LinkedIn posts a huge second quarter that really doesn’t matter

LinkedIn posts a huge second quarter that really doesn’t matter

LinkedIn has likely ended its run as an independent company built upon a network of professionals with a bang, clearly beating out what Wall Street sought.

Of course, this report is largely moot. Earlier this year, LinkedIn announced it would be acquired by Microsoft for $26.2 billion. Microsoft beat out several bidders in the process, including Salesforce, and that price largely reset the damages from the company’s Q4 earnings report that sent the stock into a tailspin. But this report itself might signal why Microsoft was so interested in the company.

LinkedIn reported revenue of $932.7 million and earnings of $1.13 per share. Analysts were expecting earnings of 78 cents per share on $898 million in revenue. LinkedIn’s report today caps off a half decade-ish run as an independent company valued somewhere between a social network and an enterprise recruiting solution.

The Microsoft/LinkedIn deal is expected to close this calendar year, according to when the companies announced the acquisition.

LinkedIn’s core user base continued to grow, now up to 450 million cumulative members and 106 million monthly unique visitors. That’s still 450 million potential eyeballs and 450 million units of data that Microsoft now has on professionals that interact with the network at varying levels. Some member data is obviously stronger than others, but at its core it gives Microsoft a unique look into how people behave and operate throughout their careers. For a company that specializes in enterprise services like Office 365, that’s going to be key to continue growing that ecosystem.

Instead of looking back at the year to date, or the past year, it’s probably better to put the company’s stock performance in perspective over the entire course of its life. LinkedIn long had the benefit of the doubt from investors that it wasn’t simply a SaaS company that would be valued along the same multiples as something like Salesforce. Instead, it was a database of professionals with network effects that businesses could tap into for anything from corporate development to recruiting.

Recently, LinkedIn’s business had to basically be re-assessed. That came to a head in its fourth-quarter last year, when a catastrophic quarterly earnings report cleaved the company’s share price in half. LinkedIn suddenly had to be revalued as a core business. And with that dramatic a stock price drop, that also led it to be a more palatable target for larger acquirers like Microsoft and Salesforce.

For those long LinkedIn, the return isn’t that bad despite the rocky ride the company has had over the years. LinkedIn’s shares are about double from when they went public circa 2011. LinkedIn now enters a phase of its life as part of a much larger empire, and it still remains to be seen where the company will go from here within the bounds of Microsoft.

If there were ever a phrase to sum up its run, this is it: “In light of the pending merger, LinkedIn will not be updating its outlook for fiscal 2016 and will not be hosting a conference call for its second quarter 2016 business results.”

And that’s a wrap.

Source: TechCrunch

Another communications head leaves Twitter

Another communications head leaves Twitter

Jim Prosser, Twitter’s head of corporate, revenue, and policy communications, is leaving the company. He’s headed over to SoFi to run communications and policy, he said on Twitter.

It’s noteworthy that three of Twitter’s top communications executives have left in the past month. The highest profile departure in the past few weeks was longtime Apple veteran PR executive Natalie Kerris. Kerris joined the company in February in the middle of a critical time for the company, which basically had to prove to investors and the rest of the world that it could be a strong, growing independent network. Twitter’s head of product communications, Rachel Delphin, also left last month to lead communications at Tanium.

But, these kinds of moves are pretty common. Prosser was at the company for four years (and, while there, was fantastic to work with). SoFi is also a quick-rising startup, which my colleague Katie Roof and I figured was probably well on its way to going public — though, that was before The Reckoning in tech happened and IPOs dried up earlier this year.

Twitter CMO Leslie Bernard is taking over the duties of leading communications for now. That’s going to be tough. Twitter is a very hard story to tell right now. Its last quarter didn’t go very well, sending shares diving 10%. It’s barely growing, if that, and is dealing with a host of issues like online abuse and harassment. Twitter is going to have to figure out where to go from here as it works to tell its story in such a way that convinces the world it needs to exist.

Featured Image: Bryce Durbin
Source: TechCrunch

Pinterest starts expanding its visual search tools to video

Pinterest starts expanding its visual search tools to video

Video has generally been available — and is often shared — on Pinterest, but it hasn’t quite received the same treatment that the company’s traditional content has seen.

