tv Best of Bloomberg West Bloomberg August 21, 2016 6:00pm-7:01pm EDT
emily: i'm emily chang and this is the "best of bloomberg west." we bring you all out of interviews from the week in tech. uber it's the gas on its push into driverless cars. we will bring you the biggest details on the company's biggest acquisition to date and its driverless car pilot in pittsburgh. ford ceo mark fields tells us why he is focusing on a driverless car and doubling down at silicon valley. putting valuations to the test. dropbox meet advisors to discuss
an ipo. are they ready? uber users in downtown pittsburgh will be able to summon a self-driving car as soon as this month, beating out google, tesla, and all the biggest carmakers to a mega milestone for the auto industry. getting a self-driving ride hailing fleet on the road first. they started with a specialized suv. we sat down with a contributing editor david kirkpatrick. >> uber will be watching the pilot program right now in the next couple of weeks where drivers at random and riders at random will be able to experience this new era. people will be experiencing it with a test driver and a copilot
, a guy sitting there taking notes. it is very, very early, but it is exciting. i rode in one of these a couple of weeks back and i can tell you it is an experience. emily: you were on the show when when we interviewed founder of a self driving truck company. what is your take on it? >> it is stunning. there will be deploying self-driving ubers in pittsburgh so soon. i am really impressed. i am not sure i would want to be one of the people to ride in them. it is interesting. uber has put all this money into its labs. it kind of feels to me like they may be disappointed with the outcome of that and that is why
they felt they had to buy auto with all of its google expertise. i think it looks like from the way they are describing it, auto will be the center of gravity of uber's self-driving efforts. it might be a negative for people all the way in pittsburgh. maybe they are salvaging their self-respect by deploying cars in their hometown. emily: you researched decision-making by humans versus machines. are we really ready to let robots take the wheel? are robots ready for the challenge? >> emily, this is all about trust, it is all about establishing trust. i have written about this extensively, namely when should we trust machines with decisions? this is really a bold move by uber because what they are really doing is going out of the simulation mode and putting this out there into the real world. that is the only way to establish trust. trust with consumers and even more importantly, trust with regulators, really need to be convinced that this thing works and it is better for society and it does not impose huge risks on
individuals. and there is only one way to do it, which is to put it out there. it is absolutely brilliant because it puts them in a position where they are gathering really valuable data that others don't have. it gives them sort of that first mover advantage of gathering data with vehicles operating in the real world, and that is different. and they need to do that in order to establish trust. emily: max, how will this work? do users opt in to wanting to be picked up by self driving car, or just one shows up? >> as i understand it, you opt in and use the platform normally. it is like being caller number 100. you get an alert that says you will be in a self driving car. hope you don't have a lot of luggage because these self driving cars have giant computers in the trunk. there is some sort of practical consideration as the practical -- passenger number is limited
because of the driver and the copilot. one thing that is interesting about the uber self driving thing is the data angle, that uber has driven many hundreds and millions of miles. what they are saying is that they may be able to use the data that their human drivers are collecting to train the robots, which is kind of an exciting thing for people who are deep in the space. >> the other thing that has not been talked about is this is uber getting back into china in a way. this is an indirect way of getting back into the chinese scene. emily: interesting point. on the back of them selling their china business to their biggest rival in china. david, what about the people like you and me who may not opt into this right away, who are on the road and did not choose to be driving next to a self
driving uber volvo? >> that is related to the question that has been running through my head. they better hope that nothing goes wrong here. it reminds me, first of all, tesla was claiming they had more data about self driving because they have all these cars on the roads. maybe this is uber's way to jumpstart. look at what happened when tesla had one accident that was probably quite predictable. these overly valued companies, whether public or private, they almost had this pressure to prove they can do these things. that means they are in a very perilous position if they go wrong. i think it is pretty dicey to be doing this so early. from everything i hear, they are not going to get those two people out of the front seat any time soon. if they did, they might be inviting disaster. emily: coming up, we will have more on autonomous driving ambitions as a big detroit carmaker unveils its own plans.
