GeekWire brings you the week's latest technology news, trends and insights, covering the world of technology from our home base in Seattle. Our regular news podcast features commentary and analysis from our editors and reporters, plus interviews with special guests.
What we're thankful for in tech, science, and innovation
32:18This was a week when many of us in the U.S. paused to reflect and give thanks. We're keeping the tradition on the GeekWire Podcast. On this special holiday episode, we offer our gratitude for some of the technologies, trends and hopeful developments of the past year, as reflected in news coverage on GeekWire. Hosted by GeekWire co-founders Todd Bishop and John Cook. Produced and edited by Curt Milton. Theme music by Daniel L.K. Caldwell. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Robbie Bach on 20 years of Xbox, and his debut novel, 'The Wilkes Insurrection'
47:36Can you believe Xbox has been around for 20 years? Our guest on this week's GeekWire Podcast, Robbie Bach, was there at the beginning, and led Microsoft’s gaming business for many years as Chief Xbox Officer and President of the company's Entertainment & Devices Division. These days, Bach is board chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington, D.C.–based think tank that promotes bipartisanship. He serves on the national board of governors for Boys and Girls Clubs of America and is on the board of the Magic Leap augmented reality company. And to top it all off, he just published his second book, which is his debut novel, a techno-thriller called The Wilkes Insurrection. Referenced in the show: Listen In with Raquel Ark podcast: Former #Xbox CEO Robbie Bach on #Listening to #Creativity and Writing His first #Novel Alex Kantrowitz: Why LinkedIn Is the One Good Social Network September 2015 GeekWire Podcast discussion with Robbie Bach With GeekWire co-founders Todd Bishop and John Cook. Produced and edited by Curt Milton. Theme music by Daniel L.K. Caldwell. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Zillow, Amazon, Facebook and the pitfalls of rampant automation
29:46The downfall of Zillow's iBuying business is a reminder of the downsides of relying too much on automation and machine learning algorithms at this stage in the evolution of technology. A conversation about the pitfalls of real estate valuations leads John Cook and Todd Bishop into a larger discussion about the continued importance of human judgment and attention in the modern world. Plus, cat vs. coyote: the crazy scene on Todd's Ring camera this week. And in our final segment, we test a new feature: Tech Crank, in which Todd and John each offer a rant about something irksome in the tech world this week. Why the iBuying algorithms failed Zillow, and what it says about the business world’s love affair with AI Redfin CEO explains how its iBuyer home buying program avoided pitfalls that sunk Zillow Group NYT: Inside Amazon’s Worst Human Resources Problem Bloomberg: Highly Paid Union Workers Give UPS a Surprise Win in Delivery Wars Forget porch pirates, our Ring camera captured video of a cat escaping a coyote in Seattle Amazon-backed electric vehicle maker Rivian races to huge stock market debut after IPO Microsoft serves up a Google Chromebook rival with $250 Surface Laptop SE for students Podcast produced by Curt Milton. Theme music by Daniel L.K. Caldwell See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Jane Park on SPACs, the immigrant ethos, and brands in the Amazon era
49:49Jane Park, the CEO of newly public Athena Consumer Acquisition Corp., hadn't imagined herself leading a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, before accepting the job. She decided to consider the pitch from venture capitalist Isabelle Freidheim for one reason. “It took some convincing, a little bit. I wasn’t sure if I had the right capabilities. I have always sat on the entrepreneur side. So to be on the acquiring/money side is a new perspective and vantage point for me,” she said. “I don’t think I would have taken the call if it wasn’t the fact that it was an all-female SPAC.” That's how the Seattle entrepreneur ended up with Freidheim and the Athena team at the New York Stock Exchange this week, as they rang the opening bell a week after raising $230 million in an initial public offering. Next on Athena's agenda is the process of identifying and acquiring a consumer-oriented company, leveraging those funds. Park is believed to be the first Korean-American woman to take a company public as CEO on the NYSE. A Yale Law School graduate and former Starbucks executive, she went on to found and lead Julep Beauty, a physical retail chain and e-commerce brand that was acquired by private equity giant Warburg Pincus. She went on to found sustainable gift-wrap company Tokki, leading the company through a pivot during the pandemic. She’s also a board member of the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship, which holds its 2021 OpportunityTalks Breakfastat 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 9. On this episode of the GeekWire Podcast, Park talks about the ambitions of Athena's team, the future of consumer brands in the Amazon era, her family's experience as immigrants, and her own life story. With GeekWire's Todd Bishop and John Cook; Audio editing by Curt Milton; Theme music by Daniel L.K. Caldwell. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Amazon's new reality, Facebook's virtual reality, and Microsoft's big milestone