Over the next few months, however, that will be changing. Pinterest is starting to test ways to get video running directly on its services, including building a native video player. And beyond that, it’s going to start implementing its visual search tools on those videos, giving the company more data on how to deliver it to users at the right moments.

It’s a big move for Pinterest. A huge swath of online activity consists of mobile video, and that’s only going to get bigger over time. And there are a lot of destinations where creators can share videos, like Facebook and YouTube. Pinterest has generally been interested in video, but hasn’t taken a huge deep dive on it just yet. We’ve seen flashes of their interest, in the likes of products like cinematic pins, but this is going to be a big move going forward.

“Pinterest is the place where people come to discover the things that inspire them or what they want to do in the real world,” Davis said. “From parenting to home decor, it’s a place where you find content you want to interact with in the real world. Whether that’s buying something, or picking up new skills, that’s the central value proposition of Pinterest. Video is just a better way of explaining a lot of things. There’s a reason cooking shows are really popular, it’s more entertaining than just reading an article.”

One of Pinterest’s greatest strengths is its discovery tools. Users come into Pinterest coming from all different points of looking to discover products, whether that’s casual browsing, searching, or in the end collecting pins or going directly in to buy products. By taking the same approach to video, Pinterest will basically unlock that intent in a different online behavior that a lot of other platforms have actively tapped into. But it can use its data in different ways than say, Facebook, in order to move users closer and closer to potentially buying products.

Giving creators a native video player on Pinterest also helps. Instead of having to send users off the site or deal with tricky embed problems, creators can simply post their content directly to Pinterest and automatically get indexed by these new visual search tools. That can help them continue to build their audience — which generally spans multiple platforms already — with higher-quality platform-specific experiences.

Part of the problem could involve extracting key frames from a video in order to execute the similar visual searches it has available for photos, video product lead Steve Davis said. But the tech — which exists for photos — has other ways it will be applied to video, he said. It’s not simply apply traditional visual search, he said.

“For instance, if you’re watching a cooking video and you just run visual algorithms on a couple frames, what you’ll get back is carrots, oven, etc,” he said. “That doesn’t give you an underlying understanding of it’s being a cooking video. But if you stick machine learning on it you can get to those understandings if you have a good tagged set. We think we can create those sets, train our models, understand more holistically what things are about.”

There are obvious commerce implications for something like this too. In one universe, you might imagine a video demonstrating knife skills, and the ability to buy the knives in question in the video. Pinterest already has a lot of commerce tools in place — and continues to expand them in new ways over time, like implementing visual search into photos users can take with their phones. All this not only gives Pinterest an ability to sell products, it convinces businesses to take Pinterest seriously as a place to get their products in front of users.

The upgrades to visual search on video are getting rolled out over the next few months, as well as the native video player, Davis said.

Source: TechCrunch

Elation Health receives $15M to take another crack at electronic health records

Elation Health receives M to take another crack at electronic health records

Kyna and Conan Fong were at dinner trying to convince their father, who ran a medical practice, to try something different than just keeping paper records.

There’s a good reason for that — they’re slow, they’re hard to transfer and share (often requiring paper delivery or faxes), and there’s a lot of information that can be lost along the way. But despite that being a common issue with many medical practices, there hasn’t been a breakout electronic health records company. In the end, Kyna and Conan Fong convinced their father to do a little bit of experimentation.

That’s what Elation Health is trying to break form to do. While other companies like Practice Fusion haven’t been able to unseat more traditional means of keeping patient data or other health records companies, Elation Health is hoping its approach will be able to win over those kinds of doctors and physicians. The company said it raised $15 million in new financing today.

After a little bit of tooling at their father’s practice, the company arrived on an online-based electronic health records system. The idea would be to overall remove forms and faxes by being able to share this kind of data online in a private way between patients and interacting physicians.

