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Article from GigaOM.

For years little has been known about what stealthy energy data startup C3, founded by Siebel Systems bazillionaire Tom Siebel, has actually been up to. The company has been like a Will Smith summer blockbuster that’s supposed to come out three years from now and will only hint at its plot through artsy abstract trailers. Well, turns out, school is finally out for the summer for C3 — the company has just completed some major milestones for its newly emerged big data energy product, according to Siebel during a talk at the Cleantech Investor Summit on Wednesday.

Siebel, now CEO of the four-year-old startup, said that in September 2012, C3 launched a data grid analytics project for PG&E, which crunched a whole lot of data about commercial and industrial buildings (the kind owned and leased in California by the likes of Cisco, Kaiser Permanente, Safeway and Best Buy). C3′s platform collected disparate data about a half a million buildings, from places like publicly-available data found via Google, to energy consumption data from utilities, to weather data from weather information companies.

The entire project required 28 billion rows of data (at least 8 terabytes) that C3 aggregated, normalized and loaded at 5 million records an hour said Siebel, adding, “this is really hard stuff.” PG&E used this data analytics tool to work with building owners to perform energy efficiency audits in real time for all of the commercial and industrial buildings in its footprint. It was a major success, said Siebel, and in the first few weeks of January of this year PG&E exceeded their energy auditing goal for the entire year.

C3 was also quietly involved in a more high profile big data energy project with GE, which I profiled last week when it launched at Distributech, although at the time I didn’t know C3 was involved. Siebel described the project with GE as “a joint development deal” at grid-scale, trying to solve “petabyte type of problems.” As I reported last week, GE’s Grid IQ Insight software can pull in disparate data from a variety of sources like grid sensors, utility databases and even social media sources on a per second interval basis, and utilities can use the software to peer into their grids, and combat blackouts, in real time.

Siebel says C3 has three of these types of projects live with customers, that combine a big data layer, an analytics layer and a customer presentation layer. The company plans to launch another five projects in 2013 and another five in 2014. Other customers include Entergy, Northeast Utilities, Constellation Energy, NYSEG, Integrys Energy Group, Southern California Edison, ComEd, Rochester Gas & Electric, DTE Energy, as well as GE and McKinsey.

In addition to C3′s commercial and industrial platform it built for PG&E, the company also has developed a residential energy efficiency program, which launched last week, said Siebel. The service, which is in development with Detroit Edison and Entergy, is a loyalty program that gets customers to engage in energy efficiency behaviors in exchange for coupons and points at retailers like Amazon. I’m assuming that this platform has incorporated the technology from the startup Efficiency 2.0 that C3 acquired last Spring. Mailed marketing has long been considered the cutting edge in the utility sector, and “I don’t know if we even get mail at my house,” joked Siebel.

C3 has spent four years, and on the order of $100 million, building the software platform that it is now aggressively selling to utilities and energy vendors. At its core, the C3 platforms use Cassandra for database management system, and all of the applications store all of this data in the cloud, which is a relatively new phenomenon for many utilities to deal with. The company also has some big names as directors, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and former Senator and Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham.

Grid analytics is a sector that is growing 24 percent a year, said Siebel, and C3 intends to be the software layer that sits on top of the grid. He compared the opportunity to “the Internet in 1993.” Siebel, who sold Siebel Systems to Oracle in 2006 for close to $6 billion, is one of the few entrepreneurs in cleantech that would know what that looks like.

Lastly, Siebel said his latest startup endeavor isn’t about saving the world from climate change or reducing carbon emissions, despite the company’s three C’s moniker, and despite the fact that that’s important. Ultimately, he says, “It’s about making money.”

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Article from SFGate.

Oracle has agreed to buy Eloqua Inc. for about $871 million, further expanding in cloud computing and ratcheting up competition with Salesforce.com and SAP.

The $23.50-per-share offer is more than twice Eloqua’s initial public offering price in August, and 31 percent higher than its closing price Wednesday. The board of Eloqua, whose Web-based tools are used in marketing and revenue-performance management, approved the deal, according to a statement.