40:05This week on the GeekWire Podcast ... We dissect Amazon's earnings, offering our take on Andy Jassy's take on the company's latest predicament. We assess a major Microsoft milestone, as the Redmond company surpasses Apple to become the world's most valuable company again. We look forward to the Metaverse, but question whether Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook friends are the right people to take us there. And finally, by popular demand, for one show only, we bring back one of our most beloved segments, the App of the Week. With GeekWire's Todd Bishop and John Cook. Edited and produced by Curt Milton; Theme music by Daniel L.K. Caldwell. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Tech pay, cloud trends, Kraken, and self-driving cars with Qumulo CEO Bill Richter
43:59Everyone is closely monitoring the implications of remote work as we emerge from the pandemic, so it's no surprise that one of the most widely read stories on GeekWire this week — right behind the Titanic's disappearing bathtub and Facebook's potential name change — was a story on trends in tech salaries. Two big trends stood out in the report from jobs site Hired: Average tech salaries in Seattle are up 4.6% from last year, to $158,000, second only to the Bay Area, which saw its average dip slightly to $165,000. Nationwide, the average U.S. tech salary fell 1.1% to $152,000. With the shift to remote work, “employers are expanding their addressable candidate pool, filling roles faster and paying lower average salaries,” Hired said. What's going on here? That's our first topic on this week's GeekWire Podcast. Guest commentator: We get a real-world perspective on tech hiring, remote work, and pay trends from Bill Richter, president and CEO of Qumulo. The cloud file storage and management company joined the ranks of Seattle's unicorns with a valuation of $1.2 billion in its latest funding round. Richter was previously a venture partner at Madrona Venture Group, and a leader at Isilon Systems and EMC. "We are far more open to remote locations," he said. "It really doesn't make that much of a difference where they are when they appear on their video conferencing screen. And that opens up a lot of new talent pools." It also opens up new opportunities for people previously based in Seattle to relocate and continue working for the company. For its remote work policy, Qumulo's executive team has delegated decisions to its functional leaders, with a plan to learn and adjust as it goes, adopting an Amazon-like policy before Amazon did. "So we're definitely approaching things differently," he added. "That's not a temporary state for us; that will be the future of the way we go as a company." What does that mean for pay? The Hired survey shows that new employees in far-flung locations might not command as much as those in tech hubs. But unlike some other tech leaders, Richter, whose background is in accounting and finance, doesn't see much merit in attempting to adjust salaries when existing employees relocate. "It's a global market for talent. And in exchange for the talent and the impact that the individual provides the organization, they shall be compensated," Richter said. "All the micro-tuning of things like location and that sort of thing, that might work in the short run. In the long run, what we'll see is a market clearing for compensation in return for talent." Other topics this week The boom in unstructured cloud data, which is fueling Qumulo's business. My colleague John Cook makes his best effort to get Richter to disclose Qumulo's financial data and IPO plans. Richter does share some insights into which sectors are seeing the biggest increase in data, and thoughts on how companies are viewing Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform in this environment. The home debut of the new Seattle Kraken NHL franchise Saturday. Our colleagues Kurt Schlosser and Kevin Lisota got to tour Climate Pledge Arena this week. Check out their story and video. We reminisce about John's run-in with the Pittsburgh Penguins mascot, Iceburgh, during GeekWire's 2018 stint in the Steel City, and wonder if he'll have a similar altercation with the Kraken mascot. We'll soon find out. The future of self-driving cars, and the news that Amazon's Zoox will test its technology in Seattle's "different driving culture." John is a skeptic of autonomous vehicles, based on part his terrifying ride in one of Uber's self-driving cars. Richter is an optimist. We can only imagine what will happen when four-self driving cars arrive simultaneously at a four-way stop in Seattle. Produced and edited by Curt Milton; Music by Daniel L.K. Caldwell. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The shared orbits of Microsoft and Amazon, and the tech industry's future in space
40:59This week on the GeekWire Podcast: a new Microsoft leader finally gets to work, Amazon makes a surprising change in its remote work policy, and the promise of space for the tech industry. Our guest commentator is Charlie Kindel, who worked for many years as a Microsoft general manager in areas including its server and mobile businesses, before jumping into the world of startups and then ending up at Amazon, where he led mobile payments and built the Alexa Smart Home organization. After working as chief product and technology officer at home automation company SnapOne, previously known as Control4, he’s now an independent advisor and consultant to companies including space and satellite startups. Stories covered on this week's show: ‘The most profound experience’: Blue Origin sends Star Trek’s William Shatner to the final frontier Microsoft and Amazon reach truce allowing former AWS executive Charlie Bell to start in new role Amazon will leave remote work decisions to individual team leaders in new policy twist With GeekWire's Todd Bishop and John Cook. Theme music by Daniel L.K. Caldwell. See geekwire.com/podcast for more episodes and links to subscribe. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, and more from the GeekWire Summit
