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Article from SFGate.

“The hottest trends in technology also represent some of the gravest threats to corporate data security.

Mobile devices, social networking and cloud computing are opening up new avenues for both cyber criminals and competitors to access critical business information, according to speakers at this week’s RSA Conference 2011 at San Francisco‘s Moscone Center and a survey set for release this morning.

The poll of 10,000 security professionals, by Mountain View market research firm Frost & Sullivan, also concluded that corporate technology staffs are frequently ill prepared to deal with many of the new threats presented by these emerging technologies.

“The professionals are really struggling to keep up,” said Rob Ayoub, global program director for information security research at Frost & Sullivan.

Mobile: Mobile devices ranked near the top of their security concerns, coming in second behind applications, such as internally developed software and Internet browsers.

Businesses face a number of threats from the increasingly common use of smart phones and tablets by their workers, including malicious software that attacks the operating systems, or the simple loss or theft of devices often laden with corporate information.

Juniper Networks, a sponsor of the RSA conference, presented some eye-catching – if also self-serving – statistics during a session titled “Defend Your Mobile Life.”

Mark Bauhaus, an executive vice president at Juniper, said that 98 percent of mobile devices like smart phones and tablets aren’t protected with any security software, and that few users set up a password. That’s troublesome, he said, given that:

— 2 million people in the United States either lost or had their phones stolen last year;

— 40 percent of people use their smart phone for both personal and business use;

— 72 percent access sensitive information, including banking, credit card and medical records;

— 80 percent access their employer’s network over these devices without permission.

Bauhaus stressed the need to adopt mobile applications and online services – which Juniper not coincidentally provides – that remotely turn off and wipe gadgets, blacklist spammers, detect and remove viruses, and ensure that devices are safe before connecting to corporate networks.

Hackers have already tried to exploit the popularity of mobile applications by writing Trojan Horses, malicious programs that appear to be helpful apps in online markets, said two researchers from Lookout Mobile Security of San Francisco in a separate session.

Once users install the app, however, it can disable the phone, force it to execute commands or snatch information.

Since late December, two Trojans have been identified on Android phones that represented significant leaps in technological sophistication, said Kevin Mahaffey, chief technology officer of Lookout, which also develops mobile security services.

Known as Geinimi and HongTouTou, both are examples of malicious software inserted into otherwise familiar and legitimate apps.

“We’re nowhere near the level of sophistication you see in desktop malware, but it’s definitely a step up from what we’ve seen to date,” Mahaffey said.

Cloud: A Wednesday morning session titled “Cloud Computing: A Brave New World for Security and Privacy,” highlighted the considerations that businesses should bear in mind before using such a system, in which data are stored on remote server farms rather than ensconced behind a company’s own walls.

Placing corporate e-mails, human resource information or credit card numbers outside the company’s physical domain raises a number of legal, privacy and security issues, according to the panel.

Hackers go after cloud providers for the same reason that criminals rob banks, said Eran Freigenbaum, director of security for Google Apps.

“Cloud providers are going to get attacked and get attacked, because that’s where the data is,” he said.

The measure of a cloud service, like those provided by Google, Amazon.com or Salesforce.com, are how they hold up against such assaults and respond to exposed vulnerabilities, he said.”

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Article from GigaOm.

Fundamental changes in networking and computing are shaking things up in the enterprise IT world. These changes, combined with ubiquitous broadband and new devices like smart phones and tablets, are leading to new business models, new services and shifts in corporate behavior. It’s also leading to a lot of M&A activity as companies jockey for position before the ongoing technology shift settles into the new status quo.

A report out today from Deutsche Bank lays out some of the shifts and names what it believes are the 11 most likely acquirers, calling those companies the Big 11. The bank’s Big 11 are: Apple, Cisco, Dell, EMC, Google, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle and Qualcomm. They were selected because of their size, their cash balance and their willingness to make strategic acquisitions. The report talks about which companies each might acquire, but it also gives a wealth of data on the companies which comprise the Big 11 that any startup looking for a buyer on the software and infrastructure side might find worthwhile.

