tv Bloomberg West Bloomberg April 5, 2014 3:00pm-4:01pm EDT
♪ >> from pier three in san francisco, welcome to "bloomberg west" where we cover the technologies that are reshaping our world. every weekend we will bring you the best of west. amazon unveils fire tv at an event in new york city. the small black box streams movies, tv shows and more. and amazon says it has three times the power and performance of apple tv, roku, google's chromecast.
peter larson, vice president of amazon kindle, spoke at the event. >> what can you watch on fire tv? it has a ton of content. from amazon instant video, prime instant video, hulu plus, watch espn, showtime, major league baseball, nba, the disney channels, bloomberg tv, youtube. it is the easiest place to watch netflix. >> you can catch "bloomberg west" on there, of course. the move also escalates a rivalry with netflix and other video streaming services that are developing exclusive content. now, the big question is, who will win the battle for your living room? cory johnson and i spoke with brad stone about what fire tv really means for amazon. >> amazon has actually been thinking about a set top boxes
the end of 2011. -- setup box since the end of 2011. it has been a long journey. the question was always, what are the big ideas going to be? how will it raise the bar on roku, on apple tv? there's the casual games, bringing the games in from the app store. it is a risk. no big idea, no interactive programming on the big-screen tv, watch the james bond movie and buy the watch. maybe that is coming, but version one amazon does not have it. >> apparently fire tv has better search capabilities. listen to this commercial with gary busey. >> find gary busey.
this tv listens to me and does exactly what i say. gary busey. yes! amazon. >> it seems so simple, but is a big deal or is it incremental as you said. >> do people really want to search? >> searching is a clunky process on apple tv. you have to search through the alphabet. you start to see all these companies coming together with the same kinds of stuff very at -- stuff. i am curious about the game thing. do you get the sense that games as an afterthought? >> it is one of the ways they
think they can distinguish this product. the amazon app store does not have a great selection of games. amazon has tailored android, does not have the google play store. in typical amazon fashion, they are creating their own. look, hard-core gamers want to play hard-core games. they don't want to play -- they want to play bio shock, not mine craft. >> this is one of those great opportunities to put your different businesses together. >> whether it is on gaming or something like imdb, which is a place where you find everything about actors in the entertainment business these days. even back at that kindle fire hd, jeff bezos made a big push on the idea when you're watching films or finding out who the actor is through imdb, i don't know necessarily of people are using those services in a big way. >> bezos wasn't there today. what do you make of that?
>> it says a lot. he so my newly involved in lap 126 and the hardware products. in lab 126 involved and the hardware products. they presented him these things every month. it was pete larson. it is not going to get the attention that the kindle fire and the kindle e-readers have gotten in terms of big promotional holiday time launchers. >> what about the apple closed ecosystem versus this android open ecosystem. how big a difference does that make. >> definitely, take a player like netflix, for example. netflix, what it's able to do to change the experience. if you have kids and they want to watch kids content, and you can see these nice pieces of art when you are going through, there are limitations if you're using netflix through apple.
i think that is an interesting differentiator between apple tv and roku. maybe google chrome cast. >> are the content creators changing their focus from whatever they might have been trying to develop for cable into thinking about selling shows to people that will pay a lot of money for it? >> you saw that showtime is part of this announcement. i think it is really important for them, if they can work out the deals, hbo is not a part of this announcement today. maybe there's something behind the scenes we don't know about . to be on these different platforms, the content players do not want to make their cable friends angry, because they get paid a lot of money to put their content there. they also don't want to get left in the dust. if people are using these new devices in a big way, they want to make sure they have an app. >> when you look at the battle for the living room and the different players, is it an equal playing field right now? does somebody have the upper hand?