“At the heart of it is an EHR, it has the entire patient’s record, a longitudinal story of the patient’s health. One, we capture the complete history and story of the patient, and two we enable providers to act upon that information. If they found something in their patient’s record and based on interactions, they may decide on a treatment or oder a lab, give the patient instructions to do exercises at home. We enable specialists to correspond back to the referring physician to tell them what is happening with the patient.”

elation health

For example, when sending off referrals, instead of a form with a bit of information jotted down, physicians can exchange that information through Elation Health records. That gives referrals a more comprehensive download of what’s going on in the patient’s life, Fong said, including data like recent lab results or previous treatments.

All this is meant to improve the overall care of patients. With the insurance payments landscape shifting toward incentivizing better care and keeping patients out of the hospital, having this kind of information can provide physicians with ways to create better treatment plans or help patients understand their conditions.

“It’s much more about, hey, what is happening to the patient when they go home,” Fong said. “Are they actually following the care plans we’re outlined. Do they go to the podiatrist when I ask. When I ask my patients to make sure to get their mammograms, do they do that. It’s a much more outward facing patient care focused approach as opposed to transactional documentation tools.”

So, why hasn’t there been a successful startup in this space yet that’s been able to take on larger companies like Epic? These systems are very hard to not only spur adoption, but implement. Perhaps Elation Health’s focus on individual practices and physician relationships with patients will help it be successful in areas where Practice Fusion may have stumbled, but we’ll have to see.

“We start with an explicit and intent focused on those patient physicians relationship,” Fong said. “The only way to ultimately improve outcomes and control costs which is what we’re trying to do in healthcare is a product that puts the clinical needs first. It’s a very different one than what other companies have taken. Most companies in this space take a very administrative and billing approach.”

Source: TechCrunch

Jack Dorsey gets a much-needed strong second quarter performance from Square

Jack Dorsey gets a much-needed strong second quarter performance from Square

Jack Dorsey really needs a hit. After Twitter’s weak second-quarter showing, and both stocks not performing well in the past year, Dorsey — as the lead of both companies — needs to show investors his strategies are working (and that he can run both companies).

Well, he certainly got one today. Square reported its second-quarter earnings, where it brought in $439 million in revenue, whereas analysts were expecting revenue of $406 million. Square posted a loss of 8 cents per share, compared to analyst expectations of a loss of 11 cents per share. With a clear outperformance on two of the key metrics that the company is graded on, it looks like Dorsey may have bought himself some room to maneuver in Wall Street for Square.

Across the board, the metrics look good. Revenue was up 41% year-over-year, gross payment volume was up 42% year-over-year, and the company extended $189 million through Square Capital — up 123% from the same quarter a year ago.

Its Square Capital business is increasingly important for the company as it tries to lock businesses into its payments infrastructure. By helping businesses get off the ground with an easy-to-use interface and ramp-up process, it can ensure that those businesses hang around as they continue to scale up. It also represents another additional tranche of revenue it can rely on to grow beyond its traditional point of sale system — at least, until it can figure out other revenue streams and maybe see some strong growth from Square Cash.

Still, businesses like Square Capital might be tricky moving forward. We’ve seen for some time that institutional sources of capital are more skittish these days. That source of capital has provided companies like Lending Club with lots of resources to operate their loaning operations — and grow them quickly. But there could be some early signs of change that may signal a more difficult time to gather capital for online lending businesses. That might not necessarily apply to Square, but it does represent a potential hurdle.

Still, there was no specific mention or breakout of Square Cash in the earnings report. With Venmo becoming a huge business and competition coming from basically every direction — including Facebook — Square needs to figure out its own spin on peer-to-peer transactions.

Square has had a rocky year, with its shares down around 20%. But in extended trading after reporting its second-quarter earnings, shares of Square were up as much as 10%. It was important to show that Square could continue to grow and prove it could come up with a sustainable model working on three fronts: point of sale, Square Capital, and the potential of its peer-to-peer payments system Square Cash.

And there’s still an elephant in the room: Dorsey. Currently running two companies — Twitter and Square — it’s not clear how long Wall Street’s patience will last with both stocks currently floundering. Shares of Twitter are down around 38% over the past year. Most recently, Twitter’s poor performance sent the stock diving 10% when it reported its second-quarter earnings report.

