Are we Over-Collaborating with Collaboration Tools?–Futurum Tech Podcast Episode 049
In this edition of FTP, Futurum Tech Podcast, we talk about collaboration covering Cisco, Microsoft, Zoom, Slack, where we’re at, where we’re going and what do people want. We will also talk about an acquisition by Dassault Systèmes. We will talk about a Microsoft Oracle partnership and so much more. Then we’re going to talk a little bit about deepfakes and then what happened with Slack’s direct listing that went out on June 20th, all this and more on this week’s edition of FTP.
Our Main Dive
What is the state of collaboration today? Is technology making it better or worse, and what is the impact on the #futureofwork? As collaboration-tool provider Slack readies for what could be an impressive IPO on the heels of Zoom’s recent IPO, it’s worth understanding why collaboration tools are important and the real impact they are having on both users and the market.
Our Fast Five
We dig into this week’s interesting and noteworthy news:
- Support for Facebook’s new Libra cryptocurrency looks, well, pretty good from a transactional perspective
- Huawei delay’s the launch of its Mate Foldable, in what may be a complete reworking of its product and OS strategy
- 5G myths, like flat earth beliefs, are upon us conspiracy theories abound and they’re not just believed but they’re starting to impact political/policy discussions
- Microsoft and Oracle partner to deliver interoperability between Azure and the Oracle Cloud
- Dassault Systèmes, the French “3D Experience” company, has acquired US-based Medidata, exchanging $5.8b for a solid footprint in the SaaS-based medical software market.
Deep Fakes are back, and the tech giants aren’t quite sure what to do about them, including Facebook which has taken a no-action action regarding the removal of fake, abusive content.
Crystal Ball: Future-um Predictions and Guesses
What does the (short-term) future hold for Slack’s IPO?
Daniel Newman: Welcome to this week’s edition of FTP, The Futurum Tech Podcast. I’m Daniel Newman playing host for the second week in a row backup plan. Second QB has to go in because Fred McClimans is out this week, but I’m here with Olivier Blanchard and excited as always to start and our Friday talking technology, talking about what’s going on in the markets. Olivier Blanchard, welcome and thanks for being here with me today.
Olivier Blanchard: Yeah. I’m here. It’s good to be here as always.
Daniel Newman: This week’s edition, we’re going to talk a little bit about the state of collaboration and collaboration technologies talking about Zoom, talking about Slack, Cisco, Microsoft and not just talking about their particular announcements. But given that Olivier and I have long been collaborating, we’ve written now four books together, one that will come out next month.
Collaboration is a hot topic. It’s hot in the enterprise. It’s growing fast. It’s gaining a lot of attention. Yes, there are some IPOs in the space. But now that I’m talking about IPOs, it may also be a good time for me to remind everybody out there that the Futurum Tech Podcast is for information and entertainment purposes only.
While we will talk about IPOs, we will talk about stocks. We will make some predictions about performances. We are not providing you with any sort of financial advice that you should use when making, choosing, or planning any investments. Enjoy the show. Enjoy the comments. Enjoy us poking fun and telling you what’s going on, but just don’t buy stocks because of anything we say.
Jumping in, Olivier, this week took me to beautiful San Diego, California. While San Diego is often a place that we’ll go to to capture and hear the newest and latest and greatest of what’s going on at Qualcomm, I wasn’t there for Qualcomm. I was there for the annual Cisco Live and Cisco Seascape Event.
Now, Live is the big event. The nerd birds all fly there. All the programmers, engineers, network architects go there to hear what’s going on at Cisco. Seascape is the analyst forum. We get the best of both. We get to hear the keynotes for Cisco Live. We get locked in a conference room. We get to hear all the great things and talk to the executives and what’s going on at Cisco.
One of the hot topics of the week was collaboration. I got to spend a lot of time in collaboration because you have to pick your tracks and what you’re focusing on. Knowing that something that’s interesting to me, I got kind of the bend on what’s going on with a couple of specific areas in my mind, cloud collaboration, what’s going on with moving everything over, pervasive communications and chats, what’s going on with messaging because that’s the way that so many of us communicate now, a video, point-to-point, group video, team meetings, web communications, all that stuff. I got up to date on that.
Then, a new topic which was cognitive collaboration. Would AI not have a part in collaboration? Well, Olivier, of course, it does. In the collaboration space though Cisco has been talking about for some time this whole new sort of WebEx graph that they have. Cisco’s platform’s called WebEx team. The WebEx graph has basically enabled AI to infiltrate your meeting. Now, when you launch a meeting, it tells you who you’re meeting with. It gives you all the available information across the web about those people. It does facial recognition so you know if it’s a group who you’re talking to, and you can look up the different people, look up all that information basically all the meeting prep which, dang, I thought was so cool. That’s kind of what spurned this for me.
