Our CEO and founder Tony Nash joins the BBC for Business Matters podcast where they discussed Trump’s speech in the Republican National Convention, the 2020 US Presidential Election, TikTok’s 90-day deadline for its US operations, Hurricane Laura, the future of work with thermal scanners, etc., and a company where you can book celebrities to record messages for you or loved ones.
This podcast was published on August 28, 2020 and the original source can be found at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w172x18wyjn7kj1
BBC Business Matters Description:
Donald Trump accepts the presidential nomination in a speech live from the White House. This hasn’t been entirely well received – with critics arguing using federal property for a campaign speech is unethical.
Walmart joins Microsoft in bid for TikTok’s US operations. TikTok has been given 90 days to sell its US arm to an American firm or face a ban in the country. Donald Trump has alleged it shares its user data with Beijing – claims it denies. Earlier on Thursday the firm’s boss resigned ahead of the impending ban.
Also in the programme, we look at the Federal Reserve’s new plan to revolutionise how it sets policy, including interest rates.The bank will now let inflation rise to allow the economy to produce more jobs.
Plus, what future do New York offices have post-pandemic?
And we hear from the boss of Cameo, a company through which you can book actors, musicians and sports stars to record a message for you or your loved ones.
ST: Who do you think President Trump will be trying to appeal to tonight? I mean new voters or do you think he’ll be going for his base? What do you think?
TN: He’s obviously going for his base. I’m really confused by what your guest said I’m not actually sure if she’s watched the convention but I think he’s really going after his base and I think what he’s also going after is independent voters.
There was a poll out yesterday from Rasmussen, who’s the only pollster who got the 2016 election right. And it shows Biden leading Trump by one point. So there was a 10 point spread in early July with Biden leading. According to Rasmussen, Biden is only leading by one point at the moment. It’s a really interesting convention in terms of you had people like Tim Scott, Nikki Haley, a guy named Maximo Alvarez who’s a Cuban immigrant.
It’s a really interesting invention in terms of how people are looking at the future and how people are really wondering what American values are. I think that’s what is under discussion right now and what’s being presented is a dramatic contrast around really civil unrest. And by civil unrest I mean riots in cities versus
what American values are. And I think they’re putting that out for debate, hoping that Joe Biden will actually
debate Donald Trump during the election season, so they can talk about these issues face to face.
ST: Well that’s not an under debate is it? I mean that will be going ahead? The issue…
TN: Oh no. There are people who are recommending that Joe Biden doesn’t. Hillary Clinton was out. A number of US senators and congress people were out, saying, that Joe Biden should not debate Donald Trump and that would be an incredible disservice to the American people.
ST: Let’s look at one of the other points that our guests brought up. The incumbent would normally want to be promoting a sort of really optimistic and positive view of the country. That is incredibly difficult to do when you are in the middle of a pandemic.
TN: If you look at the number of tests. If you look at how things are going. If you look at even in New York. Today was the first day that there were zero deaths. So even in New York, you can’t necessarily argue that things are not getting better. But in watching the convention. I’m a political nerd. So, I watch these things. I think the democrat convention was really negative. The republican convention, the speeches that I’ve seen have been very, very positive and very, very encouraging. So, I think there really is a contrast between those two.
ST: Do you think, Tony would you agree with that because there’ll be people who would characterize bike dance in a very different way in the States.
TN: Yeah, to be honest I don’t think many people in the US are thinking about that. I definitely understand the Chinese perspective but I think if you look at from the buyer’s perspective. Doug Mcmillan at Walmart very smart. Sachin Nadella at Microsoft very smart. What does Microsoft get out of it? They get an ad network and they can compete with Google for a very innovative ad driven product. What does Walmart get out of it? They compete with Amazon and they can get a very interesting demographic for shopping and keep them as they grow. So, I think from the buyers perspective, it would be very interesting. In terms of the price, look these things come and go. I think, they’re not going to buy it for a song. They’re going to buy it for real money.
People in China are going to be enriched from this and it’s not as if you can transition that technology from China to the US in 90 days. There’s going to be a transition period. There’s just going to have to be oversight from the US side in terms of security and other things. So, I understand that China feels that way. China has a history of a lot of problems. I was in Asia for 15 years. I saw firsthand a lot of what Chinese have
done on the tech side. There are sins on both sides. So nobody is innocent here.
ST: I just wonder whether you could give us an update on Hurricane Laura because you’re there in Texas and I understand you have avoided sort of the worst of it. I think the phrase from the governor was dodged a bullet but I mean, no less there has been damage.