emily: ford, pulling back the curtain on its ambitions on autonomous driving. planning a totally autonomous vehicle for ride hailing by 2021. the car would have no steering wheel and it is investing in different technology companies to get there. we have already seen tieups between general motors and lyft. toyota and uber, among others. i caught up with the ceo and began by asking if he would consider partnering with a major tech player. >> overall, as we look at the technology, look at the
roadmaps, if there are things that others do better than we do we are open to partnering and we have announced new partners. emily: tesla is focused on a semi-autonomous model. there is a safety investigation going on into one of their crashes in which someone died using autopilot. you are focused on fully autonomous. your car is not going to have a steering wheel. why is that the best way? >> i cannot speak for tesla. we are a leader in what we call level zero through 2 driver features. features that will keep you in your lane, stop you in stop and go traffic, and we will continue to be a leader and invest. at level 4, we have a lot of confidence and we believe in our plan that taking the driver out of the loop is really important because this little no man's land of at what point do you have to reengage the driver in a level three type vehicle? we are struggling on how to do that responsibly and timely for the driver.
that is why we are focused on level four. emily: so, some day, once you get your cars on the road, a ford self driving car will get involved in an accident. it will be rare but it will happen. when that happens, who is liable? >> as we go forward, we have to have a discussion with the regulators, the consumer advocate groups, insurance companies, etc. clearly, this is one of the areas we have to work together to come up with good policies, both regulatory policies but also legal policies. emily: i spoke to the head of the self-driving unit at baidu. they want cars on the road by 2021 as well. it will the investment help get ford self driving cars on the road in china? >> let's put some perspective on this. we co-led the investment and were not partners with baidu. they are just one of the financial partners. i would not read anything more into that.
emily: what about your china strategy? >> we have a good business in china. it is growing. as we are thinking about mobility solutions, we are thinking about how do we play a role in addition to our core business of selling great cars and trucks. emily: specifically, on the fully versus semi-autonomous thing, and i know you are not going to speak to tesla specifically, but do you think the semiautonomous model, can it be dangerous? is that unsafe? >> i think that is one of the things we struggle with. when you think of a level three vehicle, how do you reengage the driver in a really timely way? we have struggled with that. that is why we made the decision to only go to a certain level of semi-autonomous features. and then just take the route and say we are going to go for the fully autonomous because the tragedy you saw in i believe it was ohio or pennsylvania or florida, a gentleman --
emily: he was not from florida, but he was in florida. >> those were some of our concerns and that is why we have taken the path we have taken. i cannot speak to tesla, i can only speak to what we are doing. emily: when it comes to working with a platform, do you struggle with the idea of getting that much control to someone else? >> it is important that who controls a relationship with the customer is important. emily: who would control the relationship with the customer? >> it depends on how that is structured. emily: how do you see this playing out? this is a hotly competitive area of the market as we have talked about so many deals and partnerships. how do you see ford coming out? >> i feel really good about where we are at. i feel really good about our technical capability. but i also feel really good about how we are approaching this and talking with others and being really realistic about
what we can do well and what things we can't and who we need to partner with to realize our vision. emily: do you think you need to invest in lyft to partner them in the future or is gm getting ahead of them self? >> i cannot speak to gm's strategy. i can only speak to ours. our focus is to get a fully autonomous vehicle on the road. we look at everything through the lens of what is going to create long-term shareholder value for us and profitable growth and that is what we look into when investing. emily: have you driven in one of the test cars? >> oh yeah, of course. it is actually have you been driven. it is fun to drive. and it is fun to be driven. emily: what is it like? >> it is really fantastic. you get used to it very quickly. you do not even notice after a while if you are having a conversation with someone. emily: that was ford motors ceo mark fields. coming up, dropbox may be exploring an ipo.
emily: dropbox considering a big leap into the public market. executives have met advisers to discuss going public as soon as 2017. this according to people familiar with the matter who say the file storage company wanted to get a sense of the valuation they could fetch from investors. that is a concern for any company, but especially dropbox. remember, just two years ago, the company was valued at $10 billion in a private funding round. we spoke with cofounder of the competitor and a bloomberg reporter, alex barinka, who broke the story. >> the evaluation is going to be kind of top of mind here when it comes to whether or not they want to move forward.
