tv Best of Bloomberg Technology Bloomberg August 17, 2019 4:00am-5:00am EDT
♪ emily: i'm emily chang and this is the "best of bloomberg technology." , a flurry of tech unicorns charged the public markets. we will take a look at the inner workings of adam newman's company and is complex and controversial is this relationships. plus, content kings. cbs and viacom finally inked a merger deal. we speak to buy comes a ceo
about synergies and the road ahead. chinese online retailer alibaba defies the slowdown of missed a trade war with sales surpassing expectations. it was a big week for tech ideas with fleet work and cloudflare filing to go public. cloudflare has been in the news given its relationship with hm -- 8chan. three alleged gunman posted manifestoes on 8chan before three mass shootings. cloudflare stop providing services after el paso, texas, largely take the platform offline -- taking the platform off-line. so is now the time to go public? like many other tech ideas, especially in software, it is not profitable. it has a pretty good growth rate
, it is really trying to look at competitors. fastly went public earlier this year and is doing ok. there have been some sources who were asking me why cloudflare took this long to get this point. they had been preparing since the fall of last year for a public offering. emily: cloudflare is a name we of the companies that will go public soon. tell us exactly what cloudflare does. in the case of a company like 8chan, they basically protected it from being taking down in denial of service attacks. will: one of cloudflare's most popular and well-known products s preventiondo
service. it protects the website from a denial of service attack. anyone looking to attack the website and take it off-line. they offer the service to tons of websites on the internet. they think of themselves as a utility. when you have the service, it is the most effective or one of the most effective ways to protect your website from attacks like this. emily: right. and there is where 8chan comes up because cloudflare did not cut off 8chan -- the site was still operational until days ago after that shooting in el paso, texas. talk about what cloudflare says about 8chan and how investors might take that. liana: it is listed as a risk in the filing. this has gotten a lot of buzzyion because it is a -- is buzzy, it is relevant in
the headlines, but i think that cloudflare was really aiming in its filing today to show the world how its financials are doing and what its prospects are. i think it did a good job of putting out there this is a solid company that serves the backbone of the internet. and there is pent-up demand among investors for these sorts of companies to hit the market. a few weeks ago, medalia went public and crowd strike has a good valuation a couple months after its ipo. i would say cloudflare today is really trying to associate itself with some successful software ipo's from earlier this year. emily: that said, cloudflare only made news when they made bad news under criticism that it helped keep some of these websites afloat. if you go back to 2017 and what happened in charlottesville at the time, cloudflare was under fire for helping support a neo-nazi website the daily stormer. it was only after much criticism that they finally took that
website down by cutting off service to it. i spoke to the ceo matthew prince at the time and talked to him about some of their general policy of trying to remain neutral when it comes to content online. take a listen to what he said to me then. >> we turn to the experts in terrorism and illegal content which is law enforcement legislators, regulators. we say, here is this content. what would you like us to do? that feels like due process, that there are actually politically enshrined organizations that can make these decisions, as opposed to these decisions being made on the political whims of me or mike zuckerberg or jeff bezos. emily: when it came to 8chan, more recently, it was several hours after that shooting in el paso that cloudshare said we are cutting them off as well.
in a statement at the time prince said, they have proven themselves to be lawless and a cause of multiple tragic deaths. even if 8chan had not violated the law and refused to moderate their hateful community, they have created an environment at a revels inbels -- violating its spirit. expand on the context. we are seeing companies, facebook and google, struggle with what to leave up and take down on their platform. for cloudflare, it is a slightly different story. will: cloudflare is in a difficult position. they do not want to make content decisions. like i said earlier, cloudflare thinks of itself as a utility. the product is so good and it is hard to find other comparable products. so, when you do not have cloudflare's ddos protection, it might be difficult to stay online. what that means is cloudflare basically can decide who gets to be on the internet. they don't want to make those decisions.