I’m like, “Oh, man. Collaboration, haven’t talked much about that on our show lately.” WebEx teams are doing some interesting things. Then, this morning, I got pulled on to Yahoo Finance’s first take for the stock market. I was able to talk about Slack, so another thing. That company’s about to go public. I’ll start off with this.
We, every day, at Futurum live our lives in the pervasive chat communication 80% of the time, I would say. That’s how we talk. What do you think the state of collaboration looks like right now? How are you finding it shifting and changing? What are the things that you sort of see as important for enterprises looking at collaboration?
Olivier Blanchard: It’s still very scattered. For me, it’s a little bit frustrating. It’s actually something that we published a report about, I think, a year, a year and a half ago, state of collaboration. I can’t remember the exact title. The same problems that we identified then still exists today. On the one hand, there’s a generational issue of different types of workers, different generations of workers choosing to communicate and collaborate differently.
What we have is that Millennials and Generation Z or whatever, the younger workers tend to favor texting and apps that are similar to those kind of like light touch frequent touch types of exchanges that are like centralized and Gen Xers and older workers tend to still rely a little bit more on email and more traditional forms of communications. You have within the enterprise these different communication and collaboration cultures that are trying to mix together.
It’s difficult to bring them all in because everyone wants to bring their own tools to the table on top of that depending on what company you’re in or what department you’re in. Some of those tools might be opposed on you and some of them might even be blocked by the IT department or frowned upon.
You have this complicated ecosystem of channels, modalities, methods that are all trying to gel together. The truth of the matter is that most of us when we collaborate whether it’s internally with people from our close team or our closest collaborators, people across the company who might be in a different departments, a different group and a different country even and then with clients or customers, we’re probably using four, five, six different applications between email and apps like Slack or WebEx teams.
It’s difficult to manage them all. It’s difficult to keep everything organized when you’re having different discussions with different people about different things on different platforms. To me, we’re were probably going to be talking about interoperability in a second, but that complexity in the workplace about collaboration tools, collaboration methods, collaboration process on the one hand has made it easier for people to find the right balance and the right tools and the right tools for everybody’s personalities and working styles.
But, at the same times, it makes things a little bit more complicated in terms of keeping all that in your head. It’s kind of like a weird balancing act where you have to remember which channels you’re talking to who about what and how and also for discovery and data management if you’re trying to keep records on communications, if you’re trying to document for project management purposes or legal purposes exchanges that you’ve had with people.
It’s a little bit difficult to do that across all of these different platforms that behave very differently.
Daniel Newman: I was going to say it’s interesting you mentioned that compliance thing, Olivier, because I’m pretty certain that as an enterprise, there’s a certain requirement for how long you are able to store all electronic communications. Nowadays, with so much shadow IT, so many little linter teams and scrum teams using different tools. Oftentimes, the enterprise IT has no idea about them.
People use text messaging. People use WhatsApp. People are using Facebook Messenger to communicate.
Collaboration really has changed. Then, you’re doing videos. You’re using WebEx. You’re using Microsoft Lync or teams. You’re using GoToMeeting. You’re using Zoom. You’re using all these platforms concurrently, maybe a Slack group over here on the right. Then, why not create a LinkedIn group that we use also for work.
I’m just saying like it’s really happened where you wonder do companies even have a chance of meeting the compliance. Then, you get into compliance-focused industries. You just go, “Gosh, maybe they’re not doing all those things I just mentioned,” but I bet a lot of them do text conversations or it just have a back channel that they’re talking on. You go, “Goodness, could that ever come back to buy these companies?”
Olivier Blanchard: Yeah, they probably could. One of my pet peeves now is I’ve always hated email. I don’t like the linear nature of email. If it’s an exchange between two or three people, that’s fine, but if you have six or seven people CC’d on an email and everybody’s replying. You get these email chains of Re, Re, Re that sometimes even turn it out of order depending what kind of app or device you use.
It’s not conducive to fast efficient like kind of real-time collaboration. It’s not necessarily something that all of us have like prioritized in our collaboration app ecosystem. For me, personally, as you well know, I’ve kind of trained people I work with over the years to know that if you send me an e-mail, I’ll get it, but I’m probably not going to get it right away. It’s not going to be prioritized for me.