In addition to the information on buyers, the report goes on to explain why many deals today are valued at multiples that are so much higher than the potential revenue of the company (HP’s buy of 3PAR is a prime example of this trend):

On the other hand, the multiples paid for these companies go counter to typical expectations for valuations. All of these deals were priced at considerable premiums to forward estimates. The implication is that the larger companies believed that there were strategic benefits far in excess of the smaller companies’ near-term prospects. A common criticism of acquisitions holds that management teams of large companies try to buy revenue and earnings to offset far lower growth rates in their core businesses. This does not appear to be the case with these deals. We see this as confirming our thesis that large companies are looking to buy technology and product synergies. In all of these deals, we see larger companies either significantly building up weak product lines or looking for the ability to bundle new features into existing equipment.

Some of the 50 targets mentioned are:

  • Salesforce.com (s crm )
  • VMware
  • Adobe
  • Citrix
  • Research In Motion
  • Riverbed Technology
  • SAP
  • Atheros
  • Skyworks
  • f5 (sffiv)
  • Juniper

Each are on the list of potential candidates for different reasons associated with improving the quality and speed of delivering web-based applications and services from a cloud-based infrastructure to a multitude of devices. However, there are plenty of startups and private companies that are pioneering new technologies in these areas which are also fair game. The report doesn’t go into the content side of the business where companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, Disney, etc. are fighting for features and services to expand their reach and platforms.

Since we’re living through an enormous period of potential disruption thanks to technology, the giants in the industry find themselves playing a game of musical chairs as they seek the best seat at the table for the future. Startups and larger public companies that will help those giants fill out their offerings before the music stops are under the microscope and perhaps at the top of their valuations.”

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Here is a piece from the Digits blog at wsj.com.

“Salesforce.com said Wednesday that it would pay at least $142 million to acquire lead-generation startup Jigsaw, the biggest acquisition to date for the online software company.

The move comes as companies throughout the industry gear up for a period of consolidation. Salesforce.com, which has made relatively few deals in its history, recently hired several mergers and acquisition specialists and in January raised $575 million in debt.

(The debt—and the notion that Salesforce was gearing up to make acquisitions—was the subject of a story in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal.)

Salesforce has had its eye on Jigsaw for several years, but only got serious about a possible deal a few months ago, says Kendall Collins, Salesforce’s chief marketing officer. Jigsaw is basically a big database filled with contact information for potential customers. It’s “crowd sourced,” meaning users submit, update and fact check the information themselves. There’s already a version of Jigsaw that’s built on Salesforce’s systems and allows for contacts from Jigsaw to be easily copied into Salesforce’s sales-automation software.

Salesforce.com has been marketing itself as a “platform” that other companies can build applications on. Does buying one of these companies send a bad message that it will play favorites?”

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Here is some interresting news from Bloomberg.

“Silicon Valley companies looking to put their cash to work may drive a wave of mergers this year, bankers and venture capitalists say.

Companies are eager to make acquisitions because many of them have cut research budgets, says Robert Ackerman, founder and managing director of Allegis Capital in Palo Alto, California. That means they’re not as able to fall back on their own ingenuity to fuel growth. More businesses are relying on acquisitions to find their next new product or service, he says.

“The product cabinet is bare, but the market continues to move forward,” Ackerman said. “Wherever you see innovation sprint ahead, companies will have a product deficit, and will look to fill it.”

Google Inc., based in Mountain View, is currently one of California’s most acquisitive companies, buying at least five businesses in 2010. It agreed to buy Picnik Inc. last month, acquiring online photo-editing tools. Its purchase of DocVerse provided it with software that lets people share documents over the Internet. The value of the deals wasn’t disclosed.

The state’s largest single deal this year was Shiseido Co.’s purchase of San Francisco-based Bare Escentuals Inc. for about $1.7 billion.

California deal-making plummeted after 2007, when more than 2,670 transactions totaled almost $254 billion. So far this year, there have been about 530, worth $16.7 billion. That’s a higher number than in the first three months of 2009, although the value was greater in that year-ago period, at about $30 billion.

McAfee, Tibco

Local acquisition targets include Santa Clara’s McAfee Inc., Tibco Software Inc. in Palo Alto and Cupertino-based ArcSight Inc., according to Brent Thill, an analyst at UBS AG in San Francisco. McAfee and ArcSight both make programs that protect data, which could be more valuable as cyber threats mount. Tibco’s software helps programs of all kinds share information.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. also cited San Francisco’s Salesforce.com Inc. and Palo Alto-based VMware Inc. as possibilities — though those companies aren’t the most likely targets, the firm says. Salesforce.com makes online customer- relationship software, while VMware sells so-called virtualization programs, which help computers run more than one operating system. Representatives from all the targets declined to comment or didn’t respond to messages.

