Jul
11
2018
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Broadcom acquires CA Technologies for $18.9B in cash

Broadcom, the massive semiconductor supplier you may remember from its failed attempt to acquire Qualcomm, today announced that it has reached a definitive agreement with CA Technologies, a major IT management software and solutions provider. The price of the acquisition is $18.9 billion in cash. CA’s shareholders will receive $44.50 per share, a 20 percent premium over the closing price of the company’s stock today.

It’s a bit of a surprise to see chip manufacturer Broadcom acquire a major software and services company. “This transaction represents an important building block as we create one of the world’s leading infrastructure technology companies,” Broadcom CEO and president Hock Tan explains in today’s announcement. “With its sizeable installed base of customers, CA is uniquely positioned across the growing and fragmented infrastructure software market, and its mainframe and enterprise software franchises will add to our portfolio of mission critical technology businesses. We intend to continue to strengthen these franchises to meet the growing demand for infrastructure software solutions.”

This comment doesn’t exactly explain the rationale behind today’s acquisition, but Broadcom is clearly trying to diversify its offerings. Earlier this year, the company walked away from its proposed hostile takeover of Qualcomm after the Trump administration blocked it. At the time, Broadcom was willing to pay $117 billion for Qualcomm, which would have greatly extended the company’s semiconductor business. Today’s move sees Broadcom enter a completely new business.

The company expects the acquisition to close in the fourth quarter of 2018. It’s unlikely that Broadcom will face any major headwind from Washington this time around.

Mar
28
2018
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Microsoft can ban you for using offensive language

A report by CSOOnline presented the possibility that Microsoft would be able to ban “offensive language” from Skype, Xbox, and, inexplicably, Office. The post, which cites Microsoft’s new terms of use, said that the company would not allow users to “publicly display or use the Services to share inappropriate content or material (involving, for example, nudity, bestiality, pornography, offensive language, graphic violence, or criminal activity)” and that you could lose your Xbox Live Membership if you curse out a kid Overwatch.

“We are committed to providing our customers with safe and secure experiences while using our services. The recent changes to the Microsoft Service Agreement’s Code of Conduct provide transparency on how we respond to customer reports of inappropriate public content,” said a Microsoft spokesperson. The company notes that “Microsoft Agents” do not watch Skype calls and that they can only respond to complaints with clear evidence of abuse. The changes, which go into effect May 1, allows Microsoft to ban you from it services if you’re found passing “inappropriate content” or using “offensive language.”

These new rules give Microsoft more power over abusive users and it seems like Microsoft is cracking down on bad behavior on its platforms. This is good news for victims of abuse in private communications channels on Microsoft products and may give trolls pause before they yell something about your mother on Xbox. We can only dare to dream.

Mar
12
2018
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Twilio launches Flex, a fully programmable contact center

Earlier this year we reported that Twilio was going to launch a full contact center solution called Flex on March 12 — lo and behold, today is March 12 and Twilio today announced the launch of Flex at the Enterprise Connect conference in Orlando. Flex brings together virtually every part of the existing Twilio infrastructure and platform for developers that already power nearly 40 billion interactions a year and bundles it with a rather slick user interface for companies that want to set up an out-of-the-box contact center or update their existing deployments.

Twilio’s expertise has long been in providing backend communications services and its design expertise is mostly in building APIs, not user interfaces. With this move, though, the company is giving enterprises (and this product is meant for the kind of companies that have hundreds or thousands of people in a contact center) a full stack contact center with a full graphical user interface.

As the company’s head of its contact center business Al Cook told me, though, the main design philosophy behind Flex is to give users maximum flexibility. He argues that business today have to choose between going with products that they can’t customize themselves, so that they have to rely on expensive outside vendors that will do the customization for them (which also tends to take a lot of time), or a SaaS contact center that can be quickly deployed but is hard to scale and lacks customization options. “Think of Flex as an application platform,” Cook told me. It takes its cues from Twilio’s experience in working with developers and gives enterprises an easy API interface for customizing the service to their liking, but also provides all of the necessary tools out of the box.

