Google is launching a new digital store to sell cloud-based software

Google is launching a digital store that will offer cloud-based software to companies and other organizations. Bloomberg, which reported the news a bit earlier, notes the move is just the juggernaut’s latest effort to...

The Echo Dot was the best-selling product on all of Amazon this holiday season

The holiday shopping season is finally over and that means Amazon has some shopping data for us. This holiday season, Amazon’s Echo Dot was the top-selling Amazon device, as well as the top-selling product...

Facebook’s “comment a memory” meme should replace “HBD!”

I find it truly sad the way Facebook has led us to reduce wishing friends a happy birthday to a meaningless, generic chore. It’s not Facebook’s fault. It gives us an open-ended comment box....

Amazon’s Alexa app hits the top of the App Store for the first time

Amazon’s claims that the Echo Dot was the retailer’s best-selling product all through this holiday season appear to be backed up by the rise of the Alexa app in the U.S. App Store. The...

Apple has hired tech team from data science startup SVDS

Apple has made a quiet but interesting move in its longer-term strategy around courting more business from enterprises. The company has hired the tech team — at least 18 people, including at least two co-founders, one of whom is the CEO — from Silicon Valley Data Science (SVDS), a startup based out of Mountain View that provides business transformation consulting to enterprises and other organizations using data science- and engineering-based solutions. SVDS the startup is not part of the deal: we had tip that Apple acquired the company but Apple responded to our queries to confirm it had not acquired the company, without elaborating further (we’d originally been tipped off on the via deal an anonymous tip). We also reached out many other people connected with the company, including investors, founders and other employees. “I’m sworn to secrecy at the moment,” one person connected with the company told me when I contacted him. “I’d prefer not to comment,” another said. “Everything is confidential,” a third response said. “Apple acquired the tech team to support product dev ambitions. Can’t say more.” It’s not clear what is going on with SVDS itself. Its website is still up, but the SVDS social accounts on LinkedIn and Twitter have not been updated since November, although it did come online to post a blog on December 28, with a short, upbeat message wishing readers a happy holiday. The 18 or so people who have updated their LinkedIn profiles to now working for Apple appear to have made up between one-half and one-third of the company. They include Sanjay Mathur, who was a co-founder and CEO of SVDS, who now describes himself as a strategy and analytics leader at Apple on LinkedIn. Another one of the company’s founders and its CTO, John Akred, now lists his current job as “algorithms at Apple” on his LinkedIn profile. SVDS’s principal architect, Serena Cheng, now lists her job as engineering product manager at Apple. And Scott Kurth, who had been VP of client solutions at SVDS, is now also a strategy and analytics leader at Apple. In a way, SVDS is not your traditional Silicon Valley tech startup: it is focused more on consultancy around existing technology than building the tech itself, although those who have worked on enterprise IT implementations and problems know that often some of the more interesting solutions are created to fill a need, and sometimes the basis for products in their own right. SVDS itself was founded by Jim McLean, Akred and Mathur, who respectively cut their teeth at big investment and consultancy firms (McLean at 3i and Crosslink; Akred and Mathur at Accenture) in previous roles. The team, which at the beginning of this month numbered around 30 according to LinkedIn, also counts a number of data scientists and other engineers as well as consultants in its ranks with years of cumulative experience between them. SVDS has raised around $3 million in funding from a notable group of investors that include Crosslink, GSV Capital, Cendana Capital and the well-known tech investor Frank Quattrone. It’s not always completely clear what Apple intends to do with its acquisitions — human or otherwise — but it’s notable that the company has been steadily ramping up its focus on working with large and small enterprises in recent times. Apple last broke out how much it made from its enterprise business in September 2015, when CEO Tim Cook said the company made $25 billion in the 12 months to June 2015, accounting for 14 percent of its revenues in that period. “This is not a hobby. This is a real business,” he said at the time. It’s a sentiment from which he has definitely not retreated: “Enterprise is like the mother of all opportunities,” he said last year, in an interview with Bloomberg. While Apple has not broken out enterprise revenues, you can do rough calculations to guesstimate what the value for it might be today. Using its fiscal year 2017 revenues of just over $229 billion, 14 percent of that would work out to about $32 billion in FY 2017. As with Apple’s other business, a large part of its enterprise sales will be attributable to the purchase of hardware like iPhones, iPads and Macs. But these days, the company is no stranger to the fact that when it comes to corporate buyers, they often make device choices that are tied in with larger IT projects that include the building of business solutions that could include apps and much more — a shift from its previous positioning and reputation. Apple technology isn't in Star Trek because they couldn't integrate into existing Enterprise systems. — SwiftOnSecurity (@SwiftOnSecurity) May 22, 2014 Starting in July 2014, Apple started to ink deals with the likes of IBM, Cisco, SAP, Deloitte and most recently Accenture to help make the case to enterprises for Apple-based answers to their business needs, building iOS productivity apps, business transformation services, legacy IT migrations, IoT-based services and more. Interestingly, these are all areas where SVDS happens to have worked on in the past, both directly with clients as well as part of R&D projects that it devises to expand people’s skillsets. (The latter list has included a large project analysing Caltrain delays to predict their arrivals; a visual representation of the history of rock-and-roll; and trying to put a figure on the value of data.) At least one of these partnerships, with Accenture, co-locates Apple employees within Accenture teams. One guess I’ve had is that SVDS could have been acquired by one of these partners and is continuing to work with its tech team, which has now moved over to Apple. Again, we’re not totally certain where this team is working; this is just an educated guess, which highlights things that both Apple and SVDS were already doing, and could be doing more, now in collaboration. We’ll update this story as we learn more. Featured Image: Mobilus in Mobili/Flickr UNDER A CC BY 2.0 LICENSE

