Melissa Harrison, Vice President, CTA Communications

Jill Malandrino, Global Markets Reporter and Host of TradeTalks, NASDAQ

Philip Athey, Technology Policy Correspondent, National Journal

Rebecca Klar, Technology Reporter, The Hill

Speaker 1 (00:08):

This is CES Tech Talk. I'm James Kotecki, bringing you a special episode from day one of CES 2023 in Las Vegas. We convened a panel of media makers to share what they're seeing at the show. Enjoy these insights direct from the hearts of the world's most influential tech event.

Melissa Harrison (00:31):

Good afternoon, everyone. How are we doing? Oh, we can do better than that. Come on, it's the first day of CES. We got to be excited, right? Okay, excited to sit down for a little bit?

Speaker 3 (00:43):

Yes.

Melissa Harrison (00:43):

Perfect. Well, we are excited to be with you today. My name is Melissa Harrison. I'm the Vice President of Communications at CTA, and I have an amazing panel with me today of media reporters who are joining us for the first time at CES. And I am really excited. Please join me in welcoming Jill Malandrino from TradeTalks with Nasdaq. We also have Philip Athey with us from the National Journal. And last but not least, we have Rebecca Klar with us from The Hill. So welcome, thanks for joining us today.

Rebecca Klar (01:17):

Thank you.

Melissa Harrison (01:18):

Lovely round of applause. In addition to everyone in the audience today, we're also doing this as a special taping of our podcast, Tech Talk. So this will be available later for everyone to download and listen to.

(01:36):

I felt like we had a plan of what we were going to talk about today, and then we realized that we're all really thankful. Two of our journalists today and myself are based in the Washington DC area, and if you've been following what's happening in Washington, we are really thankful to be here in Las Vegas. So I felt like we had to start our first question with the elephant in the room, which is we do not have a speaker of the House and we do not have, actually, I guess, any technical members of the House. So I would love to know from Rebecca and Philip, what are you guys thinking? And what does this mean for, I don't know, potential tech policy conversations moving forward?

Philip Athey (02:18):

Well, speaker's vote is normally the easiest vote in Congress, and for the first time in a hundred years, it's failed and no one really knows what's going to happen next. So that's going to be pretty interesting. With the slight Congress new tech regulations, we're always going to be pretty difficult to come about. Even when there's consensus, there's enough slight differences between what Democrats and Republicans feel about data privacy protections, and stuff like that, that a comprehensive bill is likely never to come out of the next two years.

(02:53):

I think the interesting look is the budget. If there's continuing resolutions, if there's government shutdowns, which seem more and more likely as this continues, that's going to be pretty devastating for federal and tech investment that just got a huge boost with the CHIPS and Science Act. So that's probably not looking too great over the next two years.

Melissa Harrison (03:19):

Rebecca, you're at a publication actually called The Hill. So how are your colleagues holding up this week? What are you thinking?

Rebecca Klar (03:26):

Yeah, I can't say that I'm sad to be missing all the action there, and my colleagues are doing a great job covering it. I would agree with what Philip is saying, is that it's probably not a great sign in terms of unity or what they might be able to get done in the next couple of years. I think what I'll be looking for when and if they do have a successful speaker vote is seeing the breakdown of committees. And like you were mentioning, I think it'll be hard for them to get any bills through with this split Congress, but seeing the scope of how the House may approach different investigations or approach certain hot button issues like content moderation, depending on who ends up being speaker and how those committees break down I think could be a point that's interesting in terms of tech companies and how tech executives are viewed in Congress.

Melissa Harrison (04:18):

So you guys do have some overlap in your coverage areas, but some of it is different, but you're all doing this for the first time. So Jill, how did you prepare? And it's day one, what have you seen? What have you heard? What's surprised you thus far?

Jill Malandrino (04:33):

I'm surprised by the amount of people that are here and just how overwhelming it is to be covering your first CES. But what's interesting about it is the diversity of the content and the diversity of the speakers that's joining our show, and that's pretty typical of what we do at Nasdaq TradeTalks. Clearly, capital markets is a focus of our coverage, and that includes all asset classes, including digital assets. But because we are a technology company at part, we do cover all the different sub-sectors of technology, and so a lot of the themes that are emerging here are a lot of what we cover from day to day.

(05:06):

So when you think of Nasdaq, the first thing that comes to mind is an exchange capital markets, but when you think of us more holistically, we are the ones listing these companies. We are the ones partnering with these companies as clients, whether they're leveraging our investor relation resources or our data resources or our indexing resources. So whether we're touching the capital markets, their core businesses, or their partners or clients of ours, we really do run the gamut of everything that touches technology, particularly cloud AI and cybersecurity, of course.

