Exclusive: This Startup Just Nabbed $5 Million to Solve a Thorny Software Problem

Deploying business software has gotten very complex.

Backplane, a startup that says it can help companies manage the complex software deployments of the cloud computing era, has emerged from stealth with $ 5 million in seed funding—and a service it says can ease the headaches of deploying new-age software.

Now that nearly every business, whether it’s a media company or an automaker, also builds its own software for its website or employee sites, the pain of building and running business software is ubiquitous.

San Francisco-based Backplane says its newly available Backplane Core service will help those companies manage how their data flows whether it ends up running on Amazon Web Services amzn or some other cloud data center, internal data centers, or all of the above.

Company founder Blake Mizerany was the first engineer hired at Heroku, a popular software development platform purchased by Salesforce crm for $ 212 million seven years ago and, more recently, CoreOS, so he knows a lot about how software is built.

Related: This Respected Tech Exec Is Leaving Salesforce for Amazon

With companies using software containers, mixing and matching various services, and putting their processes in various clouds, the problem is how to manage an efficient and secure data flow between on-premises data centers and various clouds.

That’s a lot of complexity. Companies now have to think about what’s running in various cloud data center regions and virtual public clouds (VPCs) within those configurations. (VPCs are computing resources in a shared public cloud and cordoned off for use by a single customer.)

“Customers would ask how we did this at Heroku, and my sad answer was that we had to build all our own load balancers and proxy servers and let them spread traffic across data centers to the cloud,” Mizerany tells Fortune. The truth is that most companies don’t want to have to worry about that stuff, so the new Backplane Core service, available as of now, will take that off their plate, he says.

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Byron Sebastian, Heroku’s former CEO and a former senior vice president at Salesforce, advises the company. The explosive changes in how software is built and deployed—much of it the work of companies like Heroku— has caused a bit of what he calls a “hangover.”

Related: Microsoft Expands its Azure Cloud Data Centers

“How do you manage all these different services? How do they find and secure one another? Right now, the answer to that is a lot of difficult manual labor,” Sebastian says. “Blake’s idea is to put more power into the hands of technologies and let them manage the network connectivity.”

The big promise of Backplane Core, he continues, is it will give customers one dashboard to manage that data flow, regardless of where it happens.

The seed round was led by Baseline Ventures with a contribution from Harrison Metal. Backplane and its nine employees will use the funding for further investment in sales, marketing, and product development.

Tech

Exclusive: This Startup Just Nabbed $5 Million to Solve a Thorny Software Problem

Deploying business software has gotten very complex.

Backplane, a startup that says it can help companies manage the complex software deployments of the cloud computing era, has emerged from stealth with $ 5 million in seed funding—and a service it says can ease the headaches of deploying new-age software.

Now that nearly every business, whether it’s a media company or an automaker, also builds its own software for its website or employee sites, the pain of building and running business software is ubiquitous.

San Francisco-based Backplane says its newly available Backplane Core service will help those companies manage how their data flows whether it ends up running on Amazon Web Services amzn or some other cloud data center, internal data centers, or all of the above.

Company founder Blake Mizerany was the first engineer hired at Heroku, a popular software development platform purchased by Salesforce crm for $ 212 million seven years ago and, more recently, CoreOS, so he knows a lot about how software is built.

Related: This Respected Tech Exec Is Leaving Salesforce for Amazon

With companies using software containers, mixing and matching various services, and putting their processes in various clouds, the problem is how to manage an efficient and secure data flow between on-premises data centers and various clouds.

That’s a lot of complexity. Companies now have to think about what’s running in various cloud data center regions and virtual public clouds (VPCs) within those configurations. (VPCs are computing resources in a shared public cloud and cordoned off for use by a single customer.)

“Customers would ask how we did this at Heroku, and my sad answer was that we had to build all our own load balancers and proxy servers and let them spread traffic across data centers to the cloud,” Mizerany tells Fortune. The truth is that most companies don’t want to have to worry about that stuff, so the new Backplane Core service, available as of now, will take that off their plate, he says.

Get Data Sheet, Fortune’s technology newsletter

Byron Sebastian, Heroku’s former CEO and a former senior vice president at Salesforce, advises the company. The explosive changes in how software is built and deployed—much of it the work of companies like Heroku— has caused a bit of what he calls a “hangover.”

Related: Microsoft Expands its Azure Cloud Data Centers

“How do you manage all these different services? How do they find and secure one another? Right now, the answer to that is a lot of difficult manual labor,” Sebastian says. “Blake’s idea is to put more power into the hands of technologies and let them manage the network connectivity.”

The big promise of Backplane Core, he continues, is it will give customers one dashboard to manage that data flow, regardless of where it happens.

The seed round was led by Baseline Ventures with a contribution from Harrison Metal. Backplane and its nine employees will use the funding for further investment in sales, marketing, and product development.

Tech

How Nudge Theory Just Made You Click on This Headline (and Helped a Famous Economist Win the Nobel Prize)

It takes effort to move a mouse, point the arrow toward a headline, and click down on a button. As a writer, I know this is true–I search on Google and read headlines all day, and I write headlines like the one above that will hopefully make you interested.

