Event Highlights – Day 2
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. Cryptocurrency 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.
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- Christian Angermayer, Founder, Apeiron Investment Group
- Raj Beri, VP, Grocery and New Verticals, Uber
- Allon Bloch, Co-Founder and CEO, K Health
- Alejandra Ceja, Executive Director, Panasonic Foundation, Vice President, Office of Social Impact and Inclusion, Panasonic Corporation of North America
- Jason Chen, Co-Founder, President and CEO, JustKitchen
- Emilie Choi, President & Chief Operating Officer, Coinbase
- Russell Glass, Chief Executive Officer, Headspace Health
- Seemantini Godbole, Executive Vice President, Chief Information Officer, Lowe’s
- Renée James, Founder & CEO, Ampere Computing
- Mike Jones, Co-founder & Managing Director, Science Inc.
- Christian Klein, CEO, SAP
- Monique Levy, Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer, Woebot Health
- Ryan McCormack, Factor & Core Equity ETF Strategist, Invesco
- Jim Mellon, Co-founder and Executive Director, Agronomics
- Nicola Mendelsohn, VP Global Business Group, Meta
- Edmond Mesrobian, Chief Technology Officer, Nordstrom
- Mike Murphy, Chief Technology Officer, Ericsson North America
- Anna Paglia, Global Head of ETFs & Indexed Strategies, Invesco
- Will Patrick, CEO and Co-Founder, Culture Biosciences
- Ann M. Sarnoff, Chair and CEO, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group
- Sampath Sowmyanarayan, Chief Revenue Officer, Verizon Business
- Racheli Vizman, Co-founder and CEO, SavorEat
- Rex Woodbury, Principal, Index Ventures
- Christopher Young, Executive Vice President Business Development, Strategy and Ventures, Microsoft
- Dina Bass, Technology Reporter and Seattle Bureau Chief, Bloomberg
- Emily Chang, Anchor & Executive Producer, Bloomberg Technology
- Jackie Davalos, Technology Reporter, Bloomberg
- Anna Edwards, TV News Anchor, Bloomberg
- Tom Giles, Executive Editor, Global Technology, Bloomberg News
- Jordyn Holman, Retail Reporter, Bloomberg
- Ian King, Technology Reporter, Bloomberg
- Anne Riley Moffat, Senior Editor, Energy and Commodities, Bloomberg News
- Naomi Nix, Technology Reporter, Bloomberg
- Devon Pendleton, Wealth Reporter, Bloomberg News
- Thomas Seal, Reporter, Bloomberg
- Lucas Shaw, Team Leader, Media, Telecom, Entertainment, Bloomberg
- Kurt Wagner, Technology Reporter, Bloomberg
Inventing a Happier Future
Technology aimed at prolonging and improving lives are what drive investments for Christian Angermayer, Founder, Apeiron Investment Group. He defined happiness as “one level below” daily events; knowing that the underlying principles of his life are alright. “Over the next 20 years, we will see a level of change that’s 100 times what we’ve seen up to now,” which will go against our nature to prefer continuity. Social media is already driving change, and its external validation is almost as addictive as opioids, putting us in a very dangerous time of adjustment, he said. Angermayer spoke about FDA trials now for psychedelics as medical compounds as his currently most important project and the most important solution to the mental health crisis, as well as his own controlled use of them.
Angermayer also spoke about the brain’s immune system (faith, purpose and love), and the science behind rejuvenated health toward extended life expectancy,
Retail’s New Reality
Seemantini Godbole, Executive Vice President, Chief Information Officer, Lowe’s spoke about Black Friday 2018 and their website’s meltdown; the impetus to leapfrog to improved customer interaction, including supporting professionals, “focusing on the fun parts and taking away the friction.”
Edmond Mesrobian, Chief Technology Officer, Nordstrom said they have long trialed AI in its operations, from marketing to logistics, and to bring the in-store “magic” to the online shopping experience. Keyword search is one of the biggest challenges retailers face, he said. Godbole agreed, and talked further about interactive tools using AI and augmented reality to allow customers to see paint colors, countertops, etc. in their homes and to measure spaces simply by moving a phone around.
