Tag Archives: chief executive

MindBody, a Salesforce-like CRM for health & wellness, takes $50M more

MindBody, a Salesforce-like CRM for health & wellness, takes $50M more

Rick Stollmeyer, chief executive of MindBody

Small businesses are under increasing pressure to go digital or risk losing their clientele to the franchise down the street. Tech-savvy customers expect to book appointments online and pay with a swipe of a credit card.

The San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based MindBody has small businesses (spas, yoga studios, and so on) covered. And the company has pocketed an additional $50 million in funding today to accelerate its global expansion.

MindBody sells a suite of marketing, scheduling, analytics, networking, and point of sale services. According to chief executive officer Rick Stollmeyer, over 30,000 businesses around the world have signed up. Prior to starting the company, Stollmeyer worked as an engineering team lead and as a submarine officer in the U.S. Navy.

MindBody, which has been around since 2001, faces tough competition from customer relationship management (CRM) behemoths, like Salesforce.com and SugarCRM. Unlike these vendors, it specifically caters to clients in the health and wellness sector. A crop of new rivals, such as Schedulicity, SalonBooker, Appointment Plus, and Groupon Scheduler, have also emerged in recent years. However, these companies are focused on scheduling tools, which is just one aspect of MindBody’s business.

The new funding comes from a combination of Silicon Valley and international investment firms, including Bessemer Venture Partners, Institutional Venture Partners, Catalyst Investors, W Capital Partners and Montreux Equity Partners. This round brings the company’s funding total to just under $110 million.


Meg Whitman buys more time as HP beats earnings estimates

Meg Whitman buys more time as HP beats earnings estimates

Hewlett-Packard chief executive Meg Whitman

Hewlett-Packard reported earnings that beat Wall Street’s earnings expectations.

Analysts had expected a big drop in quarterly revenue, but HP exceeded estimates on both profits and revenues. HP reported earnings per share of 90 cents on revenue of $28.2 billion. It also raised its earnings estimates for the fiscal year. That should buy some time for Meg Whitman, chief executive of HP, as she seeks innovative new technologies to turn HP around.

On recent earnings calls, Whitman has said that it would take until 2015 or 2016 to turn around HP.

Analysts had expected HP to report a profit of 86 cents a share on revenues of $27.2 billion for the fiscal first quarter ended Jan. 31. A year earlier, HP had reported a profit of 82 cents a share on revenue of $28.36 billion. (All figures are on a non-GAAP basis, which analysts use to determine whether a company hits or misses its targets).

HP did report better-than-expected earnings in November for its fiscal year end, and that helped drive the stock up 5 percent year-to-date.

As an aside, speculators have been fixated on what HP, the world’s largest maker of printers, could do in the 3D printing market. So far, chief executive Meg Whitman has only promised that HP is watching the market closely and will have something to offer in the market since it is adjacent to HP’s strong market for printers. Meanwhile, HP’s core market of making PCs and the printers that go with them is hurting.

Of course, 3D printing, while interesting, will likely have very little impact on HP’s bottom line for a long time to come. In the meantime, the PC market has been getting weaker as smartphones and tablets take off. HP recently launched an Android-based “phablet,” or half phone, half tablet, in the Indian market.

HP also raised its earnings guidance, saying it would now report fiscal year 2014 earnings of $3.60 to $3.75 a share.

In the first fiscal quarter, HP’s PC group saw revenues rise 4 percent from a year ago. Printing was down 2 percent, enterprise was up 1 percent, enterprise services was down 7 percent, software was down 4 percent, and financial services was down 9 percent. Overall, revenue was down 1 percent and earnings were up 9 percent in the first fiscal quarter.

Whitman said in a statement that HP was in a stronger position than it had been for some time. She said HP was making progress across several parts of its portfolio, and that “two years of turnaround work is setting us up for an exciting future.”


4 big data predictions that won’t happen in 2014 — and 1 that will

Executives, analysts, and, yes, writers have been spilling out predictions for big data this year, but some of them seem a bit outlandish. Just to be sure we weren’t crazy, VentureBeat checked in with Pete Skomoroch, former principal data scientist at LinkedIn.

Skomoroch confirmed our suspicions and added a few anti-predictions of his own. Here they are:

  • No, not every company will hire a chief data officer. Last week Brad Peters, chief executive of business-intelligence startup Birst, argued that the position’s “time to shine has finally come.” Skomoroch doesn’t think the adoption of the CDO title will be widespread this year. But even if some companies do decide to fill the position this year, Skomoroch wonders just what difference such a move would make. If a CDO reports to the company’s chief executive, perhaps the company could have an impact. “If you’re buried in, like, a side unit, it’s not clear that you’re set up for success,” he said.
  • No, companies won’t list how much data they have on earnings statements. Skomoroch himself said at VentureBeat’s 2013 DataBeat/Data Science Summit event last month that down the line people would “start to see on balance sheets what are the data assets of those [public] companies.” But that practice probably won’t take hold this year, Skomoroch said. Skomoroch does view data as an asset. The more of it, the better. The more detailed, the better. The more rare or sought after it is, the better. Still, calculating the total amount of data a company retains inside its many storehouses isn’t a breeze. And it might be hard to standardize the reporting of data. Finally, some companies might not want to reveal what jewels of data they possess.
  • Data-science applications won’t replace real, live data scientists. Startups might try hard to automate the process of discovering trends and anomalies in large volumes of data, but software most likely will not be able to replicate the capabilities of humans who are trained in data science principles and best practices. That whole notion reminds Skomoroch of an idea years ago that software would be outsourced. Startups such as Trifacta could slim down the time it takes to get data ready for analysis, but later work still could use a skilled person’s input. Creativity, intuition — “the human element” — still matter a great deal for Skomoroch. “This is knowledge work,” he said.
  • No, Google won’t become a defense contractor. “Google will not be the new Blackwater,” Skomoroch said. This despite the company’s involvement in DARPA robotics competitions and its recent acquisition of Boston Dynamics. “I think it’s about talent and acquiring the market on robotics and the type of people who can work on self-driving cars and other things that they’re building,” Skomoroch said. One could argue that from the beginning Google has been about taking in lots of data and modifying operations as a result. Think of Google search, think of Google mail, think of Gmail inbox filters. It’s a big data thing. Now it’s just becoming more about hardware.

So what should we expect to see, then? Skomoroch believes intelligent agents will become more compelling to consumers, about two decades after they emerged in technology conversations.

Google Now and Siri have caught on with consumers, and they should take hold further. But there’s more.

“I think the next phase will be more proactive,” he said. “It will actually be more about helping you delegate things or do things so that you don’t actually have to do them.” Skomoroch pointed to high-speed, algorithm-driven trading on Wall Street as an example.

He expects the model to trickle down a bit this year, with startups trying to put it into action. “I don’t think it will be a huge leap in 2014, but I think you’ll see enough interest in this,” he said.