We are solving for this evolving workflow.”
VirusTotal Enterprise offers significantly faster and more customizable malware search, as well as a new feature called Private Graph, which allows enterprises to create their own private visualizations of their infrastructure and malware that affects their machines.
The Private Graph makes it easier for enterprises to create an inventory of their internal infrastructure and users to help security teams investigate incidents (and where they started). In the process of building this graph, VirtusTotal also looks are commonalities between different nodes to be able to detect changes that could signal potential issues.
The company stresses that these graphs are obviously kept private. That’s worth noting because VirusTotal already offered a similar tool for its premium users — the VirusTotal Graph. All of the information there, however, was public.
As for the faster and more advanced search tools, VirusTotal notes that its service benefits from Alphabet’s massive infrastructure and search expertise. This allows VirusTotal Enterprise to offer a 100x speed increase, as well as better search accuracy. Using the advanced search, the company notes, a security team could now extract the icon from a fake application, for example, and then return all malware samples that share the same file.
VirusTotal says that it plans to “continue to leverage the power of Google infrastructure” and expand this enterprise service over time.
Google acquired VirusTotal back in 2012. For the longest time, the service didn’t see too many changes, but earlier this year, Google’s parent company Alphabet moved VirusTotal under the Chronicle brand and the development pace seems to have picked up since.
Building conversational interfaces is a hot new area for developers. Chatbots can be a way to reduce friction in websites and apps and to give customers quick answers to commonly asked questions in a conversational framework. Today, Google announced it was making Dialogflow Enterprise Edition generally available. It had previously been in Beta.
This technology came to them via the API.AI acquisition in 2016. Google wisely decided to change the name of the tool along the way, giving it a moniker that more closely matched what it actually does. The company reports that hundreds of thousands are developers are using the tool already to build conversational interfaces.
This isn’t just an all-Google tool though. It works across voice interface platforms including Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Facebook Messenger, giving developers a tool to develop their chat apps once and use them across several devices without having to change the underlying code in a significant way.
What’s more, with today’s release the company is providing increased functionality and making it easier to transition to the enterprise edition at the same time.
“Starting today, you can combine batch operations that would have required multiple API calls into a single API call, reducing lines of code and shortening development time. Dialogflow API V2 is also now the default for all new agents, integrating with Google Cloud Speech-to-Text, enabling agent management via API, supporting gRPC, and providing an easy transition to Enterprise Edition with no code migration,” Dan Aharon Google’s product manager for Cloud AI wrote in a company blog post announcing the tool.
The company showed off a few new customers using Dialogflow to build chat interfaces for their customers including KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Domino’s and Ticketmaster.
The new tool, which is available today, supports over 30 languages and as a generally available enterprise product comes with a support package and service level agreement (SLA).
Zuroa’s founder and CEO Tien Tzuo had a vision of a subscription economy long before most people ever considered the notion. He knew that for companies to succeed with subscriptions, they needed a bookkeeping system that understood how they collected and reported money. The company went public yesterday, another clear sign post on the road to SaaS maturation.
Tzuo was an early employee at Salesforce and their first CMO. He worked there in the early days in the late 90s when Salesforce’s Marc Benioff famously rented an apartment to launch the company. Tzuo was at Salesforce 9 years, and it helped him understand the nature of subscription-based businesses like Salesforce.
“We created a great environment for building, marketing and delivering software. We rewrote the rules, the way it was built, marketed and sold,” Tzuo told me in an interview in 2016.
He saw a fundamental problem with traditional accounting methods, which were designed for selling a widget and declaring the revenue. A subscription was an entirely different model and it required a new way to track revenue and communicate with customers. Tzuo took the long view when he started his company in early 2007, leaving a secure job at a growing company like Salesforce.
He did it because he had the vision, long before anyone else, that SaaS companies would require a subscription bookkeeping system, but before long, so would other unrelated businesses.
Building a subscription system
As he put it in that 2016 interview, if you commit to pay me $ 1 for 10 years, you know that $ 1 was coming in come hell or high water, that’s $ 10 I know I’m getting, but I can’t declare the money until I get it. That recurring revenue still has value though because my investors know that I’m secure for 10 years, even though it’s not on the books yet. That’s where Zuora came in. It could account for that recurring revenue when nobody else could. What’s more, it could track the billing over time, and send out reminders, help the companies stay engaged with their customers.
As Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research put it, they pioneered the whole idea of a subscription economy, and not just for SaaS companies. Over the last several years, we’ve heard companies talking about selling services and SLAs (service/uptime agreements) instead of a one-time sale of an item, but not that long ago it wasn’t something a lot of companies were thinking about.
“They pioneered how companies can think about monetization,” Wang said. “So large companies like a GE could go from selling a wind turbine one time to selling a subscription to deliver a certain number of Kw/hr of green energy at peak hours from 1 to 5 pm with 98 percent uptime.” There wasn’t any way to do this before Zuora came along.
Jason Lemkin, founder at SaaStr, a firm that invests in SaaS startups, says Tzuo was a genuine visionary and helped create the underlying system for SaaS subscriptions to work. “The most interesting part of Zuora is that it is a “second” order SaaS play. It could only thrive once SaaS became mainstream, and could only scale on top of other recurring revenue businesses. Zuora started off as a niche player helping SaaS companies do billing, and it dramatically expanded and thrived as SaaS became … Software.”
Market catches up with idea
When he launched the company in 2007, perhaps he saw that extension of his idea out on the distant horizon. He certainly saw companies like Salesforce needing a service like the one he had decided to create. The early investors must have recognized that his vision was early and it would take a slow, steady climb on the way to exiting. It took 11 years and $ 242 million in venture capital before they saw the payoff. The revenue after 11 years was a reported $ 167 million. There is plenty of room to grow.
But yesterday the company had its initial public offering, and it was by any measure a huge success. According TechCrunch’s Katie Roof, “After pricing its IPO at $ 14 and raising $ 154 million, the company closed at $ 20, valuing the company around $ 2 billion.” Today it was up a bit more as of this writing.
When you consider the Tzuo’s former company has become a $ 10 billion company, that companies like Box, Zendesk, Workday and Dropbox have all gone public, and others like DocuSign and Smartsheet are not far behind, it’s pretty clear that we are in a golden age of SaaS — and chances are it’s only going to get better.
There’s a new venture fund in town from some familiar faces.
Carey Lai, who previously worked at Intel Capital and IVP, is joining forces with Paul Yeh, formerly of Kleiner Perkins.
They’re calling it Conductive Ventures and it’s launching with $ 100 million under management. They’ll be investing in “expansion stage” companies across enterprise software and hardware categories, meaning Series A, Series B and beyond.
Check sizes will be between $ 2 million and $ 7 million dollars. They expect to invest in 10-15 companies for this first fund.
Conductive will be looking for “early product market fit with customer success,” Lai told TechCrunch. Then the plan is to “help them grow their businesses abroad.”
It’s not a corporate venture arm, but Conductive has Panasonic as its sole LP. Because of this, there will be a special focus on helping North American startups expand into Asia, particularly Japan.
Lai and Yeh touted “connections to Foxconn” and also ties to Taiwan to help them succeed overseas.
They also said they want to be hands-on when it comes to growth. Conductive will place an emphasis on improving margins, aiming to accelerate revenue and reduce costs.
The two were roommates when they were younger and think that they will get along especially well as an investment team.
So far, they’ve made four investments. There’s Ambiq Micro, a semiconductor manufacturer; CSC Generation, for consumer leasing; Desktop Metal, in 3D printing; and Sprinklr, for customer experience management. Lai has served on the board of Sprinklr. They hope to continue to take board seats.
Not to get ahead of things, but they are already thinking about fund two. Yeh said that it will be in “a couple years” and “slightly higher, slightly bigger” in size.
Last year two venture capital firms, General Catalyst and CRV, launched a program called the Velocity Network to get their startups in front of Fortune 500 executives in New York City. Today they announced that Mayfield has joined as the third VC firm in the network. New York is home to financial, insurance, security, retail, media, and other Fortune 500 companies — the very types of… Read More
Enterprise – TechCrunch
We are still in the early days of cryptocurrency — or at least that’s what all of the startups that are jumping into this space NOW hope. And when there’s a gold rush, there’s plenty of money to be made by selling shovels (or ASIC rigs) to miners. It’s no surprise, then, that we are now seeing the emergence of a new class of B2B startups in crypto, too. Read More
Enterprise – TechCrunch
Google today announced the beta launch of its enterprise edition of Dialogflow, its tool for building chatbots and other conversational applications. In addition, Dialogflow (both in its free and enterprise version) is now getting built-in support for speech recognition, something that developers previously had to source through the Google Cloud Speech API or similar services. Unsurprisingly,… Read More
Enterprise – TechCrunch