Oracle’s $871 million offer, which is net of Eloqua’s cash, is more than nine times the target company’s sales over the last 12 months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In two previous large cloud-computing deals this year, Redwood City-based Oracle paid 6.3 times sales for HR tools maker Taleo Corp. in April, and 7.1 times the revenue of customer support software maker RightNow Technologies Inc., which it acquired in January.

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Article from GigaOm.

For many years, Oracle and HP co-existed quite happily. They collaborated on the first Exadata in 2008, for example. Former HP CEOs Carly Fiorina, then Mark Hurd, keynoted at Oracle OpenWorld. HP appeared to have supplanted Sun Microsystems as Oracle’s hardware BFF for a while. Everything was copacetic.

Now the two companies are arch-rivals and are engaged in an increasingly bitter, seemingly personal battle, the latest skirmish of which saw a California Superior Court judge throw out a fraud claim Oracle lodged against HP. He also opened up court documents that don’t show either company in a particularly good light.

How did it all go so bad?

First, Oracle bought Sun for $7.4 billion in a deal completed in January 2010. That meant Oracle, for the first time was in the hardware business and its servers would compete with HP servers. That sealed the fate of the relationship going forward.

The public bad feeling erupted in August 2010 when HP canned Hurd as CEO, then hired former Oracle president Ray Lane (pictured above right) as chairman and Leo Apotheker, former CEO of SAP, as CEO. SAP is a huge rival to Oracle in enterprise apps and Lane left Oracle after a bumping heads with Oracle chairman Larry Ellison (pictured at right.) Things have just deteriorated ever since.

Here are some highlights (low lights) of the slap fight.

In a letter to the New York Times in August 2010, Ellison said HP’s firing of Hurd:

The H.P. board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago … That decision nearly destroyed Apple and would have if Steve hadn’t come back and saved them.”

HP’s server and storage chief Dave Donatelli blasted Oracle for discontinuing Itanium development at the HP partner conference in March 2010. Donatelli asked the couple thousand HP resellers in attendance to lobby Oracle to reverse it’s Itanium decision.
This is a shameless attempt to force customers to spend a lot of money to move to a platform over time that gives customers no benefits  … Oracle made this decision to slow Sun SPARC market losses.

Ray Lane calls out Hurd in his letter to The New York Times in October, 2010.

The bottom line is: Mr. Hurd violated the trust of the Board by repeatedly lying to them in the course of an investigation into his conduct. He violated numerous elements of HP’s Standards of Business Conduct and he demonstrated a serious lack of integrity and judgment
ut now in California District Court is just the latest in a  deterioration of a previously beneficial relationship between the two tech giants.

After Apotheker announced HP plans to buy Autonomy — another enterprise software company for $11.7 billion in August, Oracle couldn’t contain itself.

In a statement on September 28, 2011, Oracle said Autonomy had shopped itself to Oracle first and Oracle turned it down. When Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch denied that, Oracle said: “Either Mr. Lynch has a very poor memory or he’s lying.”

When there was further denial, Oracle put out another statement entitled “Another whopper from Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch” and helpfully published the PowerPoint slides it said he and banker Frank Quattrone brought to the meeting.  The presentation is here and here.

According to the statement:

Ably assisting Mike Lynch’s attempt to sell Autonomy to Oracle was Silicon Valley’s most famous shopper/seller of companies, the legendary investment banker Frank Quattrone.  After the sales pitch was over, Oracle refused to make an offer because Autonomy’s current market value of $6 billion was way too high.

The next chapter in this saga may be a trial on HP’s remaining claims against Oracle which should kick off in April, but stay tuned: anything can happen and usually does.”

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Article from DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) is following the lead of rival International Business Machine Corp. (IBM) in possibly shedding its personal-computer business and focusing more on higher-margin operations like analytic software–but the transition is not likely to be easy.
H-P is significantly farther behind in the software market than IBM was when the Armonk, N.Y., company sold its computer business to Lenovo Group Ltd. (LNVGY, 0992.HK) in 2005. And since then, the value of PC assets has declined, meaning the world’s biggest computer maker may not get the cash boost needed to catch up with the software leaders ahead of it.