TN: I wanted a hurricane and I didn’t get one. It went to Louisiana instead. I’m trying to make the best of it but we expected it’ll hit us about 1 AM and we had clear skies all night. So, it is a serious hurricane. There is serious damage. In Houston, we went through this three years ago with Hurricane Harvey. We lived through that. We saw the wreckage and it’s pretty awful actually. What will happen is, we’ll see this in the news for the next few days.
But when you have standing water in homes for more than say 48 or 72 hours, the entire home needs to be gutted because of the mold and because of all the problems that come as a result of being flooded. So these poor people who are in the path of this, they are going to have to be dealing with this for weeks. They’re going to be volunteer crews that go out to these homes to tear up the inside of their homes and help these guys just find a place to live.
ST: Indeed, it’s not just the initial impact that we see and hear about so often. It’s the ongoing impact as well isn’t it?
Tony, let’s ask you about the big cities within Texas. We heard about New York from Samira but what sort of
impact has been seen in places like Austin or Houston or Dallas?
TN: We have two offices in Texas. One is in Houston, one is in Dallas. I think, the one that’s been the most stark is in is in Dallas. And we have an office in downtown and don’t forget we had the protests that were very aggressive in Dallas, as well. That really pushed a lot of people out of central cities mid-summer. It wasn’t just COVID, it was also the unrest in cities. Our team would largely go into the office. They had the optionality to stay home, too. Some of them stayed home but we’ve kept our offices open as long as the local authorities would allow us to do that.
ST: Let’s talk about the technology that Samira was finding out about in her report and the the temperature sensors, but some of the technology that would mean that you could walk into as an employee, you could walk into a building, you wouldn’t physically have to touch anything until you actually go to your office desk or whatever. Do you think as people we’re becoming more accustomed, now, because of this? We’ve had to become more accustomed to quite sort of invasive surveillance technology many people would see this?
TN: When I lived in Asia, I think, we had five or six pandemics. So, temperature scanners and these sorts of things in public spaces are just normal, you just get used to it even when there’s not a pandemic. So, I think in the US and in Europe, if that sort of stuff is to become the norm I really don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I think, it’s something that people will get used to and they’ll be quite comfortable with it.
ST: Is interesting because both of you obviously have the experience that you have but i’m speaking from someone who lives in London. I’m obviously still working from home but I have been back into the office and the temperature scanner there does feel alien. Simply because it is something which we are not used to. I wonder though if I’ve been in the office or going into the office every day, that by now actually I would just breeze through it and wouldn’t even give it a second thought. It is interesting how people are adjusting and adapting to so many different things in the world of work and actually our offices and our city centers go the same way. Tony?
TN: If you go through airports a few hundred times with temperature scanners on it like people in Asia do, you just get used to it and I have a feeling that will be more and more common.
ST: We will have to see how it progresses. And indeed, how the world of work changes in many other ways. Possibly some that we haven’t even anticipated as well.
Let’s just imagine for a moment. It’s your birthday or you get a promotion or you get engaged, maybe. Who would you like to get a congratulatory video from not just your mum or your best friend but perhaps your favorite celebrity? Well that is what a business called Cameo offers actors musicians sports stars they would record a message for you of course, for a fee. One, can you know, access celebrities if you make someone a celebrity you shouldn’t have access to them or is this just a bit, I don’t know. What do you reckon tony? Would you be up for this for your next birthday? Pick your favorite celebrity.
TN: Of course, I would love a happy birthday message from Samuel Jackson, why not, right? So look, people want it, they want to pay for it, celebrities want the money. So, no harm done. I think it’s a great idea.
ST: I’m actually, I’m on the website now I was having having whether or not i could find Samuel Jackson in this amount of time. I couldn’t be sure but I have to say, I don’t know whether you both are thinking that this could cost thousands but this is how can i put this? Office whip round birthday money territory. This is sort of attainable for uh the whip round for getting your colleague a present. As technology changes Tony, these sorts of things there’s always going to be a market and this could be someone who’s going to exploit this idea. That actually, you can get a celebrity to do this particularly in downtime with Coronavirus.
TN: You can, but I think there’s a window on this because technology could have something like a film that looks like Samuel Jackson, saying happy birthday to me within a few years. I mean, that’s available now but probably widely available any time. So, I think there’s a window on this of maybe five years or something until technology really fills the gap on it.
ST: Surely you’d know, surely you’d be able to know that Samuel Jackson. We are out of time on the program today but huge thanks to my guest James Mega, China editor economy at Bloomberg. Tony Nash who’s in Houston, Texas and thank you for listening this is Business Matters on the BBC World Service.