>> the upper hand is held by the mso's, comcast and direct tv. the name of the game is still live, linear programming. and americans watch more than five hours of this stuff a day. technology companies have been hitting their heads against the wall because customers are not coming to court in huge numbers. programmers still love to bundle their channels together and sell them. >> so it is still the oscars, still baseball, football -- >> and until amazon or apple or google can write a huge check and unbundle some of these networks, these services are a nice add-on. that set top box will be place on top of the big comcast set-top box. >> what happened when google chrome cast launched, the ceo said their sales continue to go up. >> larson said that one of their advantages they have all these
customer reviews of the set-top boxes. the best reviews by far are those for the chrome cast. >> there are these new devices and people start to hear what they are about. they like them and they're not much money. chrome cast is $35. more consumers start to learn about these. it is a no-brainer that this market is a growing one. >> i want to know what it means for the quality of content, too. it is something of a golden age of tv where we have these great shows in numbers that we haven't had before. you have "house of cards" and "sopranos" and "the wire". you have kids stuff which some say is better than it has ever been. all of these things are happening at the same time. does this mean more money is going jon's way into hollywood?
as for better content. >> look at the second batch of pilots. they were so much better than the first batch. you have the shows like "mozart in the jungle" about the new york city symphony. it was really good. you couldn't say that about any of the other batch of shows. i think chris carter of the "x-files" -- >> not of the minnesota vikings. you get these guys confused. >> a lot of talent flocking. maybe not viewers quite yet, but -- >> amazon likes low prices but they are not paying low prices. >> that was bloomberg businessweek's brad stone and our senior west coast correspondent, jon erlichman with cory johnson. fans of the "x-files" will soon be able to watch more from creator chris carter. the new show, "the after" is an amazon original. ♪
>> welcome back to "the best of bloomberg west." i'm emily chang. amazon is creating original content, green lighting six new series. one of those shows is "the after," written and directed by chris carter, the creator of the "x-files." jon erlichman and i asked him why he decided to comeback to do something for amazon. >> i had written something two years ago that i was excited about. it took me two years to bring it to the screen. amazon was the first person who read it and loved it. that is why i am in business. >> did you shop it to the networks, cable, netflix? >> you give it to your agents and they put it out there. amazon responded to it immediately. the process has been a lengthy one. >> chris, its jon erlichman. let's talk about this idea of
having highlights. -- pilots. amazon has been very public. they are saying they're putting a few shows out there for people to watch. they are very public about the feedback. as a creator, at a time when you have players like netflix that are willing to do these very big deals, should we assume that the approach of amazon in picking shows is quite different than what netflix is doing? >> yes. this is the first time i ever experienced this sort of gladiator approach, which is really putting it out to the audience. they give it a thumbs up or thumbs down. it is the wisdom of crowds. i like to approach. -- the approach. >> we should highlight that while you're very much going down the amazon road, it is not the only road that you are on right now. you're working with amc as well. what would you say is the primary difference between
working with a player like amazon, and working with one of the very well-known cable channels or broadcast networks that we know? >> it is not really different at all. different personnel, different players, but he approach it has -- the approach is always the same. it is to do something original, something smart. that is really how i approach my job and how everyone else approaches it, too. >> how did binge watching, or the ability to binge watch, change how you write or direct a show? >> this is my first experience doing it exactly like this, giving people the opportunity to binge watch. i'm not sure if amazon is going to put the show out there in exactly a way that you can binge watch it. we haven't really talked about that approach yet for me it is the chance to also broadcast on a network.
i am really looking forward to that for other reasons, including less restriction on what i can say and what i can show. >> do think at all, when you are creating -- working on a storyline, do think about how people are viewing it? does it change the nature of the storyline and the special effects, everything? >> no, it is the same approach. i was mindful when i was choosing an aspect ratio for the size of the picture, that most people will be watching it on a smaller screen. i imagined the ipad, for example, as a place where people -- i watch my streaming content on one. for me, the images have to be great. no matter what the size of the picture and where people watch it. >> amazon has not given the public much information about their audience.