The catch? We’re all inundated with many other headlines, so there has to be just enough information to make you slightly curious. And, you’re savvy enough to know when a headline is really just a ploy–a trick that’s only a level or two above an ant trap. On the web these days, headlines are all about a demonstration of perceived value. You won’t click unless it seems like there will be an obvious reward and the click will be worth your time.

It’s also a curiously apt example of how nudging works. It’s the power of suggestion, a hint of payback, and a promise of reward for your time all rolled into about 10-15 words. Of course, headlines are nothing new, and suggestions as a way to influence marketing and sales are also not new. What is relatively new, and why Richard Thaler just won the 2017 Nobel prize in economics for his work in this area, is that it has become quite a science.

A headline is a nudge in a pure form. It’s all about prompting people to action–is the promise of the article you’re about to read enough to cause people to act?

For anyone trying to generate content or write a blog, it’s incredibly important to understand the art of nudging. Create too much of a nudge (or too small of a nudge) and people won’t click. A headline has to find the right balance of suggestion versus giving it all away, and the principle applies to an ever greater degree because every headline can be measured so precisely. If you’re writing a headline, it’s worth the effort to think about how the nudge will cause a reaction (or not cause a reaction).

Let’s examine the headline above as an example.

First, you maybe didn’t know about nudge theory. It’s a new concept, so you were curious. It might lead you to discover there’s a book by that name (written by Thaler and a co-author). You might even decide to buy it on Amazon. That’s a big reward right there, because the economic principles of nudging can be invaluable for anyone responsible for product success.

Second, there’s a hint of a new angle. Thaler did just win the Nobel prize, and his accomplishments are worth noting in more ways than one. There’s an interesting correlation that might develop–it must be worth clicking if it was worth winning a Nobel prize. I have no idea if this will actually garner any attention, but I do know that nudging, the Nobel prize, and Thaler are all worth your attention. They might even change how you do marketing.

But it’s the combination of these ideas that I believe is so important, just as it’s a combination of several ideas that make an advertisement enticing, or a PR campaign, or a slideshow you plan to give to an investor. The balance of interest and carrot dangling, to the point where no one even knows there is a carrot involved, is incredibly interesting to me. It’s worthy of an entire book, actually. I’d buy it and read it to find out more–how do you strike the balance? What is the brain science involved that tips people off just the right amount? When is there just enough sugar and when is there too much?

If you know the answers to those questions, you might find some incredible success…with blogging and writing, sure. Or marketing. But also with any business endeavor.

Tech

Famed Architect’s Lawsuit Against Google Just Got Much More Serious

Eli Attia alleges he wasn’t the only one mistreated by the search giant.

A long-running lawsuit filed against Google by a prominent architect has just gotten much broader.

Last week, the Superior Court of California granted a motion adding racketeering charges to the civil case being pursued against Google by Eli Attia, an expert in high-rise construction. Attia claims Google stole his idea for an innovative building design method – and now he wants to prove that it does the same thing frequently.

Attia’s suit was originally filed in 2014, four years after he began discussions with Google (prior to its reorganization as Alphabet) about developing software based on a set of concepts he called Engineered Architecture. Attia has said Engineered Architecture, broadly described as a modular approach to building, would revolutionize the design and construction of large buildings. Attia developed the concepts based on insights gleaned from his high-profile architecture career, and has called them his life’s work.

Google executives including Google X cofounder Astro Teller came to share his enthusiasm, and championed developing software based on Engineered Architecture as one of the company’s “moonshots.” But Attia claims the company later used his ideas without fulfilling an agreement to pay to license them.

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Attia’s suit names not just Google, but individual executives including founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. It also names Flux Factory, the unit Attia’s suit alleges was spun off specifically to capitalize on his ideas.

Speaking to the San Jose Mercury News, Attia’s lawyer claims Google told Attia his project had been cancelled, “when in fact they were going full blast on it.” Flux Factory is now known as Flux, and touts itself as “the first company launched by Google X.”

Attia’s suit will now also seek to prove that his case is representative of a much broader pattern of behavior by Alphabet. According to court documents, the motion to add racketeering charges hinged on six similar incidents. Those incidents aren’t specified in the latest court proceedings, but Alphabet has faced a similar trade-secrets battle this summer over X’s Project Loon, which has already led to Loon being stripped of some patents.

The idea of racketeering charges entering the picture will surprise many who associate them with violent organized criminals. But under RICO statutes, civil racketeering suits can be brought by private litigants against organizations and individuals alleged to have engaged in ongoing misdeeds. The broader use of racketeering charges has slowly gained ground since the introduction of RICO laws in the 1960s, with some famous instances including suits against Major League Baseball and even the Los Angeles Police Department.

Tech

Google Just Unveiled its Home Mini Internet-Connected Speaker

Google Home Updates: New Home Mini Speaker Is Unveiled | Fortune


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