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Featured Image: Kimberly White/Getty Images
Source: TechCrunch

Accompany’s digital chief-of-staff application launches in beta

Accompany’s digital chief-of-staff application launches in beta

Many executives and employees have need for a role that’s basically a “chief of staff” — someone who keeps track of all the details about everyone they encounter and are headed off to meet in their professional careers. But there’s plenty of information that they might be missing out on, and as you head downstream to smaller companies those roles are just as important but missing. And all that data is basically already out there on the Web in some fashion, if you know the right places to look.

And that’s basically Accompany in a nutshell. After working on Accompany since its launch in 2013, CEO Amy Chang and her team are finally ready to pull the trigger on releasing its relationship management tool into the wild. Accompany finally today launches in an open beta today.

Accompany picks up the information from a user’s email, contacts, social, professional feeds, and calendars in order to build a comprehensive database of all the relevant information to all the people most who are most important to a person’s professional social graph. Think of it as a complete download of everything you know about a person, from public sources to notes you’ve left yourself, delivered to you directly right before you’re ready to get in touch with them.

And when I say a complete download, that’s not a huge understatement. For example, when taking a meeting with someone at a publicly-traded company, you might see the company’s most recent stock price and earnings information, people you know there, board members, nitty gritty about the company and everything in the news related to them. You’ll see some of their social interactions — like activity on Twitter — but it’ll be distilled down from the raw feeds they have to find the most important information.

When meeting someone for the first time, or the first time in a while, having that idle small chat to built rapport is absolutely critical. That’s why having all the relevant information about a person heading into contacting them or taking a meeting is important. That’s also especially true when it comes to business-related meetings where either side is trying to close a transaction. And with all that new information about your contacts coming it, it can help figure out the right moment to reach out and get in touch with someone.

“If one of your friends just announced his product and you’re super excited, and you’re the first to say congratulations I’m so happy for you, that leaves a mark,” Chang said. “There’s a warm fuzzy feeling. That’s a big deal. Kind of want to reach out, you shouldn’t awkwardly out of the blue be like ‘hey do you want to have lunch.’ You can use that as an entry, it takes out that anxiety out. It’s like entering a room of 500 people, you feel anxious walking in, you want to feel prepared.”

Acompany contactsThere’s an underlying theme to all the work Accompany has done over the past three years of its development. Yes, you read that right: three years. That’s because the problem that Accompany is facing is one of making sense of an immense inbound amount of unstructured data. I’ve experienced this first-hand when poking around in the internals of SEC filings when looking to pull out relevant data for stories about company earnings reports. Accompany also has to constantly add new signals in order to keep up with emerging enterprise tools.

“Some data are more dirty, some are much more user generated, others are official sources like government sources that have been verified,” Chang said. “Depending on the quality of that data and how structured it is we determine how to treat it, and we have to automate that.”

But it’s something that nonetheless is kind of a microcosm of the challenges that Accompany faced when sourcing all the data it does for its pre-meeting briefings. The core problem here is giving not just a complete download, but the right complete download ahead of a meeting or a continuing conversation. If you’re running into a product manager at Amazon, you probably want to know how the company is doing. If it had a crappy earnings report, you might want to tread carefully, and vice versa. You’ll see when the next company earnings call is, in order to keep tabs on what’s going on ahead of a meeting.

“We’ve been testing these signals, sometimes we go aggressive in terms of the number of signals we use, then respond to users by backing it off, then push it more aggressively, then back it off again,” Chang said. “We’re constantly tuning it.”

That’s just part of the whole experience, too. After all, it’s not like you’d want such a powerful set of algorithms to go toward just pre-meeting briefings. Accompany includes a whole additional daily experience that’s geared toward understanding the most recent behavior of the people that are “closest” to you — that is, people that essentially sit on the closest nodes to your professional social graph. That, too, isn’t an easy problem. It requires making sense of all the signals, like recency and prevalence in news, to figure out where to stick those faces and in what order on your feed.

To say this is a tool that I would be using constantly is an understatement. As a reporter, you are meeting tons of people throughout the course of the day. It can be hard to keep track of everything simultaneously — you want to understand every person’s place in the universe to get all the context relevant to the stories that you’re looking to put together. It’s easy to see the capabilities of something like that expanding to most, if not all, industries.