management brought advisers in to say if we did do this in 2017, what with this look like and what would public market investors want to give us? you have to remember with the backlog of ipo's, we have seen a pullback in how much investors are willing to give these companies when it comes to valuation. if the company is not profitable, if they don't have a clear path to getting there, these are all things that have prompted public market investors to really push down on what they are willing to give at an ipo. dropbox, they did that private funding round in 2014 at the height of money rushing into private markets. there have been questions since then and you have to think if they are going to go forward, they need to be aware of the optics. when dropbox saw valuation from fidelity written down, these are all things that did not play out well internally for morale or for customers. emily: of course box went
public, one of their big compitors. it has struggled since its ipo. i did speak with the dropbox founder and ceo where he told us that dropbox is cash flow positive. take a listen to what he had to say. >> the thing about being cash flow positive as we have flexibility and we can go public on our own timeline. emily: he is saying, look, we will go public and can go public whenever we want. we are not on anybody else's timeline but our own. if indeed they are looking at 2017 next year, what kind of a market would they be coming into? >> it is going to be one that might be more crowded. only four venture capital backed tech companies have gone public in the u.s. to share. -- this year. what i have heard is there is appetite on the buy side for some of these bigger deals, but
they will be going into a market where one of the closest is box. box took a 29% valuation haircut when it went public january 2015, and is still trading below its $14 a share price. some of the headwinds they would be going into if they were to push out. but these companies -- there investors cannot be locked in forever. there needs to be a liquidity event at some point. it seems like an ipo will make the short list of potential outcomes for this company. emily: your company is a competitor to dropbox. the cloud storage landscape has changed dramatically in the last few years. we have seen the rise of amazon and microsoft and google really stepping up their move into this territory. how has that landscape made things more difficult for you guys, for dropbox? i know you are more focused on
enterprise, which dropbox has tried to focus more on. talk to me about this sort of changing tide. >> i think one of the key things to keep in mind as we talk about dropbox is where the market started and where it is today. if you look at dropbox, they defined what it was to cloud storage for a consumer in a premium model. they killed that model. they were wildly successful at it. i would submit that has changed significantly because the money here is to be made in an enterprise. they value security more than anything else. when you look at dropbox, they have been a victim of their own success. they have had so much adoption within the enterprise that the term dropbox problem has almost become a definition of dropbox, right? so when you look at the market today and dropbox or any of these companies being successful who started with a consumer background and they are trying to be successful with enterprise, it is winning hearts and minds and overcoming the whole perception that they were
part of the problem. can be part of the solution? emily: can they? >> that is to be seen. i think it goes to the core of whether you can change what you're knitting is. you do consumer very well, but to do enterprise well, you have to do other things. emily: what are you hearing about how well dropbox is doing vis-à-vis other companies like yours? when i spoke to drew, they are always talking about fortune 500 companies and they have got it nailed on the consumer side, but most of those people are paying anything to use it. >> the question is it is easy to talk about i have got lots of users and these users are part of business. the core metric is going to be are enterprise ceos buying this and sanctioning it within the enterprise, or are they pay big
money for it? when they open up their financials, i understand they're testing the market now, that is what the market is going to be looking at. when dropbox goes ipo, what are you getting? are you getting this newly minted enterprise company or are you getting the consumer company that was successful in the past? emily: quickly alex, we talked about a $10 billion valuation. that is what they last raised at. some have said, this company has been written down in portfolios to half that or less than half that. gardner came out with a prediction last week predicting that there are many cloud storage companies that will cease to exist in a few years. what kind of potential valuation haircut, if a haircut happens, are we looking at for dropbox? >> i think the best, will be looking at box. i don't have numbers for you, but i will bring them to you when i get them.