For IBM, its move last decade has worked out well. While other tech companies have seen volatility from their consumer exposure, IBM has posted consistent results, even during the depths of the recession. The company last month boosted it outlook for the year, helping send shares to an all-time high.

“IBM is the best-positioned of the big tech companies by far,” Gleacher analyst Brian Marshall said. “The majority of revenue comes from high-margin, annuity-type revenue streams such as software and services. … IBM has a phenomenal business model, and H-P is trying to follow in those footsteps.”

H-P is taking a big step Thursday by agreeing to buy U.K. data-analytics firm Autonomy Corp. (AUTNY AU.LN) for more than $10 billion. Analytics software, a fast-growing area, helps companies sift through massive amounts of information to solve business problems or make predictions.

“It’s the beginning of the transformation of H-P today,” Chief Executive Leo Apotheker said.

IBM has focused on analytic software for a while. Among the company’s dozens of acquisitions over the past five years, IBM has spent $14 billion on 24 analytics-related purchases. IBM expects the market for analytics to be over $200 billion by 2015, of which it sees getting about $16 billion.

Transitioning out of one big business and into another takes time and money. Since 2001, IBM has bought more than 127 companies for a combined total of $33 billion. Those earlier acquisitions helped to give IBM a strong software business–second only to Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)–when it sold the PC operations.

As a result, in IBM’s recently reported quarter, the company had software revenue of $6.2 billion, 23% of its total revenue. In comparison, H-P Thursday reported quarterly software revenue of $780 million, 2.5% of its total revenue.

IBM decided to get out of the PC market because the company viewed it as a commoditized industry where companies can only compete on price. Chief Executive Sam Palmisano said last year during an interview with the Wall Street Journal that he wouldn’t be able to give away IBM’s PC business today.

“We got a reasonable valuation for the company, and today I’d have to pay them to take it,” he said. “And the reason being is that the technology shifted, and we wanted to get out before it was obvious to everyone.”

During the same interview, he also criticized H-P, saying he’s not worried about a company that no longer invests in innovation. About 6% of IBM’s 2010 revenue went to research and development, compared to only about 2% at H-P.

H-P has said in recent months that it’s increasing its research spending.

Meanwhile, Mark Dean–one of the creators of the first IBM PC–said in a blog post last week that the PC age is essentially over, going the way of the typewriter and incandescent lightbulb.

“While many in the tech industry questioned IBM’s decision to exit the business at the time, it’s now clear that our company was in the vanguard of the post-PC era,” said Dean, who currently serves as chief technology officer of IBM Middle East and Africa.

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By Tony Fish, AMF Ventures and member of Gerbsman Partners Board Of Intellectual Partners.

The changing face of mobile

Image001

Surprised at the latest Google deal to acquire Motorola Mobility for $12.5Bn, you should not be; Eric Schmidt was very clear back at MWC in FEB 2007 “Mobile Mobile Mobile” and since then Google has focussed both time and effort to deliver andriod (which was itself acquired).  When Schmidt stepped down in saying “ adult supervision no longer required” this left open the matured Larry Page to step up from being great at maths and a world leading entrepreneur, to take on the mantel of “world leading strategist and deal doer.”

This deal will be the discussion point for the next 3 months and already there are a lot of views circulating about what it means but there is no doubt that depending on your stance you can argue for change. However at Mobile 2 on 1st Sept in SFO – we get the first bite, why not join in

The Deal

Google purchased Motorola’s mobile business for $12.5 billion. In doing so, Google brought patents, hardware design, manufacturing and a seat at the patent table. However the context is… Oracle suing, Apple winning, eco-system struggling, Samsung annoyed and Microsoft attacking

Worthy of Note

Google has bought in cash and not shares.  This commitment will reduce their cash balance to $22bn from the mid thirties, but it is cash.  Given the issues that cash purchases delivered to telecoms in 2000/2001 this is an important fact as many ran into immediate issues and sold off key assets.  However, I expect the reason that this is cash is that Google are not expecting to hold the operational assets for long.  An equity purchase could have caused them problems from shareholders when they flip it assuming it completes in Q1 2012

Why now?