Accompany isn’t lacking interest in the venture community, either. The company has raised $20.6 million in funding from ICONIQ Capital, CRV and Cowboy Ventures. In 2014, the company raised its last $15 million financing — and despite still being largely under wraps with a small user base, it’s been able to continue working.

There’s plenty of competition coming up for Accompany. This is basically a big point when it comes to customer relationship management software. You can find some similar tools in plugins for things like Gmail. You can also see flashes of interest in an automatic digital assistant, in the form of startups like Clara — which is starting off with a natural language approach to scheduling, but have a natural path to other things like relationship management as they collect more data. There’s a chance that Accompany, spending so long in development, may have missed the boat — and it’s going to depend on the strength of its algorithms to justify its existence.

And there’s plenty more work to do. Chang wants to constantly add new elements, like authored works. That’s the point of bringing it to the world in a beta in order to figure out how people at a much broader scale than its core alpha users have been using it. And we’ll see if there really is room for a full-suite digital “chief of staff” that works well enough to start making the process of meeting and talking to professional contacts more seamless.

Source: TechCrunch

Dropbox launches an iPhone and Android version of its document-editing app Paper

Dropbox launches an iPhone and Android version of its document-editing app Paper

It’s an interesting time for Dropbox’s document-building tool, Paper.

Quip, in a similar vein to Paper, was bought for a whopping $750 million by Salesforce earlier this week. This deal surprised a ton of people, but made a lot of sense given that Salesforce has seemingly been dipping its toes into collaboration software. So Quip is a great, and natural, fit for Salesforce and places it in further direct competition with products like Paper.

Dropbox is not only going up against Google Docs, but an increasingly slew of competitors in the collaboration space. Now, it’s hoping to figure out how to further branch its collaborative document-editing tool into the world with a few updates and a new mobile application that’s available today for Android and iOS. There are a bunch of updates to the Paper beta coming today for the Web as well, including enhanced tables, image galleries, and notifications across multiple devices.

“We’re very aware of our competitors, we actually see paper being pretty uniquely positioned,” Dropbox Group Product Manager Kavitha Radhakrishnan said. “We’re not just about creating documents, communicating and getting feedback, search. We’re a holistic team solution in terms of being used as a hub. This is what we’re seeing our early users do. A huge differentiator is we do provide solutions regardless of what tools the users are using today.”

It’s natural that tools for Paper to exist. Rather than trading around information, documents and embedded content like photos or tables it’s easier for them all to exist in one place where anyone can edit the documents. It’s part of the reason tools like Google Docs have become so popular and have seen so much investment.

Paper essentially exists as a document that’s supposed to naturally evolve with a few core types of embeds over time. Users can create checklists, embed tables and photo galleries, and of course comment throughout. These kinds of tools hit all the right pain points for companies that are looking to synchronize information across multiple teams and develop their plans and products over time.

The app isn’t just a slimmed down version of a document editor. Instead, it’s designed to be an extension of the things that happen in the Web document editing tool. Users will be able to see comments and reply to them, view their notifications and documents and make small changes on the go, among other tools. It’s not supposed to completely emulate the experience, which certainly wouldn’t work on a smaller screen.

Instead of feature creeping Paper right from the get-go, there was plenty that didn’t make it into Paper, Radhakrishnan said. Some interesting user behavior popped up in the process, like design firms using it to keep track over time of the changes they’d made to several designs. So there’s a lot of flexibility for a tool like this, Radhakrishnan said. There’s a potential opportunity to open up Paper to developers, but right now Dropbox wanted to stick to the basics, she said.

One thing Radhakrishnan stressed throughout the conversation was that the features that made it into Paper was a constant result of user testing. Such a data-driven approach is common in larger companies, and it’s not surprising that Dropbox would take such a rigorous approach to enterprise tools. Releasing new beta tools and applications gives Dropbox an increasing ability to figure out what new user behavior pops up that it can account for.