i wonder if they have given more information to you. they have been at this original content think for a little bit of time. not a lot of people can name a single amazon original show. they have not had nearly the success of a "house of cards," or "orange is a new black." how do you approach that? >> they are brand-new into the business. we are on the frontier here. i think their approach is really good. i don't know anything about the audience, but that is ok. my job is the same, to create great entertainment. i'm happy to have a great patron like amazon. >> chris, really quickly, i have to ask you and "x-files" question. you said in the past that a movie may be in fox's hands. will there be another "x-files" movie? >> i don't know. i think everyone is game and
everyone would love to do it. >> what is your favorite show on tv or streaming right now? >> that is a hard one. there's so much great stuff and of course i love "house of cards." i loved "breaking bad." vince gilligan worked on x-files. i love it for that reason. it is a great show. i love "mad men." there's so much great television right now. there has been for the last -- over a decade, starting with the sopranos. so much good material has been on cable and is now streaming. >> do you have a preference between the set-top boxes out there? >> no, just as long as anyone can get what i do.
if there's more opportunity, that is great for me. >> chris carter, writer and director of the amazon original, "after." arianna huffington runs one of the most successful websites in the world. why would she encourage people to disconnect from their technology? the answers coming next on "bloomberg west." ♪
>> you're watching "the best of bloomberg west." i am emily chang. arianna huffington came out with a new book called "thrive," calling for a new metric for success outside of money and power. one of the things she suggest we do to thrive is disconnect from technology, from our devices, from time to time. i asked her if it is possible to truly disconnect in a 24-hour news cycle.
take a listen. >> there's always somebody on. we have e-mail policies. after hours, unless you're on the night shift of the weekend shift, you're not expected to answer a company e-mail. if we need you, we will find you. that gives people the opportunity to really recharge. if you think of it, you don't pay people for their stamina, you pay them for the judgment. we have so many examples of impaired judgment when people are exhausted. bill clinton is quoted in my book saying the worst mistakes i made are those i made when i was exhausted. the point is, we can all say that. i can say that about my life. >> i saw one headline about your book -- less leaning, more sleeping, obviously playing off of sheryl sandberg's book, "lean in."
is that a fair way to describe it? i know you and sheryl are good friends. >> sheryl has given a wonderful endorsement of the book. i think "lean in" is about me dealing with my own inner doubts, fears, especially fears of failure for women. and daring to dream big. completely consistent with what i'm saying. we also need to lean back in order to recharge ourselves and be more effective and more productive and more creative. especially here, in san francisco, in the valley. what is at a premium is creativity. the first thing that goes when we are burned out is our ability to be creative. steve jobs famously said that it was after zen meditation that he could hear more subtle things. some of his best ideas led to his best products after that.
>> anne-marie slaughter came out with an article, "why women cannot have it all." what is your philosophy? can we have it all? >> first of all, you need to define for yourself what having it all means. that is different for each person. we need to stop just buying into cultural definitions about what is success is, what having it all means. we need to decide for yourself what really makes us happy. >> when it comes to continuing to build the huffington post, what do you want to do there and how do you plan to infuse the things that you have learned in this latest stage of your life? >> we are definitely making the changes i started describing in terms of the nap rooms, e-mail policy, breathing exercise classes, etc. also, we are growing globally. we are now at 95 million unique
visitors and 45% around the world. >> amazing. >> as we are growing at lunch -- and launching in country after country, we are holding third metric conferences, thriving conferences in each country and looking at where the stress points are and where the new waves of doing things in each country are. >> you say in your book that going viral is not the measure of success. isn't going viral one of the ultimate symbols of success for news article? >> it depends on the value of the news article. not just how important it is, but in how entertaining it is. i think it is very important to recognize that virality can become a fetish. and to look much more carefully
at the thing that is going viral. >> do think of buzz feed and others as competition? are they good or bad for media? >> i don't see other media entities as competition. baryshnikov said i don't try to dance better than anyone else, i try to dance better than myself. >> i saw an interesting study by cisco that by 2017, the media business will either double or shrink, because a new content site can come out of nowhere. what do you think of that? >> it is a very different environment. it is very hard at the moment to create a destination site. most of the traffic in this new content sites comes through social, from people sharing it and passing it along.
"the huffington post" was the large, major destination site. we launched in 2005. and we still get a lot of our material through social. our homepage is very well trafficked as well. >> now that aol is sort of evolving its business to more of an ad services business and not so much a content business, what does that mean for the huffington post? how much will aol continue to support the huffington post? >> being acquired by aol has been great for both. it is been great for us because we are able to expand internationally. we come onto streaming network. we can launch many new sections around these issues, of how we live our best lives. it has been great for aol because they have a really innovative media company that they own, that has been a thought leader. >> my interview with huffington post cofounder arianna huffington.