as you seen they have only made , the decision twice in removing daily stormer and 8chan. it is a really difficult position, and when you do things like remove 8chan and remove daily stormer, then you get material to say why not remove this website or whatever other website that has vile content on it? i don't think this is a business cloudflare wants to be in. they do not want to be deciding what is on the internet and what's not. emily: we work also officially filed for its ipo this week, expected to raise about $3.5 billion. that would make it this year's second-largest ipo behind uber. they revealed a loss of $69 million in the first month and a list 3 billion lost in the last three years along with some unique business dealings by the ceo. we have all the details. >> anyone who has been following
we work closely knows they have been giving out select financial newrmation, so we are a they lost close to $2 billion while making revenue around 1.8. surprises we got more details about some of the loans and complicated financial structures that go on between adam newman and the company. there was some knowledge about this before. butas famously a landlord we also got information about loans the company has made and the succession plan that would happen if he could no longer serve as the ceo. emily: our colleague shira ovide called the office leasing company on steroids with a complicated structure. they are offering three times -- types of stock. it takes a step further than what mark zuckerberg and the founders of google have done.
ellen: there are three classes and two of them have 20 volts -- votes per share. class a has one vote per share. as you would expect, that is a great consolidation of power. it is largely in the hands of adam newman. he has a lot of voting control over the company. that is by design. people who support the structure think that adam has the right vision, the boldness, and the leadership to take it even farther than it has been. for some of the people, they will look at that and raise their eyebrows thinking that might be too much. emily: the other thing that is interesting as they laid out how many of the buildings are fairly new. 30% of their locations are mature. 70% are two years or younger. the vast majority of their space is incredibly new. ellen: and they have changed the definition of that metric of a mature location. it used to be 18 months, they have expanded to 24 months.
even with that, it's only 30% of the office location open for -- have been open for more than two years. they look at that as pointing to high-growth. exactly. like, look how fast we are growing. but it is also interesting because a lot of the most stable unit economics they like to highlight are focused only on mature locations. they say these are where we no longer have to rely on marketing to fill the buildings. when you start to realize that's only 30% of their portfolio, it starts to raise some questions about how sustainable their growth is and how easy it would be for them to get to profitability. emily: they say they may never be profitable. which is similar to what we heard with uber and lyft. how are investors feeling, are they excited? ellen: we see a lot of activity on twitter on both sides. they think the growth is exciting and others cannot wait for it to go public so they can short it. it will be a divisive stock. we will see the price will be decided soon by the public markets.
think a lot of people are looking to see if it will meet that $47 billion private valuation. emily: how quickly do we expect them to get to market? when does the roadshow launch and all that? ellen: sometime in the next few weeks. we expect and have reported that we expect a september ipo. that is just around the corner. emily: that was bloomberg tech's ellen huet. coming up, thumbs up. redstone cements her status as the most powerful woman in u.s. media with cbs merging with viacom. and if you like bloomberg news, check us out on the radio. this is bloomberg. ♪
cable channels like mtv and nickelodeon. it followed a marathon negotiation at the two sides #a price. hased out a-- price. finally realized that whatever misgivings they might have had, they both just needed to compete in this streaming war . over the past two years, we have seen them sell out. we have seen fox and the -- we have seen time warner sell out to at&t. we have seen fox and the murdochs sell a lot of their assets to disney. companies worth $100 million, $200 million. cbs and viacom come even -- viacom, even combined they , are worth only about $30 billion. but by coming together, they have a deep library that will get much stronger.
emily: how does this position this now combined entity against all of the other newly merged now larger media companies? >> most investors would tell you there are probably more deals to be made. i spoke to the ceo of the combined company and he acknowledged that more m&a is likely. they have been linked to companies like lionsgate, discovery. it is also possible that the redstone family, who will own the combined company, say it is time to cash out. in might take a couple assets we've seen but it might be stronger and might be able to entice some larger company to scoop it up. emily: that was bloomberg's lucas shaw.
as for details on the newly merged companies and strategies, we heard from viacom's ceo who sat down in new york. that wee thrilled announced the combination of viacom and cbs, creating a leading platform. when you look at the assets, it operator,, a station a syndicator, with paramount pictures, one of the most storied studios in hollywood. nickelodeon, and mtv, bte -- bt. -- bet/ . and, of course, showtime. we have created an incredible asset base. this was the deal negotiated by two special committees and went through a diligent and thoughtful process. the critical thing is we got the deal done because it positions us to do great things.