As Dropbox has continued to grow up, it’s had to evolve its strategy in order to compete with larger enterprise services. Over time, its core cloud storage product — designed to be dead simple in order to attract and keep ahold of its users — has slowly become commoditized by huge incumbents like Apple and Alphabet. There’s always the chance that Alphabet and Apple could pull the trigger on new features and pricing models that would capture a large swath of Dropbox’s paying customers.

So it’s had to find a new way to bring in paying customers, and a big part of that focus has been finding and attracting large enterprise clients. For example, Dropbox recently released a tool that would allow companies to literally scan and edit documents in the real world using advanced character recognition tools. New tools like that, and updates to Paper, are critical to not only attract new business customers but retain its 200,000 paying enterprise customers.

The competition is, of course, fierce. It’s going up against companies that have prioritized enterprise from the get-go like Box. It has to deal with the constant threat of companies like Microsoft with their Office 365 tools. Dropbox’s pitch has always been that it’s a much simpler product with a cleaner interface, but it has to make sure it gets all the right tools in its enterprise products to back up that pitch.

Its registered user base is quite large at 500 million registered users (though it’s not immediately clear how active that user base is). But times and ecosystems change, and new updates and tools like the Paper mobile application are ways to figure out how to figure out what Dropbox looks like within larger companies outside of just standard file storage and sharing.

“As the world today changes, more and more collaboration is happening online, but there is a lot of collaboration that happens on the file system,” Radhakrishnan said. “One is, we’re very simple user interface and that’s our link to Dropbox users — that as a philosophy we want to continue through Paper as well. We went through every feature we want to add a million times and make sure it works in the simplest way possible. That will continue, there’s no way that won’t happen.”

Source: TechCrunch

Our favorite companies from 500 Startups’ 17th batch

Our favorite companies from 500 Startups’ 17th batch

500 Startups’ 17th round of its incubator is wrapping up, and a total of 42 companies presented at its demo day in Mountain View on Tuesday.

It was quite an impressive batch. Companies that came on stage touted their growth and that they were already generating revenue from their operations. It kind of goes to show how the way startups are valued, and what the startups are focusing on once they get off the ground, has changed in the past several quarters.

This year, there were two tracks: one that focused on business-to-business software; and one that focused on beauty products. Here are some of the stand-outs from the class.

Source: TechCrunch

Here’s the 18th batch of companies from 500 Startups

Here’s the 18th batch of companies from 500 Startups

We’re already halfway through the year, which means it’s time for another batch from 500 Startups to start rolling out. This year, 46 companies are going through 500 Startups’ 18th batch, ranging from traditional B2B tools to a smart pill case that helps track whether or not people are taking their medication.

500 Startups has been dipping its toes beyond its traditional incubator model. Earlier this year it said it would launch a startup studio called 500 Labs. It’s important for programs like these to continue finding new ways to capture talent and companies that could end up turning into big hits. The competition is plenty fierce — 500 Startups is hardly the only incubator in Silicon Valley.

But, of course, the incubator is and always will be a staple of 500 Startups. Without further ado, here’s a list of the companies rolling through the incubator:

  • Auctio — a tool for employers to provide incentive-based referral programs for employees and other outside individuals in order to produce a wider array of leads for a company.
  • Avicennas — a detailed online marketplace for patients looking for international healthcare providers.
  • BeaconsInSpace — a global beacon network that developers can tap into using a subscription model.
  • BIGcontrols — tools for automating tracking, reporting and compliance management for companies’ government compliance incentives.
  • Bright Policy — a service for purchasing homeowners insurance over the phone without having to actually talk to someone.
  • Croissant — a network of workspaces in cities like New York, Boston and Washington DC that people can pop into.
  • DigitalOutposts — a marketplace of destination co-working “experiences,” like traveling abroad with a team while working.
  • Fan Stream — an app that connects sports fans to a live audio conversations centered around games and other events.
  • Fragmentic — a tool for building online SaaS and e-commerce services with pre-designed elements.
  • GetLighthouse.com — a tool for managers to teach them the soft skills required to manage employees and help them grow, improving retention.
  • HeavyConnect — a tool for farm management that includes features like equipment tracking and work scheduling, designed to simplify farming operations.
  • Homebot — a financial planner and dashboard for homeowners designed to help them optimize the return on their home investment.
  • Infraspeak — facility and asset management software.
  • INZMO — an app for easily purchasing insurance for products or trips on a piece-by-piece basis.
  • Leapcure — tools for clinical trial patient recruitment, engagement, and retention.
  • Level Therapy — an app that provides patients with treatment tools and access to behavioral health professionals.
  • Melodics.com — an educational service for learning how to finger drum, using adaptive learning and other data-driven approaches.
  • Nonnatech — a remote patient monitoring service that keeps track of events, like taking medication and psychological changes, in order to reduce ER visits and hospitalization.

