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PACIFIC for March 29: Don't believe the 'tech crisis' hype

What's Next: Don't believe the "tech crisis" hype.Facebook's PR nightmare, a self-driving car...

Posted: Mar 29, 2018 6:32 PM
Updated: Mar 29, 2018 6:32 PM

What's Next: Don't believe the "tech crisis" hype.

Facebook's PR nightmare, a self-driving car fatality and vague threats of regulation directed at Amazon are fueling a media narrative that the tech industry is headed for a sea-change moment where investor cash dries up and consumer interest cools. Today, Andrew Ross Sorkin asks if we are "witnessing the end of a tech boom."


The influential VCs, investors and tech executives I've spoken with over the last 48 hours believe the "tech crisis" story is absurd. They say the media is tying together unique setbacks to force a cohesive narrative that, on closer inspection, lacks cohesion:

- Amazon stock is down after an Axios report that President Trump "wants to go after" Jeff Bezos. But none of my sources believe the president is actually capable of forcing meaningful regulation on Amazon. Moreover, his attitude toward Bezos has been well-known since before the election -- even he says so.

- Nvidia stock is down after the company temporarily suspended testing on its self-driving cars in light of the recent Uber accident that killed a woman in Arizona. But none of my sources believe that means autonomous vehicles aren't in our near-future.

- Tesla stock is down due in part to the fact that Elon Musk can't hit production targets on the Model 3. That is a very real problem for Tesla, but none of my sources believe investors will stop investing in electric car technology.

- Facebook stock is down because the company is enduring a very real crisis over very real data privacy concerns. But none of my sources believe those concerns have the power to tank a company with a $450 billion market cap and more than 2 billion users worldwide.

Sentence of the day, from my colleague Paul R. La Monica: "Experts say that the Big Tech stocks should eventually bounce back once investors remember how strong their earnings, sales and balance sheets are."

Headline of the day, from my colleagues David Goldman and Kaya Yurieff: "Now is a great time to buy Amazon"

The Big Picture:

- Silicon Valley is not monolithic.

- Washington's ability to regulate is limited.

- The desire for technological innovation endures.



What Silicon Valley is talking about: Apple's 'good guy' pitch and the war on Facebook ... What Hollywood is talking about: Amazon's quest for the next 'Game of Thrones', and Susan Rice to Netflix ... What everyone is talking about: Baseball ...

Last night at the Beverly Hilton: The Alliance for Children's Rights 26th Annual Dinner, where the Hollywood C-Suite turned out to honor Los Angeles' largest legal aid organization, which protects children in need of stable homes, healthcare, and education.

Honored: NBCUniversal Chairman Bonnie Hammer ... Spotted: Jeffrey Katzenberg ... Fox Television's Gary Newman and Dana Walden ... WME's Rick Rosen ... Mayor Eric Garcetti ... attorney power couple Leslie and Cliff Gilbert-Lurie ... Andy Cohen ... Gina Torres ... Darren Criss


The Trust Crisis: Apple: We're the good guys

Now an ongoing story: Apple CEO Tim Cook continues to highlight Facebook's weaknesses in an effort to distinguish Apple as tech's responsible good guys in an era of data harvesting and privacy abuses.

The latest, from Cook's interview with MSNBC/Recode:

- "We could make a ton of money if we monetized our customers, if our customers were our product. We've elected not to do that."

- "We're not going to traffic in your personal life. Privacy to us is a human right, a civil liberty."

- "This is not something that we just started last week when we saw something happening. We've been doing this for years."

Apple is consistent. Cook has been saying this since he became CEO, and former CEO Steve Jobs was saying it before him.

The Big Picture: Apple is trying to highlight the divide between companies that protect privacy and those that don't in an effort to shore up good will with the public, as well as with lawmakers ahead of possible new regulations. It's easy for Apple to do this because their business is not advertising.

And yes, Cook's remarks are still annoying Facebook's top brass.

Bonus: Cook on Dreamers:

- "The DACA situation is not an immigration issue. It's a moral issue."



What we're listening to

"Kevin Durant Returns, Part 1": A phenomenal Bill Simmons Podcast with the straight-talk, no B.S. KD. (It's really, really good.)


