Event Highlights – Day 1
Bloomberg Technology Summit
December 14-15, 2021
By Bloomberg Live
Pandemic Powers: Tech’s Opportunities and Challenges
Covid-19 was almost perversely good for tech companies. The largest players, led by Amazon and Apple, gained even greater influence and power during a global lockdown that spurred demand for e-commerce, video streaming and electronic gadgets. Internet leaders Google and Meta have only extended their control over digital advertising and the flow of online information. Crypto currency prices have soared, upstarts have gone public via SPACs, and even transportation and travel companies like Uber and Airbnb have made it through and are ready to ride a rebounding economy.
The emerging landscape is filled with new opportunities and hidden pitfalls. Regulators and lawmakers who in years past adopted a hands-off policy toward tech are more closely scrutinizing every move made in Seattle and Silicon Valley. The SEC is ramping up to take a great look at the SPAC boom. And while there exists a new exuberance, there are questions about just how complete the recovery will be.
Join us at the Bloomberg Technology Summit, 2021 as we explore the role of technology in enabling advancements and overcoming challenges in recovering economies.
Click here to view video of Day 1.
- Joe Atkinson, Vice Chair – Chief Products & Technology Officer, PwC
- Merav Bahat, Co-Founder & CEO, Dazz
- Ray Bajaj, Senior Vice President and CTO, Cardinal Health
- Adam Boyes, Co-CEO, Iron Galaxy Studios
- Chris Bruzzo, Chief Experience Officer, Electronic Arts
- Tony Costa, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, The Bumble Bee Seafood Company
- George Elissaios, Director of Product Management for Hybrid & Edge, AWS
- Meredith Fuchs, General Counsel, Plaid
- Pat Grady, Partner, Sequoia Capital
- Dave Johnson, Chief Data and Artificial Intelligence Officer, Moderna
- Najat Khan, Ph.D., Chief Data Science Officer and Global Head of Strategy & Operations, Janssen Research & Development, LLC
- Arvind Krishna, CEO, IBM
- Jesse Levinson, Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer, Zoox
- Dr. Jewel Li, Chief Operating Officer, AutoX
- Brendon Lynch, Chief Privacy Officer, Airbnb
- Laura Money, Executive Vice-President and Chief Information Officer, Sun Life Financial
- Christopher Payne, President, DoorDash
- James Peng, Co-Founder & CEO, Pony.ai
- Anurag Rana, Sector Head and Senior Analyst, Bloomberg Intelligence
- Chris Rupp, EVP, Chief Digital and Customer Officer, Albertsons Companies
- Sami Siddiqui, President, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
- Keith Wojcieszek, Managing Director, Cyber Risk, Kroll
- Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- David Sacks, General Partner, Craft
- Deena Shakir, Partner, Lux Capital
- Garry Tan, Founder and Managing Partner, Initialized Capital
- Lisa Abramowicz, Co-Host of Bloomberg Surveillance TV & Radio
- Drew Armstrong, Senior Editor for Health Care, Bloomberg
- Dina Bass, Technology Reporter and Seattle Bureau Chief, Bloomberg
- Lizette Chapman, Technology Reporter, Bloomberg
- Tom Giles, Executive Editor, Global Technology, Bloomberg News
- Edward Ludlow, Global TV News Desk West Coast Editor, Bloomberg
- Michelle Lynn, Global Head of Data Science & Insights, Bloomberg
- Sarah McBride, Reporter, Bloomberg
- Brad Stone, Senior Executive Editor, Bloomberg News
- William Turton, Cybersecurity Reporter, Bloomberg News
- Kurt Wagner, Technology Reporter, Bloomberg
The Role of AI in Healthcare
Dave Johnson, Chief Data and Artificial Intelligence Officer, Moderna defined artificial intelligence (AI) as a “computational system that reaches a level of achievement normally associated with human thinking,” but with faster, higher-quality results, such as in digital pathology.
Aiming for outcomes that improve pipelines is how AI should be applied, said Najat Khan, Ph.D., Chief Data Science Officer and Global Head of Strategy & Operations, Janssen Research & Development, LLC. One area is recruiting for clinical trials. Historically, only 4-percent of eligible patients enroll. AI allows for trials to find patients and go to hotspots, and accelerated Covid-19 vaccine studies by about six weeks.
Johnson and Khan also spoke about overcoming data gaps, tokenization, usability in research of large genetic data sets, data bias, AI’s current status of a steep inflection point and its evolution going forward and the big hurdle of getting clinicians, physicians and businesses to change.
Blockchain for Supply Chain Management
Tony Costa, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, The Bumble Bee Seafood Company offered an example of how blockchain is revolutionizing the food industry. In Indonesia two years ago, he discovered an opportunity to use it to trace fish from “catch to can.”
In both industries, the supply chain is about relationships. Blockchain encourages more data contribution by everyone involved, Costa said. Privacy and chain of custody are important aspects in health care, added Ray Bajaj, Senior Vice President and CTO, Cardinal Health.