  • OK Play — predictive performance analytics for teams, starting off with eSports.
  • OneKloud — an online service for managing cloud service budgets that utilizes control policies and tracking quotas across a company.
  • OnFarm — a tool for integrating farm devices like field sensors as well as other online farm-tracking tools into a comprehensive tracking tool, allowing farmers to make more calculated decisions.
  • OrderCircle — a tool for brands to accept and manage whole-sale ordering online.
  • Outsite — co-working and co-living places in locations considered pleasant, like Lake Tahoe or San Diego, for employees or for company retreats.
  • Paubox — inbound and outbound encryption for HIPAA compliant email.
  • Pillsy — A smart pill cap that tracks when patients are taking their medication in an app.
  • Printify — an on-demand printing service for e-commerce companies looking to sell products like hoodies or t-shirts.
  • ROHO — online religious content that’s indexed and curated for users.
  • Silvernest — a room-matching service that pairs aging homeowners with roommates and tools for long-term home sharing.
  • SimplifiMed — a chat bot for identifying, engaging and prioritizing high-risk patients in order to reduce hospital visits, increasing the reimbursements for healthcare providers.
  • Siren Care — currently producing a temperature-sensing sock for diabetics, Siren Care looks to be a textile maker that can embed trackers and other technology into clothing.
  • Squadle — an online and tablet replacement for paper bookkeeping in restaurants for mandatory logs, like food safety temperatures.
  • Statsbot.co — a bot for managing business tools like Salesforce information, which will also integrate with other developer tools.
  • StreamLoan — an online workflow for residential home purchases, providing a central location for documents.
  • Superbook — a $99 clamshell that connects to a smartphone to offer a full PC experience.
  • SureBids — a retail voucher aggregator and provider for gifting, remittences and other vouchers in Africa.
  • Tackl — a database of university talent for recruitment that provides companies with smart matching tools to find the right potential employees.
  • Track.tax — a conversational tool that helps contractors set aside and track income to pay for taxes.
  • Treat — an app for scheduling in-home care for pets.
  • trym — a service for “micro” businesses designed to make it easier to implement insurance policies.
  • Up All Night — a subscription program that provides members access to events like backstage access at festivals.
  • usetrace.com — a service that creates automatic testing tools, testing parts of a web app as developers make changes over time.
  • VisionX — a service that helps retail and e-commerce businesses to sell insurance products to customers by connecting insurance companies with those businesses.
  • voxeet — a service that allows developers to integrate “TrueVoice 3D.” That tool gives users a way to “position” other people on a call in order to change their tone and volume in an attempt to mimic conference room conversations.
  • WhereFor — a service that shows all available trips and vacations (including flights and hotels) that are available based on a budget that a user inputs.
  • Datatron

Source: TechCrunch

Alphabet’s huge Q2 shows its ads business may not be so challenged after all

Alphabet’s huge Q2 shows its ads business may not be so challenged after all

While Alphabet’s core advertising business has often been questioned as the net value of its ads has been in decline, there’s one thing that’s hard to argue — it’s still one of the biggest technology businesses in the world, and it’s still growing. And it’s growing very quickly.

Alphabet reported a second quarter that continued tech’s hot streak today, handily beating Wall Street’s expectations and boosting its shares by as much as another 5%. Google reported earnings per share of $8.42 on revenue of $21.5 billion. Analysts were expecting earnings of $8.03 per share on $20.76 billion in revenue. (Again, that 5% may seem small, but that’s adding tens of billions in value to the company.)