It’s almost like you have to text me or send me a WhatsApp message or message in WebEx teams like, “Hey, check your email. I just sent you something.” It adds an extra step. I realized that’s probably not like the best thing, but at the same time, the types of interactions and live collaboration that we can have, that’s pretty seamless on an app like Slack or WebEx teams or Zoom and the ability to switch from having a conversation to having a group conversation to quickly doing a video call or having a whiteboarding session, not having to schedule a meeting, just being able to do it live on the fly and bring in the people you need and bring in the files that you need is super helpful especially now that most of us are either traveling. That might be in an airport. It might be like a conference or client office.
The only thing I might have with me is my phone, my laptop. It might not even be open, and the ability to have these types of engagements in real time whenever wherever on whatever device I’m using is I think a huge advantage compared to what we used to have to do which was being tethered to a laptop or a BlackBerry and just communicate via email or by phone.
I’m a huge fan of collaboration apps. I’m a huge fan of all of the developments and although they’re really kind of exciting innovation that’s happening in that space, my frustration is that we’re not replacing old technologies with new ones. We just keep adding new layers. We’re in the end making it more complicated.
Daniel Newman: Actually, it’s funny you say that I’ll run into a couple of interesting data points from research we did. We did a study with DXC on workplace transformation trends. One of the trends we looked into his collaboration in shadow apps. Two things, you mentioned you hate email. The idea of collaboration tools is to take down the volume of email right to do less email and move to collaboration, but it was funny because we asked the survey respondents which was a lot of executives and middle management what happened after collaboration tools were introduced to your email usage.
12 percent said it increased significantly and 36 percent said it increased. 27 percent said it stayed about the same and only about 26 percent of people said it went down. It means for almost three-quarters of people, it was either more the same. Collaboration didn’t actually solve a problem. It just gave another layer where people could continue to communicate. Until it truly becomes pervasive, it’s not all that helpful.
Another thing that was really interesting was we asked about almost 10 different tools, so Cisco, Citrix, Facebook, Microsoft Teams, Dropbox and other similar tools suite based like Google Suite, Slack, Salesforce, Yammer and Zoom asked about all of them. Ironically, we asked, “Are you using it? Do you plan to use it? Are you in the process of starting to use it or do you never plan to use it?
Almost all these tools had at least one-third of companies said currently have it in place. To your point, a lot of companies have through shadow IT, maybe up to 10 different tools, maybe more than 10 tools being used throughout their company. You say until someone gets the reins on this, someone has to get that under control or it’s never going to get better.
We’re just going to end up with more communication. By the way, when you say that you don’t get emails and it gives me just a little bit of indigestion, but that’s okay because I’m the guy that sends that text message. I’m like, “Hey, Olivier, you’ve got an email.” By the way, I also told you about it in another chat channel. It took me like four or five, six chat channels to let you know about one thing.
Maybe that’s also part of the problem. I want to switch gears a little bit to this data and just talk about a couple of companies that have gone public recently that are sort of the darlings of Wall Street, but also question mark. Zoom I’m presuming, Olivier, at some point, you’ve used it has come out like a bat out of hell growing triple digits. They are mostly a video collaboration platform. Have you used it?
Olivier Blanchard: I actually haven’t. I know. I know I’ve used everything, but Zoom, but I hear good things.
Daniel Newman: Let’s have a Zoom meeting after this.
Olivier Blanchard: Yes, it’s really weird because I look at my phone and my home screen is almost entirely like almost two-thirds nothing but collaboration and messaging apps. That’s it because that’s what I use the most. For some reason, yeah, Zoom just never, never really came up.
Daniel Newman: Let me tell you a little secret. This will get your attention back, but did you know that for the first like three months that we were recording this show we were using Zoom.
Olivier Blanchard: Yeah. I know that part, but I never used it for like collaboration.
Daniel Newman: Well that’s because it’s only a video app. That’s why. It doesn’t work like we don’t use it like in the chat capacity, but interestingly enough about it from a video standpoint, it’s so seamless like you kind of just click a link and you wouldn’t really know unless you’re like really paying attention to the brand and the tool. Is that a Google Hangout? Is it a Zoom meeting? That’s kind of I think what people like about it. It’s just like when you’re going computer to computer, it’s just so easy and so simple.
Now, from a collaboration standpoint and I think when you’re doing it as an enterprise and, sometimes, it’s small companies we don’t think about this, but the ability to integrate rooms, presentation spaces, auditoriums, laboratories, the equipment’s different. That’s where these technologies become extremely limited, but Zoom’s been a total darling on Wall Street. I mean 100-plus percent growth. Actually, it added 0.00 earnings per share, but on 500 million in revenue, that company is actually approaching moving into profitability after one quarter on Wall Street which in the age of the unicorn, that’s actually pretty exciting.