Deal Volume

In Northern California, there were 45 deals involving venture-backed startups during the first three months of 2010, according to the National Venture Capital Association. That was the highest number in any quarter in at least five years.

More than 50 companies in California have at least $1 billion in cash and equivalents, which they could use for acquisitions. They’re led by a Bay area trio: San Francisco’s Wells Fargo & Co., with $68 billion; Cisco Systems Inc. in San Jose, with $39.6 billion; and Cupertino-based Apple Inc., with $24.8 billion, according to Bloomberg data.

“There’s a lot of cash on people’s balance sheets, so I think it’s a great time for startups,” said Kate Mitchell, managing director at Scale Venture Partners in Foster City, California. “They see that the faster, better, cheaper venture- backed companies are still growing, and they’re not spending on R&D, so they can be accretive.”

The value of deals in California topped out at $378.1 billion in 2000 during the Internet bubble, when there were more than 2,200 transactions. It took five years for the number of deals to surpass that earlier peak, and the dollar amount has never come close to recapturing the dot-com era’s glory.

Internet Bust

While the latest recession was the worst economic slump since the Great Depression, it actually wasn’t as devastating to California deal-making as the dot-com collapse. After having easy access to venture money and initial public offerings in the late-1990s and 2000, money dried up. The M&A industry hit bottom in 2002, when just 1,505 transactions accounted for $95.3 billion.

The deals crept back up over the next four years, peaking again in 2006 and early 2007. There were 665 in the first quarter of 2007, valued at $59.8 billion. That’s more than three times the number reported last quarter.

Tor Braham, head of technology mergers and acquisitions for Deutsche Bank AG in San Francisco, says mergers are ready to surge again for two reasons.

Pressure’s On?

“Private-equity funds have raised a lot of money before the financial crisis and there’s pressure on them to spend it before those commitments expire,” he said. Also: “Sellers want to get their deals done this year, before the expected increase in capital gains tax rate.”

Private-equity firms raised $538 billion in 2006 and $587 billion in 2007, just before the recession, according to the Private Equity Council in Washington. Capital-gains taxes, meanwhile, could rise above 20 percent for people earning more than $250,000 under budget proposals before Congress.

In the first quarter, Deutsche Bank advised Techwell Inc. in its $370 million takeover by Intersil Corp. The bank also worked with Nimsoft Inc. in its $350 million acquisition by CA Inc., and Francisco Partners on its sale of Numonyx BV to Micron Technology Inc. for about $1.3 billion.”

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Here is an Article worth reading from Ajax World Magazine.

“As we start this year, hope is mounting on a vibrant IPO market, better than last couple of years. This article lists 20 companies that are hot candidates for IPO. The list has some well-known names like Facebook, Skype, LinkedIn, Twitter, Digg, Yelp, LiveOps, and Tesla Motors. The less known names are – Associated Content, Brightcove, Chegg, Demand Media Etsy, Exact Target, Gilt Group, Glam Media, Rearden Commerce, Workday, and Zynga.

Workday is the new company founded by Peoplesoft founder David Duffield. It’s a SaaS-based HR and ERP company. Zynga is a hot company in the virtual gaming space on the Internet. It’s famous game Farmville is raking in good revenue from Facebook users. I hear the game is quite addictive.

Twitter is rumored to be valued at billion plus dollars, that with very little revenue. It has the publish-subscribe model where conversations-by-subject can be tracked. That should be a bonanza for marketers,  seeking specific target audiences.

Most of the companies in the list are addressing “content” either the discovery or the publishing of. We don’t see the old-fashioned enterprise applications anywhere, a reflection of the changing times. Workday is in that category, but purely cloud-based offering just like SalesForce.com few years back.

Companies like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Skype brag huge number of eyeballs (users), bringing back memories of the dot.com days. Jeff Bezos in the height of the boom had said, “I spell profit as prophet”.

Let us get back to some crazy wealth-creation via IPOs. It’s about time.”

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