Week in Geek: Howard Schultz?!


Howard Schultz would not even win a city council seat. And Seattle let alone on a national basis, and there are several things that actually actually struck me here were based here in Seattle were part of the coastal elites if you will. Or however, you want to call it. And I think Howard Schultz is a product of that this next presidential election is not going to be won by people who represent the coasts. Hey, welcome to geekwire everybody. It's Todd Bishop require editor. And I'm John Cook geekwire co-founder when you say that it makes it sound like I'm not one of the co founders. I call myself. We got to come up with something better. Kinda rand zar. You're the publisher in many ways the publisher. Anyway, John, John here's cycle times. It's just the two of us. Let's jump in. All right. So we are going to be talking about Howard Schultz this week. We'll be talking about the Super Bowl and pretty funny at actually almost like a self effacing add very uncharacteristically that Amazon is apparently clever. They can be clever, but usually they're at an ear. We'll talk about later and the Zillow prize zest moment has been bested. Gotta come up the rhyme there somehow at any rate, lots of stuff to talk about on this episode of the geekwire podcast before we jump in. Just a quick reminder. The geekwire bash coming up March seventh in Seattle. This is our giant geek festival. That's right. Paying pong dodge ball VR, robots zip line. It's going to be a lot of fun March seventh come out bring the whole family tickets on sale at geekwire dot com slash bash geekwire bash March seventh in Seattle all ages for the first time, it's a blast. We'll see you there. Okay. Howard schultz. John went on a non grata when you heard the news when you Seattle for a long time. And now had seems like perhaps across the country. We'll see we'll see. So for people who might have missed this Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO says that he's considering running for president. I why did they have to do these multi-stage rollouts I test the market. Okay. And he's got sell some books. That's right. One of the best tweets that is for cash. Exactly somebody's the book is called from the ground up. And somebody said clearly it should have been called from the ground up. Got to grow. Maybe that's the problem at any rate. John you had a very specific reaction when you heard the news that Howard Schultz was considering running for president for sop. This isn't this isn't a big surprise. He's just formerly coming out now and saying that he might be considering note, he is considering he's Concetti might might running. Correct. You know, hey, I'm from a couple of schools of thought on this. It's a democracy. Anybody should be able to throw his or her hat into the ring if they feel compelled to go in compete for the presidency. So Howard Schultz more power to 'em to launch in there and see what he can do. That said I mean, if you wanna get into the personal personal politics of it. Howard Schultz would not even win. A city council seat in Seattle, let alone on a national basis, and there are several things that actually actually struck me here. We're based here in Seattle were part of the coastal elites if you will. Or however, you want to call it, you know, this, and I think Howard Schultz is a product of that born in New York grew up in New York has lived much of his adult professional life in Seattle. He's a product of the coasts, and my personal opinion is this next presidential election is not going to be won by people who represent the coasts. It's going to be the heartland my home state of Ohio, it's going to be people that can identify with the problems of people in Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in Indiana, an Iowa and the upper midwest if you want to win the presidency, thou those are the people that you need to convince and I don't think Howard Schultz is that person. But maybe he obviously believes he is he believes that he can not only win it or at least contend, but do it as an independent, and it was interesting. Jay inslee. The other person from Washington. State who's considering a happens to be the governor? Yes. He came out and said that was reckless of Howard disagree with that. I mean, I think it's a democracy in any. And there's no reason that we have to have these two gangs of Republicans and Democrats as the only people that are competing for this office. Now, do I think it would potentially screw things up for the Democrats. Yes. Do I think that's a problem given the current political situation we have yes? But I mean, it's it's I don't think there's an reason why our Scholtz shouldn't be able to to do this. Now, some may say he can only do it and only run because he's been able to amass this massive fortune that allows them to do it not no ordinary Joe or Jane can go out and decide they're going to be an independent candidate. And actually have a chance of winning. What do you think of the fact that it's Inslee and Scholtz of all the people who could be running from you might say going on this because this was this was we were talking on our slack a little bit about this. And this was actually. A column idea that I threw out there was with all the great people from Washington state, and there are many why do we have these two that are potentially representing? What's what's your problem with these? I mean, they're both. I think they're genuinely decent people. But they're not my first choice of people. So I would like to see step up and serve our country and lead