you have to think there is going to be a little pressure given the competition in the area. $10 billion, i am hearing more negative sentiment than positive as to whether or not that number will stand. emily: that was alex barinka and the cofounder of ignite. we also spoke with index ventures partner about dropbox's plans. he joined dropbox early on and became head of product through spectacular growth. here is what he had to say. >> i don't know what the exact plans for the company are. what i can say is i think you have seen that the company has made incredible progress both in terms of cutting costs and moving up amazon web services on the infrastructure size. of the business is growing quite nicely. i think in terms of revenue growth, profitability, just reported being cash flow positive, all the metrics are there. i think they are on a great
tear. it is up to them to decide when to do that. but the external markets are quite positive. emily: coming up, the former chief of google china says airbnb has zero chance everything a high level of success there. an exclusive conversation. if you like bloomberg news, check us out on the radio. you can now listen on the bloomberg radio app, bloomberg.com, and in the u.s. this is bloomberg. ♪ [ clock ticking ]
♪ everything is awesome, ♪ when you're sharing a meme ♪ ♪ a voice remote, "show me angry kings" ♪ ♪ you know what's awesome? everything! ♪ ♪ apps that please, more selfies, ♪ ♪ endless hours of the best tvs ♪ ♪ brand new apps, shows to go, ♪ ♪ awesome internet that's super whoa... ♪ ♪ everything is awesome xfinity. the future of awesome. emily: welcome back to the "best of bloomberg west." i am emily chang. it has been -- he has been a driving force in chinese tech as former head of google china. he is head of sin ovation ventures. he joins us from taipei for an exclusive interview where i asked his thoughts on the recent uber deal. take a listen. >> we are focused on several things.
one is we are strong believers of artificial intelligence, in changing the future of china's entrepreneurship. artificial intelligence applied to both traditional industries, so making things, areas like insurance, banking, hospitals, schools become more efficient and help users get more value. make more money from investments. get your disease treated more efficaciously. learning more in school, those because china has a massive amount of data that can be mined. we think that is a great way to use ai. we also believe in ai applications and building computers that can see, hear, and understand. a couple of industries we think are very exciting are the securities industry, for commercial, home, and government.
we think robotics is very exciting, especially for certain vertical segments at home such as watching young kids and older people. we think robotics in commercial applications like the amazon tiva is exciting for a manufacturing economy like china. these are probably our biggest investments in china. we also look at enterprise services, which is now fledgling, but really starting to take off. we look at the creation of great content and recreation and entertainment, kind of the next stage behind mobile games. we think that is a big area as well. emily: we sort of touched on this. part of the reason it is so difficult for u.s. companies to expand or chinese companies to expend in the u.s. is cultural misunderstandings, is a regulatory issues? what are some of the most common
things that, reasons that relationships between the united states and china at this level, the investing and entrepreneurial level fail? >> if you are a chinese entrepreneur that wants to promote his application in the u.s., you're never heard of facebook before. how do you do facebook promotions? when you distribute your apps, 10 different app stores. there are various ways to get your app to the top. but in google play it is owned by one company that has very strict principles of how to operate. in china, if you are doing a security application you would just go and sell to the provincial government. but in the u.s., the opportunities are completely different. you have to not only be fully
conversant with american business but drop all your practices in china. the reverse is exactly the same. and also on top of that, you're dealing with very aggressive peer competitor entrepreneurs. you are dealing with those who will quickly give you a lot of money but give you a lot of pressure. you are dealing with competitors who may not follow the same professional standards and may create pr nightmares for you. you are dealing with a very different set of government regulations. for example, when i was at google, i had to defend the company. one time we were -- we were a month late with some tax payments and we became headlines about being tax evasion, being prosecuted or something like that. we had some trouble with search
terms, and those were blown up as a pro-japanese search. in the sino-japanese war anniversary. these are ridiculous, outlandish, fabricated rumors. that are created perhaps by our competitors and those that did not like us. they were spread out everywhere. very difficult to even clarify ourselves. those are the types of issues that makes it extremely difficult. i would generally advise american entrepreneurs to find a partner in china if you want to go to china, and the same with a chinese partner, to find an american partner that can set up an arrangement, let them in the people that know their home country take the decision-making responsibility and drive your company forward. don't try this yourself. don't think you can just go hire
someone to solve the problems. you can see, there are many casualties before you among great companies like yahoo!, amazon, ebay, google, and now uber. emily: that was the founder. coming up, tencent backing one of is hollywood's innovative new players. how to invest in the future of media. this is bloomberg. ♪