>> welcome back to "the best of bloomberg west." with facebook's $2 billion purchase of oculus, it appears mark zuckerberg has plans to change our everyday experience. some think the acquisition was not really worth it. i spoke about the deal with george zachary. listen to what he has to say. >> the oculus rift is the rift between $2 billion and something of value. we coined the term "virtual reality" in 1989. >> what has he said about this?
>> his perspective is that it will not really change anything. all of us that worked together at bpl, we knew there were certain problems that were unsolved by commercial companies as well as the military. one of them had to do with the fact that the human brain has evolved for your eyes and ears to be correlated in motion. for example, motion sickness is when your ears are moving or your ears are picking up motion, but your eyes are not. it is simulator sickness we are -- sickness, which is when your eyes are detecting motion but your ears are not. your brain cannot make sense of what is going on. no one can figure out how to fix this. >> you're saying our brain is not ready for virtual reality. >> it is ready for augmented reality. that's what you tend to see in the military. they're not really ready for this form of entertainment. >> so why did mark zuckerberg buy it? >> i think he didn't know what he was buying, number one.
>> reminds us about geocities. that was quite a phenomenon. >> it was supposed to transform yahoo! into this nextgen portal. no one uses that word any longer. geocities was an early social network. >> it was a pile of websites. >> it sounded exciting on the front, but it never materialized into a substantial business. i believe oculus will be the same for facebook. >> how do you see facebook evolving down the line? there are some discussion as to why he is making always -- all these acquisitions rather than building innovation from within. do you see facebook as an enduring thing or is it going to fade? >> i don't believe anything in life is enduring. in terms of the endurance of silicon valley, i think facebook will be around for at least 10 years.
>> tell us more about the notion that mark zuckerberg in particular views stock is overvalued and is buying stuff because he can, is that what you're saying? >> it is what i believe. when you start to get to the -- and a share currency thinking about individual stocks. in a bubble you have all stocks basically percolating up to their highs. when people get to that point, they start thinking do i want to use cash or my stock. people are thinking they can use stock, because cash is still working -- is still worth something. >> what are you investing in now that you think is going to be the next big thing, if facebook is only going to be around for 10 more years. >> the truth is, i don't know what the next big thing will be after facebook. almost every company i've ever invested in, when i met the founder, i had no preconceived notion that it was going to be big.
>> welcome back to the best of "bloomberg west hbo's launching a new series this weekend on the tech boom called "silicon valley." we watched the first episode with some tech executives here in san francisco. take a look at what some valley insiders think of the show. >> i needed you thinking about apps, software, websites. this is silicon valley. >> that really is eric schmidt. >> if you want to live here, you
have to deliver. >> i heard you. jobs is a poser. he didn't even write code. >> wozniak was the engineer who created the apple, right? >> i love this steve jobs thing, too. >> it was a whole lot better than a bravo show. >> a programmer would never wear a blue shirt. >> $200,000. 10% of your company. >> can you imagine zuckerberg saying i would give you eight billion, ok 19. >> it is totally dead on for what the offers are. urgency creates either an acquirer or a funder. no one is interested until
someone else is. >> when we're sitting down with barack obama, i said we are the world a better place. -- making the world a better place. constructing elegant hierarchies for maximum code -- change in the world by making enterprise software. >> the thing is, i think there are plenty of companies right now that make that claim. i think all of it gets a little awkward when that happens. >> i was thinking is this an exaggeration, but it is not. >> what company did remind you of? >> of every major dotcom. >> bit soup. it is like alphabet soup. but ones and zeros instead of the letters. >> it makes you cringe. it is something that judge is brilliant at, the cringe. >> kudos to mike judge. he must've had an internship at google recently.