Their counterpart, Slack, which Olivier I’m sure you have used, Slack’s going public with a direct listing on June 20th? I don’t know if you’re aware of this. They’re going to take it public, but they’re not going through IPO. They’re going to sell directly the shares from the current ownership and the investors and the employees. They’re going to sell it to the public. They’re talking evaluation of maybe 17 billion.
Now, here’s something very interesting. Their growth over the last three years have gone from about a 110 percent to 80 percent to now this year expectations of closer to 50 percent right before they go public. They’re losing somewhere between 41 and 44 cents per share on almost half a billion in projected revenues for this fiscal year. If I was an investor, I would be like…Oh, oh. One better, Olivier.
In their S1 that you have to put out before you file to go public so that the perspective investors can read, they said, ‘”We aren’t making money. We expect expenditures to continue to rise especially related to compliance. Oh by the way, we don’t have any expectation to make money any time in the future. We don’t know how we will make money. We don’t really have any idea how we’re going to make money.” Awesome product.
I mean I’ve had no bad experiences with it. It has a loyal user base like kind of like Zoom, another scrum tool finds its way into organizations through into individual organizations and teams and tends to spread virally, but if I was an investor, boy, I don’t know. What do you think?
If you heard the founder Stewart Butterfield say, I don’t know how we’re ever going to make money. Would you be like that’s the one I want to buy? What would you do know?
Olivier Blanchard:Uh, no. It’s kind of like Uber and I don’t get it. I understand the concept of these “unicorns,” and the notion that we’re going to scale first and figure out how to make money later, but at least I want to hear about a plan. I want to hear that, okay, we know how we’re going to make money. It’s going to be a few years. We’re going to scale first. Here’s our plan, but any company that says or implies or dances around the issue of we’ll figure out what our revenue model is at some points isn’t really ready for any kind of IPO, I don’t think. But that’s just me. I’m old-fashioned that way.
Daniel Newman: I think the markets and you are just totally in different places.
Olivier Blanchard: Show me the money.
Daniel Newman: By the way, I sort of tend to agree. When I’m asked typically for any sort of comment, I always bend towards that. It’s like I get that, but it’s not how we got the first bubble and the second bubble was because of making decisions to invest in companies that had no idea of how to make money. I think that definitely has something to do with it, but at the same time, if you’re willing to play the long game and you think a product’s great, I guess it’s the ultimate example of what you should bet on, what you should invest in, companies that you think have great products and services that you support.
Your money is going to be put into their business and hopefully their business uses it well, grow scales, becomes more profitable and then gives you a return someday.
Olivier Blanchard: Yeah. I guess the one kind of exit strategy or whatever is if you have a company like Zoom that’s actually attractive that has value to users in a pretty good install base, there’s always a possibility that it’s going to get acquired by somebody whether it’s Facebook or Cisco, whomever, Microsoft. That’s one way that I might be tempted to invest in a company like that that has no revenue model, but that has maybe a strategy of getting acquired as opposed to ever making money by itself and just letting somebody else figure out what the revenue model is later. That’s one way for them to monetize that wouldn’t necessarily punish our early investors.
Daniel Newman: Oh yeah, for sure. We’ll have to keep an eye on it. I mean companies, obviously, like Facebook did not make money when they went public. They quickly did figure it out. Maybe their honesty should be applauded, but like you said, I’m a little old fashioned. I’d like to think that they have the owners and the founders had the confidence so that we didn’t have to instill in them through investing money especially in a direct listing where you’re really talking about every day Joe is buying the stock from the ownership and employees.
But I move on a lot going on in collaboration. We’re seeing some major shifts. We’re seeing some of the trends are saying that, hey, it isn’t really making us more efficient, but I think as a whole, it really is, like I said. I mentioned what Cisco was doing with cognitive collab when I saw that, the ability to know you have a meeting, taught your computer to talk to you and remind you, tell you all about the people in the meeting, facial recognition.
I think it’s going to take us forward. I think there is a next wave of collaboration. I still think getting those enterprise-wide chat systems integrated with your dock-base collaboration is super important for being productive, for getting work done and, of course, there are hot companies taking their products and services to market going public like Zoom and Slack, so a lot going on in the collab space just a teaser of it today, but definitely enjoyed the topic, but we have to move on.
We have to go on to our fast five, Olivier. You and I have to do a little extra legwork here because it’s just the two of us sharing the fast five, but why don’t you jump in first? I heard Huawei’s got a delay. Do you think it’s something to do with the tariffs or is it something else?
