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.

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This Tech IPO Is the Latest to Limit Rights of Small Investors

Super voting rights are a concern.

When data center operator Switch goes public on Friday it will be the latest tech firm using special shares to limit the rights of minority investors, making it ineligible for inclusion in the S&P 500 under new rules meant to deter such practices.

The Las Vegas company, run by enigmatic founder and CEO Rob Roy, plans to sell 31.3 million shares in an initial public offer late on Thursday for between $ 14 and $ 16 a piece, which would raise nearly $ 500 million and make it the largest technology listing this year after Snap.

Underwriters closed their order book late on Wednesday and the deal was oversubscribed, according to a source close to the IPO.

Roy, who describes himself as an “inventrepreneur” and “tech futurist,” will have 68% of voting power following the IPO, thanks to a special share class providing 10 votes per share.

That will keep Switch out of the S&P 500 and other related indexes under new rules instituted by S&P Dow Jones in July after Snap sold shares without any voting rights in its $ 3.4 billion IPO earlier this year.

Rule changes enacted last month for FTSE Russell indexes, also in reaction to Snap, require new constituents of its indexes to have at least 5% of their voting rights in the hands of public shareholders.

The shares being sold in Switch’s IPO will include 4.9% of the company’s voting rights, or 5.6% if underwriters exercise an option to buy additional shares.

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In its IPO filing and a profile of Roy on the company website, Switch gives no details about what he did before founding the company in 2000 or his academic qualifications. The profile describes him as “a recognized expert in advanced end-to-end solutions for mission-critical facilities.”

A company spokesman declined to provide additional information about Roy, and he does not appear in a 38-minute video marketing the IPO.

The IPO could value Switch, which operates three data centers in Michigan and Nevada, at almost $ 4 billion.

Snap co-founder Evan Spiegel was well known to Wall Street ahead of the Snapchat-owner’s February share offer, with many investors essentially betting on his talent. With Roy less known, investors may be taking a greater risk on a company in which they will have little say.

“Investors do look at voting control as well as the price you pay. If you put so much stock in the CEO, normally he’s going to part of the sales pitch for the company,” said Ken Bertsch, Executive Director of the Council of Institutional Investors, which represents top U.S. pension funds.

As many of 15% of U.S. IPOs in recent years have used dual share classes meant to give insiders outsized voting rights, according to the Council of Institutional Investors.

Inclusion in a stock index can be an important milestone for young companies, bringing their shares into many passive funds and others that closely follow indexes like the S&P 500, a guide for trillions of dollars of capital worldwide.

Other companies excluded from major indexes under their new rules include video-streaming company Roku Inc, whose IPO last week kept 97% of voting power with insiders. Software seller Mulesoft’s IPO in February included a share class with 10 votes per share, as did Blue Apron in its June debut.

Suggesting that the tide may be turning toward sharing power with minority investors, privately-held ride-hailing company Uber on Tuesday said it would abandon a dual share class system that favored insiders including former CEO Travis Kalanick.

Responding to a shareholder lawsuit, Facebook Inc in September gave up plans for a new class of stock that was meant to be a way for Mark Zuckerberg to retain control over the company he founded while fulfilling a pledge to give away his wealth.

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This Brilliant Video From a Famous Company's Lawyers Is a Hilarious Masterstroke in Persuasion

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

What is it about lawyers these days?

Have they suddenly realized that coming over all human actually works with, well, humans?

Last week, Netflix’s lawyers sent a quite brilliant cease-and-desist email that must have made even the recipients laugh.

Now along comes another bunch of lawyers with a gripe and a heart.

The lawyers at Velcro are a little miffed that people think they own Velcro shoes and, perish the very concept, Velcro wallets.

Who needs a wallet, never mind a Velcro wallet?

The problem is that the more people ascribe every Velcro-like thing as a Velcro-thing, Velcro’s brand name gets tarnished, even though it lost its patent 40 years ago.

The technically correct terminology for most of those “scratchy, hairy fastener” things is, well, anything but Velcro. Hook and Loop is the acceptable generic term, apparently.

Or, as one quasi-lawyers calls it here: “F***ing Hook and Loop.”

There are trademark laws being broken, insist the lawyers. You have to change your behavior. Please.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, I learned all about this from a music video the company released today.

It purports to show a group of disgruntled Velcro lawyers singing of their pain and begging you to please cease and desist.

What would Velcro be if it lost its registered trademark, the famous “circled R”? It would be just another Velcro brand.

I know they feel strongly about this, as several times throughout this marvelous anthem they swear in a sing-song voice.

Still, this isn’t without its hiccups.

“We aren’t just doing this for us,” says a (possibly) real lawyer half way through the video. “We’re doing this for all the successful brands that got so popular that people started using their brand names the wrong way.”

Oh, poppycock, sir. You’re doing it for you. You’re doing it for the very reasons these fine lawyerish actors are singing about. And it’s good.

So do please stop getting defensive or I’ll give you and your brand the hook-and-loop.

I have no idea whether this idea will stick, but you have to admire the gusto with which Velcro has tried. I can only hope the song catches on.

Naturally, I now wait for all America’s lawyers to grow a sense of humor.

I look forward to them sending letters to people they are suing that read: “Look, we know you owe our clients money. But when we met you for the deposition, you seemed like such a funny person. So why don’t we just go and watch an NBA game together (our client’s paying) and forget all about it?”

Or perhaps: “Yes, you live in Colorado and you appear to have infringed our trademark. However, I see that your governor’s name is Hickenlooper. If you can get him to change it to Hookandlooper, we’ll let you off.”

A man can dream.

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