Tag Archives: calendar

Fashion and lifestyle site Refinery29 raises $50M at $290M valuation, led by WPP Ventures and Scripps Networks Interactive (Peter Kafka/Re/code)

It’s no longer surprising when investors write big checks to a media startup. But here’s a fun game — see if you can find the outlier in this group: Vox Media raises $46.5 million . BuzzFeed raises $50 million . Refinery29 raises $50 million. Ok, ok – we didn’t make it that hard.  Refinery29 ‘s raise is news because it’s news — the company just announced the new round, led by Scripps Network Interactive and ad giant WPP, in time for its “NewFronts” presentation for ad buyers on this week. People familiar with the company, which has raised $80 million to date, say it’s now valued at $290 million. But the raise is also news because it’s the biggest funding round – as far as I can tell –  for a media company aimed specifically at women. Refinery29 has 250 employees and an audience of 25 million readers, and says it’s built specifically for millennial women. You won’t be surprised to learn that the site has articles about fashion , food , and decorating ; you may or may not be surprised to see a story about a 24-year-old golfer next to a report about unrest in Baltimore . While their target audience separates them from most new media magnates (a notable exception is Bustle’s Bryan Goldberg ) Refinery29 co-founders Justin Stefano and Philippe von Borries have a pitch that’s right in line with their peers: The media business is in flux, and they’re part of a new breed of digital publishers that’s going to build the new Time Inc.s and Conde Nasts. Actually, why stop at magazine publishers? “We want to build a brand that’s iconic as MTV or ESPN for a new generation,” says von Borries. A couple of years ago Refinery29 was known as one of a new breed of companies trying to marry content and e-commerce. But the commerce part is all but gone now, and the company is focused on generating money from advertising — both via standard display ads, and, increasingly, “branded content” that it creates for its clients. The company says it will use the money to build out its video capabilities, to generate more stuff for new distribution outlets like Snapchat, and to expand globally

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Qualcomm beats Q2 expectations, but cuts forecast on Apple’s strength and Samsung’s move to own chips in Galaxy S6 (Ina Fried/Re/code)

Qualcomm on Wednesday cut its earnings forecast for the second time this year after reporting that its past quarter’s earnings dropped 45 percent from the prior year. The San Diego-based company reported quarterly earnings of $1.1 billion, or 63 cents per share, on revenue of $6.9 billion. That compares to earnings of $2 billion, or $1.14 per share on revenue of $6.4 billion in the year-ago quarter. Excluding certain factors, though, earnings per share were $1.40, a 7 percent increase. That was ahead of the $1.33 expected by analysts, according to Zacks. In cutting its forecast, Qualcomm again blamed the same two factors — Apple’s strength and the fact Samsung went with its own processor for the Galaxy S6 (though Qualcomm used euphemisms rather than mentioning Apple and Samsung by name.) Qualcomm cut its outlook for the year for the first time back in January . “While we remain confident in the significant growth opportunities ahead, we are reducing our QCT outlook for fiscal 2015, primarily due to the increased impact of customer share shifts within the premium tier and a decline in our share at a large customer,” CEO Steve Mollenkopf said in a statement. The company’s shares traded down after hours, changing hands recently at $67.34, down $1.60, or more than 2 percent. Qualcomm also announced it will look at ways to cut costs. “In addition to our ongoing expense management initiatives, we have initiated a comprehensive review of our cost structure to identify opportunities to improve operating margins while at the same time extending our technology and product leadership positions,” Mollenkopf said. Mollenkopf said the company’s recent settlement with the Chinese government should help its licensing business there. Also, as first reported by Re/code this week, Qualcomm is hoping to regain Samsung’s business for next year’s flagship phone by making its next-generation high-end chip, the Snapdragon 820, in Samsung’s own factories . Click to share on Twitter Share on Facebook Click to share on Google+ Click to share on LinkedIn Click to share on Pinterest Click to share on Reddit Click to email this to a friend Contact Ina Fried: @InaFried | EMAIL Click to share on Twitter Share on Facebook Click to share on Google+ Click to share on LinkedIn Click to share on Pinterest Click to share on Reddit Click to email this to a friend Join the conversation:

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AT&T Q1: wireless profit margins fall but 1.2M connections added, with 684K in connected cars (Ina Fried/Re/code)

AT&T said Wednesday that it added 1.2 million wireless connections to its network during the first quarter, including 684,000 connected cars. Revenue was largely flat from a year ago, at $32.6 billion, though it was up a little over 1 percent considering the year-ago results include some since-sold assets. Net income was $3.2 billion, or 61 cents per share, compared to net income of $3.7 billion, or 70 cents per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Excluding certain charges as well as tax gain, net income would have amounted to 63 cents per share, or a penny ahead of Wall Street estimates. On the wireless side, the company saw a notable drop in its profit margins amid growth in its Cricket prepaid business as well as a shift to shared-data plans. Operating margins were 24.5 percent in the wireless business compared to 28.3 percent a year ago. AT&T said it added 441,000 postpaid customers, with 70 percent of new smartphones joining the network doing so without a hardware subsidy — either those taking part in monthly device installment payments, paying up front or bringing their own device to the network. Last quarter, AT&T added two million customers , although only about 150,000 of those were core postpaid smartphone customers. The company is in the midst of several big changes, including its pending deal to buy DirecTV, expected to close this quarter, and moves to expand into Mexico. AT&T said it now expects more than $2.5 billion in annual cost synergies by the third year after the deal close, up from its prior estimate of $1.6 billion in savings. Click to share on Twitter Share on Facebook Click to share on Google+ Click to share on LinkedIn Click to share on Pinterest Click to share on Reddit Click to email this to a friend Contact Ina Fried: @InaFried | EMAIL Click to share on Twitter Share on Facebook Click to share on Google+ Click to share on LinkedIn Click to share on Pinterest Click to share on Reddit Click to email this to a friend Join the conversation:

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Court filing made public today shows Zillow has accused Realtor.com operator Move of scraping listing data (Blair Hanley Frank/GeekWire)

David Beitel In a filing made public today, Zillow accused Realtor.com operator Move, Inc. of scraping the listing data from its website in a new court filing today, as part of an ongoing feud between the two companies. David Beitel, Zillow’s chief technology officer, said in the declaration that Zillow’s tech team detected requests for information from its website earlier this month that matched an automated scraping program. “The Zillow.com content that was accessed included search results covering every State, as well as Puerto Rico and Guam,” Beitel said. “Indeed, the intrusiveness of the application was such that it was averaging approximately 36,000 data requests to the Zillow.com website each day.” Those requests were traced back to an IP address that – according to Zillow – belongs to Top Producer Systems , a division of Move that’s based in British Columbia. Zillow blocked further access from that address, but Beitel said that it would be a “relatively simple matter for a party interested in connecting to the site to do so through a different IP address.” Chris Crocker That accusation comes in response to a claim that Zillow scraped data from Move to benchmark its own listings levied in a letter written by former Zillow executive Chris Crocker and submitted to the court by Move. In a declaration filed with the court, Crocker, who sent the letter anonymously to Move, said in a declaration today that he didn’t want to be identified because he feared retaliation by Zillow. In his declaration, he doubled down on his claims, saying that what he wrote was “based on personal observation and experiences” and doesn’t contain any trade secrets, despite Zillow’s claims to the contrary . Crocker’s letter also included other accusations about conduct on the part of Zillow Chief Industry Development Officer Errol Samuelson and Vice President of Industry Development Curt Beardsley, who are named defendants in this case. Both men have filed declarations denying the claims against them, which include accusations that Beardsley stole databases from Move in order to benefit Zillow. Aside from its filings, Zillow is remaining fairly mum on the case. “We have taken appropriate legal action to address this situation based on the facts,” Zillow spokesperson Katie Curnutte said in a statement emailed to GeekWire. A representative for Move declined to comment on this report. The declarations from Beitel and Crocker are embedded below.