us out of the morass. We are in. So let's be positive. And who would you? I I've said it all along. I love Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft. I think the guy is super sharp. I love the way he communicates. I like his positions on thing. He's not he is kind of centrist. But I mean, frankly, somebody like that I think I would get excited about I will say, and you pointed this out John that Howard Scholtz's response to Scott Pelley about Donald Trump saved saved him in some ways. Let's listen to that. I think like most people become bored with President Trump in his tweets. All right. So that's got to be one of the best zingers the already did. Well, I mean, I thought he did. Well, in the interview he's written. Recent. Editorial in the Seattle times where he essentially apologized and said that was in the book that was in the book. Yeah, we're losing the Sonics. And which is why many people don't like Howard Schultz and Seattle. And I think he's admitting finally that I think he mishandled the situation. But it's taken how many years now. But yeah, I thought moment was was enlightening. And I think there is something to run on on that debate. Like, hey rise above this clutter. There are two schools of thought I think here on how you go after Donald Trump one as you take the high road in one as you take the low road. I think the Democratic Party is probably gonna go on the low road in terms of trying to really battle and fight against Trump. And a very major way Trump's I appreciate the idea of going of the high road that we're going to I'm an a ignore it. And the country is tired of hearing about the tweets, I agree with that to some degree that said the tweets aren't going away, and they are going to stay in the mindset of people and that is going to drive discourse in discussion. And I will say my one lesson from the Jeff Bezos divorce was interested where you're going with this. This is an interesting segue. Don't mess with Donald Trump a Jew got skeletons in your closet. I I don't know if any of these candidates do but. It is. I it notes have essentially media or Trump being he does have essentially, I guess you could call them media companies in incoherence with him and to some degree. I mean, it's kind of scary and erase Monsell. Frankly, if you look at that, and there's no direct proof, which is the way he's things work, but there's no direct proof. But gosh, it is not a stretch to look at what happened with the National Enquirer following Jeff Bezos around for four months and discovering his affair in the process, his alleged affair or whatever. It was gosh, I probably shouldn't have gone here. But anyway, and to draw a line to the tactics that Trump has been known to take. I mean that is classic New York. I'm going after you because you went after me and early is my friends are on my behalf. This is kind of sad discussion. So we're probably ready to move on. But I mean, there are some serious things that the country should be thinking about as. Relates to innovation and keeping and the economy, and like things that really matter that could help drive the I mean, you think about what China's doing with their investments in a I I mean, the United States has been a leader with this innovation and technology, and I think could continue to be, but in our current state of affairs and how we are thinking about the world. We're gonna get surpassed by other entities that are going to press forward because we're stuck in these silly squabbles. With a government that can't even operate for thirty days. Well, one interesting thing is that Howard Schulz's focusing heavily on the budget deficit in terms of long-term American competitiveness, which that is a fascinating battle to pick. Because it might be the wise thing, and I think it's probably indisputable that it's the wise thing long-term to get the debt under control by narrowing the annual budget deficit, but while that raises all sorts of issues about. Entitlements and social security Medicare, and while it's just it's such an interesting position to stake out out. You're right. This. Goes into some really bad holes here. But it's it's gonna be fascinating to see can either of these candidates from Washington state break into the national discourse, obviously Howard Schultz, at least as. Embarking on a very fascinating book tour. And with that we're going to be back in just a moment to talk about some more substantive tech issues. Let's get into it right around the corner. You're listening to geekwire. All right. Welcome back to geekwire. It's Todd Bishop and John Cook. All right. So it's good to have you here. John. Let's talk a little bit about the Zillow price because this is talking about nitty-gritty, computer science. This is this is an algorithm that really relates to a lot of people's lives. So which a lot of people don't like so the zest Emmett we actually talked with rich Barton and Lloyd Frank of two of the founders of Zillow on a pass podcast about the estimate, which is this algorithm. Created by their chief economist Stan Humphries back in the day that basically estimates the value of your home and its accuracy over the years has been the subject of much debate. Right. You know, Zillow really came to prominence, and we were one of the first first reporters ever to cover Zillow. We're the first we the Royal. We meaning John Cook got the scoop. I'm serious actively. Hey, we do this together without your support. But it's interesting the to see how it has evolved. And how Zillow as a company has evolved because when ceelo started you