In the context of Facebook, it’s definitely not growing at that same rate as its rapidly growing mobile advertising competitor. Facebook’s revenue grew nearly 60% year-over-year as part of its last earnings report. But the difference in the revenue the companies produce is staggering, and it says a lot about Alphabet’s business that it can continue to grow at the rate it is. Facebook is a younger company and was able to deliver $6.4 billion in revenue the last quarter, but it’s still dwarfed by Alphabet.

In fact, Alphabet’s growth rate may actually be accelerating. In the second quarter last year, Alphabet’s revenue had risen 11% year-over-year. This time it’s up 21% year-over-year compared to the second quarter of 2015. This shows that Alphabet’s strategy of offsetting its declining advertising value with a huge increase in volume — as is necessary with the increasing shift of usage to mobile devices — appears to be working.

That big surge in its advertising revenue was a result of increasing use of search on mobile devices, according to CFO Ruth Porat on the earnings call. That means Google can continue to show search ads, its sweet spot, in front of more and an increasing number of eyeballs than its traditional desktop search ads business.

And even as Facebook’s advertising business is growing, so too is Alphabet’s. Perhaps that’s even a signal that the advertising businesses can coexist in the same ecosystem. Google can also lean on the strength of its machine learning capabilities to develop new ways to grow its advertising business through products like its own bots and its voice assistant tools.

For the past year, Alphabet has been nipping at Apple’s heels. At moments Alphabet has overtaken Apple as the most valuable company in the world. It’s an interesting phenomenon given the companies are still quite different, but shows how these large companies are on a slight convergence pattern. Alphabet is a software and services company that’s dabbling in hardware in an attempt to diversify its revenue. Apple, a hardware company, is making a strong push into its services to do much the same.

And, to no surprise, both companies continue to print money — yet both are in an interesting position in where their traditional businesses are being challenged. While Apple’s iPhone sales slow, Google’s cost-per-click — a key metric of performance for its ads — continues to decline. That means the value of each ad, the backbone of its business, is starting to drop off and it has to find a way to replace that with a larger volume of ads on mobile devices.

Last quarter, the company reported $17.7 billion in revenue, which means that even as its cost-per-click is still declining (it’s down another 7% this quarter compared to the same year over year) it’s clearly continuing to build a huge advertising business that’s growing at a very clear clip. That strategy appears to be working, as Alphabet said the number of paid clicks (its ads, basically) rose 29% this quarter from the same one a year ago.

Alphabet’s “other bets” division, which consists of companies like its smart thermostat maker Nest, is also growing. Its revenue nearly doubled year-over-year in the second quarter. But even amid that, the division cost google nearly $900 million in burn this quarter. Diversifying revenue streams is a difficult process — and one that’s still in its relative infancy for Alphabet — and the company needs to figure out how to distill some real value from that division.

In other words, the situations and challenges both companies face as the two biggest technology companies in the world aren’t all that different. Google, while up dramatically on the year, has faced a rocky couple of months, much like Apple. For Google, the upstart that is causing it to face a bit of an existential crisis is Facebook — which has locked down an incredibly successful mobile advertising strategy, while Google’s is still a perpetual work in progress.

Facebook isn’t the only company it is facing off against. Alphabet is developing its own cloud services, and its “other revenue” section — where it buckets together its cloud services and others like Google Play — jumped 33% to $2.1 billion in revenue. Amazon is of course way ahead of Alphabet as a cloud provider with $2.9 billion in revenue this quarter, and it’s hard to divine exactly where Google’s cloud business is, but it seems clear that the company’s investments in other kinds of services is growing.

Basically, while Alphabet is still an advertising company, it’s increasingly facing off against the entirety of the tech universe. And it’s able to continue placing big bets on those other thanks to the strength of its increasing mobile advertising business.

Reality eventually set in, with the stock settling up around 3% in extended trading. Of course, that’s more than $10 billion in value. But it seems clear thus far that Wall Street is satisfied — maybe more so after today — in the company’s strategy as it shifts its advertising business to suite a very different landscape.

Featured Image: Jeff Chiu/AP
Source: TechCrunch