Olivier Blanchard: Huawei has a dual problem right now. It’s kind of like they’re dealing with a double whammy. On the one hand, they’re still dealing with the blacklisting. They’re having to change, potentially, their entire business model and introduce an entirely new OS to their ecosystem, phones, laptops, everything. They’re kind of in limbo right now. I’m assuming that they’re making those moves and expectations that the blacklisting by the US will continue. There’s that.
They’re probably very reluctant to release any new devices especially phones until they know whether they’re going to stay Android or release their new OS. To me, it seems like they’re moving towards releasing a new OS for their phone. That’s going to create some delays. The other part of that is folding phones are great, but they’re not ready. It’s kind of like we had proof of concept this year. We saw what folding phones can do.
I wrote an article that kind of explained my flip on that. I used to be very skeptical of folding phones then I realized that they were actually unfolding phones and that they double as a tablet. There’s actually a good amount of value. They just fill a need for people who don’t want to carry several devices with them but want to have the ability to turn a device into either a phone or a tablet as needed.
That’s pretty cool. The problem is that I don’t think they’re really ready for the mass market. They’re not ready for primetime. With Huawei and their announcement that they’re delaying the release of the Mate, I think it’s those two elements combined that re-engineering their entire business model around the “Huawei ban” and potentially the need to introduce a new OS into their ecosystem and the fact that folding phones in general are not ready.
Samsung just delayed the release of their folding phone as well. I think that’s just going to be a company-wide kind of tapping of the brakes on that category of device to begin with.
Daniel Newman: Well, I think it’s interesting for sure. My first talking about Facebook because we can’t possibly go to entire show and not talk about Facebook and we’ll end up talking about them again later, but Libra cryptocurrency, I said it one time, this will never take off, but Facebook made a move that maybe will help it take off.
They have secured some darlings of the Internet and some major financial institutions like Visa MasterCard and company like PayPal, Uber, Stripe and Booking to all invest about $10 million to help fund the development of the currency. Facebook is planning to launch this soon. Now, they’ve got big investors which they don’t really need, but my speculation is they want because given the state of trust of Facebook with infusers, not being very high getting these companies that people do still trust and do still like to get involved provides some certainty to its community that the Libra cryptocurrency may be able to get more adoption early on.
I think it’s an interesting move. I think Facebook probably outsmarted the market a little bit trying to do this on their own at this state and time probably would have been bad for them, but taking this approach, maybe not so bad. I’m going to have to watch this, but I think it was a smart move by Facebook, still don’t trust them, but some of the companies they brought in clearly are known for their ability to process transactions and have been historically better with data than Facebook.
Your second one, Olivier, how about some of the 5G myths that you’re already laughing. You haven’t even started talking.
Olivier Blanchard: Yeah. It’s bad enough that we have to deal with flat Earthers actually being a thing now. I’m sorry if this is offensive, if you don’t believe that vaccines are safe any of our listeners out there, but the anti-vaccination movement, I think, is rife with dangerous pseudoscience, let’s just put it that way. It’s not accurate in the information that it shares about the safety of vaccines.
Now, we also have to deal with 5G truthers or conspiracy theorists. It seems kind of like a silly thing to have people posts videos to YouTube and content on the internet that warns people that 5G is going to cause cancer. It’s doing all this stuff. It’s just like radiating everybody which is not true, but it it’s kind of gone beyond just the conspiracy theory like the fringes of the conspiracy theory internets and actually begun to affect policy.
What we found out this week is there was a story that we covered a few weeks ago that was unfortunately started or triggered by report by the NOAA which is the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency or Administration. I can’t remember what the second A stands for, that warrants that 5G signals and particularly the millimeter wave signals were going to interfere with very sensitive vapor measurement instrument that the agency uses to predict hurricanes and basically kind of measure vapor patterns in the ocean that eventually turn into tropical depressions and hurricanes.
This report came out of this testimony, whatever. It snowballed into this notion that, because of 5G, people were going to be killed by hurricanes and we wouldn’t be able to predict them accurately anymore which is complete nonsense. On the one hand, millimeter wave signals have a range of maybe a kilometer. The affective range really is closer to 500 meters. There aren’t going to be any millimeter wave cell towers in the middle of the ocean and hurricanes form alt at sea.
Unless hurricanes begin to magically form within 500 yards of US coastlines, there’s actually not going to be any issue for weather satellites around the world to be able to detect very large tropical depressions and hurricanes.
The whole story was wonky. It was over exaggerated. It was actually just kind of good science, but applied badly. He created this frenzy of fear around 5G interfering with our emergency equipment. Even though it’s actually really easy to debunk, pretty much every major publication ran with this from Bloomberg to CBS News to Forbes to Ars Technica like everybody published some version of the story.