gotta remember, they kind of their gimmick, if you if you were was estimate, it was this automated home valuation tool that they came out with that. They've said they could predict with a certain amount of accuracy, your home value. And really Zillow's. This was Zillow special sauce from day one. That got a lot of people engaged in talking about the company, and you gotta wonder if they didn't have the estimate off the bat. Would they be where they are today? Probably not no. And to me one of the most fascinating things with measures. Like this with Albert estimates is when they're wrong, they're actually effective for the company because there's a fine line between love and hate. And at least people are passionate about. Exactly talking about how wrong you are Zillow to its credit from very early on said. Oh, hey, you know, it's just an algorithm. We never said this was, you know, for real your radio, you know, this is just this is to give you a ballpark of where things are at. So so over the years, they have had different zest moments for different markets, depending upon how much data they could collect in Cincinnati versus Seattle. And so we're we're this estimates stood at about four point five percent was the margin of air nationally. Exactly. And so there were they put out a competition to try to reduce that margin of error by a percent or two or however much they could and order to improve the accuracy of their valuations of homes throughout the country. That's right. And it was what a million dollar prize. That's right. It's yes. Zillur prize a million dollars. The winners were announced this past week their team from the United States Morocco. Canada three people who teamed up to and they were able to and very hardcore computer science. We're not talking about you know, random the random person in their garage figured this out. This are serious computer scientists, that's right. So they were able to beat Zillow's benchmark model which measured against real time home sales between August and October of two thousand eighteen by approximately thirteen percent. They did that much better. And now, and so this is basically Zillow trying to hire some towns like well and also just improve the algorithm. So they're saying that this will help push the overall estimates current nationwide error rate of four point five percent as you said John to below four percent. So this this is pretty significant the zest amount applies to valuations on about one hundred and ten million homes across the US. And so they're implementing their system enrolling rolling out yet. Yeah. Yeah. So these these folks want a million dollar prize, and this is not a new trick in the tech industry. Yeah net flicks. I think was the first one that I recall that kind of pioneered this idea of doing a computer science prized improve their algorithm as I recall and listeners can correct me out there. But I think it was to improve the accuracy of the recommendation engine in net flicks to show you shows that you would like based on your past of Ewing habits. So and I think there was a pretty hefty prize. Gosh, it must have been ten years ago or so it was it was a while back that they had done this. So Zillow took a page out of the net. Flicks. Book now as a little side history and a little bit of background Netflixing Zillow have a little bit of common. DNA? Do you know what it is? No, I didn't want you don't know this drift. Martin the co founder Zillow is on the board o net flicks. So he had every right to plagiarize the idea. I just found it. The Netflix prize sought to substantially improve the algorithm. The accuracy of predictions about how much someone is going to enjoy a movie based on their movie preferences. How long ago was it does two thousand nine hey, I said about ten years ago bad, and it was a one million dollar grand prize? So clearly inflation does not apply. One million to sound school. Yeah. Well, jeeze congrats to I thought it was pretty cool Kurt Schlosser story on this for geekwire was pretty fun talking about some of the background at how these computer science gurus were really really working to try to solve this problem. And really spent a lot of time on it. Yes. Oh, yeah. This was a substantial amount of work for them. And they were rewarded handsomely with a million dollar prize team Chan it, I guess is how you pronounce it. They were kind of mash up of different competitors. Who realize that their algorithm? Algorithm, would do better as could we see some prizes and computer science for better algorithms. Well, you know is of getting me a ride more efficiently to. My destination yet also be good. Hey, I was you know, if you could be smarter than a fifth grader with your your a, you know, there's there's all sorts of competitions kind. Maybe we need to launch one forget, quite what about the geekwire prize? Yeah. Let's do the geekwire. What could it be? Well, well, you know, we're doing the key choir robotics Cup at the choir bash, which that's our big new Cup and every opportunity for floor fourth to eighth graders. Where they're going to be key handsomer handsomely rewarded probably not with a million dollars. I know what the price should be. Can you come up with a robot? That would do better on the podcasts than the two of us. I would be good. The answer is. Yes. News news. I don't this is not a good place to go all these segments are going into places where we don't want. The I do like the idea of equal prize of some sort, you know, we could spoof Amazon as we did with geekwire HQ to. Yeah. And we have the geekwire