Melissa Harrison (05:37):

So out of all the things you just mentioned, have you had any good conversations about those yet?

Jill Malandrino (05:42):

Cybersecurity is always going to be front and center and, of course, data privacy and how data's being accessed and so forth, but I think the most interesting and pleasant surprise to me is I've really started to cover AgTech and climate tech. In fact, we've launched new indexes around what's happening within the climate space, because the growth story's really interesting there.

(06:03):

But I had the CEO of Lumo, which leverages irrigation technology to improve water sustainability, and him and I were talking off-camera, and I've also heard this on network as well, CNBC were reporting on this, just like what John Deere is doing, what we're hearing other companies like GE, Honeywell, your major industrial conglomerates that are really focusing on their technology and innovation story. So I think it's really nice to see not what you think in terms of core sectors being represented, but traditional sectors and really seeing how the tech stack applies to every industry, not just what we would traditionally think of as technology.

Melissa Harrison (06:42):

Well, Philip, I know that you've seen some stuff as well. I know you were here yesterday for conference programming.

Philip Athey (06:48):

Yeah. I think some of the interesting stuff that I've been looking at is the health tech side of things, taking telehealth from just the counseling thing to actually measuring health vitals in the home or other ways of doing that, getting people out of hospital beds quicker, stuff like that. That's all pretty interesting.

(07:08):

Coming from a congressional policy side of it, I'm also looking at the data privacy end of things. That's going to be what the members of Congress are going to be looking at. How can we do this safely? How can we regulate this to ensure that people's health data isn't being sold the same way their location data's being thrown around quite often? That's been particularly important since Roe v. Wade was overturned. That's been a big deal. Sara Jacobs has a health-specific data bill out there that isn't going to go anywhere, but it's there. So it's something that members of Congress are looking at, so it's going to be interesting to see, on this side of things, where the tech is going and 10 years from now, when Congress finally starts looking at regulating this stuff again, what they're going to be looking at.

Melissa Harrison (07:59):

Rebecca, I know we talked about we're averaging six miles of walking a day, so what have you seen in the six miles that you've walked the last couple of days?

Rebecca Klar (08:07):

Yeah, I think it's exciting, especially coming from the cynical DC world here. I feel like we talk a lot about technology in DC in these negative terms or what's happening and the concerns, so it's really exciting just actually seeing the innovations and seeing what companies are doing and that potential. And I think even in the conference programming and in the talks, I think just being in that environment changes the scope of the conversations in the way that people are talking about these issues and concerns. Yeah, so it's been really exciting just to see that innovation and where things are going.

Melissa Harrison (08:46):

So here's a really important question for other reporters who would like to come to CES, how did you convince your editors or producers to let you come? Who wants to go first?

Jill Malandrino (08:56):

I'll go first. Since I'm not from a traditional media company, we think of it through the lens, what does it mean for MarComs? How do we represent Nasdaq within this space? So had to do a lot of convincing with the marketing teams, which is how media operates at a company that's not traditional media, but as we all know, content is king, regardless of what vertical that you're working in.

(09:18):

And again, since we are the technology company that powers capital markets, and it's not just about finance, but what we're seeing in AI cloud and we're moving our exchanges cloud and, of course, what we're seeing with artificial intelligence and machine learning and how big data is being worked through the entire stack. So it tells a story for itself, and that certainly helped me convince it.

And of course, we have such a tremendous partnership with CTA. CTA does the research for, I believe it's 12 or 14 of our indexes, and they do focus on AI cloud and cybersecurity. So there's a number of relationships through the Nasdaq organization where it just makes sense for us to have a presence with myself, my show, and of course our CEO, Adena Friedman, who is doing one of the keynotes.

Melissa Harrison (10:07):

Yeah, this is probably our time to pitch the Great Minds session that's tomorrow morning between Adena and Gary Shapiro, our CEO, which is going to be fabulous. There's a reason why it's called Great Minds. Those two on stage together is going to be really terrific.

(10:20):

So Rebecca or Philip?

Philip Athey (10:22):

Yeah. For me, I really played on that cynical side of things. Most of my interactions with big tech companies-

Melissa Harrison (10:28):

So DC of you.

Philip Athey (10:30):

... is when they're bidding, getting in fights with members of Congress, or when they're being hauled before hearings and stuff like that. So I just pitched this as, "This is a way to get proactive. This is the way to get a little bit more of an idea of the other side of where these companies are going, coming from, what their aims are, and where the tech will be five, 10 years from now." Again, when Congress starts to... That's the delay they have, is something happens out there for a while and then they figure out what's going on. So it's a way to get ahead of that, and that's what we talked about.