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Sources: Path in talks to sell its social networking app to South Korea’s Daum Kakao, makers of messaging app KakaoTalk (Re/code)

Path is in serious talks to sell its original social networking app, known as Path Classic, to the makers of South Korean messaging app KakaoTalk, according to multiple sources familiar with the deal. The potential acquisition — terms of which are still unknown — would give KakaoTalk’s parent company Daum Kakao a major foothold in Indonesia, where Path is a leading social app. The company has 30 million active users, the majority of which live in Indonesia. Selling off Path Classic would extract San Francisco-based Path from its somewhat strange position of making an app that never gained traction at home in the United States, and is primarily used in a country halfway around the world by an audience that has proven hard to monetize. Nearly five years after it first released its private small-group social network app, Path has now reoriented itself as a sort of app studio, adding a messaging spinoff called Path Talk (that also allows people to message businesses) , and a selfie GIF app called Kong, which was released just last week. Tellingly, perhaps, it’s only available to users in the United States. Sources familiar with the conversations say Path, which has raised more than $75 million in funding, would continue to operate independently after selling off the social networking app. Path has been a frequent target of rumor speculation, and it’s been widely reported that Google had made a $100 million offer for the company within its first few months of launching. This, however, appears to be the real deal. Path declined to comment. Daum Kakao, the parent company behind KakaoTalk, did not immediately responded to a request for comment. In the global fight for messaging apps, competitors tend to dominate on a country-by-country basis: KakaoTalk in its home base of South Korea, Line in Japan and much of Southeast Asia, WeChat in China, and WhatsApp in many other places around the world. According to sources, KakaoTalk and Line have both been spending enormous amounts of money on marketing — thought to be tens of millions of dollars — on trying to acquire market share in Indonesia, the largest country in Southeast Asia with a population of 250 million, many of whom are exceedingly active on mobile and social apps. An acquisition would help bring a return to Path’s investors, which include First Round Capital, Shasta Ventures, Greylock Partners, Index Ventures, Kleiner Perkins — and most recently, Indonesia’s Bakrie Global Group . Click to share on Twitter Share on Facebook Click to share on Google+ Click to share on LinkedIn Click to share on Pinterest Click to share on Reddit Click to email this to a friend Contact Kurt Wagner: @KurtWagner8 | EMAIL Contact Liz Gannes: @LizGannes | EMAIL Click to share on Twitter Share on Facebook Click to share on Google+ Click to share on LinkedIn Click to share on Pinterest Click to share on Reddit Click to email this to a friend Join the conversation:

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Report: VC investing increased 26% YoY to $13.4B in Q1 2015, the biggest Q1 since 2000 (Carmel DeAmicis/Re/code)

Venture capital investing just had its biggest Q1 in 15 years, according to new data on VC investment trends. At $13.4 billion in 1,020 deals, the first fiscal quarter of 2015 clocked in the most first quarter funding since 2000. Investors threw 26 percent more money into deals than they did in the first quarter of 2014. If you needed any more proof the market is on the upswing, this is it. The numbers come from the MoneyTree Report produced quarterly by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, using data provided by Thomson Reuters. There was a host of other findings, most of which showed that the billions of dollars being poured into startups are still flowing freely. There were twelve deals that passed the $100 million threshold. Later stage deals represented a third of the total money invested. The funding software companies received compared to startups in other sectors has doubled in the last decade, from 21 percent in the first quarter of 2006 to 42 percent in the first quarter of 2015. The second biggest sector for deals was biotechnology, with $1.7 billion going into 124 deals. “This is a good time to raise money, even if you don’t need the money,” Gary Little, a partner at Canvas Venture Fund, told Re/code in an interview.

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Klout co-founder Joe Fernandez steps down as CEO about a year after firm’s acquisition (Kurt Wagner/Re/code)

