tv Technology Executives Discuss Diversity and the Future of Online Gaming CSPAN January 20, 2017 8:39am-9:23am EST
>> you've said that silicon valley is actively hostile to diversity. how has that not affected the way that things work at slack? a sort of blind admissions test you do up front or has it affected? >> it's the intentionality that people at flak from stewart has. we have conversations at flak i've never had any other place how we're doing hiring and who we're hiring and we could care less if you went to cal, stanford, san jose state or university of miami. we don't care. we want you to work at these companies and we don't care about that and i think that has been a huge part. what has also been a huge part,
once you start at a very early age and very early element in your company, it makes it easier because you're not stopping from way back. google, twitter, thousands of employees and so far behind and then they have reputations. people walk in and they don't see anybody that looks like themfthem f why would they want to work there? >> how does one solve that problem? because things are so bad in silicon valley. and they are, if you look at the diversity numbers from any of the top tech companies here, it's really bad and when you look across at what happened in the american education system, if you look at what happened with american manufacturing, there were actually like people put in place quotas and that's what managed to change the game in these companies, these big industrial companies and in american education. why would silicon valley not look at that as a very simple solution to what is in fact an
ind indimmic problem? >> i don't think quotas work and i think it's another way of saying that we won't lower the bar. it plays into the exact same argument. we'll get people who aren't qualified and that is not what anybody is saying. what i'm saying and other people are saying, we want one, a level playing field. you need a level playing field. you don't go o tto places like m.i.t. and cal and cmu. places that don't have diversity. right? so that's not about quotas but leveling the new playing field. you look at the ethnic diversity of any of the new universities and that's a quo that for people who are white. that's a quota for people who are asian. i don't believe in quotas.
i think they're inherently wrong and realistic solutions that don't have quotas attached to them. >> i understand that and there's got to be a better system, that's a blunt instrument. but i've seen other interviews with you where you talk about the indemmic and systemic and nature of privilege and how people need to step back to make room for other people. you talked about that in the interview. and i think that, i don't know, maybe, this is a really tough issue to talk about, but i think it's important to do so, and i just wonder what the space looks like, how that stepping back works when privilege is so institutionalized that it's not something people recognize. >> i have a data point to bring up. there's an organization called
forward.uf. it's fwd.uf. and you look at the page, it's probably looking much like diversity looks like and they are looking to raise h1b. i think it's a great thing. let's do that. but the lobbying firms for these companies that are supporting anywhere between $3 million and $4 million per quarter and so you look up to $12 million a year on raising the account. why do we have something like that for increasing diversity and increasing inclusion? i think that's a place where you can start. you get the people who are doing something like that, and apply it to, you know, the united states. apply it to less diverse areas and you can take the, another data point, i'll try to tie two
things together. facebook, 37% of their engineering team is asian. google, upwards of 47% and twitter, 20%. the money they spend in asia overall anywhere between $25 million and $50 million per year since 2012. is it any wonder they have those percentages of asians? no, it's not. what if we were to spend that here? in detroit or in richmond or in washington, dc? would we have a more diverse workplace? i think so. >> isn't that a matter of market expansion? these companies are trying to go abroad and grow, and the way to do that is to set up research haves to reach out to those countries. maybe i'm conflating two issues and confusing two interviews.
i did a lot of research for this, i'm sorry. but if the market is so saturated in the u.s., do u.s. companies need to set up shops to reach out to these communities? >> they don't need to set up shop at the same scale. you want to put 2,000 people? you don't have to, could you put 200? definitely. it's a drop in the hat for google. it's a drop in the hat for facebook and it's actually cost competitive. these are two areas in india and areas in china. i've had teams and i know what the cost structure looks like. you could do the same thing here at a lower scale. that does something interesting. imagine if you did go to detroit or richmond that have large diverse population. all of the sudden, you see people in the neighborhoods, people see their neighbors in the well paying jobs and start to aspire to that.
you have people going to mountain view and when you crave an inclusive environment, they talk to their friends and networks are going to look like them and they're going to hire d look like them. it's what these companies spent the last 3 years and tens of millions of dollars and made virtually no impact whatsoever. >> so we've been beating on large tech companies. let's go down a level and beat up on other people. criticism, a healthy criticism. is the same true of the entrepreneurial community. entrepreneurship and investment from tech start-ups. would you advise young entrepreneurs to stay in the valley? to build their companies? >> good question and probably not.
it's hard to encourage to someone to stay in a place that's hostile. when you walk into one of the offices in sand hill road and people have a preconceived notion based upon where you look whether it's a woman entrepreneur like morgan up here a moment ago who talked about her struggles in fund raising. she has an amazing market opportunity and difficult for her to get funding. there are smaller markets and private equity firms. a shoutout in new orleans and start-up detroit. there are communities there but a year or so ago, if i was going to create another start-up, go to detroit.
