Utah’s Qualtrics acquired by German tech giant in ‘monumental’ $8 billion deal

PROVO — Just weeks ahead of a planned public stock offering aiming to raise $500 million in new capital, Utah-grown business survey/analytics company Qualtrics was acquired by German tech giant SAP for a whopping $8 billion.

Industry watchers are calling it one of the biggest ever acquisition price tags for a venture-backed enterprise software company.

The cash deal, announced Sunday, blows by estimates that pegged Qualtrics’ value, post-stock offering, in the $4.5 billion to $5 billion range.

Qualtrics co-founder and CEO Ryan Smith noted the size of the acquisition put it in rarefied air, even in a current realm where billion-dollar-plus deals have become passé.

“Our mission is to help organizations deliver the experiences that turn their customers into fanatics, employees into ambassadors, products into obsessions and brands into religions,” Smith said in a statement. “Supported by a global team of over 95,000, SAP will help us scale faster and achieve our mission on a broader stage. This will put the XM Platform everywhere overnight.

“We could not be more excited to join forces with Bill and the SAP team in this once-in-a-generation opportunity to power the experience economy.”

Qualtrics was founded in 2002 by Ryan and Jared Smith based on technology first developed by Ryan and his father, BYU researcher and professor Scott Smith, amid the elder Smith’s fight (it was successful) against throat cancer. Initially conceived of as a tool for academics, the company and its platform has since evolved into a tech behemoth that leverages survey input and a business analytics engine to let its clients — now numbering over 9,000 — know exactly how well, or not, their companies are performing.

The deal mints a family of billionaires with the Smith brothers and their father collectively owning about 45 percent of the company, according to their IPO filings.

SAP is a multinational that specializes …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

China’s annual shopping frenzy shatters records again

SHANGHAI — Online shoppers in China have shattered last year’s record of $24 billion in sales on the country’s annual buying frenzy Sunday, as the tradition marked its 10th year.

The spending binge has for years eclipsed Cyber Monday in the U.S. for online purchases made on a single day. This year’s tally breaks from gloomy forecasts about the world’s second-largest economy, which is struggling with a tariff war with the U.S., a stock market slump and slowing overall growth.

Known as Singles Day, the clamor for deals and discounts was heralded with characteristic fanfare by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which has turned an unofficial holiday for people without romantic partners into a yearly windfall for digital retailers.

A massive screen at Alibaba’s gala in Shanghai showed the surging sales numbers in real time: At 2 minutes and 5 seconds after midnight Saturday, 10 billion yuan ($1.43 billion) in purchases had already been made on Alibaba’s platforms. By the 1 hour and 47 minute mark, that number had increased tenfold.

Just before 4 p.m. Sunday, the sales reached 168.2 billion yuan ($24.2 billion) — surpassing the total purchases from last year’s Singles Day, according to figures posted online by Alibaba Group.

Singles Day began as a spoof event celebrated by unattached Chinese university students in the 1990s. In Chinese, it’s called “Double 11,” after the numbers in the month and date. The improvised holiday was co-opted by e-retailers in 2009 and transformed into China’s version of Cyber Monday, as the Monday after Thanksgiving is known.

Nearly $6.6 billion in sales were made on Cyber Monday in 2017, up about 17 percent from the previous year, according to Adobe Analytics.

Ren Xiaotong, a 27-year-old accountant in Beijing, said she suspected online stores jacked up their prices in the lead-up to Singles Day so they could declare that items …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

Facebook ends forced arbitration of sexual misconduct claims

Facebook is dropping a requirement for mandatory arbitration of sexual misconduct allegations, acceding to a demand recently pressed by other Silicon Valley tech workers.

Google made a similar change on Thursday, a week after thousands of employees briefly walked off their jobs to protest how the company handled sexual-misconduct allegations against prominent executives.

The move at Facebook, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, means that employees no longer have to submit to private arbitration, which kept misconduct allegations secret and sometimes allowed abusers to continue their behavior. Employees can now press their claims in court instead. Other tech companies such as Microsoft and Uber have previously dropped mandatory arbitration.

Facebook will now also require executives at director level and above to disclose any dating relationships with company employees.

…read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

Dark skies: Another Utah natural resource

SNOWBIRD — Being the brightest isn’t the best in some circumstances, especially if you are talking light pollution and night skies.

Utah has some of the best dark skies in the world, attracting visitors to state parks, national parks and rugged stretches of the state populated by few people.

But preserving those dark skies isn’t an easy endeavor and researchers are still unlocking the mysteries of how dark skies influence the human psyche, the natural environment and even air pollution.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

A campfire illuminates the surroundings under a starry sky in Lockhart Basin in San Juan County on Sunday, May 14, 2017.

“People come from all over the world to see our dark skies,” said Justina Parsons-Bernstein, who leads the Utah State Parks dark skies initiative.

The International Dark-Sky Association is having its 30th annual general meeting at Snowbird through Saturday, and the University of Utah-based Consortium for Dark Skies Studies is co-hosting global researchers with Artificial Light at Night (ALAN) for its first international meeting in the United States Nov. 12-14.

John Barentine, director of public policy for the International Dark-Sky Association, said Friday that Utah is an ideal location for these meetings.

“It is very important we are here in Utah, here in the American West,” Barentine said because the region offers some of the best wide expanses of untouched land and dark skies.

The Great Western Starry Way, an initiative of the Consortium for Dark Sky Studies, promotes what it says is the best concentration of night skies in the developed world and Utah is dead center, accounting for more than half of the 60-plus dark sky places between Glacier National Park and the Grand Canyon.

Barentine added that mankind’s relationship with night remains an abstract relationship still yet to be understood in terms of security, energy, the environment, health …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News