Klout co-founder and CEO Joe Fernandez has stepped down from his role leading the social media influence startup that’s now owned by Lithium Technologies . Fernandez is off to pursue other startup ideas, according to a Lithium spokesperson, who confirmed that Fernandez had his last day earlier this week. Klout will still exist as a standalone service, but the technology has also been fully integrated into Lithium’s social and customer service software. Klout’s employees have also been dispersed and now work within existing Lithium teams. Fernandez stepping away from Klout comes a little more than a year after Lithium first announced it had acquired the company . The deal, an all-stock arrangement, was valued at $164 million at the time of the acquisition, according to a source. It was also during that time that Klout was trying to shake off the public perception that its algorithm, which ranks how influential someone is on social media, was nothing more than a vanity. Lithium obviously found it to be valuable, in part because the company’s customer service software works better if brands know who their most influential users are on social media. Lithium helps brands build social communities on their own websites, and some brands have even recruited social media “superfans” to help them handle customer service requests online. In this vein, Klout’s algorithm intended to identify influential users and its award program which lets brands offer gifts to these people in hopes of free advertising, fit nicely into Lithium’s business. As part of the transition, Fernandez will join Lithium’s board of directors, replacing former Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Chi-hua Chien who joined the board when Klout was acquired last March. Additional reporting by Carmel DeAmicis. Click to share on Twitter Share on Facebook Click to share on Google+ Click to share on LinkedIn Click to share on Pinterest Click to share on Reddit Click to email this to a friend Contact Kurt Wagner: @KurtWagner8 | EMAIL Click to share on Twitter Share on Facebook Click to share on Google+ Click to share on LinkedIn Click to share on Pinterest Click to share on Reddit Click to email this to a friend Join the conversation:

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Twitter Homepage Adds Sampling of Tweets to Lure Unregistered Users (Kurt Wagner/Re/code)

Twitter.com has a new look. The social network officially launched a new version of its homepage on Wednesday, one that includes a handful of different Twitter categories that lead users to streams of tweets without needing to sign in to an account. The idea here is that Twitter is missing out on a slew of potential users. Roughly 125 million people visit Twitter.com every month without signing in. That’s a substantial number considering the company’s entire user base is 288 million people per month. Until now, those 125 million have been greeted at Twitter.com with nothing but a single image and a sign-up box. Now, they’ll see actual tweets from actual users, and Twitter hopes they’ll be intrigued enough to look around. If all goes according to plan, these visitors will create accounts at some point, too. Twitter has been testing this homepage for a few months — we first wrote about the test back in February. So it’s no surprise that Twitter is thinking of new ways to get its content in front of more people, particularly those without accounts. The company has dealt with slow growth in the past, and this is another way to lure people in. There’s another benefit for Twitter beyond the desire for more users, though: Increased impressions.

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Amazon files first-ever suit over fake product reviews, alleges Calif. man sold fraudulent praise (Todd Bishop/GeekWire)

Some of the fake reviews identified in the Amazon suit Amazon has filed suit against the alleged operator of several sites that offer Amazon sellers the ability to purchase fake 4- and 5-star customer reviews of their products. The suit, the first of its kind from the Seattle company, was filed in King County Superior Court against a California man, Jay Gentile, identified in Amazon’s filings as the operator of sites including buyazonreviews.com, buyamazonreviews.com, bayreviews.net and buyreviewsnow.com. The site also targets unidentified “John Does” also believed to be involved in the scheme. The case is part of a broader effort by the company to crack down on fake reviews. “While small in number, these reviews threaten to undermine the trust that customers, and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers, place in Amazon, thereby tarnishing Amazon’s brand,” the suit says. “Amazon strictly prohibits any attempt to manipulate customer reviews and actively polices its website to remove false, misleading, and inauthentic reviews. “Despite substantial efforts to stamp out the practice, an unhealthy ecosystem is developing outside of Amazon to supply inauthentic reviews,” the suit adds. “Defendants’ businesses consist entirely of selling such reviews.” According to the suit, the sites operated by Gentile offer to provide fake “verified reviews” for a premium, telling the sellers that they can ship empty boxes to reviewers involved in the scheme, to trick Amazon into thinking that the product had actually been purchased. The lawsuit explains, “Indeed, one of the review sites – buyazonreviews.com – even chastised a reviewer for complaining about not receiving the product, admitting, “All our reviewers know of the process and I am not sure as to why she sent this to you but I will ensure it does not happen in the future.’ ” The suit adds, “Other reviewers had no such qualms. As promised, reviewers for buyazonreviews.com delivered glowing five-star reviews (as well as one four-star review as requested by the customer) on a product they never received.” It continues … Similarly, the defendants at the unambiguously named “buyamazonreviews.com” promise, “You can have unlimited 4 and 5 star reviews this week.” The defendants operating “bayreviews.net” use Amazon’s logo to advertise “a unique system that generates high quality 5 rating reviews to your Kindle eBook.” And the defendants at “buyreviewsnow.com” claim, “never has it been easier to get multiple 4 and 5 star reviews on your product page.” Defendants are misleading Amazon’s customers and tarnishing Amazon’s brand for their own profit and the profit of a handful of dishonest sellers and manufacturers. Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping Defendants and disrupting the marketplace in which they participate.

