F5 acquires NGINX for $670M to move into open-source, multi-cloud services

Multi-cloud architecture is a huge trend in enterprise, and today F5 made a big move to bring its own business closer to it. The company, which provides cloud and security application services, announced that it has acquired NGINX, the commercial company behind the popular open-source web server, for $670 million.
We’d actually been hearing murmurs of this acquisition for a while, with a price tag of around $700 million. On top of that, our sources say NGINX was shopping itself around, and other companies that had been looking at it included Citrix. That deal fell apart on price.
NGINX had last raised money nine months ago, a $43 million round led by Goldman Sachs to fuel expansion, and had positioned itself as a strong alternative to F5 in recent years. (It had not disclosed its valuation in that round.) F5 itself, by coincidence, was said to have retained Goldman Sachs in 2016 to


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OpenAI shifts from nonprofit to ‘capped-profit’ to attract capital

OpenAI may not be quite so open going forward. The former nonprofit announced today that it is restructuring as a “capped-profit” company that cuts returns from investments past a certain point. But some worry that this move — or rather the way they made it — may result in making the innovative company no different from the other AI startups out there.
From now on, profits from any investment in the OpenAI LP (limited partnership, not limited profit) will be passed on to an overarching nonprofit company, which will disperse them as it sees fit. Profits in excess of a 100x return, that is.
In simplified terms, if you invested $10 million today, the profit cap will come into play only after that $10 million has generated $1 billion in returns. You can see why some people are concerned that this structure is “limited” in name only.
In a blog post, OpenAI explained


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Glide helps you build mobile apps from a spreadsheet without coding

The founders of Glide, a member of the Y Combinator Winter 2019 class, had a notion that building mobile apps in the enterprise was too hard. They decided to simplify the process by starting with a spreadsheet, and automatically turning the contents into a slick mobile app.
David Siegel, CEO and co-founder at Glide, was working with his co-founders Jason Smith, Mark Probst and Antonio Garcia Aprea at Xamerin, a cross-platform mobile development company that Microsoft acquired for $500 million in 2016. There, they witnessed first-hand the difficulty that companies were having building mobile apps. When their two-year stint at Microsoft was over, the four founders decided to build a startup to solve the problem.
“We saw how desperate some of the world’s largest companies were to have a mobile strategy, and also how painful and expensive it is to develop mobile apps. And we haven’t seen significant progress on that 10 years after the


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Coda’s programmable document editor comes out of beta, launches iOS app

Coda, which is coming out of its limited beta today, wants to reinvent how you think about documents and spreadsheets. That’s about as tough a challenge as you can set yourself, given how ingrained tools like Word, Excel and their equivalents from the likes of Google, Zoho and others are. Coda’s secret weapon is that it combines text and spreadsheet functionality into a single document, with the ability to build some basic programming into them and add features from third-party services as a bonus.
In addition to opening up the service to anyone, Coda also today launched its new mobile app for iOS (with Android following at some point in the future).
“It’s the best of documents, spreadsheets, presentations, applications — all brought into one new surface,” Coda founder and CEO (and former head of product for YouTube Shishir Mehrotra told me. “But the phrase we like to use is that Coda


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Workplace messaging platform Slack has confidentially filed to go public

Slack, the provider of workplace communication and collaboration tools, has submitted paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission to go public later this year, the company announced on Monday.
This is its first concrete step toward becoming a publicly listed company, five years after it launched.
Headquartered in San Francisco, Slack has raised more than $1 billion in venture capital investment, including a $427 million funding round in August. The round valued the business at $7.1 billion, cementing its position as one of the most valuable privately held businesses in the U.S.
The company counted 10 million daily active users around the world and 85,000 paying users as of January 2019. According to data provided (via email) by SensorTower, Slack’s new users on mobile increased roughly 21 percent last quarter compared to Q4 2017, while total installs on mobile grew 24 million. The company recorded 8 million installs in 2018, up 21 percent year-over-year.
Slack’s investors


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Lowe’s is killing off and bricking its Iris smart home products at the end of March

If you’ve got any gear from Lowe’s Iris line of smart home products, it’s time to start looking for alternatives.
Lowe’s has announced that the line is toast, with plans to flip the switch on “the platform and related services” at the end of March. In other words: much of this once smart connected gear is about to get bricked.
On the upside, Lowe’s is committing to refund customers for “eligible, connected Iris devices” — with the caveat that you’ve got to go through its redemption portal. “PLEASE DO NOT BRING YOUR CONNECTED IRIS DEVICES BACK TO A LOWE’S STORE,” they note repeatedly. They don’t want it either.
Refunds will be issued in the form of a prepaid Visa card. They also note that some — but definitely not all — Iris-compatible devices work with alternatives like Samsung’s SmartThings platform.
As of November of 2018, Lowe’s was attempting to find a buyer for the


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Idera acquires Travis CI

Travis CI, the popular Berlin-based open source continuous integration service, has been acquired by Idera, a company that offers a number of SQL database management and administration tools for both on-premises and cloud applications. The move comes at a time where other continuous integration services, including the likes of Circle CI, seem to be taking market share away from Travis CI.
Idera, which itself is owned by private equity firm TA Associates, says that Travis is complementary to its current testing tools business and that the acquisition will benefit its current customers. Idera’s other tools in its Testing Tools division are TestRail, Ranorex and Kiuwan. “We admire the business value driven by Travis CI and look forward to helping more customers achieve better and faster results,” said Suhail Malhotra, Idera’s General Manager for Travis CI .
Idera clearly wants to move into the DevOps business and continuous integration is obviously a major building block. This


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Coursera moves into healthcare education with 100 courses and 2 masters degrees

Coursera, the online learning startup valued at $850 million, has made its name primarily around its classes and degrees in information technology, data science and business. Now nearly seven years into its life, it’s tackling a new vertical. To tap into shifting economic and societal trends, Coursera is moving into health, with around 100 courses in 30 areas, along with two master’s degrees in public health, to help train people to fill current and future talent shortages in health informatics, healthcare management, public health and related roles.
Universities that will be offering courses include top schools like Columbia University, Emory University, Imperial College London, Johns Hopkins University, University of Colorado, University of Michigan and University of Minnesota, with Imperial and the University of Michigan offering the first masters degrees with applications opening this month. Subscriptions to take courses will range from $39 to $79 per month, depending on the specialization.
Daphne Koller, Coursera’s


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Facebook open sources PyText NLP framework

Facebook AI Research is open sourcing some of the conversational AI tech it is using to power its Portal video chat display and M suggestions on Facebook Messenger.
The company announced today that its PyTorch-based PyText NLP framework is now available to developers.
Natural language processing deals with how systems parse human language and are able to make decisions and derive insights. The PyText framework, which the company sees as a conduit for AI researchers to move more quickly between experimentation and deployment will be particularly useful for tasks like document classification, sequence tagging, semantic parsing and multitask modeling, among others, Facebook says.
The company has built the framework to fit pretty seamlessly into research and production workflows with an emphasis on robustness and low-latency to meet the company’s real-time NLP needs. The product is responsible for models powering more than a billion daily predictions at Facebook.

Another big highlight is the framework’s modularity, allowing it


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