>> who will watch episode two? >> i'm in. >> the show held its big premiere in redwood city. our jon erlichman was there. he caught up with the show's creator, mike judge and executive producer alec berg. they have brought us hit shows and movies like "office space." jon asked just how much the show will skewer tech giants and nerds in silicon valley. >> you did spend some time working in silicon valley in the early part of your move into the business world. can you describe that experience to us? >> yes. i worked up here late 80's or 87, as an engineer. part of 88, i guess. it was not a great experience for me.
i got a lot of comedy material out of it. for later, for movies like "office space" and this tv show. i lived in east palo alto and briefly in sunnyvale. i worked in a couple of different places. >> if you were starting out now, the way silicon valley is now, do you think you would have stayed a little bit longer? >> i could almost see myself maybe doing a start up kind of thing. it's a different world now. it is easier to start smaller with less resources and less money. it is easier to get funded now than it was then. it is like a lower barrier to entry to do that kind of thing now. >> did a lot of research for the show? spoke to venture capitalists? what was the take away from
that? what did you learn? >> this is one of the shows were the more research you do, the more you realize how much there is comedy wise to do with this area. we came in with certain ideas. as we started asking questions about how that works, every time we talk to somebody, practically everything they say, you say oh my god, no so much funnier than what we have here that is a better story idea. >> you have said that if that happens, you might get into some of the bigger issues. obviously, people talk about starting up a business and innovative writeups and all the money you can make. in the valley they talk about things like the income gap. they talk about women and their role in silicon valley. i sense there are other themes you may want to explore, potentially. >> a lot of things have come up since the start of shooting, basically. stuff like the google buses. that is brand-new. there is just plenty of material
out there. hopefully we do another one. >> speaking of google, google's executive chairman eric schmidt has a cameo in a party scene. you did get feedback from him on how authentic that was. what did he tell you? >> that was very encouraging when he showed up to shoot and looked around and said i have been to this party. that was great affirmation for us. >> there are references in the show to steve jobs. could you have done the show without making references to specific people? was that integral? >> yes, i suppose. everyone has macs and pcs. it is so everywhere, and there are pretend companies, too. we just kind of -- they coexist. it just seemed right.
>> welcome back to "the best of bloomberg west." i'm emily chang. marvel's ninth film adaptation, "captain america - the winter soldier" hits theaters this weekend. "the avengers" was the third highest grossing movie of all-time. that is good news for disney. is me paid $4 billion in 2009 4 marvel entertainment.
marvel's superhero success and the people behind it is a cover story of this week's "bloomberg businessweek." our senior west coast correspondent jon erlichman sat down with stan lee, former president and chairman of marvel, and talked about the continuing success of films based on marvel characters. >> i remember when i was a kid, everybody wanted to see "king kong." everybody wanted to see "frankenstein." people love things that are bigger than life. they didn't make that many until recently, when the producers discovered that the superheroes are just the most popular things ever with the public. >> sometimes ask the question is there superhero fatigue? take this year. we will see "the amazing spiderman," the second one, that will be followed by the third one in 2016 and a fourth one in 2018. do you think a certain point moviegoers get spiderman fatigue?
>> look at something like james bond. i don't know how long that has been going on. it is still a big event when a new james bond movie comes out. i think it will be the same thing with these marvel superheroes. >> let's compare "spiderman," which is released by sony, and "x-men," which is released by fox in movie theaters, to the many marvel films that are being distributed by disney now. the latest one being the new captain america movie. some of the numbers at the box office would suggest that the marvel films under disney are bringing in even more box office bucks than with some of the others. if that is the case, what does that tell you? >> it is like anything else. if you have a plethora of characters, if you have eight or 10 characters, some of them are going to be a little more popular than others. the amazing thing about these movies, everyone of them seems to do well.
some may be bigger blockbusters than others, but there seems to be, at the moment, and insatiable demand for these type of movies. >> a lot of people are already pointing to the next avengers. potentially, because of the global box office, the nature of where these stones can go now, possibly being the biggest film of all time. would that surprise you? >> not at all. >> warner bros. obviously has the d.c. family of characters. it doesn't seem like they generated as much at the box office in recent years. do you have any thoughts on that? >> i wish my friend bob kane were still with us. he is a fellow who created batman. bob always used to tease me about the fact that batman was a big deal on television and in movies. we at marvel had done nothing. i wish he was here now so i could return that teasing.