price. And we said we will reward you with you know, two dollars a Cup of coffee. Lunch out with the geekwire crew. Yes. Yes. Spend your all your waking hours trying to improve some Albert. We got let's come up with some. Hey, if you have an idea for what the geekwire price beefing geekwire two hundred list. Oh, well, that's actually a fantastic substantive idea. So for folks who don't know the geekwire two hundred is our index of the top two hundred privately held technology companies in the Pacific northwest as measured by currently before we get the new algorithms geekwire price social presence employee count and some other web based metrics, but that also falls into the category of its successful in part because it's not entirely accurate. And we say up front. Hey, this is our best estimate of it. And it it does tend to accurately predict just as an example PEOs if you look at the top of the list from the past few years through I mean, it's largely seen which companies are growing into large entities in the Pacific northwest. All right. So that is the Zillow prize very hotly contested debated among various folks out there. But before we get to our next segment. I wanna talk about the Super Bowl, John. Okay. Are you going to watch Sunday? I am going to watch. In fact, I'm going to have a chili cook off. I think you're having a party. I was going to invite you to my party. You didn't invite me to your party ever? Just doing a small thing just for real close type rents. Sorry. They're gonna be about three hundred and twenty people over at the house, but maybe next year by meteor holiday party. So I'll take that. And I never go because I'm always out of town. Maybe that maybe that's why you might me because you know, that I'm for the holidays, you're off the list. I I am planning to watch the Super Bowl. I'm gonna have a few folks really not interested in the game. I do like the commercials. Yes. Speaking of which we have a preview of one that Amazon is going to be showing in some form in conjunction with the game. Here. It is. Three heat Busta reheating pasta. It's cool. Right. Yeah. I didn't know you guys put Alexina microwave. Yeah. We're putting her in a lot of stuff now. But trust me, there are a lot of fails. Look what we need to haul. Caller, four dogs ordering dog food ordering all you want. I'm not paying for dog food ordering gravy that bordering sausages. You better careful that over a hot tub. Thanks a hot tub. A sucked lacks that my music. Okay. All right. The thing I appreciated about that was it was somewhat self effacing of Amazon to make fun of the fact that Alexa, kind of can go wrong at times. And it's everywhere. Yes. I did. Or she are are you not anthropomorphized thing or. Sorry. I've I've I resisted the urge for many years and now I just go with the jets permanent. Well, I thought it was a fun. It was ironic too. Because they cited the microwave at the beginning. And let me tell you the Alexa, microwave sucks. Negative reviews of that product. We had one in the office and everybody said, it sucks as bad as the hot tub Stockton that. Yes. So if people couldn't tell from that it was everything from a dog collar to an Alexa hot tub that basically mimicked the Balaj fountains from us Vic. Yeah. So that was found and it was Harrison Ford, and and was at a couple of other actors in there. Yeah. So at any rate, lots lots of interesting stuff there, and at least they're able to make fun of themselves. Absolutely. We will you will see who the top Super Bowl ad is. I'm curious. You know, there's a Seattle area company called is spot dot TV which is actually a great resource for tracking ads and there have been tracking everything related to the Super Bowl. So if you want a good resource, and you're really ended the ads Godi spot dot TV and check them out. Because I think the the do a nice job of analyzing everything you could possibly imagine about the Super Bowl ad. So that is going to be it's going to be fun. So any prediction for the game? It's patriots Rams while east coast west coast. Let me say that the way I got my friend Jeff to come over. She's basically, abandoning another party in favor of mine and. The way. I did. It was I told him I would root for the patriots. So so I have to root for the patriots fighting. I don't why is that grow. I don't I just don't like the whole franchise. Okay. Basically. I mean, there's nothing really that. I like about the city there in the people that are involved in it the players they have. The fact that they stole are Super Bowl away from CIO. That's right. Yeah. It'd be hard. I'm gonna I'm gonna go for the Rams. But I I really don't care that much. Why I do like the commercials. Yeah. Alright. So enjoy the Super Bowl everybody, and we will be right back with the random channel. You're listening to the geekwire. It's todd. You're listening to acquire you should roll with. You're listening to. Choir. That's why didn't we do that originally? Took crown Eddie, right? You're listening to the geekwire podcast, and we will be right back with the random channel. All right. Welcome back. It's Todd Bishop and John Cook it's time for the random channel that moment of the week where we talk about all the random items, we were buzzing about behind the scenes on geekwire this week, John. I got a couple of things to talk about. I don't know if you've got a random channel item. But I have a couple of that that actually do relate to you one is hit me. It's I got my new pair of Brooks this week. My new levitating, my levitated to shoot. And so you, and I both got pairs of the original