>> no question it is a phenomenal deal for both sides and there was a willingness to get it done, yet some shareholders are nonplussed that value come -- viacom is not valued at more. with cbs have given in eventually? was conducted by two independent committees of special directors. when you need to focus on is the value created potential. these are two companies valued at low multiples. love that was due to the uncertainty hanging over them. a lack of clarity on the path toward. starting yesterday, we started talking about a three-part growth strategy really building a business through a combination of cbs subscriptions, when i have millions of subscribers and viacom's ad supported structure with pluto tv being the leading
streaming service. up 50% since we bought it. putting those together, you have an ecosystem. we love that and will be a very significant partner with ads, distributors, and a huge content supplier. very exciting growth strategy going forward. you have also identified $500 million in cost savings. can you give us more detail? >> when you put two companies together, people talk about synergies. those numbers you reference is a cost number. it includes organizational costs and sourcing benefits. beyond that, we have not gotten into it, the more important thing to focus on is the power of this combination is going to create incredible value for all of our stakeholders, including
the incredible employees of viacom-cbs. that is what people need to focus on. emily: viacom ceo there. coming up, softbank's massive fund makes its first ever energy storage send that set. we -- set. we find out what energy fault is with the ceo. this is bloomberg. -- vault is with the ceo. this is bloomberg. ♪
and release energy. it is presenting it as a solution to lithium batteries, claiming it can't supply electricity 24 hours a day. to discuss what this means for the energy storage market, i sat down with the ceo. >> we have designed an innovative new system tower. it includes a six arm crane and 35,000 metric ton bricks that are all orchestrated with a proprietary -- software set, so that is the whole system integration. we take excess energy from solar or wind when it is produced and not needed. that energy is used to raise the blocks and when the energy is needed by the grid, we lower those blocks and discharge the energy. emily: how widely deployed is this? it says you are on four continents. >> correct. we have had a working model for the last year in switzerland. in addition, we are building our first commercial scale unit in the fourth quarter in the north of italy and, as we announced many, many customer engagements
on many continents, so we are excited. emily: what do you think the draw is for softbank? >> they share our vision for renewables and understand how important energy storage is to make renewables real and make renewables solve the problem of our reliance on fossil fuel. they own an energy company, so they understood this beyond just being an investor. they share our passion to be part of the solution. emily: it relies on this giant automated system that has to work reliably outside in the elements year after year after year. seems like a lot of moving parts. do you have concerns, or is there a risk that some parts might not function properly given all that exposure you can -- exposure and throw the whole things off? >> that is one of the beauties of innovation. the technology we are leveraging is proven physics. we are leveraging unique material science working with one of the largest materials
companies in the world, so we actually are not using normal concrete. we are using a material composite for 95% of these bricks and raising and lowering them, so the fundamental core physics is known. where innovation comes in is with the proprietary machine software that fully automate the -- automates the tower as well as a lot of other innovation we thought of from a sustainability perspective. this last point is important. not only the materials, we can use the soil right from the site we excavate locally to make these bricks, so we don't have bring in trucks, materials. we are not spewing omissions with trucks coming in or other transportation elements coming in, and from a sustainable perspective, we use some of the suppliers in a global supply chain ecosystem that exists today, so we can do it now. emily: we have seen lithium ion batteries start to be attached to the energy grid, but also they can only supply energy for hours at a time. how long can your system -- >> sure, that is another one of the innovations, long-duration.
we can do eight to 12 hours. why is that important? we cannot only meet the time requirements of utilities but think about manufacturing companies. industrialand processes that rely on the power 24 hours a day. desalination is a great example. they need power to make drinking water 24 hours a day and we can now provide them for the first time that power. emily: we have seen a lot of pushback from local communities against giant solar power plants or large wind farms because of the fact that they don't look attractive. do you run the risk of that as well? a large concrete tower, while it might work, it might not be what companies want in their backyard. >> for most of the markets we will be building this system, it is out where there are farms. out in typically remote areas. wind farms, where there's already turbines sitting up high, and the off grid applications which are pretty important for us to get power to remote farms, villages, etc.,
to areas that that need power that cannot get it from the grid. in those locations, we don't see a lot of problem. emily: there is not really another company that does this this way. other company is working on this in a different way that might be the most challenging idea to what you have proposed? >> the big thing that has not been solved until now are for the economics. how do you get renewable energy storage down to price? when combined with solar or wind , you can do it below the cost of fossil fuel. that is really the major innovation and we have done that through the material science, to thinking about design, and through sustainability. that is, primarily, what we are solving that no one has been able to solve. emily: you have other competing, crazy, bold ideas. pumping compressed air underground releasing it to turbines. there are obviously a lot of paths to get to the best results and create the most amount of energy at the cheapest price.
