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Fortt Knox

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Jon Fortt co-anchors Squawk Alley on CNBC, and has covered technology and innovation for more than 15 years. Fortt Knox brings you rich ideas and powerful people. Guests include Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, Accenture CEO of North America Julie Sweet, Olympic champion Michael Phelps, and Broadway veteran Rory O’Malley (Hamilton, The Book of Mormon). Join Jon’s conversations with power brokers on how they made it, what they value, and what makes them tick.

144 Episodes
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I was on the road this week, doing a little tour of California. Three cities in three days. San Francisco Monday, L.A. Tuesday, San Diego Wednesday. Adobe’s MAX conference was this week in LA, where the creative software giant unveils its latest features.  Well, everybody’s got challengers, and one of Adobe’s is a startup called Canva. Canva has emerged to help regular folks add high-end creative flair to their presentations. Even better, it was founded by a young woman in Australia who was looking for a way to make yearbooks in the digital era. It turned into something much bigger than she envisioned. I sat down with Melanie Perkins at the New York Stock Exchange recently to talk about how how her design project turned into a profitable, venture-backed brand that’s earned praise from legendary tech watcher and investor Mary Meeker among others.  This week, my one-on-one with the co-founder and CEO of Canva, Melanie Perkins.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
It's the biggest single cloud contract … possibly ever. Definitely the most talked about. The Pentagon's Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract. JEDI, going to: Microsoft late last week. The Empire Strikes Back. The JEDI contract is worth up to 10 billion dollars over 10 years, but just as valuable as the money: It's worth bragging rights and street cred. This was supposed to be Amazon's contract to lose. Amazon practically invented enterprise cloud computing 14 years ago with AWS. When the Pentagon put out the requirements for the contract a year and a half ago, some competitors cried foul that it was too tailored to Amazon. Is this a game changer in the cloud wars? With me this week, co-anchor of CNBC's Squawk Alley, Morgan Brennan. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in Washington this week arguing for Libra, the digital currency his company created and wants to build around. This after he last week made the case in front of an audience at Georgetown University that Facebook’s future, its past, its reason for being are all tied up in free speech. With me this week for another bite out of this Facebook and free speech debate: John Stanton, the cofounder of the Save Journalism Project, and Farhad Manjoo, columnist for the New York Times.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Tech just can’t get away from politics.  Senator Elizabeth Warren has a bone to pick with Facebook. Mainly its standards for political ads. After Facebook refused to take down a Trump Campaign ad that accused former vice president Joe Biden of wrongdoing connected to his son Hunter’s work in Ukraine, Warren fired back. She posted her own Facebook ad that started with a false claim that Facebook and founder Mark Zuckerberg have endorsed Trump for re-election.  A little farther afield, Activision Blizzard is caught out in the storm of controversy around Hong Kong. Chung Ng Wai, a Hearthstone player, was removed from a tournament, denied prize money and banned for a year for saying in a post-game interview, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!” ATVI has since softened a little, saying they’ll let him have his 10,000 dollars prize money and ban him for just six months.  With me this week to talk free speech and more: from LA, Mike Jackson is CEO and principal at Motus One and founder of 2050 Marketing. Here in New York, Nilay Patel is editor in chief of The Verge.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
It’s hard to save money these days – and I’m not talking about the new phones and earbuds that come out this time of year and tempt you to spend. Interest rates are really low. Which is great if you’re borrowing to buy a house or a car, but not so awesome if you want to save. The interest rate for the typical U.S. savings account is 9 hundredths of a percent.  But! All is not lost. For a long time there have been higher rates for savers, even from mainstream banks. Now a young and scrappy group of tech startups are pushing the boundaries further with interest rates at about 2% – that’s 20 times higher than average. It’s the difference between earning 16 bucks a month on 10 thousand dollars in savings, or earning just 75 cents.  That’s just the beginning. There are cheaper ways to trade stocks, ways to make money off of credit cards. Today we’re going to help you put a plan together.  With me this week, CNBC’s personal finance expert Sharon Epperson. And Kenneth Lin, CEO of Credit Karma, which has just announced it’s launching one of these high-yield savings accounts. Later, Snowflake CEO Frank Slootman.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