Melissa Harrison (11:04):

And Rebecca?

Rebecca Klar (11:05):

Yeah, I would say the same, just getting that access to companies, and not just the brand name companies that we know, but also a lot of startups or other companies that are important in that conversation. I also attended last year, CTA does CES on the Hill, which is on a much smaller scale, but-

Melissa Harrison (11:23):

Thankfully. I don't know that we could do two of these a year.

Rebecca Klar (11:26):

Yeah, and that was really nice to attend and that was my first foray into hearing about it. And actually, I was talking to one congressman at that event who just went through a bullet list of reasons of coming to CES and he was, "That's your reasons to give your editor." And I was, "I will make a mental note of that." So that was also a helpful tool.

Jill Malandrino (11:46):

I would love to follow on something that Philip had brought before in terms of a trend that he noticed, and you had mentioned health tech, which is also another area of coverage that we have. And AARP has a big presence here. So when you think about accessibility, when you think about healthcare, we have to recognize that one of the largest demographics are people who are aging into retirement. So you want to follow the money, of course. There's always going to be an economic reason behind it, but folks such as my parents' age, sixties, seventies, eighties, they understand digital. They understand apps. They understand that it makes life a bit more efficient, and I think you're only going to continue to see that category grow because not only are they such a large demographic, but then you have digital natives that are eventually going to go through their life cycles [inaudible 00:12:29].

Melissa Harrison (12:28):

Because we're all getting older, unfortunately.

Jill Malandrino (12:30):

Oh, I know. I read something really interesting from another reporter, it was on Twitter, and he's turning 32 and he asked a bunch of people in their nineties, what are some life lessons? And one person had said, "There's aches and pains with getting older, but it's better than the alternative." Anyway, so it goes back to the health tech point, that it's a category that's never really going to phase out.

Melissa Harrison (12:54):

So did you guys make a plan before you came here and has it survived first contact with the show? Rebecca, you want to go first?

Rebecca Klar (13:02):

Sure. I would say that I did have a plan. And I think once you get here, you realize just the scale of it is so massive that you have to really prioritize certain things over other things. And I think also, just you meet certain people that will throw off your schedule a bit too. So I think just coming in and being flexible with that has been really important.

Melissa Harrison (13:24):

Yeah. Philip?

Philip Athey (13:25):

Yeah, I think the same. My written-out schedule had me jumping from here to the ARIA to the Venetian within five minutes, and that's just not reasonable. So make adjustments, figure out this panel's going to be online, so I'll just watch that later and get that. Yeah, it's just so much going on here that it's hard to have any real plan until you get on the ground and see the exact scale.

Melissa Harrison (13:52):

And Jill, you're actually going live every 15 minutes?

Jill Malandrino (13:56):

Yes, so we are producing today and Friday. We're in the West hall where the EV activations are taking place, which is super cool, and we're producing from 10:00 to 5:00 every 20 minutes. So it's an aggressive schedule, but for those of us that are in media, pivoting is part of the job. You don't learn that in college. You don't learn it... Until the day you retire, you're just learning new tactics in terms of pivoting.

(14:17):

So our strategy, building out the schedule is the hardest part and there's always last-minute cancellations or adjustments or people are running around and didn't realize how long it takes to get from here to there, but really trying to broaden out the categories, because you could spend all day focusing on what's happening in meta and gaming or what's happening in EV or health tech, so really trying to broaden out what's there.

(14:42):

I also love having reporters on the show just to get a different perspective. Of course, we had a couple Nasdaq folks on, we'll have CTA on. I just love always getting that background of, pull back the curtain and this is what it actually takes to put on an activation like this. But I think really broadening out the schedule. And we were talking before in the green room, "I have to moderate a panel," and you just figure it out.

Melissa Harrison (15:05):

That's right.

Jill Malandrino (15:05):

You just have to figure things out.

Melissa Harrison (15:07):

I think that being flexible and as nimble as possible while you're here is probably the recipe for your success, because nothing ever goes exactly as planned.

(15:17):

So from either the show floor or conference programming, is there anything that's at the top of your list that you want to see or hear while you're here? Whoever wants to go first.

Rebecca Klar (15:27):

Sure. I'm excited tomorrow to hear senators that are coming in talk about their priorities, and I'm sure they will also take the opportunity to dunk on their House colleagues likely. But to hear their priorities, and I think just something about getting out of that cynical DC atmosphere and being here and seeing all the innovation, seeing where that takes their minds and their thinking as they head back to DC as well.