Porter 5 forces model is helpful here as it highlights the dynamic nature of the mobile market that Google faces.  Their power is low, their service fragmented and  they are being attacked.

Implications

This deal will be the discussion point for the next 3 months and already there are a lot of views circulating about what it means but there is no doubt that depending on your stance you can argue for change. However at Mobile 2 on 1st Sept in SFO – we get the first bite, why not join in.

Starting from the view of the world formed by ….

  • Operators – Deal does not change anything as we are the controllers of mobile – we keep all manufacturers below 30% market share and make sure it is a competitive supply market.  However, we are still worried about becoming bit pipe….
  • Oracle/ Sun/ Java – Defence needed as android has been beset with legal challenges from all sides, including a multibillion dollar lawsuit filed by Oracle, but Motorola patents are about wireless tech and unlikely to help.
  • Apple – By purchasing a manufacturer, Google has admitted it needs more than just a free operating system and loads of partners to compete with Apple: they need to duplicate Apple’s successes by totally controlling both the hardware and software of their devices.
  • OEM ‘s –  “Google has gone from partner to competitor.”
  • Media/ Content owners – According to Infonetics, Motorola Mobility was the leader in set-top box revenues last year, and was also tops in hybrid IP/QAM set-top boxes — that is, the boxes used by operators like Verizon that combine broadcast TV and over-the-top applications. By leveraging Motorola’s position with carriers, Google can better solidify its bid to expand Google TV and Android into the living room.”
  • Developers – At least there is one less system to deal with.

Scenarios and outcomes

  • The production shop – In this scenario Google keeps Motorola as is and starts to manufacture it owns handsets.  In reality this could provide short term stability to the fragmented andriod market place and show case devices and move into other screen based markets, but in the long run looks like a new Apple and being open is probably not a true option. Probability in long run 10% as this would not elevate Page to world class strategist who is just following Jobs view of the world.
  • The negotiator tactic –This is the company official line that the acquisition brings 17,000 patents (but are they relevant) to Google and enables them to robustly defend their mobile position and also expand.  It is a $12.5bn investment to get a seat at the table.  Strategically there is a lot of truth in this as mobile will dominate long term strategy and value. Probability in long run 25% as patents only last for a period….

Power to disrupt

Imagine Google takes the patents, yes they are useful to defend/ negotiate but also to empower others if free and open. This would reduce the power of others in the market and change the dynamics

Imagine Google keeps the patents and sells on production to Samsung to create a global partner across all screens

Imagine Google Wallet becomes the model – forget small transaction fees – lets go for user data in every model

Probability in long run 65% and Larry Page is now the best strategist in the world and did it without adult supervision.

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Article from SFGate.

“Amazon.com Vice President James Hamilton’s schooling in computer-data centers started under the hood of a Lamborghini Countach.

Fixing luxury Italian autos in British Columbia while in his 20s taught Hamilton, 51, valuable lessons in problem solving, forcing him to come up with creative ways to repair cars because replacement parts were hard to find.

“It’s amazing how many things you can pick up in one industry and apply to another,” Hamilton, who also has been a distinguished engineer at Amazon since 2009, said.

Hamilton is putting these skills to use at Amazon, where he’s central to an effort by Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos to make Amazon Web Services, which leases server space and computing power to other companies, as big as the core e-commerce business. He’s charged with finding ways to make data centers work faster and more efficiently while fending off competition from Microsoft Corp. and IBM Corp., his two prior employers, and AT&T Inc.

$56 billion in 2014

Revenue from the kinds of cloud services offered by Amazon is expected to reach $56 billion in 2014, up from more than $16 billion in 2009, according to research firm IDC.

Amazon’s Web services brought in about $500 million in revenue in the past year, according to estimates from Barclays Capital and Lazard Capital Markets, or about 1.5 percent of Amazon’s $34.2 billion in sales. The company doesn’t disclose revenue from Web services, also called cloud computing.