The FCC, I guess, this week in this weird kind of drama cycle that we’re in now, accused the US Department of Commerce of spreading this conspiracy theory to interfere with spectrum sales. The FCC, first of all, didn’t like the interference being caused by the Department of Commerce, but also really resented the fact that it was using pseudoscience and conspiracy theories to undermine the deployments of our 5G infrastructure.
We find ourselves in this really weird place this week where one agency in the United States, the FCC which is in charge of managing and deploying 5G technologies, is having a feud with another US agency, the Department of Commerce. At the heart of it is a conspiracy theory about 5G and its negative effects which is absolutely not proven by science.
I thought that was just kind of like one of the most bizarre and interesting and depressing and like relevant 5G stories of the week and one more obstacle for 5G to overcome as if there weren’t enough challenges for the 5G deployments already. There we go.
Daniel Newman: Oh boy, so both fascinating in slow five right there. Wow, did that take a while, but no, that is a fascinating, Olivier.
Olivier Blanchard: Yeah, not a fast five, just a five.
Daniel Newman: Now, that was just an update we’ll just call it fast four plus an update. My second one is about the Microsoft Oracle partnership that was announced. Don’t know if you heard about it. It happened last week. We’re a little behind on this one, but we only record once a week. We only have so many things we can cover. I want to cover it this week.
Microsoft and Oracle on the cloud side formed an interoperability service to make it easier for customers of Oracle to migrate workloads to a Microsoft Azure and to move workloads between Azure and the Oracle cloud. Now, Oracle sort of like one of these companies that people either love or hate, but as a whole, they have a whole lot of negative energy around them.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has a ton of positive energy around it. Oracle had been kind of known for trying to insulate their customers force them onto Oracle’s cloud not really give them that interoperability that they want. This was a big move for both companies. Oracle has 430,000 customers in 175 countries.
They’re well represented around the world, but they haven’t been all of that open as I mentioned. This was a big first step for them. The big key for them is that what Oracle users can gain. Their users are going to be able to benefit from things Microsoft’s doing their AI, their IoT Edge and blockchain services, for instance, on Azure being able to enhance your Oracle workloads using Microsoft Azure and all of its capabilities is going to be really, really big.
Furthermore, I think it gives a relevance back to Oracle in the cloud space where customers that have invested in Oracle cloud that it felt sort of trapped by it can feel the capabilities to benefit from one of the fastest growing public clouds that has a series of capabilities that Oracle doesn’t have and also different pricing models and different capabilities that users could benefit from.
I think, as a whole, it’s an encouraging partnership. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with it. I’m not always as nice to Oracle as maybe I should be, but this was a smart move by those guys. Give credit where credit is due. Of course, to Microsoft, I think I think they’re going to see a lot of business out of this partnership.
Olivier, we’re on to you for your final fast five. By way good, job during my fourth fast five jumping onto your mobile device I see as your internet apparently has crashed.
Olivier Blanchard: It’s fun to have a podcast about technology. I can’t even get my internet to work properly between the beginning in the end of the podcast. That’s fun. Yeah. My internet went down. I’m now on my phone. I apologize if I sounds a little tinny right now. I can’t plug in my microphone to my phone just yet.
My fifth and our final fast five of the day is a little bit wonky. It’s a little bit out of the mainstream compared to what we usually talk about with the Facebooks and Amazons and Apples of the world. This one is something that caught my eye because I’ve been a fan of Dassault Systèmes for many years. Obviously, it’s a French company. I’m French. There’s a little bit of chauvinism there.
But it’s also a really interesting company with regards to a digital transformation and just tech in general because Dassault Systèmes if you’re not familiar with them is the company behind SolidWorks, CATiA SIMULIA. They’re basically a 3D company. They help company like engineers and designers pretty much design and build every part in products that we experience every day. They help architects build buildings.
Over the last few years, this kind of like 3D virtualization space has really become the bread and butter of Dassault Systèmes. They’ve continued to make acquisitions and develop products that have made them leaders in this space.
As a result of that, they have spent the last few years working in different very specific industries, one of them being healthcare. Some of the stuff that they do there is, on the one hand, they help designers and physicians and surgeons creates prosthetic limbs, 3D printed tissues. They create biomechanical implants. They virtualize organs like the living hearts. They also virtualize the effect of certain medicines and treatments on human tissue.
As a projection or kind of like a national continuation of that, they have just announced that they plan to acquire a company called metadata. One of the really interesting things about this is that this is a huge acquisition for them. Dassault Systèmes is a big company. They have a huge footprints. They’re known all around the world, but a 5.7 billion acquisition is really big for them. I think it’s the biggest one in the history of the company.