to the fore. they announced they raise new funds with chinese investors including pccw and tencent. we spoke to bob simon as well as bill mcglashan who cofounded stx , alongside bob and has been incubating the company. >> if you're going to build an entertainment company today it is not going to look like the entertainment companies right now. their business models are 100 years old. a lot of things they have done have basically been to bolt on different revenue streams. instead, if we are going to build a company today it will be very different. china will be an integral part of the dna. we instead were going to try to have it as sort of a bridge where it was literally part of the dna. emily: private equity normally
gray's -- normally stays in the company for a finite amount of time and then leaves. is that going to be different? >> it is different in the way this all began because we sat together after being at a board meeting together, we sat together, and bob has been a friend of mine. we have known each other since college. we sat together and realized a lot of overhead been talking that which is the global landscape is so different. we could build a different kind of business together. our first check in this company was $1 million. people think of that is being willing to get in there and help create the business. we were working as partners all the way along to create this. this is a company that was a result of the 40 investments we made in media businesses. bob has the best roi of any hollywood producer. he has been a prolific producer and has consistently generated
profit. he has a respect for capital which is important as an investor, that you are working with someone who sees the world that way. it has been a great marriage from the beginning. we ultimately have to return capital to our investors. but we tend to be fairly patient. our goal is to maximize return. >> what you were getting at which is really unusual for a pe shop, this thing started as a simple idea that is now grown into a multibillion dollar company almost overnight. what is amazing is that the way bill and his team approached the risk reward profile of literally growing something and having the heft and power to actually allow us to dislocate a lot of traditional majors is a combination i just have not seen out there. >> i pay him for that.
emily: you have quite a resume, bill. you have another company, evolution media, focused on entertainment, tech and different industries. you are a investor in a virtual reality firm. what do you think is the potential for vr in mainstream entertainment? >> bob can talk about it as well. we have actually made for investments and what we think are some of the most interesting vr businesses. it is based on a lot of work that we have done thematically, to understand how consumers are engaging with media. we believe in sports, music, and media content and gaming, vr will be a ubiquitous way we all engage because it is a meaningfully better experience. it is remarkable. emily: when will i be able to enjoy the vr experience comfortably? >> basically starting about now. at stx, we are not technology people.
we do not know who is going to win. our goal is to advocate the best storytellers to figure out what the syntax is going to be in this space. remember with vr -- and vr is going to be huge -- you don't control the frame. it is difficult new you can't actually manipulate that journey for them so it will be a complex -- completely different language to storytelling. we are trying to throw some of the best minds at that. what is amazing is that the biggest stars and biggest directors are all fascinated with trying to crack the space. we figure that as the different companies are all vying for dominance, they will all need content and will need compelling content. we want to be the ones that provide that. >> the other side is simply experiencing live events differently. you are going to see major bands allowing their fans to have a vr experience that puts them on the
stage. you will not necessarily have to spend what people spend to sit in the floor seats at the nba finals. you will have an experience that is virtually identical or better than having those seats. emily: do you think there is room for the humble movie theater? will we still go to the cinema? will we watch it on our couch? >> first off, yes, i think the movie theater isn't going to go anywhere. going back to the cavemen, sitting on fires. you want that communal experience, sitting in a dark room with a bunch of people laughing, or being scared, that is an awesome experience that i do not think is going to go anywhere. i think there is going to be different type of stories you tell to achieve that goal. being able to watch something on your own tv, in your own living room, or even on a mobile phone. it is interesting that both
demographically and culturally people access stories differently. so in china, it is normal to watch a 90 minute movie on your phone. the same thing in india. that is not normal for us yet. that is to say, it is going to start to bleed and we are hoping that as it leads, the demand for quality content will increase. emily: you announced and i position this week. -- tbg acquiring grande a communications. how do you see consolidation playing out across cable? >> cable, our bet, we create rcn and grande, created a top 10 cable platform. obviously, we are very excited about the company and the teams. but we fundamentally believe that cable represents the 21st century utility. everything we have been talking about, the way people consume content, the ubiquity of content