As they pursue growth, Hamilton and his team will have to ensure that Amazon’s investment in Web services is well spent. Investors pummeled shares of the Seattle e-commerce giant on Jan. 28, the day after the company said it would boost spending on data centers and warehouses, fueling concern that margins will narrow.

Although still relatively small, Amazon Web Services is growing at a faster rate than the company’s core business, and it’s more profitable, said Sandeep Aggarwal, an analyst at Caris & Co. in San Francisco. Web services may generate as much as $900 million in sales this year, and operating margins could be as wide as 23 percent, compared with 5 percent margins in the main business, Aggarwal said.

Hamilton, who has filed almost 50 patents in various technologies, is developing new ideas in cloud computing, which lets companies run their software and infrastructure in remote data centers on an as-needed basis, rather than in a computer room down the hall.

He spends much of his time shuttling between departments, encouraging teams focused on storage, databases, networking and other functions to work together. One aim: devising ways to squeeze costs out of multimillion-dollar data centers and passing those savings on to customers such as Eli Lilly & Co. and Netflix Inc.

Among the challenges Hamilton and his colleagues face is making Amazon flexible enough for customers that want custom services, while overcoming companies’ concerns about storing sensitive information outside their own secure firewalls. They’ve met with early success, with Amazon emerging as the leader in cloud computing among developers, according to consulting and research firm Forrester Research Inc.

Innovation required

Amazon’s Web services unit will have to stay innovative to keep ahead of competition from Rackspace Hosting Inc., which manages applications for businesses. Startups such as Cloud.com also are trying to carve their own niche in cloud computing.

Amazon has been able to stand apart from rivals by introducing unique products, said Jeff Hammond, an analyst at Forrester. For example, the company unveiled a service last month called Elastic Beanstalk, which lets even novices who don’t know how to write computer code plug into Amazon’s computing power.

“These guys continue to innovate in a way that the large traditional companies – the IBMs and the Oracles and the Microsofts of the world – are not doing,” Hammond said.

Last year, Amazon introduced Spot Instances, which took a nontraditional approach to managing underused servers. While many companies pack tasks onto underused servers and unplug the extra ones, Hamilton and his colleagues began auctioning off idle computing capacity. The result: Amazon got revenue rather than an unused server and the customer got a cheaper price than the normal rental rate.

“The trick is to find a steady stream of things like that,” said Hamilton. “We can make such a big difference here on services and server efficiency.”

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Article from SFGate.

“Oracle Corp., the world’s second-largest softwaremaker, agreed to buy Art Technology Group Inc. for about $1 billion in cash to add e-commerce programs.

Art Technology investors will receive $6 per share, Oracle said in a statement Tuesday. That’s 46 percent more than the company’s closing price Monday.

Oracle, building on a run of more than 65 acquisitions during the past five years, is looking to purchase makers of industry-specific software, Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison said in September. Art Technology of Cambridge, Mass., provides companies such as retailers with technology for online merchandising, marketing, automated recommendations and live-help services.

Oracle, which trails Microsoft Corp. in software sales, had $23.6 billion in cash and short-term investments as of Aug. 31, the end of its fiscal first quarter. Art Technology is the ninth acquisition Oracle has announced in 2010.

The deal price is 33 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, compared with the median multiple of 17 times EBITDA for similar deals in the past six years, according to Bloomberg data.

Art filed for its initial public offering in May 1999, as investors backed startups in the growing market of Internet advertising. Its shares hit a high of $122 in July 2000. Less than a year later, the dot-com bubble burst and the company faced four consecutive years of sales declines through 2004. Its shares plummeted 95 percent in that time period.

Oracle, along with competitors Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM Corp., are acquiring companies as they bolster their offerings of corporate software and technology within data centers. HP has announced eight deals so far this year, and IBM has announced 15.

This year, Oracle completed its purchase of Sun Microsystems Inc. for $7.4 billion, positioning itself to compete against HP and IBM in the server-computer market. Ellison said in September he’s also on the hunt to purchase semiconductor companies, aiming to follow the approach of Apple Inc. by owning more of the intellectual property behind computer chips.”

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