>> for detroit, i mean, a male cofounder, you need to get more white people in your team because having a team of six black people doesn't look good. i have heard these stories from people and things never said to an asian or white person ever. >> should one try to ignore that capital or is a solution or so entrenched here that people should not worry about it at all. >> silicon valley follows, and
whether or not, and i hope it is, they'll show up. and this is what needs to happen and i hope it does. because i think that's the fast track. >> this is an incredible conversation. i hope we get to continue it over many other events like this one and just in heard. >> raise for gaming on the pc. you guys seem really engaged. sam, what's up, man?
from razor. >> thank you for having me. >> razor, you guys have built razor as big peripherals, hardware company, for gamers by gamers. gamer is your thing. now you are doing something a little bit different. tell us about your, you've got some news today. what are you doing? >> sure. so very quickly, i think in the past couple of years, we've got a bit of a longer pedigree of sorts, so around 10 years since we were founded. and everything from hardware. so we shipped over 20 minutes
and we've got a massive software platforms with gamers, 20 minutes and come online every single day to connect with us. and i think one of the questions that was on our minds is what's next? what else can we do? today, we're announcing the fund that we're calling it z ventures. $30 million fund from razor on a balance sheet. really focused that early stage start-ups that razor with the kind of structure and the start of the investment. >> would you say it's razor's way of trying to diverse itself. >> robotics but also ecommerce and supply chain management. it's a real soup to nuts investment thing. so what are you guys doing? >> a couple of different focuses. the first of which, looking at
start-ups that razor can bring value too. and a lot of start-ups with a whole lot of exciting technology or solutions, products. so for us, really focused on companies that razor can help and a traditional bc by any means and for example, a user base that we bring across to start-ups out will. over and above, we've got a lot of experience in the hardware and software. and it's hard, typing, evt, we want to bring it across to start-ups and the other end of the spectrum, you look at software and finally, specifics, we've got a global distribution network to bring across start-ups too. so a third of business today is in north america, a third of it is in europe and in asia. and we work with, for example, retail chains like best buy and
the u.s. in europe and china. these are some of the benefits that we try to bring to the start-ups as opposed to a traditional bc that may be focused on a financial return. >> razor is your target audience are gamers. do you see yourself as a mainstream company or really niche specialized gamers? do you want to be a mainstream company? >> for ourselves, we've created a cult of sorts. gamers that with the razor logos themselves, set up a huge following and that's the core of what the company is. for gamers by gamers and that's what we want to continue focusing on. the segment of the gamer who's passionate about design and
technology and that is really what we want to focus on. what we've realized, however, is that what we don't necessarily want to go mainstream, mainstream is coming to us. from the premise of if you see things like, pokemon go for that matter, people who don't necessarily identify themselves as gamers are slowly looking at gaming being one of the most engaging forms of entertainment. on top of that and maybe the segue back to the conversation on ventures, the gaming community or the gamer community is also the perfect user base to test new technologies. you look at it historically, you've got motion sensing. the nintendo wii. gamers tend to be tech savvy. comfortable beta testing technology and more importantly, evangelizing it to the entire gaming community and probably
more gamers in the future than any other segment. >> okay. you mentioned pokemon go. a huge success. john is on stage tomorrow, i think. are you gouys, do you want to build something as successful as that? a pokemon go ever, is that in your sights? could you do it? >> i think traditionally for us, we want to continue doing what we're good at which is focusing on gamers building create products, software, and services for gamers. and that's what we're going to continue doing. when we first started 10 years ago, gaming wasn't a buzz word. try pitching anyone 10 years ago and hardware, that's not something we're interested in. today, hardware is in a renaissance of sorts and game time in a prime time because of pc gaming, it's bigger than movies, bigger than music. a huge amount of interest in
gaming right now. for ourselves, we are in an opportune position to take advantage of that and while the masses come into gaming today, these masses will probably leave when there's something bigger and newer, shinier to look at. ourselves, we know what we're good at which is designing with gamers and always doing that. whether the industry is big or small, that's what we're good at and what we'll do. >> does that mean you don't want to build a pokemon go or yes? >> i think if it comes along, yes, and something we can build for gamers everywhere and 2 billion gamers right now. >> do you think, damn it, we could have done that? did you have a moment like that or think, that's so cool. it's filled a communication layer on it. >> i think we just build stuff we like. we started off as a peripherals company and candidly, because i travel so much and i was looking at, for example, gaming laptops
in the past and weren't really gaming laptops. big, heavy, and thick, so we built a team in the past couple of years and made probably some of the best gaming laptops in the world and that's what we do. it's great. and really taking over the world in the sense where there are gamers out there and we are really hyperfocused on the gamers and that's what we do. >> okay. what do you think the next generation of games is going to look like? >> we could be here all day. >> in ten words or less? you guys are doing really amazing stuff. is it all going to be in vr or are we going to be, obviously, mobile games are massive right now. but, you know, we've still got a lot of consoles. where is the the hockey puck going?
