Bill Gates, Expedia, John Cook discussed on GeekWire - Geared Up


Hey you're alive. You're back living the life here in the basement shower in the PJ's days of equal everybody. Welcome to Geekwire. I'm geekwire editor. Todd Bishop I'm GEEKWIRE CO founder. John Cook. It's funny about five minutes before we started recording here. My neighbor decided that it was time nine in the morning to start mowing his lawn. So it's just part of life life in the pandemic right yeah. I'm sure there'll be a dog barking. A kid yelling or a vacuum going at some point on my end or it so we are coming to you from geekwire in Seattle from our respective homes where we get the report each day on. What's happening around us in Tech Science and Innovation? What happens here matters everywhere as we like to say. And every week on the show we get to talk about some of the biggest and most interesting stories. We've been covering coming up this week roaring back not so fast. Bill Gates offers a pragmatic. Take on life. After lockdown expedia group shakes up. Its business again and speaking of shaking things up we will offer our own Richter scale of sorts or maybe we can call it the cook scale since you came up with this John. But we'RE GONNA UNDERSTAND HOW. The pandemic is stirring some companies to greatness and shaking others to their core. How do you like that? Sounds great excited to hear this? Plus highlights from a Geekwire Webinar with two veteran technology and business leaders in the Seattle Area. Talking about pivoting a business during a pandemic and why the best way to do it. Well in the long run might be an approach. That wouldn't have seemed quite right before. So that's all coming up this week but John. I wanted to start with Bill Gates. He's kind of become the the voice of the pandemic in some ways or at least the voice of reason in the Pandemic Bill Gates and Dr Faucher. Up to folks that are probably at least in. My view are providing the most inciteful information as it relates to navigating this dangerous situation. This Week Bill Gates came out with a new blog post. It was about sixty three hundred words. I put it into Microsoft word to figure out exactly how long it was. It was as I would describe it. Starkly pragmatic it was certainly a contrast with some of the rhetoric. That's been coming out of the White House in terms of our prospects for returning quickly from the lockdowns and shelter in place orders that we've all been under for in many cases more than a month now John. I was actually on the phone quoting this to you this week because I think it does have implications for everybody. Bill Gates said they were very much going to be doing this. Gradually this is not going to be a boom. We're back in business moment when we get out of the lockdown and there are a couple of quotes. That really stuck out to me. He said picture restaurants that only seat people at every other table and airplanes where every middle seat is empty. Schools are open. But you can't fill a stadium with seventy thousand people. People are working some and spending some money but not as much as they were before the pandemic in short times or abnormal. But not as have normal during the first phase which we're in now and then lastly like big picture. He said if in the spring of two thousand twenty one people are going to public events like a game or concert in a stadium. It will be because we have a miraculous treatment that made people feel confident about going out again and he went on to explain that. That miracle is unlikely to happen. That it's probably going to take longer than a year for us to get back to any sense of normality. How are you feeling about this at this point John? And and do you take comfort in the pragmatism there or do you get frustrated with the amount of time that it's going to take on my feeling about. I'm not feeling good. Certainly but if you believe in science and rational thought and how you have to think about a crisis like this I think you can only put faith in weight behind. What experts have to say about where we're headed? I've also been listening to the daily podcast from the New York Times and have really enjoyed. They're listening to their science reporter. Who's been kind of on the mark on this from the very early stages of it and kind of echoing very much along the same lines of what Bill Gates has been saying the other thing. That's just scary about this from his reporting when you think about what you need need either need Mike wide-scale testing so everybody knows whether they've been exposed or not allowing you to go back in interact with society or you need a vaccine and vaccine as I have learned is very hopeful to even get that created within the next eighteen months the fastest vaccine ever created was the mumps vaccine created in about four years. So there is a scenario here were even eighteen. Months is extremely optimistic thinking and so that is where it gets pretty scary and pressing that this is not only a eighteen months problem Potentially afford a five year problem there certainly have been very many advances and technology in terms of potentially speeding up a vaccine that would combat cove in nineteen. But there's no guarantee either. It's it's completely unknown. So it's that's what gives me a lot of pauses. Just the uncertainty around all of it in that uncertainty was apparent in bill. Gates's blog post to your point. John he said it could be two years. It could be eighteen months. He actually cited the possibility of a potentially being as little as nine months but even if they did create a vaccine nine months at least from my understanding and my reading of the situation. It doesn't seem like we're putting in the manufacturing capacity to even get to the point that they could produce it at a wide enough scale that if you needed one or two shots of it that they could get six hundred million doses of it out just in this country alone. So it's you know I think