Algorithms that show how consumers want to shop help both Lowe’s and Nordstrom. Mesrobian said data is key and described how that is applied to an “enterprise” that encompasses all shopping services, and how supply chain issues can be overcome.
Feeding Tomorrow’s Population
Racheli Vizman, Co-founder and CEO, SavorEat said that they are starting with plant-based due to regulations and public acceptance, but are really creating a platform for education about alternative proteins, because “the consumer is much more curious about what they are eating and want to know more.”
On moving the needle toward widespread adoption of plant-based proteins, Will Patrick, CEO and Co-founder, Culture Biosciences said it’s not just about the price drop that is happening. Product improvements are needed. They are developing ingredients such as collagen elastins, created using fermentation, that add meat-like flavor and texture.
Jim Mellon, Co-founder and Executive Director, Agronomics said the plant-based process is truly greener. “Seventy-percent of all crops grown on the earth go into animals,” he said. As an example, cows need 25 times more input than the protein they put out.” Plant-based uses 1-percent of land, 7-percent of water and less than half the energy, he said.
Panelists gave their predictions on a timeline for moving substantially away from large-herd to lab-based agriculture, including fish; a food revolution that will include a large variety of products, beyond meat.
Sitecore Sponsor Spotlight
Steve Stathis Tzikakis, CEO, Sitecore said businesses that will thrive in 2022 are those who embrace the digital transformation. Among the trends that will shape that market is the desire of consumers to go beyond just buying products to shopping experiences. Control over brands will be centered on the “supercomputer in their hands.” Another trend is the metaverse, which is a channel, he said. “The bigger story is how retailers can reimagine how consumers will use their goods and services. It’s a digital-first world. Businesses must take advantage of the amazing opportunities that are in the metaverse. New revenue streams are already there.”
He defined the current trends, in addition to the metaverse, as eliminating the friction of waiting in line and swiping cards and customer demand to know how their data is used.
What’s Next for Microsoft
Christopher Young, Executive Vice President Business Development, Strategy and Ventures, Microsoft, talked about going deeper into the digital stack for cloud solutions and the accelerating trend across industries. In healthcare, Microsoft is investing in digital technology that is “life-science research coming together with tech,” with beneficial impacts across patient care. As an example of a fast-moving trend, Young said they are investing in a company that is developing cloud applications to improve logistics of large container ships, something still being done “by a person with a clipboard.” The recent supply chain disruption, he said, is fast-tracking solutions that will be in place within the next few years
Young also spoke about the future being dependent on stronger security.
Will an App a Day Keep the Doctor Away?
Russell Glass, Chief Executive Officer, Headspace Health spoke about a doubling of overall need for mental health care as a result of the pandemic and Headspace’s end-to-end platform aimed at being very accessible and comprehensive, created in response to need.
Allon Bloch, Co-founder and CEO, K Health defined a post-Covid world of telemedicine that is no longer ad hoc healthcare. “We think that most medicine can be done online, and people should be starting there.” Just like people no longer go to the bank and stand in line, the system needs to evolve to be more helpful to patients, particularly those with chronic conditions.
Monique Levy, Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer, Woebot Health addressed the stigma of mental health care, “the judgment that keeps people from seeking health care.” With an AI-based chat agent, the stigma is removed. Levy spoke to pulling patent lived experience into product design. Bloch added that it’s time to start demystifying AI, because it’s an important tool. “Why not have the ability to intelligently sift through the data and build better systems. This is not some broad General AI. It’s built by humans for humans and you can build a better understanding of our patients, whether mental health or primary care.”
Glass spoke further about access for historically underrepresented groups, addressed by Headspace with an expansion into health coverage, including their own Medicaid plan
The New Fast Food
During the pandemic, the iconic ride provider quickly transformed to deliver “almost anything,” according to Raj Beri, VP, Grocery and New Verticals, Uber. It is now the largest free delivery service outside of China, “because of the push into these new verticals.”