“The reason why APIs were very transformative to the industry is because you are unconstrained in what you can do,” Cook explained. “Once you put a user interface on that, you constrain users.” So for Flex, the team had to ask itself some new questions. “How do you build user interfaces in a fundamentally different way that gives people the best features they want without constraining them?”

Out of the box, Flex supports all of the standard messaging channels that contact centers are now expected to support. These include Voice, video, text, picture messaging, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, LINE and WeChat. The service also supports screen sharing and co-browsing. Twilio is also integrating its own intelligent TaskRouter service into Flex to automatically route questions to the right agent. A single Flex deployment can support up to 50,000 agents.

Cook argues that getting started with Flex is a one-click affair, though once it’s up and running, most users will surely need to customize the service a bit for their own needs and embed chat widgets and other functions on their websites and into their apps (think click-to-call, for example). Some of the more in-depth customization can be done in Twilio Studio, the company’s drag and drop application builder, too.

Most large enterprises already have contact centers, though, so it’s maybe no surprise that some of the thinking behind making Flex as… well… flexible as possible is about giving those users the ability to mix and match features from Flex with their existing tools to allow for a slow and steady migration.

As we reported last month, Flex will also integrate with all the standard CRM tools like Salesforce and Zendesk, as well as workforce management and optimization tools that are currently in use in most contact centers.

Before launching the product today, Twilio already worked with ING, Zillow, National Debt Relief and RealPage to test Flex. In addition, it lined up a number of tech and consulting partners to support new users.

Sep
28
2017
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BlackBerry, yes BlackBerry, is making a comeback as a software company

 When you think about dead companies walking, BlackBerry was clearly one that came to mind, but under the leadership of CEO John Chen, the company is actually making a comeback as a software company focused on security, and it’s latest quarterly earnings report suggests the pivot is working splendidly. The company reported revenue of $249 million, which shattered analyst’s… Read More

Aug
31
2017
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Facebook to open source LogDevice for storing logs from distributed data centers

 Facebook is planning to open source LogDevice, the company’s custom-built solution for storing logs collected from distributed data centers. The company made the announcement as part of its Scale conference. Read More

Aug
30
2017
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Plaid delivers bank account integration to enterprise developers

 Plaid, which is best known for helping financial services customers build applications with direct connections to their users’ bank accounts, announced today that they have released a new SDK to bring that same type of functionality to enterprise developers. “At a high level we are the middle layer between you and your bank,” Zach Perret, CEO at Plaid told TechCrunch. When… Read More

Jul
31
2017
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Facebook buys Ozlo to boost its conversational AI efforts

 Facebook has gone ahead and purchased Charles Jolley’s conversational AI startup Ozlo. Jolley, formerly Head of Platform for Android at Facebook, will not be returning to the company. The Ozlo team is expected to join Facebook to work on natural language processing challenges. Read More

Jul
19
2017
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Clara Labs nabs $7M Series A as it positions its AI assistant to meet the needs of enterprise teams

 Clara Labs is announcing a $7 million Series A led by Basis Set Ventures. Slack Fund also joined in the round, alongside existing investors Sequoia and First Round. The startup will be looking to further differentiate within the crowded field of email-centric personal assistants by building in features and integrations to address the needs of enterprise teams. Read More

Jul
13
2017
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BloomAPI locks down $2.4M to fix medical record releases

 Seattle-based BloomAPI is announcing a $2.4 million seed round this morning for its solution to the broken medical records release process. It’s no secret that the entire U.S. healthcare system is held back by antiquated technology — but unlike many competitors, BloomAPI offers a solution that works with, and not against, the old-school technologies. Read More

Jul
11
2017
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Lyft adds automatic ride receipt forwarding for business profiles

 Lyft now makes it easier for business travelers to expense the trips they take for work – rides taken under a Business Profile within the Lyft app can now be automatically forwarded to a number of expense management systems, including Expensify, Chrome River, Concur, Nexonia, Zoho, Abacus and Xpenditure. The auto forwarding basically just takes a step out of the process, but it’s a… Read More

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