26:13This week on the GeekWire Podcast, we’re sharing a few highlights from the GeekWire Summit, our annual business and technology conference, which we held this week for an audience in Seattle and online. For online access to the full video of every GeekWire Summit 2021 session, purchase a ticket at geekwire.com/summit to watch at your convenience. On this week's show: Computer scientist and entrepreneur Yoky Matsuoka talks about her journey from academia to Silicon Valley, and compares and contrasts her experiences at Apple and Google. Matsuoka is leading an independent Panasonic subsidiary called Yohana that recently launched a personal assistant subscription service. Related: Robotics pioneer Yoky Matsuoka on the human touch in her new personal assistant venture Yohana Amazon CEO Andy Jassy addresses questions about the company’s impact on the world and responsibilities beyond serving customers. The GeekWire Summit appearance was Jassy's first live on-stage interview since succeeding founder Jeff Bezos as Amazon CEO — leading one of the world's most influential companies at a pivotal moment in its history. Related: Amazon CEO: Relationship with Seattle City Council has become ‘rougher,’ but hope remains Grammy-award winning entertainer and entrepreneur Ciara discusses creativity and independence in music and business. She talks about the moment of insight that accompanied her hit song "Level Up," which became an ethos that translates into her work in music, business, fashion, and more. Related: GeekWire Summit 2021 recap: Leaders and luminaries share insights at our annual conference Audio editing and production by Curt Milton; Theme music by Daniel L.K. Caldwell. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Microsoft's larger lesson from TikTok: Brad Smith on the future of U.S.-China tech relations
30:20Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella this week called the company's unsuccessful efforts to acquire TikTok's U.S. operations last year "the strangest thing" he's ever worked on. Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and newly named vice chair, laughed when he read that — agreeing with the sentiment, even if he has seen stranger things in his two decades representing the tech giant in its dealings with companies and governments around the world. In the new paperback edition of his book, Tools & Weapons, Smith writes that the situation showed it's "possible to run a foreign technology service in a domestic data center with strict security, privacy, and digital safety controls in a manner that provides appropriate transparency to local government officials." "In effect, this creates the opportunity to consider a new technology regulatory model for those instances where the US government wants technology trade to continue across the Pacific, but in a more controlled manner," he writes. Smith elaborates on the issue in this GeekWire Podcast conversation about the paperback update to Tools & Weapons, written with co-author Carol Ann Browne. They made extensive updates in the new paperback version of Tools & Weapons, including new chapters on the challenges created by unprecedented cyberattacks and the COVID-19 pandemic. Smith also talks about Microsoft's new cybersecurity initiatives, his concerns about a lack of transparency and communication about cyberattacks among U.S. agencies and companies, and the future of work after the pandemic. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
What to expect in Windows 11: Former Microsoft PM Kevin Stratvert on the OS upgrade
43:27Come on, how much has really changed in Windows 11 vs. Windows 10? To paraphrase a certain Spinal Tap guitarist, is it really worthy of taking it up to eleven? Kevin Stratvert hears that question all the time, and based on his experience so far, his answer is yes. Stratvert is a former Microsoft program manager who left the company to focus full-time on his work as a YouTube creator, producing how-to videos about software and services from Microsoft and others. Stratvert joins us this week on the GeekWire Podcast to look ahead to the launch of Windows 11 on Oct. 5, providing a sense for what to expect. We talk about the new Windows 11 user interface, overall performance improvements, the centered Start menu, Windows 11 Widgets, upgrades to the multiple virtual desktops feature in Windows, the integration of Microsoft Teams Chat, the updated Your Phone app, Windows 11 hardware requirements, and Microsoft's plan for a gradual rollout of the operating system. Stratvert has been focusing on Windows 11 in many of his recent videos: Windows 11 Requirements: Can your PC run it? 5 Awesome Windows 11 Features you should use First Look at Windows 11 - impressions from an ex-Microsoft PM Windows 11 Event: Biggest announcements & my thoughts In-depth Look at Windows 11 Insider Preview In the second segment, we discuss some highlights from this week's Microsoft Surface event, including the Surface Laptop Studio and the new Surface Duo 2. And in the final segment, we talk about Stratvert's own journey from Microsoft program manager to full-time YouTube creator, which was documented in this CNBC story. Subscribe to Kevin Stratvert's YouTube channel, or see his site, kevinstratvert.com. Audio editing and production by Curt Milton; Theme music by Daniel L.K. Caldwell. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.