One of the reasons why they’re spending so much money on this acquisition is that I think that, first of all, it’s going to allow them to develop much closer relationship to huge biotech companies like Pfizer and Sanofi and potentially upsell them a lot of their services and products that they’ll be able to kind of additionally customize to fit their needs.
We’re going to see a lot of developments and drug testing virtualization which falls right into their specialization with tissue and biomechanical and biochemical even material design and virtualization. At the same time, what it’s also going to do is I think open a lot of doors that weren’t necessarily as open as they will be at the FDA which is something that a company like Dassault Systèmes is probably very happy about.
On the one hand, you have this huge kind of a revenue potential for Dassault Systèmes with all of these biotech companies that it will be partnering with and serving. At the same time, it will also have kind of like a direct relationship with the FDA that it’s never had before. I’m really excited to see where this is going to go and also to see how this is going to enable Dassault Systèmes to help virtualize tissue printing biomechanical and biochemical design and how this might actually bring us closer to kind of the cyborg universe of being able to customize implants, medicines and treatments for individual people at the genetic level.
That’s super exciting. This kind of looks like just a business acquisition and just kind of numbers, but it’s actually pretty fundamentally transformative potentially in the healthcare industry.
Daniel Newman: That’s transformation at its best. That wraps up our fast, not so fast, fast five, but kept it going on. If you only knew the technical faux pas that we’ve dealt with today, thank to you, Olivier’s internet outages in the South of Carolina, you would realize how much we love our community that we actually got this show finished. I want to jump quickly to tech bytes because this is one of our fun segments and talking about deep fakes, now we’ve talked about this before, but some big news came up this week.
If you didn’t hear about it, there was all this talk about Nancy Pelosi there was a deep fake video of her slurring her words that was created. There was a lot of demand for it to be taken down. It was dealt with in somewhat of a way that maybe didn’t make a lot of people happy. It wasn’t taken right down. People were confusing it as possibly a real thing. That’s going to continue to happen because deep fakes are called deep fakes because they are fake, but they can look awfully real.
This week, someone, a designer came up with a Mark Zuckerberg deep fake. This Mark Zuckerberg deep fake was him reading off some sinister monologue about controlling the future which would be believable that a guy like him would say especially perhaps behind closed doors, but it was done with AI. It was created. It was posted.
People want to know whether Facebook would take it down. The decision was no, they’re not going to take it down. They didn’t take down hers. They’re not taking down this one. Olivier, I know you’ve got a lot of feelings on this one and on this topic, in general. Does Zuckerberg get a pass or does Zuckerberg get the thumbs-up in this case for opting to be consistent in his move or do you think this was something that was driven by pressure? Was it the right move? What do you think?
Olivier Blanchard: He doesn’t get a pass for me like there’s no thumbs up. There’s no thumbs down. You don’t really get any credit for doing nothing. Doing nothing is literally the safest position you can say. No credit, but also no slaps from me.
My bigger concern is that this this technology can be abused in so many different ways. It’s really cool for Hollywood putting Chris Hemsworth’s face on somebody else’s body not that he needs to, but you know what I mean? The ability for Hollywood, for television producers to be able to do this stuff for fiction, for entertainment is great and even for ourselves.
When we apply filters in apps like Snapchat, we’re having fun with projecting layers onto people’s faces or projecting our faces on other people. Now, the technology has really cool fun and useful applications, but the potential for abuse, for example, to make a politician or somebody who’s influential make them look like they said something they didn’t actually say, the potential for really dangerous misinformation where you may have a very influential political leader from whether it’s the President of the United States or the CIA director and having a video of them saying something either inflammatory or warning people of a threat that actually isn’t real.
It can cause a panic. It can cause a lot of confusion. It can cause a lot of chaos. Then, there’s also the potential for people manipulating perceptions to attack someone, to slander someone to either make them look like they set something that’s terrible, to make them look like they did something terrible like rob a bank or shoot a porno film, whatever it is, is super dangerous.
I think that if you take a step back and you look at the fact there’s really no policy at all regarding deep fakes and the abuse of that type of technology on platforms like Facebook is really troublesome because it’s here. It’s not 10 years down the road. It’s not five years down the road. It’s here now and any person with a smartphone and the right apps can create pretty believable deep fakes if they spend a few hours working on them.
For these platforms that are infinitely influential and have a huge footprint to have no policy, no safeguards, really no stated way of dealing with this still is, I think, completely reckless and irresponsible.
Daniel Newman: Yeah. I think that’s definitely probably the right thinking, Olivier. I have such a hard time with this because the technology itself is going to move, and people are going to use it and abuse it. I think the key is going to be technology that can detect the manipulation and that every video that’s got manipulations is clearly marked. This video has been manipulated.