Facebook agrees to take a deeper look into Russian Brexit meddling

Facebook has said it will conduct a wider investigation into whether there was Russian meddling on its platform relating to the 2016 Brexit referendum vote in the UK. Yesterday its UK policy director Simon Milner...

A look back at the year that the Sub-Saharan African startup scene found its...

Jake Bright Contributor Jake Bright is a writer and author in New York City. He is co-author of The Next Africa. More posts by this contributor: Lamborghini’s EV initiatives seem to lack a spark FarmCrowdy raises $1M round to...

Apple partners with Malala Fund to help girls receive quality education

Apple has teamed up with Malala Fund to support girls’ education, becoming Malala Fund’s first Laureate partner. Founded by Yousafzai and her father, Ziauddin, the Malala Fund aims to empower young girls and help them access the quality education they deserve. With the support of Apple, Malala Fund expects to double the number of grants awarded through its Gulmakai Network and launch its funding programs in India and Latin America, with the goal of extending secondary education to more than 100,000 girls. Apple will also help Malala Fund with technology, curriculum and education policy research. “We believe that education is a great equalizing force, and we share Malala Fund’s commitment to give every girl an opportunity to go to school,” Apple CEO Tim Cook, who will join Malala Fund leadership council, said in a press release. “Malala is a courageous advocate for equality. She’s one of the most inspiring figures of our time, and we are honored to help her extend the important work she is doing to empower girls around the world.” Worldwide, there are several threats to girls’ education, like poverty, war and gender discrimination. Malala Fund currently operates in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and countries where there are Syrian refugees, like Lebanon and Jordan. “My dream is for every girl to choose her own future,” Yousafzai said in a press release. “Through both their innovations and philanthropy, Apple has helped educate and empower people around the world. I am grateful that Apple knows the value of investing in girls and is joining Malala Fund in the fight to ensure all girls can learn and lead without fear.” In 2012, the Taliban attempted to assassinate Yousafzai when she was just 15 years old. They targeted her because she repeatedly spoke about the challenges of trying to attain a good education. Miraculously, Yousafzai survived a gunshot to the head while she was on a school bus headed home. Since then, Yousafzai has continued to advocate for girls’ access to education. In 2014, Malala Yousafzai became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner in history.

PUBG takes the Chicken Dinner with 4 million players on Xbox alone

People like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the game where you basically re-enact a version of Battle Royale with you as one of the contestants in the human survival game. It had huge success in alpha prior...

Photos purportedly showcase the Xbox Watch that never was

It probably goes without saying that Microsoft, along with the rest of the tech world, was working on a smartwatch. And while, by some accounts, the category is finally having its moment, the software...

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