What Google Alerts show about Uber

Tom Paine

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Like many people, I rely on Google Alerts to track businesses and other topics I want to follow. I've got a few hundred of them, and though they aren't often the sources of my most important stories, some offer neat clues which lead eventually to great stories.

Since at the moment I've got most of my alerts in the same subsection of feedly, the reader I use, I see them all at the same time. And over the past couple of years, my Google Alerts have increasingly been dominated by Uber-related items.

Here is a sample of what my Uber Google Alerts showed over a period of a few hours today (press on text to highlight):

Its not a stream, its a torrent, and they tend to cover almost every aspect of society and most of the globe. I am sure there are people who do nothing but monitor these and other information streams about Uber.

TierPoint: Local presence important part of national data center strategy

Tom Paine

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One of the early acquisitions by a small St Louis-area data center operator was the former Philadelphia Technology Park at the Navy Yard in 2014. At the time, it didn't seem to make sense that a small company would reach so far from its territory.
Jerry Kent /
TierPoint website
But TierPoint was not just any small startup. It was founded by cable pioneer Jerry Kent, who was behind giant Charter Communications and later Suddenlink, another cable operator that was recently acquired by Altice for $9.1 billion.

Kent decided that it was time for him to move out of cable and is focusing his attention on growing TierPoint. In fact, he's bought several top managers from Suddenlink over to help run TierPoint.

TierPoint acquisitions /
TierPoint website

In the Northeastern market, TierPoint further upped its holdings by acquiring Xand in late 2014. Xand had acquired Bethlehem-based DBSi in 2012, adding three premium raised floor facilities in Pennsylvania. Two other southeastern Pennsylvania locations came through a later acquisition.

TierPoint's strategy is to focus geographically on Tier 2 (generally midsized) markets because "they continue to be emerging markets and provide the most opportunity for growth," said TierPoint Senior Vice President of Operations Bob Hicks. It hasn't invested much in mega datacenters, rather preferring small to medium-sized facilities with room for expansion when possible.

Bob Hicks is a Lehigh Valley native who came to TierPoint via DBSi and Xand. Until the day after I sopke with him last month, he was responsible for TierPoint's 6 local sites. But in late January, Hicks was named a Senior Vice President of Operations, with responsibilities for local operations and data centers in Arkansas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.

Hicks said that when TierPoint entered the Philly-area market it was considered undeserved - demand outstripping capacity. Of course, capacity isn't a single dimension, but depends upon which market segment your talking about, in TierPoint's case the enterprise market. Now Hicks thinks its more back in balance, but not without its opportunities. TierPoint is for now looking mostly at expanding existing facilities. Last year it wrapped up a large expansion in Valley Forge -a 17,000 square foot POD. At TekPark (Allentown), its adding a 13,500 square foot POD slated to go live by the end of September.

Expansion at the Navy Yard is still a future possibility, Hicks tells me, but there are some constraints. One he cited is the way energy distribution, managed at the Navy Yard by DTE Energy, is handled.

I mentioned to Hicks that one reason technology rollups such the kind that TierPoint
is attempting fail is a lack of integration planning and execution. Different locations are running a variety of legacy systems, and its not so easy to get them running on the same page. Hicks says 2016 is the year to achieve that integration, and a number of very knowledgeable people are identifying and sharing best practices and technologies.

TierPoint's acquisition strategy is nationwide in scope and has not slowed. The largest deal, as far as I know, is its October 2015 deal to buy the data center operations of Windstream Communications for $575 million. Windstream had acquired D&E Communications of Ephrata, PA a few years ago, but spun most of those assets off into a separate company prior to its Tierpont deal. But two Windstream data centers in the area from its 2011 acqusition of PAETEC, one in Conshohocken and one in Bethlehem, were included in the TierPoint transaction.

TierPoint has strong backers. In addition to local investors like the aptly named Redbird Capital (think baseball), it has regional powerhouse Stephens Inc (think Walmart IPO), the huge Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, and most recently PE giant TA Associates.

The larger question here is what's the endgame? Can what TierPoint is doing fundamentally effect data center economics?  One example could be large enterprises that want centralized but geographically distributed and differentiated applications. But isn't that what the Cloud, or Amazon Web Services, can already do?  Or is it to simply build a strong national brand with local points of presence?

Links 2/16: Birchbox Co-Founder Hayley Barna Joins First Round Capital as First Female Partner

Birchbox Co-Founder Hayley Barna Joins First Round Capital as First Female Partner (Re/code)

 Visible change in First Round leadership ranks /
FRC website

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick: Don’t Regulate Us to Death Like the Jitney (Re/code)

Things Uber CEO Travis Kalanick May Have Said In His TED Talk Today (Gizmodo)

Comcast floods the Twittersphere with X1 tweets (Philly.com)

Venmo crosses $1B monthly transfers for the first time (The Next Web)

Randall’s Take (CableFax)
(AT&T chmn/CEO Randall Stephenson’s tske on FCC's chsnces in court.)

SAP Brings Advanced Analytics to More Fingertips, Buys Roambi (CMS Wire)