The Prince's Diaries: Mohammed's meetings

Axios' Mike Allen has the schedule of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's meetings during his U.S. tour, which include:


- Boeing tour with CEO Dennis Muilenburg

- Lunch with Bill Gates.

- Meetings with Bezos and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.


- Meetings with Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger, and other studio heads.

- Dinner hosted by power agent Ari Emanuel, along with producer Brian Grazer.

- A possible dinner with Rupert Murdoch.

Silicon Valley

- Meetings with Cook, top Google executives, and venture capital investors.

See the full schedule here.


Talk of Tinseltown: How much will Amazon spend?

Jeff Bezos has told staff that he wants Amazon to have the next "Game of Thrones," and he's willing to spend unprecedented sums to get it.

The Financial Times reports that Amazon is ready to spend as much as $1 billion to adapt the Chinese book series "The Three-Body Problem" into a three-season show:

- That number is staggering. It may also be high. Several Hollywood sources in or close to the content acquisition space tell me Amazon probably won't end up spending seven figures on rights to the show.

- Nevertheless: Amazon is spending big. Last November it spent roughly $250 million on rights -- just the rights -- to Lord of the Rings. By the time you add the cost of producing a single season of the show you're up well north of $500 million.

How to read it:

- Amazon is not in the entertainment business. It is in the Prime subscriptions business. Every content play should be seen through that lens.

- A Hollywood television executive texts: "It's the equivalent of spending $1 billion on marketing for Prime subscriptions."

The Big Picture: Hollywood is being radically upended by big tech companies with deep pockets that view content acquisition as a means to an end, rather than the end itself. Amazon, Apple and Netflix are driving up the cost of rights, talent and showrunners and making it harder and harder for HBO, Showtime, FX and others to compete.

Bonus: The Monopoly Money timeline:

- August 2017: Netflix signs $100 million multiyear agreement with Shonda Rhimes.

- November 2017: Apple pays $240 million for Reese Witherspoon-Jennifer Aniston series.

- November 2017: Amazon Studios spends roughly $250 million on rights to "Lord of the Rings."

- February 2018: Netflix signs $300 million, five-year deal with Ryan Murphy.



Board Games: Susan Rice to Netflix

Netflix has added Susan Rice, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to its board of directors. Rice previously served for four years as President Obama's national security advisor.

Netflix chief comms officer Jonathan Friedland emails:

- "Rice is our eleventh board member.... Our goal is to have more board members with strong international experience."


Bleeding Blue: Opening Day

What's Next: Baseball. San Francisco at Los Angeles, 4 p.m. ESPN.

Odds to win the World Series, via VegasInsider: Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros tied at 11/2 ... New York Yankees 6/1 ... Chicago Cubs 7/1 ... Cleveland Indians 8/1 ... Washington Nationals 9/1 ... Boston Red Sox10/1 ... Way down the list: San Francisco Giants 50/1 ... Seattle Mariners 50/1 ... Oakland Athletics 200/1.

Dodgers play-by-play announcer Joe Davis emails:

- World Series chances: "It's virtually the same group that won 104 games and went there last year, so there's plenty of reason for optimism."

- The biggest threat: "Hard to say anybody other than [Houston]. Until somebody knocks them off, they're the team to beat in the American League."

- The Justin Turner injury: "It's a huge bummer... That said, if there's any team built to survive an injury like this, it's the Dodgers. ..."

- The Clayton Kershaw factor: "Nothing he does or doesn't do this season will change the fact that he's been the best pitcher in the game for a decade, and will be able to basically name his price in next winter's free agent market because of it."

- The most underrated asset: "Kike Hernandez..."

Hollywood's biggest Dodgers fans, in alphabetical order: Alyssa Milano, Ben Sherwood, Bob Daly, Bryan Cranston, Dee Dee Myers, George Lopez, Jason Bateman, Jeff Shell, Howard Weitzman, Larry King, Larry Solters, Lloyd Braun, Mary Hart, Matthew Belloni, Michael Sugar, Pat Sajak, Peter Guber, Peter Roth, Rob Lowe, Rob Reiner, Tom Hanks .... (Who'd we forget?)

The Ringer's Michael Baumann: "One of these days, the Dodgers' plan of surrounding the best pitcher in baseball with the most expensive team in baseball is going to work. It has to eventually ... right?"



Have a fantastic Opening Day, everyone. We'll see you tomorrow.

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