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Inside SaaS (Jul 15th, 2019)

1. The Wall Street Journal says IBM's $34 billion Red Hat acquisition will allow it to compete with Microsoft and Amazon. The long-awaited deal was finalized last week and heralded a new chapter for IBM, which is now better positioned to compete with other cloud sector heavyweights. The purchase of Red Hat will give IBM the ability to offer hybrid cloud solutions and open-source software that allows IT managers to update older data centers. IBM has addressed industry concerns over the acquisition by stating that it will allow Red Hat to continue working independently and maintain its current CEO, Jim Whitehurst. -- WALL STREET JOURNAL

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2. Berlin-based digital bank N26 has launched in the US via a partnership with Axos Bank. The partnership will provide N26 with immediate authorization to operate across all 50 states and be operated through a New York-based subsidiary. Following its Thursday launch, the bank added 100,000 US accounts that were on a waiting list to its rapidly growing customer base. Licensed in the EU in 2016, N26 has 3.5 million customers in 24 European markets and adds 10,000 new users each day. However, as Quartz notes, N26 and Monzo, a UK digital bank that launched in the US last year, may be entering the market too quickly to properly prepare for taking on major American banks. -- CITY AM

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4. Utah has created a regulatory sandbox for fintech startups to test products and services before launching. Under the new program announced last week, fintech companies will be allowed to apply for exemption from Utah licenses to begin quickly marketing and experimenting products and services. Utah Representative Marc Roberts (R-Provo) said that the program would allow companies to "take innovative products and ideas to market without having to jump through the traditional regulatory hoops and licensing requirements." -- CROWDFUND INSIDER

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5. Microsoft Word has crossed the 1 billion download mark on Android's Play Store. The company's other apps are also experiencing strong growth, with Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and OneDrive recording more than 500 million installs each, while Outlook for Android has seen over 100 million installs. Microsoft has been aided by agreements it has with Samsung and other manufacturers to pre-install Word (as well as other apps like Microsoft-owned Skype and LinkedIn) on phones and tablets.  -- THE VERGE 

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6. Mumbai-based Unicorn India Ventures has launched a $58.3 million fund focused on B2B tech. It is the firm's third venture capital fund and will be used for pre-Series A and Series A stage investments into B2B tech firms specializing in SaaS, AI, machine learning and/or IoT. Launched in 2015, Unicorn India Ventures has noticed that investments for B2B tech in India "has increased" and that these tech business startups are now "attracting large capital." -- DEAL STREET ASIA

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7. Oracle's challenge to the Pentagon's $10 billion cloud computing contract has been overruled. Last April, the Pentagon announced Microsoft and Amazon as the finalists to the lucrative Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract, eliminating Oracle and IBM from the contest. However, Oracle alleged conflict of interest over Amazon's hiring of two former defense department employees, which a federal claims court has now overruled, stating "that individual conflicts of interest did not impact the procurement." Oracle also announced on Monday it would be shutting down its Israeli subsidiary Ravello. -- FINANCIAL TIMES

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8. RingCentral has partnered with FatPipe Systems to improve VoIP call quality. The cloud-based communications company will leverage FatPipe's software-defined wide-area network technology to optimize bandwidths for voice over IP calls, lowering drop rates and improving the quality of calls. RingCentral customers can now license FatPipe via AWS to operate it alongside RingCentral's platform. -- CHANNEL PARTNERS ONLINE

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9. Only 8 percent of Indian IT managers believe they are prepared to handle cyberattacks. A cybersecurity survey conducted by  UK-based SaaS company Sophos also found that 89 percent of Indian managers found keeping up to date with IT issues was a challenge. Moreover, Indian IT teams spend about one-third of their time trying to manage cybersecurity issues, yet find this task to be challenging due to lack of expertise, budget and the availability of updated technology. -- ECONOMIC TIMES OF INDIA

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10. Crypto investor Herbert Sim has pledged $3.5 million to two blockchain startups. Sim announced the investments at the this year's RISE tech conference in Hong Kong, committing $1 million to Malta-based TaoDust, which runs a crowdfunding platform based on blockchain, and another $2.5 million to DIYBlockchian, which recently released a zero-code product that helps developers with common challenges encountered in creating blockchain-based software. -- THE CRYPTO UPDATES

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This newsletter is written and curated by Justin Calderón. Justin is based out of Barcelona, Spain, and has covered technology and SaaS news for a variety of publications, including the BBC and Newsweek. Follow him on Twitter at @justinfuyun

Editing team: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside), David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology), and Bobby Cherry (senior editor at Inside, who’s always on social media).

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