Smartsheet acquires Slope to help creatives collaborate

Smartsheet, the project management and collaboration tool that went public last April, announced the acquisition of Seattle-based TernPro, Inc., makers of Slope, a collaboration tool designed for sharing creative assets.

The companies did not share the acquisition price.

Bringing Slope into the fold will enable Smartsheet users to share assets like video and photos natively inside the application, and also brings the ability to annotate, comment or approve these assets. Smartsheet sees this native integration through a broad enterprise lens. It might be HR sharing training videos, marketing sharing product photos or construction company employees inspecting a site and sharing photos of a code violation, complete with annotations to point out the problem.

Alan Lepofsky, an analyst at Constellation Research, who specializes in collaboration tools in the enterprise sees this as a significant enhancement to the product. “Smartsheet’s focus is on being more than just project management, but instead helping coordinate end-to-end business processes. Slope is going to allow content to become more of a native part of those processes, rather than people having to switch context to another tool,” he explained.

That last point is particularly important as today’s collaboration tools, whether Slack or Microsoft Teams or any other similar tool, have been working hard to provide that kind of integration to keep people focused on the task at hand without having to switch applications.

Mike Gotta, a long-time analyst at Gartner, says collaboration that happens within the flow of work can help make employees more productive, but being able to build specific use cases is even more critical. “The collaboration space remains open for innovation and new ways to addressing old challenges. For organizations though, the trick is how to create a collaboration portfolio that balances broad-based foundational investments with the more domain-specific or situational scenarios they might have where this type of use-case driven collaboration can make more sense,” Gotta told TechCrunch.

That is precisely what Smartsheet is trying to achieve with this purchase, giving them the ability to incorporate workflows involving creative assets, whether that’s including all of the documents required to onboard a new employee or a training workflow that includes learning objectives, lesson plans, photos, videos and so forth.

Smartsheet, which launched in 2005, raised over $113 million before going public last April. The company’s stock price has held up, gaining ground in a volatile stock market. It sits above its launch price of $19.50, closing at $25.24 yesterday.

Slope was founded in 2014 and has raised $1.4 million, according to Crunchbase data. Customers include Microsoft, CBS Sports and the Oakland Athletics baseball team. The company’s employees, including co-founders Dan Bloom and Brian Boschè have already joined SmartSheet.

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Data management startup Rubrik gets $261M at a $3.1B valuation as it moves into security and compliance

There is a growing demand for stronger security at every point in the IT ecosystem, and today, one of the the more successful enterprise startups to emerge in the last several years is announcing a big round of funding to provide that.

Rubrik, which provides enterprise data management and backup services across on-premise, cloud and hybrid networks, has raised $261 million in funding at a $3.3 billion valuation from Bain Capital Ventures and previous investors Lightspeed Venture Partners, Greylock Partners, Khosla Ventures and IVP. It intends to use the funding to build (and buy) tech to expand deeper into security and compliance services alongside its existing data management products.

“As we have demonstrated leadership in data recovery, our customers have been demanding new products and services from us,” CEO and co-founder Bipul Sinha said in an interview, “so we’ve raised capital to double down on that.”

This Series E brings the total raised by Rubrik to $553 million, and it is a big leap for the company: its last raise of $180 million, in 2017, valued Rubrik at $1.3 billion.

Rubrik is not disclosing any other specific financial numbers with the news — Sinha’s response to the question was that he thinks the valuation jump speaks for itself. He also confirmed the company is not profitable, but intentionally so.

“Our goal is to build a long-term, iconic company, and so we want to become profitable but not at the cost of growth,” he said. “We are leading this market transformation while it continues to grow.”

That market transformation is to provide services — and up to now, specifically data back-up services — for enterprises that operate their networks across a hybrid environment, with data used and stored on premises, in the cloud, and sometimes in multiple clouds.

There are a number of other companies that compete with it in backup including biggies like Druva, CommVault and EMC, but Rubrik was an early mover in identifying a need to backup and provide data recovery across a mix of locations.

Moving into security and compliance is a natural progression for the company.

There has always been a synergy between Rubrik’s core business and security/compliance. Often the need for backup and recovery arises specifically as a result of security breaches or other glitches that result from people accessing data when they are not supposed to, and that issue gets compounded when you have data stored and used across multiple locations.

“The fragmentation across cloud and on-prem services creates issues around security and data management,” Sinha said. “The more fragmentation you have, the more important Rubrik [or other data management services] get.”

Similarly, moving into security and compliance together goes hand-in-hand because both address similar needs at companies to be handling information responsibly. “Security and compliance are joined at the hip from a regulatory perspective,” Sinha said.