a character should be somebody that the reader or viewer really cares about. maybe at marvel we put a little more effort into refining the characteristics and the nature of our heroes. maybe a little more effort than they have on the other side of the aisle. >> you're not just making cameos in these many marvel movies, you have been very busy at pow. you're betting on the chinese market. he made a chinese superhero movie, "the annihilator." what expectations do have for how that movie can do at the box office? >> i'm hoping that "the annihilator," which pow is producing. it should be a worldwide movie and not just one for china. we are working on a latino superhero.
we have one called "chakra" which is doing very well in india. "the annihilator" is going to be a very big movie. it is a typical stan lee type of superhero movie. there is such a demand for these bigger than life characters, that we feel that we are really doing the public a favor by giving them what they want. >> there is a lot of new technology out there. facebook, another company you know, bought another company called oculus, which makes virtual reality technology. when you hear about the rise of things like virtual reality technology, what does that mean for the future of the comic book industry? >> the comic books as comic books may not remain as big as they had been, because pretty soon you'll be able to get -- now you can get those comic book stores on your computer screen and many other places.
but if you come up with the right project, with the right superhero and the right atmosphere and the right power and with a good story, it almost doesn't matter whether it is on the screen, on a big screen, a 3-d screen or in a comic book or in a novel, a good story is a good story. people have always wanted good stories. >> you are now 91 years old. you're as busy as ever. you're coming up with new characters. you are a tweeting machine. you're on twitter. i think a lot of people would like to know, what do stanley -- what does stanley eat for breakfast? >> >> i have had the same breakfast every morning for years. i have granola with milk with half a banana and blueberries and a cup of coffee, preceded by a glass of orange juice. >> jon erlichman with marvel comics creator, stan lee.
>> welcome back, i'm emily chang, and this is "the best of bloomberg west." how can technology bring good wine to all? one napa-based startup is making it accessible by crowd funding independent winemakers. naked wine sold 10 million bottles of wine last year. corey and i spoke with naked wines founder and ceo rowan gormley about how his business is uncorking online wine retail. take a listen. >> we are crowd funding winemakers. right now, the crazy thing is that americans pay up to twice
as much for the wine as europeans do. the winemakers are getting a tough deal. it is hard for winemakers to make money. >> i always heard that winemaking is a hobby for rich people. >> there is the joke that making a small fortune is starting with a large one. >> your business has evolved to have serious numbers behind it. to have members that pay up -- do they subscribe to a particular winery or is there anything specific? >> we have 200,000 angel investors around the world who put up about $80 million a year, which we invest into 135 winemakers. the numbers are big, like you say, 10 million bottles. the business is only five years old. >> for the independent winemakers, how profitable can this be? >> very profitable, because they get to make some proper money
this way. the flipside is that they can spend 52-weeks a year making wine, whereas right now, you spent 17 weeks a year making and 35 weeks selling, which is a bum deal. >> how is this different from a wine club? >> is exactly the same in that fedex comes and drop it off -- and drops off in the end. customers can order what they like when they like it. it is not a club that you just get stuff shipped whenever. >> there is also the marketing cost. there's a substantial cost in the wine business in america, which is widely understood. when you make a hundred dollars -- $100 bottle of wine, the cost to make is not that great. a lot of the time it is marketing. >> a hundred dollar bottle has about $10 for your cabinet and $90 for is something you can't take home.
if you have crowd funded that wind, you don't have to pay that much in dollars. you had a speaker on earlier from treehouse. there is a very similar principle to education. it doesn't cost anything like the kind of fees that are being charged. >> i also wonder why europe is so different? we see europeans, we had some guys from provence. that was certainly a marketing effort. why is the cost so great? >> >> because the laws in america are written to protect the distributor. the two important people are the winemaker and the wine drinker and they're both getting screwed and the people make the money are the guys in the middle who frankly could be left out of the loop entirely. >> that was naked wines founder and ceo rowan gormley with our own cory johnson. that is for this edition of "the best of bloomberg west," you can catch us monday through friday at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. eastern. we'll see you all next week. ♪