what do you think makes this better than all of those others? >> sure, sure. three main reasons -- when we designed this, we did not want to have this dependency on things like geology or geography or topology. dams, for example, rely on mountains and things. we want to be able to deliver this everywhere, it is so big, the problem we are solving. second, sustainability. chemical battery companies, how they get the material, the batteries degrade immediately when you install them. through cycling, they are going to degrade. our system doesn't degrade at all. you have to solve this with innovation across material , and thinkingn about sustainability of your environmental aspects every day. vault'snergy volt -- ceo. we take a deep dive into the ftc probe of facebook next.
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♪ emily: welcome back to "the best of bloomberg technology." washington targeting big tech on trust. in an interview with bloomberg, joe simon said his agency is ready to get down and dirty if necessary. if you have to, you have to. the ftc is investigating facebook, including its acquisitions in an antitrust probe. that is just one of the big tech companies being targeted by the
trump administration. in new york, we have sally hubbard. -- served as an antitrust >> it is hard to read much into it. if you have to, you have to. maybe what he is talking about is that it can be difficult to force significant divestiture, something we would call a breakup, and to get that remedy ad court you need to show it is necessary. sort of a tautological comment. -- thereuld you agree has certainly been a lot of question given that the ftc find facebook, but critics say that did not go far enough. do you agree that the agency has
what it takes to make that leap if they have to? sally: i think he was stating the fact that that is a remedy that every antitrust enforcer needs to consider. i would not expect it out of joe simons, given how he handled the consent decree violations. a $5 billion fine sounds like a lot but it will not change anything or protect the american people from privacy abuses. i don't expect anything aggressive out of this administration, however these investigations take a long time so it might not need joe simons making the decision on the proper remedy. emily: you have a new piece out in bloomberg's this week that speaks to how facebook has evolved under scrutiny for regulators after this penalty and yourd by the ftc
assessment is facebook is only getting stronger. sarah: if you think about it logically, data is the most important part of the business model and that is what is at the bedrock of 70 billion advertising businesses. the ftc is telling facebook it is important that you do not share your most valuable asset with any third parties, and facebook already buttoned it up. they already understand that owning the network and owning a much bigger network and making that big or is most important -- bigger is most important for their business. the ftc said let the company pathnue on their current and do things that are anticompetitive. emily: would you agree with sarah? charlotte: i think that is a
major concern. something i was hoping the ftc might do is have requirements for interoperability with competitors. that is data sharing that it allows competition. point do yout think the ftc would say, this is a company that needs to be broken up? whether it is facebook, and joe simons spoke to amazon and the issue around third-party sellers. sally: it takes years of investigation before an enforcer will breakup a company. in our history when it has been done, it has taken time. it may be after the 2020 election and we could have a different decision maker making the ultimate decision. concerns he voiced about amazon are important, that it is not allowed to enforce rules et cetera it was not going to deal
in terms of low pricing -- rules it said it was going to do in terms of low pricing. emily: how concerning is the amazon issue in your mind? to makee: the ftc wants sure competition is happening fairly on the amazon platform, so small retailers ought to be able to compete and not worry that amazon will anti-competitively interfere with them. that is the type of thing the ftc will be looking for. ftcy: in response to the penalty on facebook, the former chief security officer at facebook had a pretty striking tweet, saying -- i can't believe facebook did not pay for more if the ftc ordered amazon to help consumers make money.