and the exciting new developments taking place need that kind of infrastructure to allow it to exist. it is no different than the infrastructure that was put into water distribution, basic utilities. nowadays, this is fundamental. what it means is these businesses will be doing quite well in our view going forward as they realize the macro benefits driving that consumption pattern. emily: do content creators you to keep one foot in distribution to make their models work? >> that is our model. other people disagree. there are other points of view. we are convinced being able to -- if you are a great storyteller, or have a big brand as a star, being able to control and be involved with the content from inception all the way to delivery is the key. you're never handing it off. emily: that was tpg fund growth advisor, and bob simons. coming up, a long simmering with
emily: who controls the internet? until now, that job has been long held by the u.s. commerce department. this week the obama administration formalizing long planned move to shift authority to a nonprofit multinational stakeholder on october 1. facebook, amazon among the big tech companies supporting the transfer, but several republican lawmakers are putting up a fight. i spoke with the so-called godfather of the internet. i asked him to explain what this how this transfer of power was so important. >> it was planned to do this in 1998 when ican was created to perform this function, the plan was to turn over the responsibility without for the
-- for those functions without further government oversight within two or three years. it is now 18 years later. the organization has performed well. the internet has not collapsed. its functions taken care of the domain name system, internet allocation, parameters of protocol. it is time to show that the internet doesn't require government oversight. what it requires is operation by the private sector. together, with all of the other entities, that is why multi-stakeholder operation is important. emily: that said, opponents of this could hurt u.s. businesses and put national security at risk. could this hurt u.s. businesses? could this hurt google? >> i don't think so. if anything, this is the right thing to do. under the current circumstances, where the government has a very small but very visible oversight role, other governments look at that and ask why should the u.s. government have the special position? it is not necessary anymore, not after 18 years.
ican has formed and reformed itself multiple times during the course of my chairmanship. at this stage of the game, it is more harmful to persist in the special relationship than it is to show that a multi-stakeholder system, including all of the governments, not just the united states, is the way forward. emily: what harm could there be if the u.s. government does continue to oversee it as is? >> it has a very severe impact because other governments that feel that the u.s. shouldn't have this particularly special position are going to work very hard to fragment the internet, to insist they control more of it than they do today. the governments today have a lot of control over what happens inside the national jurisdiction. what they do not have is have control over what happens to everybody else's piece of the internet. if the u.s. government persists in the special position, the other governments will feel the
need to increase their control one way or another. i think, by stepping away from this finally, we actually remove a lot of that pressure to make it much more egalitarian. emily: assuming this does happen as planned, what will be different? will individual users notice a difference? >> absolutely not. the current role the u.s. government has is to verify that the changes to the root zone of the domain name system have been properly catered for in the processes that lead up to those changes. a router needs to be pointed to a different ip address. or a domain name needs to resolve to something else. the u.s. government's role is merely to check that icann has performed its functions clearly. when they step away from that particular function, all of the
mechanics are exactly the same. except we won't go through this loop. otherwise, it is exactly the same. emily: as one of the fathers of the internet, that is what you are considered to be, how do you think oversight of the internet has played out over the last couple of decades? how do you expect it to play out over the next two decades? >> for those that are listening, the u.s. government was the origin of this project. it started in the defense department. i am very proud not only of the defense department but other parts of the u.s. government, including the national science foundation and now and tia, for persistently stepping away from control and turning it over to a multi-stakeholder operation. when bob and i were in the defense department, we basically made the primary decisions on policy, on what happened to the internet. that expanded into multiple parts of the u.s. government
including nasa and nsf, and darpa, and the department of energy. step by step, the government has withdrawn from control of oversight. this is the last step. emily: you used to run icann, which is in charge of domain names. there has been talk that the internet has become too big. is it possible for the internet to become too big, to run out of ip addresses and domain names? >> well, we certainly won't run out of domain names. icann has authorized the creation of some 2000 new top-level domains. in terms of internet address space, actually you are quite right. emily: that was the former icann chairman. that does it for this edition of the "best of bloomberg west." we bring you the latest throughout the week. including our exclusive interview with the reddit