Up to now, Rubrik has mostly built its service from the ground up. One notable exception has been that it made an acquisition — its first — last year when it acquired NoSQL data backup specialist Datos IO, which helped Rubrik further expand from appliance-based management to cloud-based.

In the case of adding on more security and compliance offerings, it’s not clear yet whether that will be built organically or via acquisition (and there are indeed a number of security startups out there that could be candidates if it’s the latter).

“Rubrik is fundamentally an innovation driven company,” Sinha said. “We like coherent and consistent architecture. Having said that, as a responsible and ambitious company, we are always looking at the marketplace, at where there are the teams that we can acquire.”

Notably, the company has started to signal its growing interest in this area in recent months. The latest build of its flagship Andes data management platform placed security features center stage, and now we can expect to see more of that.

Existing customer loyalty has always attracted investors to the company, and that’s been the case here, too.

At a time when many tech observers are wondering if we are gearing up for a “winter” in the startup ecosystem — where, in a buoyant climate, investors have gone all-in with perhaps too much exuberance that will not bear out in terms of startups’ actual performance — the thinking is that Rubrik’s track record will help it continue to win business both on its legacy services, and as it ventures into newer areas.

“Rubrik has won the trust and loyalty of large enterprise customers around the globe by offering a simple and reliable solution that solves the challenge of protecting and managing data in a hybrid cloud world,” said Enrique Salem, former CEO at Symantec and Partner at Bain Capital Ventures, in a statement. “Given my experience leading the largest enterprise data protection company, we are confident that Rubrik is positioned to win and be the market leader in enterprise cloud data management.”

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Rumors Roil Ahead of Next Month's Galaxy Unpacked Event

By John P. Mello Jr.

Jan 15, 2019 5:00 AM PT

Samsung is expected to unveil its new lineup of flagship smartphones on Feb. 20 at a Galaxy Unpacked event in San Francisco, and the rumor mill has been operating on overtime.

It’s believed three new Galaxy S10 models will be announced at the event, as well as a folding phone. Banners promoting Unpacked are using the phrase “Unfolding the Future” as a tagline.

galaxy unpacked

The Samsung models will include the Galaxy S10 with a 6.1-inch, curved OLED display and 128 GB or 512GB of internal storage; a Galaxy S10 Plus with a 6.4-inch, curved OLED display and 128 GB, 512 GB or 1 TB of storage; and a new entry-level edition, the Galaxy S10 Lite, with 5.8-inch, flat display and 128 GB of storage, based on
the latest rumors from XDA’s Max Weinbach and others.

“That’s a winning strategy,” said Jack E. Gold, principal analyst at J.Gold Associates, an IT advisory company in Northborough, Mass.

“It allows people to upgrade their phone without going to the (US)$1,000 level,” he told TechNewsWorld. “It’s not going to be the same feature set, but it gives people choice. In many markets, that choice is important.”

Camera Proliferation

It’s also believed the S10 and S10 Plus will have their fingerprint readers embedded under the display, while the Lite model will have the reader on its back, as do S9s.

The S10 and Lite will have two cameras on their backs, while the Plus will have three cameras, according to Weinbach, XDA TV host and contributor to the XDA-Developers Portal, whose Twitter feed is a
fountain of S10 rumors.

All the phones will have a 12-megapixel, f1.5/2.4 camera with auto focus and optical image stabilization and a 16-MP, f1.9 ultra wide camera without autofocus or OIS.

However, the Plus model also will have a 13-MP camera with an f2.4 telephoto lens and support for auto focus and OIS. It will support Bright Night and portrait lighting as well.

The 5G version of the Plus will be distributed exclusively by Verizon for several months after its launch, Weinbach noted.

Deja Vu

While the final specs for the new lineup of S10s won’t be known until Feb. 20, rumors tend to be very accurate this close to a launch.

“Many of the rumors are credible,” Gold said. “It’s pretty hard, in this day and age, for any company to keep secrets about what they’re coming out with in the next three to six months, because the supply chain leaks like a sieve.”

Even if all the rumors about the S10s should prove true, there doesn’t seem to be anything that hasn’t been seen before, observed Ramon T. Llamas, senior research analyst for mobile devices technology and trends at IDC, a market research company in Framingham, Massachusetts.

“The net on most of this is it’s variations on a theme that we’ve seen before,” he told TechNewsWorld.

That could be bad news for a market segment struggling to maintain sales growth.

“From the rumors, I don’t think the various S10 models will move the needle on high-end smartphone sales,” said Kevin Krewell, a San Jose, California-based principal analyst for Tirias Research, a high-tech research and advisory firm.

Have Smartphones Peaked?

“The three models will have improved cameras, but that is par for any new model,” Krewell told TechNewsWorld.