bezos would leap across the checkwith a $10 billion and a massive grin. sarah: this is a valuable asset facebook is no longer able to share so it is good to have this rule in place. facebook of five or seven years ago that resulted in cambridge analytica, that is no longer how it works. and gamesy quizzes that operate on facebook, that used to be necessary to bring in more users but facebook no longer wants that. they want to keep their entire network for itself. emily: you just came out with a fascinating piece about how facebook contractors are listening to audio of users talking over facebook messenger and today, the story about facebook only getting stronger. why don't these bad news stories
hurt facebook more? sally: i think the reason why the bad news stories don't hurt facebook is because the enforcers are not making a change its business practices. and it was the fine just a fraction of its annual revenue and it is able to keep doing what it is doing, mining users data in a way they do not expect, that settlement was a win for facebook. enforcer makes them change their business processes -- practices, they will not be effective. emily: what is your view of how this investigation will play out , as well as a potential investigation into amazon? charlotte: it is hard to predict. we don't have access to the nonpublic document they are
reviewing at the ftc, but we should not expect it will lead to huge changes. the track record is not strong antitrust is a narrow and difficult area of the law. our hope is that there will be a new agency with new regulatory powers in addition to antitrust, and that is how we will address the power that facebook has. hubbard,at was sally charlotte's lehman, and sarah frier. shortt revenue falling amid the chinese slowdown, but alibaba has room to run, reporting better-than-expected results. this is bloomberg. ♪
online ad revenue grew a worse than expected 16% as they grapple with competition and an economic slowdown. i spoke with selina wang in beijing. selina: the focus was on the decline in growth along the online ad revenue. this was a promising area and we are starting to see that hit by broader macro economic issues, as well as competition. what was interesting is where the company pointed out the sector,, from the auto real estate sector, financial sector, which is not a surprise given the stream of weak economic data. room,g elephant in the that company has been on a roll in terms of getting companies to
buy into their ads and buying user eyeballs onto their platform. the company did not engine that company by name but said they would be investing more in video apps, and would be beefing up its longform content to differentiate itself. emily: gaming has been a controversial part of the business in china. they have cracked down. what did we learn about the gaming segment at tencent? over, givenworst is that this is still the company's most important revenue line. we saw them monetize their important games, including peacemaker elite. this is the new, less violent version of the popular battle royale game but did not get approval from chinese regulators.
analysts are expecting it to pick up. you mentioned censorship. for any game in china, they have to deal with government sensors and those regulators have not approving these game titles fast enough. we heard from ceo pony ma they theybe focused -- pony ma will be focused on making less violent games. the ad sales around media ad sales were hurt by censorship and the expectation is that as -- as to what for content can be shown. emily: -- is the crown jewel of tencent, a super app to which there is no equivalent in the united states. how is we chat doing? selina: we rely on we chat for
everything. what is shocking is that this app is reaching penetration but is still growing. usersw 7% to 1.1 billion in the most recent quarter. to try to continue to juice growth, they are trying to add more services and content into the app, and focusing on many apps which are light apps -- mini apps which are light apps within the app. companies have responded cantively to those, which be used for everything from booking a car to ride-hailing and bike sharing. that is a successful area of growth. emily: selina wang. she was also tracking alibaba results out thursday. they defied china slowdown, sales beating top estimates.
discuss.d kevin carter the real story in china and the emerging artists is the billions of consumers moving up and they want stuff -- emerging markets is the billions of consumers moving up and they want stuff. retail sales and consumption continues and in emerging markets, that consumption is going online onto a smartphone just as it is here, but there is a leapfrogging because most of the infrastructure was never developed in china. tsai talked about digitalization, which is driving the results. the question is -- how long cannot keep up? selina: he pointed out a few factors driving the growth, and
the question is how long can this support alibaba's earning amid the broader economic slowdown, the trade war that looks like it has no end? one is the consumer upgrade in the developed markets. one citiesd the tier are reaching consumption of developed markets. they are pushing these lower tier cities starting to pay off. digitalization in the smaller cities and they are able to compete. they are planning to invest more in these areas and their market share is growing. this is a big trend in china that seems to be defying the broader slowdown. they are investing a lot in personalization in targeting these consumers with better algorithms and investing in sales promotion. that is helping boost the china
commerce business by 40%, almost twice the amount of online retail sales. emily: what this lead you to believe that e-commerce will not impacted by trade tensions in china? kevin: it is probably the sector to be affected the least. emily: why? kevin: the tariffs and trade war is about agricultural products, manufacturer goods -- manufactured goods. people in china who do not have a smartphone and as soon as they get back, they will connect with their friends, play games, shop. the secular trend of e-commerce is a one directional thing and it is not part of the trade war. strongto that point, results said alibaba has increasing competition from others.