there's GonNa be a supply chain bottleneck as it relates to even if the vaccine is created miraculously in a short period of time and based on what I've seen as it relates to how we've been able to roll out testing. I don't give a lot of. I don't have a lot of hope that we can quickly roll out vaccine across the country by the way. I've been listening to the daily as well as the New York Times podcast and the Science and health report that you referenced was Donald G McNeil Junior. He's been remarkable in his ability to predict not just predict but to get clear sense for what's ahead based on the science and I think that to me is one of the biggest takeaways here. Is that if ever? There was a time to to tune out the politics to look to people who are dealing with actual epidemiological data and experience. Now is it. And that's one of the reasons. Why when Bill Gates comes out with a sixty three hundred word memo? I'm diving into it and trying to understand it not only to report on it but to really get a sense for where we're headed. Yeah tied another thing. I don't know if you were falling the slack thread last night but I was on with. Taylor soper are managing editor. Because I finally got caught up to another plug I know. We've plugged the daily as a podcast. But you know I've been a huge fan of the PBS frontline documentary series for many years. Will this week. They're they're episode was on was called a tale of two Washington's and it was this contrast between Washington state and the reaction to Kobe. Nineteen and Washington. Dc At it is absolutely fascinating and pretty shocking and frankly it made me proud to be arrested in Washington State I think this has been a very complex and tough situation across the board and certainly things could have been done sooner or better but I have a newfound confidence in how governor is in sleep. Mark Durkan Can County Executive Dow. Constantine have at least stepped up to use science and facts to try to drive decision making here and I highly recommend it and it's worth a worth a watch by all of our listeners out there you know it's interesting. I had not caught up without at all. This is actually a story. I think Taylor and I were just supposed to the story on that. Perhaps it sounds like what you're saying. Is that the Seattle process has been replaced with some level of Seattle pragmatism. Is that fair? There's there's been decent coordination decent reaction to the situation. And you know also providence. Health comes off looking very good in terms of how they were prepared how they had pandemic plan in place There was a doctor at Providence. Who responded to the first patient coming in the precautions? They took and how they responded. Responded to that was just exemplary and Kind of a playbook on how you react to append situation or somebody coming in with with a virus such as this and so really interesting comments from doctors. Patty Murray than their PA other politicians pretty pretty interesting reporting. I can't wait to watch it. Sounds Great On the topic of looking back at things that were happening a few months ago and then putting them in the context of what we now know has happened since Expedia was another fascinating story. That we've been tracking. They're a couple a couple of these companies in the Seattle area. That I've been thinking about expedia and Boeing and you are both of these companies. Were already like extremely rocky? Crazy lay on Boeing because of the the seven three seven Max problems and expedient because it had this wild management shake-up what happened last fall or December in December. And so they were already messed up and then you throw on top of it. They're both travel related organizations and so I said to a friend the other day. There's a scenario. Here where Boeing and Expedia just don't exist current form anymore. Now I know Boeing of course is their duopoly with Airbus. So it's the the. Us Government Not GonNa let Boeing I mean they probably truly are too big to fail. But it's not gonNA potentially not gonNA look anything like the Belene of of all the same with expedia. Yeah the the important qualifier on what she said there at the beginning is in their current form. And I think that is a potential with Boeing. Although as you say you've got to have planes right and that to some extent is what Barry diller expedient chairman has been coming back to As a fallback in his discussions of where that company is going and to your point they ousted the CEO and the CFO in December and really kind of started to take this company in a different direction. Much more Leaner Direction Berry. Diller's the former paramount pictures chairman and a longtime media mogul instrumental in the Fox network. And he has been a key shareholder in Expedia for years and has basically been taking a lead role in running this company day to day since the ouster of Marco Stroman and their CFO last year the CEO Mark Orchestra. N- The EXPEDIA. Cfo Year. This past week. They announced that they've raised an additional three point. Two billion dollars in debt and equity. They've named one of their longtime board members. Peter Kern as their new CEO. They announced additional cutbacks and salary reductions. And they said that. They've seen their gross bookings. Now gross bookings are not revenue. But they're this. Broad measure of how much money is flowing through the expedia platform people book hotels and planes and you know other types of travel and that's fallen as much as forty three percent since the first quarter last year that also includes the first quarter that includes January February. Yes doesn't even include probably the real heartache. What are you save forty three percent todd? I'm like wow. That's not bad. I was thinking I was Gonna be like ninety percent. You're exactly right. They made the point. Things were actually going well at the beginning of the quarter..

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