“The physical design is slick, but edge-to-edge displays are becoming common,” he continued. “I really think we’re reached the peak in smartphones — until something major changes the market.”

samsung galaxy s10 leaked image

Redditor qgtx captured this screen shot of the Galaxy S10, which briefly appeared on Samsung’s website last week.

The biggest issue right now is getting consumers to understand the improved experience they will have with a new phone, maintained Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, a technology analyst and advisory firm in Austin, Texas.

“The improvements are coming at a slower pace than before,” he told TechNewsWorld.

A slower pace of improvements could be a good thing for consumers.

“The phones most of us have so are good, most consumers can barely make use of all they offer,” said Tuong Nguyen, a senior principal analyst at Gartner, a research and advisory company based in Stamford, Connecticut.

“Consumers are not taxing the devices to the limit, except for maybe in terms of battery life, yet vendors are offering even more features beyond what consumers can reasonably utilize,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Solving Upgrade Puzzle

People need a “step change” in the same way they went from feature phones to smartphones before they upgrade, Nguyen maintained.

“The new functions introduced — email, Internet, music, video, games, photos — were revolutionary, or at least significantly better than before,” he pointed out.

“The interface was improved by touch, and most importantly, the value and utility was significantly higher,” Nguyen continued. “All these need to be overcome or addressed to convince users to replace their current device.”

What will drive smartphone sales in the future, though, may have nothing to do with cameras, displays and slick industrial design.

“I think the next big wave will be increased local intelligence on the phone,” Krewell predicted. “The new S10 will have more neural net processing, but it needs more software support, which will come in time.”

5G to the Rescue?

There’s another major change in the wings that could induce consumers to upgrade their phones. The carriers have begun building out their 5G networks. To reap the benefits of those networks, consumers will need 5G phones. As a remedy for sagging sales, though, 5G appears to be a longer-term solution.

The first 5G phones aren’t likely to appear before the end of this year, which means there won’t be much volume this year, Gartner’s Nguyen noted.

“Even after that, I expect adoption to be gradual,” he said. “First-generation devices tend to be bulky, expensive, slightly unattractive, and tend to be less desirable than the more developed and mature models of previous generations, so it’ll be the tech junkies and early adopters that will likely buy into the new devices.”

Then there’s the network problem. It will be a while before coverage is widespread.

“If you only have 5G covering part of town, or part of the country, it’s not as compelling, because it deprives the user of a consistent experience,” Nguyen explained. “It’s like saying, ‘Hey, I can give you mind blowing WiFi coverage in your home, but only when you’re standing in the bathroom, in this corner.'”

John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reporter
since 2003. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy, e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and consumer electronics. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal, the
Boston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and Government
Security News
. Email John.

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Blue Apron is soaring after saying it will 'reaffirm confidence in achieving profitability' on an adjusted basis (APRN)

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blue apron

  • Blue Apron said Tuesday it plans to reaffirm confidence in turning a profit in both the first quarter and fiscal year 2019 when it reports Q4 results later this month.
  • The meal-kit maker has had difficulty retaining customers in the past.
  • Blue Apron shares were up more than 11% early Tuesday.
  • Watch Blue Apron trade live.

Blue Apron was surging Tuesday morning, up more than 11%, after the company said it plans to reaffirm confidence in achieving profitability next year when it releases its fourth-quarter and full-year results later this month.

Based on its current view of the business, Blue Apron plans to reaffirm confidence in achieving profitability on an adjusted EBITDA basis both in the first quarter of 2019 and for full year 2019 as it actively pursues the appropriate strategies to create value for its stakeholders,” the company said in a press release out Tuesday.

Wall Street analysts surveyed by Bloomberg were less confident, forecasting an adjusted loss of $0.09 a share in Q1 and $0.32 a share for fiscal year 2019. 

Blue Apron has had a rough go of things since announcing plans to go public in June 2017. First, Amazon announced plans to buy Whole Foods, causing Blue Apron to slash its IPO range to $10 to $11 a share, down from $15 to $17, as investors worried about the competition such a deal would bring. Then, less than a month later, Amazon rolled out its meal-kit business

And in August of last year, Blue Apron announced it was having trouble keeping customers. The meal-kit maker said its total number of customers plunged by 24% in the second quarter versus the prior year and that revenue per customer dipped by $1 to $250.

Blue Apron shares had a difficult 2018. They cratered by as much as 84%, falling below $1 for the first time and putting in a record low of $0.65. They finished the year at $1.02.  

Blue Apron was expected to report an adjusted fourth-quarter loss of $0.17 a share on revenue of $137.78 million when it reports on January 31, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. 