what are the headwinds faces ahead? selina: alibaba has been pretty resilient amid increasing competition from the likes of jd.com. we did see some areas of challenges, the cloud computing segment still has negative operating margins. we saw growth decelerate in that area. there is losses in the digital media and entertainment sector there. --y are facing increasingly increasing regulatory issues. alibaba is not truly an e-commerce company in the way that you would think of amazon, and while we saw tencent's online advertising take a hit, alibaba's business has maintained strength. they are doing things to keep their customers engaged and improve the advertising return on investment or customers. emily: the trade war drag bonds
-- drags on and we don't know how long. what will the fallout be in china more broadly as an emerging market? kevin: it is likely to impact the chinese economy and the the export ande manufacturing sectors. i like to think the tariffs will not going to affect. emily: many tariffs are already in effect. kevin: this is true, in both directions. the ones that were pushed out, i would like to think this is a negotiating tactic. we had a skirmish with china 10 years ago and put a tariff on chinese tires. they put a tariff on our chicken feed. that was put in under the obama administration and lived for three years. it saved 1200 american tire
making jobs at a cost of $1 million per job, and cost three jobs and re-tile -- retail for every job it saved and the american taxpayer-funded that, so i would like to think the mathematics are clear enough we would not do the things we are threatening. the market is voting out that we will have a recession in our country, and i think it could be bad if we go ahead with the tariffs. emily: where does that mean you are placing your bets? kevin: emerging internet companies are not really part of the trade or. -- trade war. this is about people wanting stuff and using their smartphones. emily: that was kevin carter and selina wang. coming up, you know him as the china.head of -- an exclusive conversation with ipo as he eyes and ai
emily: the former head of google china is turning heads at the hound of one of china's most prominent funds. they have invested in more than 300 companies, including one he hopes will be the fastest ai inpany to hit $100 million revenue. don't plan this ahead of time. based on the trajectory of innovation, today it is fair to fastest 200 million dollar revenue company in the world. selina: where are you now? there, but not quite by the time we project we will get there, it will be the
million ofreach $100 revenue. i think it can get there pretty revenue over 100 million hong kong, towards 200 million. at that point it should be well over a unicorn and can be listed publicly. selina: what is your timeline for an ipo? kai-fu: 100 million to $200 million revenue and the price ratio of 10 or so. it would not be far from now, less than two years. selina: you wrote that the area of technological discovery was uber and now it is about implementation. how do you see this business continuing to evolve? kai-fu: we are still at a very early stage in the commercialization, kind of at the equivalent of early internet portals back when everyone was
using yahoo! and there was not even a google or amazon or facebook. there is a lot of room to reap rewards. selina: we are seeing venture deals fall dramatically. they fell 77%. or ais a long-term winter healthy, short term place to bring valuations back to healthy levels? kai-fu: in an economy that is slowing down, everything slows down including venture capital. what will happen is there will be a shakeout. the top will continue to thrive. smaller first time vc's that have raised money and conventional ways will get in trouble. the positive side is if the economy is challenging, and the valuations are down, it is a good chance for us to go shopping. selina: there are reports some
chinese ai companies like facebook plus could be added to the blacklist and cut off from u.s. to knology. -- technology. how do you see that playing out and doesn't have an impact on the ai industry -- does it have an impact on the ai industry? kai-fu: i think the impact would be much less than a company like huawei, which has intricate hardware software products built with multiple dependencies. has beenhe u.s. scrutinizing for deals in the u.s. and many chinese funds have scaled-back their investments. in thes this strategy short-term and long-term? kai-fu: in the short-term it has no impact because u.s. investment has always been less than 5% of our total, so now it goes from 5% to 2%.
pitye long term, it is a if we have to really cause a total separation of two countries because one could argue that artificial intelligence got to where it got to because the whole world has been able to work together. emily: part of our exclusive interview with kai-fu lee. that does it for this edition of "the best of bloomberg technology." we are livestreaming on twitter. and us at technology, follow our global breaking news network to talk on twitter -- tictoc on twitter. this is bloomberg. ♪ - i think the best company's succeed as a team
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