where are you going with that? >> gamers, as a demographic, it's not just going horizontally. in the past, it was u.s., europe, korea, china, southeast asia. gaming is going really quickly everywhere but also seeing gamers are getting older as a whole. gamers are more familiar playing different types of games and even today, a 2-year-old is swiping on a tablet right away. so given the whole proliferation of the entire stack, we think gaming is going to go everywhere. it's going to be a lot more pervasive and definitely, i think really the key. vr is about having the most immersive gaming experiences out there. be it whether it's an mmo that you play on the pc that gives you a call on your mobile phone
to go back to your game or, you know, different players of vr, i think immersion is the key. >> to go back to z interest for a few second, one of the categories is robotics. are you guys building a robot? >> we are excited about robotics. at razor, we've got, we tend to be at cs in a big bang of sorts. >> yeah. >> and we're always looking at new things, looking at new interfaces of sorts. we think robotics is an exciting new area that there's a huge amount of innovation and i think for us, because we see it as a confluence between software, firmware, and hardware, and that's something that we can as a company, that's one of the areas we look at. >> i'll take it as a yes.
>> you mentioned all of these new areas. there's also a lot of new companies coming into the space. who do you see now as your biggest competitor? >> that's an odd question of sorts, because i think we are pretty much a different company in the sense that we represent probably a company on a newer wave of things that everyone is kind of seeing at this point in time. so traditionally, companies back in the day would be great at a certain thing. so, for example, great at making peripherals or laptops or what have you. and these traditional companies would then say, okay, i'm going to carve out a segment for productivity. i'm going to be doing productivity mouse, or a gaming thing or something for designers
or for, i don't know, sports people or what have you. but that has changed. we've evolved to the user and with greater affluence and focus on getting great experiences. and we're focused on one person and that's just the gamer. the thing is, do we have competitors in the laptop space? yes. we have competitors, for example, in the software platform says but there isn't a single company that is just hyperfocused on the gamer, so we don't have a competitor of sorts
today. >> what about amazon? they've made a massive investment and acquired twitch. they are now finally finding success with hardware. you know, with their echo and everything. so do you think that might be a company that could keep you up at night one day? >> i think for us, the entire industry of gaming is so big. we are a huge fan of what amazon is doing with twitch. we work closely together with them. and what they're doing at lumberyard, for example, the studios that they have, that's a company we have a huge amount of respect for. >> got it. >> but because the entire industry is massive, if you look at the movies industry or the music industry, they're large companies, they go throughout the entire eco-system without competing. >> it's true. >> we see gaming being larger than movies and music.
there's just this massive upswing of opportunities for all of us. the key is not what we want to do with opportunities presented. >> let's talk about investment for a second. you're a start-up too. 18-year-old start-up. so some of your investment you just closed, some haven't. some has been reported and then you confirm it. are you guys raising anymore money now? >> not right now. so we're not raising anymore capital at this point in time and we haven't raised a lot of capital in the past couple of years. for us, we've been really focused on doing investments through our own that we built through the last couple of years and we talk about start-ups investing start-ups. that's one of the things that i do see coming up as a new trend of sorts because a lot of us are staying longer and this is an opportunity to tap up into the
start-up eco-system and contribute back to the community at the same time and then i expect to see more of the start-ups do that. >> i think so too. the strategic investment funds for sure. but, you guys are like, opening stores everywhere. you're building more hardware and building different kinds of hardware and you're investing in start-up. are you funding all of that yourselves from your current coffers or are you going to need more money for that? >> so we did a recent i think reported on tech crunch, but what we're doing primarily for these are for our own coffers and we see a continuous need to fund new start-ups because i don't believe that we'll be all things to all gamers. we see a lot of incredible talent out there.