We’ve got a blockbuster hardware announcement this week … from Microsoft. The biggest hardware risk the company has taken since Xbox. Surface Neo, two screens with a hinge in between, coming next year. And there’s more. Surface Pro X, arguably the first ARM-based computer to run full Windows 10. Has Microsoft changed the game here? Or are these cool gadgets that won’t really sell? With me this week, one of my favorite guys to talk hardware, Pat Moorhead of Moor Insights and Strategies. Let’s talk Microsoft vs. the rest of the field and then hit some other headlines in consumer electronics.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann resigned from the CEO role this week, in the face of skepticism about the coworking startup’s plans to go public. There are questions about the business model – we’ve addressed some of those here on Fortt Knox. There are questions about his eccentric leadership style. And there are questions about the way he’s maintained control of the company while taking lots of money out of it.  WeWork is in the headlines this week, but we’ve lived through versions of this story before. Uber’s board of directors pushed co-founder Travis Kalanick out of the CEO role to get the IPO done. The Google founders brought in Eric Schmidt early on as CEO to act as adult supervision. The biggie: Apple cofounder Steve Jobs was effectively forced out of Apple in the ‘80s only to come back a decade later to save the company.  We love founders. Their stories and personalities live at the heart of companies. But sometimes they’ve got to go. When? When is firing a founder a mistake? With me this week, tech chronicler Steven Levy of Wired magazine, who has covered big companies, big ideas, big personalities – his most recent book was about Google. Also with me, Walter Isaacson, biographer of great founders and inventors including Steve Jobs, Ben Franklin, Albert Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Days ago California lawmakers passed a bill, AB5, that would force more companies to treat more workers as employees, not contractors. What’s the big deal? The gig economy. Whether it’s Uber and Lyft, or Postmates and Doordash, or TaskRabbit and Instacart, a slew of companies have grown up in the smartphone era with a radical idea. When just about everyone has a smartphone and a credit card, you can assemble a workforce on a moment’s notice, pay workers electronically, and let them be independent contractors. They can work as much or as little as they want! But just because employers can do this doesn’t mean they should. And that’s what we’re going to debate today.  With me this week: Two professionals who have driven for Uber and Lyft and have different opinions about what should happen here.  Karim Bayumi is out of LA. He says drivers like him – he’s driven 5 to 6 days a week for the platforms – deserve the protections of employee status, and the companies can’t be trusted to provide that without a law.  Harry Campbell is a former part-time Uber and Lyft driver who’s known as the Rideshare Guy. He’s got a blog that focuses on the driver community, a YouTube channel, a podcast – and he says forcing companies to treat drivers as employees is the wrong way to go.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apple's iPhone extravaganza is still the biggest product event of the year for a simple reason: The iPhone remains the single most successful hardware product of the PC era. We can talk about whether sales are growing or not, whether Apple is innovating or not. But Apple still sells more premium phones every year than anyone else.   So what happened this week? Three new iPhones announced, the iPhone 11, 11 Pro and Pro Max. A new Apple Watch with a screen that doesn't turn off. A new entry-level iPad. And two services at $4.99 a month, Apple Arcade and Apple TV Plus.  What does all of this mean? Should you pay $300 more for three cameras on the back instead of two? Does the watch update matter? And can Apple out-HBO HBO?  With me this week: A great lineup of people who know their stuff. Walt Mossberg, the godfather of tech reviews, is going to talk big picture from DC. Tech analyst extraordinaire Pat Moorhead and tech strategist Shelly Palmer are going to sift through and tell us which they think are the most significant. And then CNBC's own Julia Boorstin is going to join us from LA to give the view from Hollywood Apple's subscription moves. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The National Football League was on the brink last year. Not of death – let’s not talk crazy, now – but of the type of loss of relevance that has humbled baseball and boxing over the past generation or so.   But now as the NFL's 100th season kicks off this week, there's a sense of fresh energy. And I would argue that if football's going to make a full comeback, technology is going to have to play a big role. First, a word about where we've been. Football was the undisputed champ of the major sports leagues, popularity-wise. But between critical tweets from President Trump, fans angry about players kneeling during the anthem, fans angry that Colin Kaepernick doesn't have a job after kneeling, concerns about player concussions and safety, the spotlight was withering.  Now things appear to be turning. The NFL struck a deal with Jay-Z's Roc Nation to promote music and merchandise that will benefit social justice causes, possibly addressing the move for player activism. The owners and players are already at the table for collective bargaining, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told CNBC this week, in hopes of presenting a strong case to both broadcast and streaming partners. ESports is gaining in popularity, potentially boosting the brand of the real game. And legal sports betting, enabled by smartphones, has some fans paying closer attention than ever. With me this week: CNBC's sports guy, Eric Chemi.Also on this week's podcast:How to say this: Rapper Jim Jones is known to his fans as an avid smoker of marijuana. It's so much a part of his brand that he's hoping to leverage that reputation into a business. His business associate Alex Todd, a jeweler with celebrity clientele, has launched a cannabis brand called Saucey Farms and Extracts. And Jones has a line within Saucey called CAPO.I talked to both of them about how a hobby is turning into a business.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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