5 tales that shook up the enterprise in 2021 – TechCrunch


There’s typically a mistaken impression that protecting the enterprise is form of uninteresting when in comparison with the patron facet of the home, however having adopted the area for a few a long time now, I can let you know that nothing may very well be farther from the reality.

For one factor, there’s huge cash within the enterprise, like Oracle shopping for Cerner final week for $28 billion and shaking up the healthcare vertical whereas they had been at it, or UiPath going from obscure startup to $35 billion RPA juggernaut earlier this yr, earlier than falling again a bit after going public.

There’s intrigue, like when activist traders attempt to pressure corporations to make strikes they usually wouldn’t need to make, and battles for management of the board like we noticed at Field this yr.

There’s drama, just like the three-year battle among the many greatest enterprise cloud infrastructure corporations on the planet for the $10 billion Division of Protection JEDI cloud contract, a procurement course of that had every little thing from lawsuits to repeated inner evaluations to presidential interference.

So you possibly can say plenty of issues concerning the enterprise… however boring? Undoubtedly not — and this yr was no totally different. So I made a decision to shut out 2021 with a take a look at 5 tales that rocked the enterprise. It’s laborious to slender 12 months of reports right down to the 5 greatest tales, however listed here are my selections.

The Bezos-Jassy-Selipsky musical chairs at Amazon

Maybe the largest information this yr concerned Jeff Bezos deciding to step again as CEO, taking over the chairman function. Now that in itself didn’t have an enormous enterprise influence as a result of Amazon is an e-commerce firm, which doesn’t essentially fall inside my purview, however then there was what occurred subsequent.

That February day when Bezos made his announcement, he additionally indicated he had chosen his substitute, Amazon Net Companies CEO Andy Jassy. He had helped construct the cloud infrastructure enterprise at Amazon into a large enterprise, surpassing a $64 billion run charge in the newest quarter.

Changing him wouldn’t be simple, however they turned to an previous pal when they employed Tableau CEO Adam Selipsky to take over for Jassy. Selipsky had beforehand been at AWS from its inception till 2016, when he left to take over Tableau. Now it’s his job to maintain the prepare shifting. He has momentum in his favor, however competitors is getting ever extra fierce, and it bears watching what occurs subsequent yr below Selipsky’s management.

Bret Taylor’s completely glorious week

One of many different prime tales concerned Salesforce government Bret Taylor getting a few huge jobs in the identical week on the finish of November, making for a reasonably candy week for him. For starters he was named chairman of the board at Twitter. If that weren’t sufficient, he was additionally named co-CEO at Salesforce, the place he had moved quickly up the ladder since his firm, Quip was acquired in 2016 for $750 million.

Whereas Twitter had turmoil of its personal with long-time CEO Jack Dorsey stepping down and Parag Agrawal taking up, the transfer to co-CEO on the CRM big was clearly the larger information from an enterprise perspective. Whereas The Info reported that Taylor would nonetheless be reporting to firm co-founder, chairman and co-CEO Marc Benioff, the promotion put Taylor in line to be Benioff’s inheritor obvious ought to Benioff resolve to step again into the chairman function in the identical means that Bezos did earlier this yr. One other storyline to think about in 2022 is whether or not Salesforce revisits its want to purchase Twitter, a transfer it considered making in 2016 earlier than strolling away.

Field-Starboard Worth proxy struggle

Field beat again an try by activist investor Starboard Worth to take over the board, a transfer that doubtless would have resulted within the removing of co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie, the sale of the corporate, or each. It was the end result of months of drama and it made it a significant enterprise story line for 2021.

Starboard Worth, an activist investor, purchased a 7.5% stake within the cloud content material administration firm in 2019, which might develop to eight.8%, giving the agency appreciable affect over the corporate. They remained quiet for a time, however final yr they determined to make a transfer and put Field on discover that they wished to take over the board, which resulted in a proxy battle.

Alongside the way in which, Field answered with a $500 million funding from KKR, additional angering Starboard, filed a doc with the SEC pushing again towards Starboard’s slate of board candidates and issued their earnings report early to present voters an opportunity to see their newest outcomes. As luck would have it, the corporate scored two first rate quarters following Starboard’s motion and simply received the proxy battle, leaving the established order for now. What occurs in 2022? As I wrote, maybe it’s time for Field to make some daring strikes, and use a few of KKR’s cash to purchase some adjoining performance.

DoD kills JEDI and broadcasts new cloud initiative

The $10 billion, decade-long JEDI cloud contract has been drama-filled from the day it was introduced in 2018. Over these years, I wrote greater than 30 articles on it, so when the Pentagon determined to kill it lastly this yr, that was huge information.

From the beginning, standard knowledge stated that it was Amazon’s contract to win. There have been complaints that the RFP was written with Amazon in thoughts, however ultimately it was Microsoft that received the deal. Amazon went to courtroom although, stating that the earlier president had instantly interfered with the procurement course of due to his private dislike for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who additionally occurs to personal The Washington Submit newspaper. Amazon additionally argued that it ought to have received on advantage.

Regardless, it succeeded in convincing a decide to place the venture on maintain in February 2020. It might by no means restart, and the DoD determined to transfer on to a brand new venture in July, stating that expertise had modified since 2018 (which is true) and properly deciding to go together with a multi-vendor method with its new initiative, as a substitute of the winner-take-all method it had pursued with JEDI.

Dell spins out VMware

When Dell purchased EMC in 2015 for $67 billion (later amended to $58 billion), it was the most important deal in tech historical past, and one other doozy of a narrative to comply with and write about over time. VMware was all the time the crown jewel of the deal, and so enterprise reporters like me stored a detailed eye on what Dell was going to do with it. For a very long time it stood pat, but it surely was an enormous story within the early a part of the yr when it introduced it was spinning out the corporate in a deal valued at $9 billion.

It appeared somewhat gentle maybe given the sum of money that’s nonetheless on the books for the EMC deal. What occurs subsequent yr? Might somebody make a run to accumulate VMware now that it’s freed from Dell? Dell stays a significant shareholder and nonetheless has loads of debt left over from that EMC deal, so it’s positively one thing to observe in 2022.

It’s laborious to decide on simply 5 as a result of inevitably I’ve ignored some worthy storylines. What would you might have included? Go away a remark and let me know.

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