we see a lot of start-ups that could help them bring their services to our users and give a leg up immediately for 20 million new active users for that matter and say, still distributing through a small platform. why don't we get you global, immediately, through all of our channels everywhere? if you need to get any customers, you can use our ten offices worldwide and i think over and above, the difference for us between razor or z ventures as a start-up, for start-ups by a start-up is we've got the experience of scaling from two people to closer to a thousand people worldwide, ten offices, et cetera. that's the real difference. we want to partner with major capital firms and give the value of helping companies go from zero to 100 immediately.
>> a minute ago, when you were talking about raising money, you think a lot of private companies stay private for longer but eventually, you may start to consider what the next step might be? where are you on things like ipo plans and in general, what's your opinion on a company like razor going public? could you go public if you wanted to right now, for example? >> sure. i think for us, we considered going public for some time, but the key for us is we want to make sure that we are a company that is ready to go public. i think there is no real reason for us to stay private, but remain opportunistic. we want to be, i mean, we want to make sure that all the governess is a governance is addressed and crossed the t's and dotted the i's and a factor of the economy and how the market, when it's open, et cetera, but we remain open to that and just keep an eye on it.
>> do you have a time frame for when you might consider an ipo or anything like that? >> that's like asking what is the time frame for the razor products. >> i think you probably have them for both, by the way. >> it will be ready when it's ready. >> all right. are you profitable? >> i think our core business is very profitable but for ourselves, we're doubling down. that's why we say we're a 10-year-old, so to speak. doubling down, always looking to reinvent or revolutionize new industries. to put things in perspective, we were the first to start this entire gaming industry of sorts, right? the first to focus on that. and back when pcs had become traditional and boring and dated, and when i said, we're going to reinvent the traditional pc laptop, i think many people said, look, that's a
commoditized industry and don't want to get into it. but what we've done in the past couple of years, is we've created an entire new category of sorts. so we continue to do that. we continue to invest heavily in terms of rnd and that eats into the bottom line. so that's in the bottom line we're comfortable with and what we want to focus on is to create a truly great product and services. z ventures is an opportunity for us to bring more services and partners. i'm seeing some really great new technology around and we welcome any of the start-ups out there be it whether it's, you know, in robotics or gaming software or anything that we can at razor bring value to. we'd love to be able to talk to you. >> okay. so we're running down on time now. so i just wanted to ask you another question. okay, so just two last questions, i hope we have time
for them. one is about your, it's something i love to ask for, you know, other start-ups that might be in the same position as you guys. so you've got strategic investor, intel, what i'd be quite interested to know is if you guys, how you work with them as a strategic investor. i know like you put out a great webcam earlier this year. it's got a fantastic intel technology in it. really excellent camera. did you think of that and then is intel influencing how you're choosing what products you develop? we have this stuff we want to do. if we invest in you, will you build something and do you advise start-ups to do something different than you guys have done in that way? >> so intel capital is one of the corporate venture groups that we mobidel after.
navigation intel and work with the cpu team or the real sense team and they've got some truly great technologies that what we do at razor is that we look at it from the lens of a gamer and we go, okay, that's cool stuff that we want. so, for example, real sense that we put into the razor, automatically removes the background of any streamer and that's really cool. so i think intel looks to razor is probably innovation in the gaming space. we have channels that reach gamers immediately and we've got an audience that's hugely passionate about technology so it's a bit of a symbiotic relationship. we found it hugely strategic for us and one of the reasons why we've also come up with z ventures with a bid to be able to reach out for start-ups to reach out to as many gamers as possible. >> almost following the intel
for you. >> a smaller scale one. >> i have one other question, which i just quickly want to ask. razor is min. what happens when min wants to leave? do you have plans to leave? just a quick answer because we're totally out of time. >> i don't think razor is min. i think it's great designers and engineers and so i think that pretty much answers it. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thanks for joining us again at disrupt, mike. >> thanks for having me. >> and thank you for making it a million times easier to explain to my relatives what i do for a living. i really appreciate that. so i wanted to go back to when silicon valley first premiered and i remember watching the first episode and laughing a bunch,