Panelists agreed transparency is the big issue going forward. “The U.S. system is built on track and trace,” Bajaj said, “and there will be a point in time in the future where there is going to be complete visibility across the supply chain.”
They spoke about legislation concerning smart contracts and standardized, federal regulations, extending technology to remote suppliers, and how retail pricing will be affected..
In Conversation with Alejandro Mayorkas
When it comes to ransomware and other spyware, there is no backing down, said Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “We’re really investing a great deal of money as well as attention and focus on the “bug bounty” Hack DHS program. We want to take it to a really unprecedented level,” he said, speaking further about a public-private, operational collaboration, with rewards of up to $5,000 for information. Mayorkas spoke about a recent visit to Silicon Valley companies, where there was a consensus on a need for information and intelligence sharing.
On misinformation prevalent on social media, such as election fraud and vaccines, Mayorkas said, “I think that false narratives present a threat to our security. The propagation of false narratives is something to be condemned. We need our leaders to step up and fight against it, because the words of leaders matter quite a bit. They can be very influential in the public discourse.”
It Starts with Venture Capital
Technology’s reputation may be threatened, but venture capitalists see nothing permanent but its beneficial role in the future. “Technology is not immoral. It pushes forward all of society, said Garry Tan, Founder and Managing Partner, Initialized Capital. who spoke about growing up poor, yet finding opportunities in technology. Adding to that was Pat Grady, Partner, Sequoia Capital, who said startups move the ball forward, and how social responsibility is met at Sequoia by being “incredibly selective” about money sources. Deena Shakir, Partner, Lux Capital, said that throughout history, there has always been stress around innovation. People will always get past it. “Tech permeates everything. It’s the way the world opiates these days.”
As for cryptocurrency, David Sacks, General Partner, Craft, said, “There’s so little innovation in the traditional world of finance. Crypto is an opportunity to disrupt that on a scale we’ve never seen before.” Tan, who backed Coinbase way back in 2012, said crypto is looked at as a trading platform, when it’s really a defining technology platform.
When it comes to big tech stocks, post pandemic, Tan said, “we have to continue to invest in both good times and lean times, because this whole tent is going to continue to grow.”
Tips for underinvested areas are women’s health care, per Shakir, and “things that have been reimagined to take advantage of the cloud, such as SaaS, ” said Grady.
Tech Privacy: Protecting Consumers
The panel discussed a data privacy environment that is mostly defined by business policies and practices rather than regulations, and where it is headed. “It’s about basic principles, law or not,” said Meredith Fuchs, General Counsel, Plaid. At her previous job at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, she saw how a portion of industry serves only industry, such as debt collection and loan services, where consumers are not the North Star. Digital financial tools are being used by about 88-percent of consumers, Fuchs said. “I want to see regulations that protect their needs.”
Brendon Lynch, Chief Privacy Officer, Airbnb spoke to managing privacy both online and on the ground as a matter of good business practice, regulations or not. “Airbnb was founded on trust,” Lynch noted. When it comes to protecting property owners and the “strangers going to their homes,” the company limits information sharing, even after bookings. In “smart homes,” camera location disclosure is required and no cameras are allowed in bedrooms or bathrooms.
PwC Sponsor Spotlight: Future-proof your Business with Employee Upskilling
How can businesses future-proof themselves? “Use technology to offer better service and tech that clients can use,” said Joe Atkinson, Vice Chair – Chief Products & Technology Officer, PwC
“Making investments in digital transformation needs to include employee upskilling.” he said as technology jobs get ever harder to fill. “Employers are obligated to help employees bridge the gap. The reality is those investments should provide return to the stakeholders just like any other investment should.”
Innovations in the On-Demand Economy
Consumers continue to demand all the convenience and speed that can be mustered in grocery and restaurant food delivery. Partnerships, robots, dark kitchens, innovations currently in test mode and allusions to more in the near future were part of the conversation.
Across a 2,400-store supermarket chain, every aspect of the customer experience is being explored, according to Chris Rupp, EVP, Chief Digital and Customer Officer, Albertsons Companies. In keeping with the neighborhood store feel, no on-demand facilities are planned, but they are partnering with Door Dash and working on faster order-filling methods.
Christopher Payne, President, DoorDash agreed about closer sources, and said his company’s philosophy is about supporting local economies. He spoke about double dash – running multiple shopping errands for customers – testing 10- to 15-minute grocery deliveries in Manhattan neighborhoods, and initiatives like virtual menus that leverage existing resources in restaurants.
“We’re at the very beginning of the technology evolution, ” Sami Siddiqui, President, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, said of the daunting task of delivering fresh, hot food. “The biggest challenge is that most people don’t have Popeyes near them. We’re testing ghost kitchens right now all over the U.S, and have already launched in Shanghai and elsewhere. Some are dark and some are hybrids, with walk-up windows. “Innovation is really good for the industry and for the guest.” Efforts include improved food packaging and treating their “dashers” like customers.