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Kik Interactive Said to Explore Sale or Corporate Investment (Bloomberg Business)

Kik Interactive Inc. , which makes a messaging application popular with young teens, is exploring a sale, people with knowledge of the matter said. The company hired Qatalyst Partners to set up conversations with potential acquirers or corporate investors in Silicon Valley and Asia, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process is private. Kik, based in Waterloo, Ontario, hasn’t yet found an attractive deal, the people said. Kik, with more than 200 million registered users, as of January had raised about $70 million. Kik is betting that larger corporations may want to capitalize on the increasing popularity of messaging applications. Snapchat Inc. recently raised funding from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. at a $15 billion valuation, and last year Facebook Inc. acquired WhatsApp Inc. for $22 billion. Qatalyst will help Kik network with faraway companies and find all potential options, one of the people said. The company has about two years’ worth of financing and isn’t in danger of running out of cash, the person said. Ted Livingston, Kik’s founder and chief executive officer, confirmed the talks, while declining to comment on specific suitors. “We had a lot of inbound interest, especially this year,” he said Wednesday in an interview

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Google appears to be developing a teleconferencing tool called GMeet (Chance Miller/9to5Google)

First noticed by Florian Kiersch on Google+ , Google appears to be testing a new meetings service. Google Meetings, also referred to as GMeet, appears to allow users to schedule and join teleconference calls with one click. Instead of having to dial into a teleconference call, one user could create a meeting topic in GMeet, then invite everyone else to the call. People who received an invite would be able to then join the call with a single click. More than likely, GMeet uses Google Hangouts as a base for its functionality with additional features added for enterprise customers. Presumably GMeet will be catered towards users of Google Apps for Work and offer an enterprise-friendly interface. The leaked screenshots show an Android app, although Kiersch also claims that Google has a Chrome Extension for GMeet in development. Currently, GMeet is in testing and only available to people that work at Google, although it appears that it will eventually rollout to more users. Phandroid points out that GMeet and Google Meeting searches return code strings from as far back as 2011. “Most of the code references things we already have access to in the latest rendition of Hangouts, such as whiteboards, screen sharing, and integration with Google Calendar,” the website reports. This supports the belief that Google Meetings is powered by Hangouts, with only a different interface and a few adjusted features added.

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Groupon considering selling Breadcrumb checkout software and its Korean business Ticket Monster (Jason Del Rey/Re/code)

Groupon is contemplating divesting some or all of its Breadcrumb business unit, which makes checkout software for restaurants and bars that runs on iPads, according to multiple sources. Groupon executives have discussed the possibility internally and even floated it to a competitor during a recent meeting, these people said. Groupon acquired Breadcrumb in 2012 to help Groupon merchants manage their businesses more efficiently and make it easier for them to redeem Groupon vouchers. The Breadcrumb software comes with a payments processing option integrated. Breadcrumb founder Seth Harris is still with Groupon and recently told industry execs that he would like to raise money from venture capitalists to spin Breadcrumb out of Groupon into a standalone business, according to sources. It’s not clear whether he has actually pitched any investors on such an idea or whether Groupon would be on board with such an arrangement. Separately, a Groupon exec casually mentioned the idea of selling off some or all of the business to competitor Square recently, according to sources, but that specific idea didn’t get off the ground and the two sides haven’t held any formal talks on a deal. A Square spokesman declined to comment and Groupon’s Harris didn’t respond to requests for comments. A Groupon spokesman declined to comment on the specifics, but said, “As we’ve previously discussed, we’re always looking at our great assets to determine how to best position them for growth and unlock value for our shareholders.” Groupon also offers less sophisticated iPad checkout software for brick-and-mortar businesses that don’t need all the bells and whistles, mostly aimed at restaurants and bars, that come with Breadcrumb. It’s not clear what would happen to that business if Groupon sold off Breadcrumb. In addition to Breadcrumb, Groupon has said it is considering selling off some or all of its Korean business, Ticket Monster, as competition increases in that region. Groupon bought Ticket Monster from competitor LivingSocial for $260 million in early 2014. Groupon has been increasingly focused transforming its website into a shopping destination with a giant catalogue of deals on local services and products that customers visit regularly rather than relying on one-off email promotions to bring in customers. Click to share on Twitter Share on Facebook Click to share on Google+ Click to share on LinkedIn Click to share on Pinterest Click to share on Reddit Click to email this to a friend Contact Jason Del Rey: @DelRey | EMAIL Click to share on Twitter Share on Facebook Click to share on Google+ Click to share on LinkedIn Click to share on Pinterest Click to share on Reddit Click to email this to a friend Join the conversation:

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LinkedIn Buys Refresh.io To Add Predictive Insights To Its Products (Ingrid Lunden/TechCrunch)

LinkedIn , the social network for professionals with nearly 350 million users, has been making a push into the area of anticipatory computing , where it predicts what kind of information you need to know, when you need it. Today comes the latest development in that strategy: The company has acquired and will be closing down Refresh.io , a startup and iOS app of the same name that surfaces insights about people in your networks right before you meet them. Terms of the deal are not being disclosed, but it is a talent and technology acquisition. Refresh.io had raised about $10 million from CRV, Redpoint, Foundation Capital and Haystack. The deal was confirmed to us by LinkedIn directly, as well as in a blog post penned by co-founder Bhavin Shah . The main app will be closing down on April 15 and the company will not be taking any new sign-ups. Twelve of the current team of 15 (14 full time and one contractor) are joining LinkedIn in Mountain View to work on incorporating the tech they have developed into various LinkedIn products. That main app let you log in using Facebook or LinkedIn, and then provided you with relevant pieces of information about a contact such as your most recent interactions, recent and relevant news mentions and so on so that you could develop a more updated profile of someone you may not regularly follow all that closely. “We are going to be exploring the different ways we can use the ideas they have into a number of different LinkedIn products,” a spokesperson for LinkedIn said in an interview. “We’re looking to take their smarts and add them to a number of products and come up with a number of insights to make LinkedIn even more valuable.” One of these is likely to be LinkedIn’s Connected app, which has already been incorporating some elements of predictive computing to provide some insights and flag when you’re near people in your network, aimed at those using the app on the go and in work environments. What will be interesting to see is if LinkedIn chooses to keep some of the integrations that Refresh had developed pre-acquisition. One of the more recent that its team was touting was a link with Salesforce . As part of Salesforce’s App Exchange, those who used both Refresh.io and Salesforce would get profiles of users every time they entered a new email address into their Salesforce database. The idea here would be that if you have a sales lead, you could use Refresh.io to get more detailed information about the prospect on the spot, and that can help you sell to that person better

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Salesforce cancels Indiana events to protest anti-gay law (Arik Hesseldahl/Re/code)

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff says he has canceled all his company’s events in the state of Indiana after its governor signed into law a bill that makes it legal for individuals to use religious grounds as a defense when they are sued by people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. And in an interview with Re/code , Benioff threatened the state with a “slow rolling of economic sanctions” if the law is not thrown out. “We’ve made significant investments in Indiana. We run major marketing events and conferences there. We’re a major source of income and revenue to the state of Indiana, but we simply cannot support this kind of legislation,” Benioff said in a phone interview. Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill, called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act today, and said in a statement that people of Indiana “feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action.” The bill, now a law, allows any person or corporation to cite religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party. The intent of the bill is to give companies and business owners legal cover if they don’t want to do business with same-sex couples. Benioff said that Salesforce employs between 2,000 and 3,000 people in the state, owing largely to its 2013 acquisition of ExactTarget , an email marketing company based in Indianapolis. Salesforce paid $2.5 billion for it, and Benioff later described the acquisition as a “ perfect fit .” Since 2007, ExactTarget has hosted its most important customer event, called Connections, in Indianapolis. Last year it drew 10,000 people and about $8 million in spending to Indianapolis. Salesforce announced it would move the event to New York in September.

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