Last Week In Digital - 29th August 2017

Uber finds new CEO, Cloud startup Druva raises $80m, LinkedIn builds video platform, and Google gives Apple $3m


LinkedIn jumps on the video platform bandwagon

Like everyone else, LinkedIn seems to have realized that video is the way forward for social media. The Microsoft-owned company has announced a new feature that allows users to upload their own videos to the site via the mobile app, a move that brings LinkedIn closer to traditional social media than ever before. The intention being that users will share insight into professional projects, product demonstrations, training videos, and other more ‘professional’ video content.

LinkedIn’s move toward video is in line with other social media so far this year. Twitter has doubled down on video, Facebook is looking to become a video platform in its own right, and sites like Reddit are also throwing resources into what companies seem to see as the future of social. As commentators have pointed out, LinkedIn is typically late on the inclusion of user-generated video, though it is forgiven given its older demographic and its lack of serious like-for-like competition. Live video is also an area in which LinkedIn is bound to show interest, and features like one-to-one video chats could be used in its recruitment business. A LinkedIn spokesperson said: ‘Live video and live video chat is an interesting possibility down the road because it helps people add a whole different dimension,’ and it’ll be interesting to see what that dimension looks like in a professional setting.

Uber finds a replacement CEO

After Travis Kalanick’s tumultuous time at the helm, Uber has finally found its new CEO. Former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is the ride-hailing giant’s new leader, after the expected candidate, Jeff Immelt, pulled out of the race. Politically, Khosrowshahi has been vocally anti-Trump, a position that may endear some urban users to the company after contentions in the past. Uber is looking to clean up its image after a number of accusations of a sexist company culture - a lot of which were levelled at Kalanick himself - saw some key figures resign and the internal hierarchy become chaotic.

A look at the company’s growth figures will, however, make cries of crisis seem a little overblown. Uber is performing well externally, while its internal problems persist. A legal dispute between Benchmark Capital and Kalanick rages on, while the company is still yet to realise its valuation of $68.5 billion. The lawsuit relates to Kalanick’s involvement in the investigation into the company’s culture, as well as his continued position on the board at the ride-hailing giant. Whether Khosrowshahi can steer Uber back in the right direction remains to be seen, but with Kalanick almost out of the picture it’s likely to be a far smoother ride for Uber going forward.

Google pays Apple to stay as Safari’s default search

Apple and Google have a strange relationship in that both are in direct competition, yet they absolutely need each other to survive. As two of the world’s biggest tech companies, their areas of competition are both separate and overlapping, with Apple leading the way in hardware and Google dominating the ad space. At times they’re forced to partner, though, and Google could be set to pay Apple in the region of $3 billion to remain the default search provider on iOS devices, according to CNBC. Just three years ago, the figure was closer to $1 billion, a clear sign of how quickly Apple’s services business has grown.

Bernstein analyst A.M. Sacconaghi Jr. said: ‘Given that Google payments are nearly all profit for Apple, Google alone may account for 5% of Apple's total operating profits this year, and may account for 25% of total company OP growth over the last two years.’ Google is in a tricky position; it generates about 50% of its mobile search revenue from iOS devices, but it also knows that Google search is so popular that it would probably be included on the devices by default either way. Clearly, the Google board consider a lack of a licensing deal to be too much of a risk, and for Apple the deal represents a huge source of revenue.

Druva raises $80 million

With the Cloud well and truly becoming an integral part of digital business, companies building software related to it are ballooning in valuation. One of them is Druva, a Cloud data protection and information management startup that provides backup as well as data protection for over ‘4,000 business networks various endpoints, infrastructure and apps as of today’, according to TechCrunch.

In a new funding round, Druva has raised $80 million - bringing its fundraising rounds to $200 million collectively - to give it the capital to compete with the likes of Rubrik, Veritas, Commvault and EMC. The valuation of the company is yet to be disclosed, though Funderbeam estimates its value to be around $533.33 million. The company is expected to become the first SaaS unicorn and Druva’s CEO Jaspreet Singh is optimistic about the company’s chances of taking a chunk of the reported $28 billion data management and protection market. 


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