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A new mattress combines '700 tiny mattresses in one' for better support — I slept on it and noticed less lower back aching

The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you’ll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

sleepovaThe comfort of your sleep will also be boosted by the fact that the SleepOvation mattress does not sleep hot at all.SleepOvation Instagram

  • If one mattress isn’t enough for you to live the bougie lifestyle you know you deserve, you may try 700 mattresses in one via the SleepOvation mattress.
  • Trusted by chiropractors and apparently slept on by athletes, this bed is meant to relieve back pain and other aches, and it really does get the job done.
  • With its unique Cushion Pocket Spring technology, you’ll be both supported and cool throughout the night.
  • Be warned though, with this sort of technology, the mattress doesn’t come cheap.

Why settle for one mattress when you can have 700?

That is the question that SleepOvation poses to all you restless sleepers with its new offering, which purports to combine 700 “tiny mattresses” into a single unit. And while I’ll admit that I have never actually slept on 700 literal mattresses, and consequently, can neither verify nor deny that sleeping on the SleepOvation feels like sleeping on a plethora of teeny mattresses, I will say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my evenings since receiving this unique bed. Thanks to the hundreds of cushion pocket springs embedded into the SleepOvation, I felt thoroughly supported across the entirety of my body, and really, what more could I ask for?

SleepOvation really hangs its hat on its Cushion Pocket Spring technology, and for good reason. In essence, the bed comprises hundreds (around 700, I would assume) of individually wrapped cushions that are attached to their very own pocket spring. Consequently, when you lie down, each cushion responds individually to its individual weight load. It’s surprisingly noticeable — whereas a lot of other beds in a box feel a bit squishy due to their foam-only construction, the SleepOvation doesn’t give quite as easily, something you may expect more from a traditional coil-based mattress.

sleepovatThe SleepOvation bed comprises hundreds of individually wrapped cushions that are attached to their very own pocket spring.SleepOvation Instagram

On the topic of “giving,” in terms of firmness, the SleepOvation feels a bit more solid than some of the other beds that I’ve tried. However, it’s not necessarily that it’s actually any less soft than the other options, but rather that the cushion technology is meant to relieve back pain by correcting your sleeping posture. As such, some of the firmness is attributable to the bed literally fixing years of slouching, craning your neck, or otherwise being unkind to your body.

As a 20-something who has somehow tricked her body into believing that it is decades older than it ought to be, I really appreciated the back pain-relieving aspects of this mattress. While it took a bit of time to grow accustomed to, I did find that the composition and firmness led to a more supported sleeping position, which led to less lower back aching. Ultimately, because the bed reacts differently to different body types and weights, the way the SleepOvation feels will vary by person, which honestly, is probably how a bed ought to be.  

Oh, and if you’re going to be sleeping with another person on the SleepOvation mattress, rest assured that the nocturnal movements of your partner will not disturb your beauty sleep. I was pleased to find that no matter how many bathroom breaks my significant other had to take, I was none the wiser — that’s likely thanks to the independence of each foam and spring packet. Even if your partner gets up or tosses and turns, your side of the bed ought to remain quite stable, which I hear is key to a healthy relationship.

The comfort of your sleep will also be boosted by the fact that this mattress does not sleep hot at all.

This will be especially important over the course of the next couple months as the summer really reaches its boiling point, but even during the milder seasons, I’ve found that it’s useful to have a bed that doesn’t feel like a hot pad a few hours in. Thanks to those tiny mattresses strewn throughout the one large mattress, you’ll have several airflow pathways, which lead to a significantly cooler sleep surface. SleepOvation claims that their channels are meant to keep a cool temperature throughout the night, and seeing as I didn’t wake up in a pool of sweat, I won’t argue with that assertion.

As for keeping and caring for the SleepOvation, there are few mattresses that have taken cleanliness to quite this extent. The mattress comes with a zipped on mattress cover, which can of course be zipped off and washed so that you’re constantly keeping your mattress clean. And if you’re really looking to kill germs, you can actually vacuum in between each of those little cushion pockets in order to keep out dust, bacteria, and allergens. Some call that overkill — but you may call it a fun Sunday afternoon.

sleepovationThe mattress comes with a zipped on mattress cover that can be zipped off and washed so that you’re constantly keeping your mattress clean.SleepOvation Instagram

The SleepOvation mattress ships free throughout the United States, and in order to ensure that you actually enjoy what you’re buying, the company will give you a 100-night sleep trial to make up your mind. There’s also a 10-year limited warranty on the mattress, which covers material and performance defects.

For all of its innovative designs and comforts, the SleepOvation is by no means a cheap mattress. If you’re looking for a bargain, you’re better off looking at other beds in boxes. If, however, you’re looking for a comfortable bed that helps you heal as you sleep, the SleepOvation is at least worth the 100-night trial (though you’ll likely want to keep it afterward).

Pricing starts at $949 for a twin, and goes up to $1,549 for a California king.

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