At the core of it all is a data-rich technical platform, Payne said. As to robot dreams, they are a complimentary system that “won’t replace humans for years to come. For now, the solutions are in the first 10 feet and the last 10 feet.
Cybersecurity: Protecting Digital Transformation
Speed is the goal of moving to the cloud, but also the challenge, according to Merav Bahat, Co-Founder & CEO, Dazz. “In the past, the gold standard was to deploy the product two times a year. Today, some of our customers are sending code to production every three minutes. So, it means that there’s tons of code that is being deployed, and that creates a big security gap.” The biggest issue across all organizations is misconfigurations, Bahat said. And those are the simplest issues to fix.
On supply chain risks, Keith Wojcieszek, Managing Director, Cyber Risk, Kroll it is essential to develop a mature security posture. “You can’t fend off all of these attacks because it’s very vibrant out there. System builders have a tough job. They have to secure everything. All the bad guys have to do is find one little area to get in and exploit it.”
Empowering the Digital Transformation
“A journey of hybrid cloud and AI” is how Arvind Krishna, CEO, IBM, described the reimagination of the 110-year old company. Data, security and consulting will be priorities going forward, as well as partnerships, including with Amazon, Microsoft Azure, Salesforce and Adobe, the separation of its managed infrastructure services business to Kyndryl, and the acquisition of Red Hat Software, one of “well over a dozen” over the past 18 months. “It’s a world of scale. You can’t be a jack-of-all-trades anymore.”
Unlocking value in stock price means sticking to the demand of shareholders and their request for steady, sustainable revenue growth. He is predicting mid-single digit growth in 2022. “It really is the simplicity, the focus, the nimbleness, and the allocation of capital into these strategies that is resulting in better trajectories.”
On the future, Krishna said the massive amounts of data that will be produced can only be managed by AI, more specifically, predictive enterprise AI. “That’s what we’re going after.”
Game On: Cracking the Massive Video Game Market
Starting with the “biggest” question – What about the megaverse? – Chris Bruzzo, Chief Experience Officer, Electronic Arts was quick to point out that the idea is actually very familiar to the gaming world. Adam Boyes, Co-CEO, Iron Galaxy Studios, said it has to be player concentric. “If it feels great, that’s the starting point for creating compelling worlds gamers want to visit.” Bruzzo said with more than 100 million people inside games already, metaverse feels like it’s just a logical extension. The trend is for the number of people watching games will eclipse player numbers, “and then creation is yet another dimension of that, and the whole thing is powered by social interaction.”
That segued into a discussion of non-fungible tokens, how the creator economy is changing the gaming world, the potential for more consolidation, and accusations of harassment and misconduct within gaming companies..
Hyperdrive: The Future of Automobiles
Note: After this panel was taped, the California DMV suspended Pony.ai’s driverless testing permit following an accident involving one of Pony.ai’s test vehicles. The collision did not involve any other vehicles and no injuries occurred.
What is the current status of autonomous vehicles? Driverless cars are already on the road in test scenarios around the world. Jesse Levinson, Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer, Zoox said the U.S. is actually pretty progressive, “There aren’t too many regulatory roadblocks to getting this technology out there. It came out in 2016 with the world’s first guidelines for fully autonomous vehicles, in a pretty landmark decision. It considers the AI to be a driver.” Zoox is testing robotaxies and hybrids in places like San Francisco and for wet weather data, in Seattle.
Dr. Jewel Li, Chief Operating Officer, AutoX said they are testing in 13 countries, including the U.S., and are working closely with regulators and law enforcement in China, where AI has to pass what is essentially a battery of driver’s license tests, 50 times each. They are quickly nearing the point of being able to scale.
Driverless cars promise major safety and environmental improvements, but how do we get there? James Peng, Co-Founder & CEO, Pony.ai, said commercialization is the next step. “How do we mass produce and deploy a mass fleet, and push it to be a benefit to society?”
On convincing consumers, Levinson said education will be key. Zoox produces videos and shares test data. He believes seeing will be believing. “Those experiencing autonomous cars won’t feel like there’s a missing driver. They’ll just feel like it was never designed for a driver in the first place.”
Expanding Innovation with Hybrid Cloud
George Elissaios, Director of Product Management for Hybrid & Edge, AWS said transition will be slowed by legacy commitments or requirements for sensitive data to remain within specific data centers. Laura Money, Executive Vice-President and Chief Information Officer, Sun Life Financial offered a look at the varied ways and extent businesses may move to the hybrid cloud. New platforms will be built in the cloud. Some companies will at least go there to use applications like Microsoft 365. Some may move suites of applications or build lower environment systems in the cloud.
Anurag Rana, Sector Head and Senior Analyst, Bloomberg Intelligence spoke to the gradual move by existing companies, driven mainly by costs. “The struggle is simple. Any CEO has a budget. They need to find the time, the money and the patience to port applications.”
Money echoed that, saying it’s not a great business decision for those with a robust database. “You go to the cloud for the tools and the innovation.”
Elissaios said their customers focus on what makes them stand out and what customers want, and the ability to plan better from a tech status.
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