levitating, which were these kind of cutting edge shoes that Brooks running the shoemaker here in Seattle actually based right down the street came out with a believe last year or two thousand seventeen and John my pair split. My pair of levitated. My original pair of split to the point where my socks were getting wet the souls split minded too. But I warn the crap out of these things too. I have to I have to but still I think they should have lasted longer. But at any rate, I doubled down Jim Weber. If you're listening out there the CEO of Brooks, I went. Ahead. And I bought my levitating twos. Their sharp looking I really like him. This is the random channel my channel. Okay. It's one of the technology in these is just did a per it is will they did like a partnership with SF the this. You know? I thought you had a real random China. What is your bluetooth? Now. I choose. Okay. They're so they're so. Okay. Moving on. All right, John. I have an upper problem. A what problem a problem? Okay. What kind of problem, I help you? I lose so much currently lost in my life. Are my personal credit card? I lost it somewhere in your office last week. I believe after called in and didn't did some kind of order. Have you haven't seen it, by the way? Have you know, I my air pods. I lose my air pods you at least twice a week frustrated. They are currently lost. I had the worst night on Tuesday night of this week. I got home. I had my air pods. Suddenly, they were just gone. I worried about that. When I got mine, but I've been able to be responsible enough to keep track of mine. Yes. I have a hard time with it. Okay. So I just bought one of you know, these trackers I happened to get the tile tracker, you know, there's all sorts of different ones out there, including one heavier pebble be here from the Seattle region that you can get at Costco, all this stuff. So, but the news this past week that I really zeroed in on for this very reason is that the bluetooth special interest group, did, you know, where the bluetooth special special interest group is based Bellevue, Washington wrong. Oh, I thought they were in Bellevue Kirkland. I'll hang it calendar. Calendar. One thing that I love about covering tech in Seattle is there's all these things that sort of hit you like you forget about them. It's almost like Paul Allen's portfolio back in the day where it's like, oh my God. Yeah. He also invests in or tracks elephants in Africa, or whatever. But okay. There's so many different things you want to. Yeah. What is this? The news out of the bluetooth special interest group was the next version of bluetooth will have directional capabilities. In other words, like you're getting hot or cold. You're getting hot or hotter. Get no, no. That's the way it is now. So what they're doing is is just a raw measure of signal strength to determine like how close you are to something. What they're going to be able to do is. They're going to bluetooth devices like receivers and transmitters are going to be able to tell the angle of entry of the bluetooth signal. Not just the strength of the signal, but the direction that it's injuring the device. So you're going to be able to through that capability, for example on your phone. Not only no. That your keys that you've lost with your tracking device on them are in the vicinity, and maybe send us sound to them. But you're going to be able to tell on the device the direction they're in essentially where they are wonderful through that. You'll never lose anything again. Well, you'll lose you'll be able to find it got it exactly got. So that is essentially a new capability that they're building into the bluetooth spec as they call it in the tech biz. And we're going to start to see they believe the first devices with this capability later this year when terms of the directional ability to find I just the the problem is. Bluetooth is still relatively for range. And that that's where I have a problem because if you lose it someplace, and they've got all these networks and stuff that you can use like people can help you find your stuff. But I don't know. I all right. Well, I just I I'm glad I'm glad technology solving a real problem. It's it's an incremental step toward the ultimate solution. I don't think we have the ultimate solution yet. But I'll take it for what it is. Because I I don't know. What is my problem is? But I am I getting older losing your mind is what you're losing not just losing your car keys. You're losing your mind and with that areas. I think that's a great note to end this show on because every single segment went into some dark hole. You invited me on a show. So. Or anything else? You wanna talk about? I think we're good. Yeah. Yeah. Hey, you're having me Todd. Absolutely. Thanks for being here. If you like the geekwire podcast. Here's the best possible thing you could do. Well, I become a geekwire member. Go to our events. Tell your company to sponsor geekwire but apart from that you could go onto apple podcast, Google podcasts. Stitcher wherever you listen, overcast. I'm a big fan of the overcast app. Actually, give us a rating and review. Most people say give us a good rating. And I don't care just give us a rating told tell the truth, you know, till the Trudeau fake news. Yeah. Fake news. And that's the geekwire podcast. You can subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, check out other podcasts numbers geek, health tech and geared up until next time. I'm Todd Bishop, and I'm John Cook. Thanks for listening. Everybody.

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