The hypergrowth spurred by the pandemic was evident Jason Chen, Co-Founder, President and CEO, JustKitchen said, in places like Taiwan, which quarantined for only two months and is now virtually Covid-free. “Even though people started to go out to eat again, we saw no change in the demand for food delivery.”
With a company formed just a week before the pandemic, Kagan Sumer, CEO and Founder, Gorillas said they jumped in by providing immediate access for essential needs. It escalated quickly, evolving to half a billion in revenue with a 60-percent customer return rate. What he likes best about their model is that it’s so primitive, Sumer said.
On the rapidly increasing competition in the delivery space, it’s where Uber started, Beri said and it’s “a natural shift into groceries. We know how to do speed. It’s in our DNA.” He spoke about their platform allowing retailers to offer delivery in a variety of ways.
Sumer spoke about the pandemic effect of more health and world consciousness and developing a delivery model that makes produce more accessible and reduces waste.
Cryptocurrency: The Beginning of the Future
“From our perspective, this was the year institutional really broke out. Being the first major company to go public was a watershed event,” said Emilie Choi, President & Chief Operating Officer, Coinbase.
On a cyberwinter, Choi said they make no predictions, sticking with her description of crypto as a rollercoaster ride. “Those who ride it out long-term and hold it through the ups and downs will earn. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart.” The reason some investors love the winter is because that’s when “the fakers get out of the space and they can focus without all the crazy hype.”
Choi spoke about being the largest crypto custodian in the world, now holding 12-percent of the world’s crypto assets. “We tend to double down during those times when everyone else is fearful.”
On regulations, Coinbase is on board, and Choi said she was pleased to find legislators interested in learning about cryptocurrency. ‘We have always leaned into regulations, but they need clarity.” And on Coinbase’s role on the metaverse, it is part of the building blocks, and creators benefit through tokenism.
As one of the industries most-affected by the pandemic, Ann M. Sarnoff, Chair and CEO, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, said recovery is still a work in progress, with Covid-19 variants holding it back to a degree. It’s all about demographics and convincing theater-goers to get off the couch. “The biggest competition now is that people have gotten used to sitting in their living room, with better content and bigger screens,” Sarnoff said.
Making the bold move to release into theaters and on HBO at the same time worked, she said, proven at the box office. “We helped theaters stay in business when no one else was releasing anything. During the dark days of 2022, we released 17 movies.”
As for 2022, Sarnoff said, “We have made our commitments to the market, to the theaters, to the talent. And we believe the movies that we’re putting in the theaters are the ones that are really going to excite people to leave their homes.”
Invesco QQQ Sponsor Spotlight: Disruptive Innovation
Anna Paglia, Global Head of ETFs & Indexed Strategies, Invesco spoke about refocusing the business to meet demand, being “ever-changing as the world changes,” and having the potential to change overnight, as circumstances like a pandemic warrant speed.
The shift to work-at-home was fairly seamless, said Ryan McCormack, Factor & Core Equity ETF Strategist, Invesco, “as much of the infrastructure to stay connected with colleagues had already been built and refined.” He remarked on how far the company has come since 1999, when “having a website was the only requirement to be a tech company.”
Paglia said Invesco QQQ has shown the commitment to remain at the forefront of the most exciting advancements and changes for the future. “Invesco QQQ provides a way to invest in them and in the future, it also creates an opportunity for every investor to become an agent of innovation”. McCormack added that Invesco reinvests in itself far more than most, which fuels innovation.
Consumers, Creators and the Future of e-Commerce
“Brand awareness exploded, digital consumption exploded. It felt like accelerating multi years of economic growth into a few weeks,” said Mike Jones, Co-founder & Managing Director, Science Inc. of pandemic economics. “Because the moment you cut off that real world experience outside the home, people spend all their time online.” He likes most that people are “voting with their wallets” to support companies with environmental consciences.