The problem like you said is when people want to do it for fun or for entertainment or you don’t want every experience to be spoiled by ha-ha-ha this isn’t real like, yeah, we get it. It’s not real, but when it’s political messaging when it’s executives being upstaged and embarrassed or humiliated when it’s people’s faces being put into inappropriate adult videos to potentially slander their name, stuff like that, that’s dangerous.
I mean it’s super dangerous. It’s going to become easier and easier to do as more data and examples of us are out there. How easy is it to take anyone’s head and put it on someone else’s body and show them doing something completely illicit where it’s going to be so good, it’s going to be hard to convince people that it’s not.
Olivier Blanchard: Just like a little logo or something like a little mark in the corner that says like-
Daniel Newman: This is fake.
Olivier Blanchard: … DF for deep fake or whatever.
Daniel Newman: But I mean there’s going to have to be some tool that can detect it. Obviously, the hackers, designers, and programmers are going to want to continue to outwit the technology just like cyber security. It’s always about outsmarting it. There’s plenty of tools for intrusion detection, but the goal of the hacker is to be smarter than the intrusion detection. That’s how it goes. That’s the direction it’s going in. This will be the same issue for defect, but having some tool like quickly recognizes it marks it and basically says, “Consume this at your own risk.” It’s like sponsored posts on any media site. This is crap. Just know it’s crap. Read at your own risk. Same thing. That’s what we need to do.
Olivier Blanchard: It’s just a standard kind of disclosure mechanism that at a glance you can see that okay yes this has been manipulated somehow. It doesn’t mean that it’s bad. It doesn’t mean that it’s dangerous. It could be just for entertainment, but it’s like it’s labeled. It’s tagged.
Daniel Newman: We know this is crap. Crap is crap. This is crap. We’re showing you crap, crap, crap. How many times can you say crap in one show? Did I offend you? I’m sorry about that. Crap is not actually a swear word though. It’s just a semi inappropriate word in the English language. Anyhow, moving on, crystal ball. Take it back. I mentioned to you Slack IPO. Let’s do a little crystal ball.
On June 20th, direct listing comes out, so people will be able to buy the stock. What is your guess? First day boom or first they bust? I don’t actually need you to name a price. I’m just curious. Do you think the stock’s going to go hot? Is it going to sell fast or is it going to stall out?
Olivier Blanchard: I don’t think it’s going to make a bang. No. I don’t think it’s going to be that great. I think it’s going to be a flop. I mean not like an all-out crash. I think it’s just going to be kind of you might get a small spike and then it’s just going to drop out a little bit.
Daniel Newman: Yeah. I think that’s probably the safe bet. I’m actually going to say it’s going to boom. It’s going to boom. I don’t believe it’ll boom. I don’t necessarily want it to boom, but I think it’ll boom. As I said, I don’t believe it will, but it will. I think that it’s a hot name. People are excited about hot listings. People are going to buy shares because everybody’s using it. The shares are going to be priced affordably enough where people can get in. They’re going to buy. They’re going to have a good first day. They’re going to sell. They’re going to list, but I do think it’s six to nine months.
The chickens are going to come home to roost. I think that if that company doesn’t show in a very short order, they’re going to be like snap. They’re going to be the next snap. They’re going to never see the boom they were supposed to get. They’re going to start to struggle, but maybe that’ll make them an acquisition target for one of those bigger players who could benefit from a technology that people adore and like as much as they like Slack.
This is the end for this episode of Futurum Tech Podcast. If you knew how hard we work to bring it to you, you would stay a subscriber. You would share it with your friends. You would make sure people know. You would get the word out there, but we appreciate everybody who is part of our community. Thank you for tuning in. Thanks for dealing with Olivier’s bad internet and bad microphone issues.
We promise you next week, we will be back. It will be better and until then, have a great weekend. For Futurum Tech Podcast, Daniel Newman. Olivier.
Olivier Blanchard: We’re out of here.
There will be plenty of more tech topics and tech conversations right here on the Futurum Tech Podcast, FTP. Hit that subscribe button. Join us. Become part of our community. We would love to hear from you. Check us out futurumresearch.com or Futurum Tech Podcast, Daniel Newman, Fred McClimans, Olivier Blanchard. We’ll see you later.
Disclaimer: The Futurum Tech Podcast is for information and entertainment purposes only. Over the course of this podcast, we may talk about companies that are publicly traded and we may even reference that fact and their equity share price, but please do not take anything that we say as a recommendation about what you should do with your investment dollars. We are not investment advisors and we do not ask that you treat us as such.