Rex Woodbury, Principal, Index Ventures picked up the thread by noting the fashion industry is responsible for 10-percent of global carbon emissions. He spoke about Generation Z and new careers centered on sustainability, personalized ecommerce and reold clothing and self-expression.
“It’s been really interesting to see this new generation come of age with radically different behaviors around what it means to consume and create.”
The obstacles ahead for ecommerce include customer acquisition and distribution. The biggest may be the need to stand out from the crowd, Woodbury said, describing the need to “build viral loops and get in front of new people.”
Bridging the Digital Divide
A former government employee, Alejandra Ceja, Executive Director, Panasonic Foundation, Vice President, Office of Social Impact and Inclusion, Panasonic Corporation of North America said “I do think there’s an opportunity for us to leverage public-private partnerships in support of bridging the digital divide. I think that there’s some Innovation that’s coming out of this new administration that will make a difference.That shared responsibility will help us make greater inroads, especially in communities of color.”
Mike Murphy, Chief Technology Officer, Ericsson North America spoke about a mix of technology as the solution, noting that fiberoptics cost eight times as much to deploy in rural areas. 5G and low Earth orbit are better options.
Sampath Sowmyanarayan, Chief Revenue Officer, Verizon Business said there is a lot to like about fiber, but “I’ve been waiting my whole career to say this; wireless solutions are a credible option. It works, you know. We call it fixed wireless access or business internet or home internet. It’s a really good option to bridge the digital divide,” he said, adding that it is no longer a cost issue.
Entering the Metaverse
Nicola Mendelsohn, VP Global Business Group, Meta spoke about her new role after more than eight years at the company, now working on a global basis with Meta’s biggest partners and advertisers. Her analysis of the holiday shopping season is that it’s “like no other,” due mostly to supply chain concerns. The Black Friday phenomenon is now all over the world, she said, and nonprofits are benefitting tremendously from Giving Tuesdays.
On the supply chain and potential pull back by advertisers, Mendelsohn said spending is up significantly. And on Meta’s rebrand from Facebook, she confirmed it’s a factor for its advertisers, “but they want to know more, and they’re leaning in.” Bringing them in early on the evolution allows them to help shape it.
As a potentially dramatic leap to a new format, Mendelsohn said people will primarily experience it in 2D apps, and the strategies that work there will be applicable in 3D. “Business opportunities will always follow consumer behaviors. And so that’s why I think it’s actually really important for businesses to continue to focus on the opportunities that they have today by innovating and using our tools, as a number of brands are doing now.” She noted Sephora and Charlotte Tilbury use filters that allow customers to virtually try on makeup.
Navigating the Edge
Renée James, Founder & CEO, Ampere Computing spoke to what has changed about the semiconductor industry. “The combination of the way the industry structure has evolved, the new capabilities that are available to design companies has really enabled us to build things at a pace that is that we’ve never accomplished before. We’re on an annual cadence of products. And we’re able to build world-class performance leadership.
On attracting the biggest customer, James said “You have to have a product that meets their needs and in this business, it has to be best. That’s just the price of admission. And one of the reasons is, maybe a lot of your viewers haven’t heard a lot about it because in this business, it doesn’t benefit to talk, it’s a kind of show me the money thing.”
James also spoke about balancing the supply chain with more chip-production back in the U.S.
Reflections on the Cloud
Christian Klein, CEO, SAP on pandemic-shaped cloud ambitions, said acceptance has increased and manufacturing, logistics, finance and others with high complexity are all making the move. “We can also personalize the supply chain because it’s an end-to-end value chain, and if the data models fit together, if you can track and trace everything, what is happening in your digital channel is a clear advantage. You have to be an integrated company.”
In the big software world, it’s important to partner, Klein said. “We have over 2,000 partner apps on our platform to extend our core applications, to give them more industry flavor, to allow our customers to build and connect seamlessly with each other.”
Klein also spoke about launching SAP Ariba supply chain solutions, the power of coming together as a network, just-in-time methodology switching to just-in-case, shortages in workforce and raw materials, and technology in sustainability products.
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