Melissa Harrison (15:54):

What's really interesting is Senator Rosen, this is her home state, but she actually used to exhibit here prior to becoming United States senator, so she has really interesting stories to tell about CES. I'm giving you a hot tip.

(16:08):

Philip, go ahead.

Philip Athey (16:09):

Yeah, not to be boring, but it's the same. It's looking at what their priorities are, especially as things are evolving in the House or devolving, however you want to say it. But yeah, it's going to be looking at what the lawmakers have to say about what their priorities for the next two years are going to be.

Melissa Harrison (16:27):

Good. Jill?

Jill Malandrino (16:27):

Yeah, I would say now that I know what I know, next year I would definitely build in another day just to simply look at all the activations. There's so much great stuff going on. So my first thought was, I love what's happening with gaming in the metaverse. Particularly in media and reporting, we might be reporting as another vertical within the metaverse one day. In fact, we did, I think it was at Nasdaq, it was an opening bell, not a closing bell, but we did an opening bell on the metaverse. So who's to say that it's not another distribution channel? And because the metaverse is basically content created by content creators, so that was one thing I was really excited to see.

(16:59):

I saw the Sony keynote last night, which was really cool. What they're doing with production is just absolutely mind-blowing. But you can spend a day in each hall and learn and see new things, but to both your points, it is nice to come to a conference where it's forward-looking and it's positive. It's a little bit different than going to a market structure conference, where everyone has a certain side and opinion. But to come here, and there is a future and there is... We're sitting right in front of LG, life's good. There are positive things to focus on, and that's refreshing with this.

Melissa Harrison (17:35):

Yeah. And I think it's interesting with our theme this year, it's nice to be thinking about how tech is good for the world and the work that tech is doing in sustainability and other things. I don't think you can come here and not have a smile on your face. It's a pretty exciting time in technology and in the industry.

(17:55):

If you guys had any advice to give other reporters, now that we are three quarters of the way through day one, what would it be? Rebecca, you want to go first?

Rebecca Klar (18:04):

Sure. I would say we were talking about being flexible, I think, is really key because I think the plans that you make are really not going to go the way that you had planned for them to be. And I think also having a good line of communication with editors or whoever it is that you're working with so they have an idea of what you're doing and what you're seeing, I think is really helpful as you're... I think you can get wrapped up in thinking everything is so exciting and noteworthy, and really having that scope of them being, "Okay, here's what to focus on," is helpful.

Melissa Harrison (18:41):

Yeah.

Philip Athey (18:42):

I think just stay calm, just take things one at a time. You're not going to get to everything, that's okay. It's impossible. And just accepting that, do what you can do and focus on that, and making sure you do those things to the best instead of overextending yourself and not really coming away with anything interesting.

Melissa Harrison (19:03):

Yeah, it's hard. Everyone asks me leading into this, "What are you most excited about?" And I kept saying, "Everything," because it was the worst feeling of having to pick your favorite child. You're, "No, everything that's going to happen is going to be the most amazing thing you see in 2023."

(19:17):

Jill, what about you?

Jill Malandrino (19:18):

I would say diversification of content is really key. And for what you guys covered, it's so interesting because you bring a different perspective than something that I do. So you can take a look at health tech companies, you could take a look at what's happening with digital media law and policy and how it applies to the metaverse, for example, so you can bring in those angles more tactfully than I can. So I think really diversifying your content and finding a way to leverage where your area of expertise is to provide more background in a very objective way is what's so refreshing about covering this. But I would definitely like a little bit more runway next year and really focusing on diversification is what I think makes the content interesting.

Melissa Harrison (19:59):

Year two is always easier.

Jill Malandrino (20:01):

Yes.

Melissa Harrison (20:03):

So we're about to wrap up, but I would love... I'm going to do this to the reporters. It's also fun being on the other side of asking the questions with all the reporters. I'm usually the one answering their questions. If you could pick one word to describe your coverage of CES or what you're hoping to get out of it, can you narrow it down to one? Or two? I'll give you two.

Jill Malandrino (20:23):

Comprehensive and diversified.

Philip Athey (20:26):

Forward-looking.

Melissa Harrison (20:27):

Love it.

Rebecca Klar (20:28):

Authentic in a personal angle.

Melissa Harrison (20:32):

I love it.

(20:34):

Jill, Philip, Rebecca, thank you so much for joining us today on Tech Talk. We are so thrilled to have you here. I hope you have a great show. And thanks to everybody who joined us in the audience. We also hope you have a great show. Thanks, everyone. Take care. Have a good day.

Rebecca Klar (20:47):

Thank you.

Speaker 1 (20:51):

Well, that's our show. Thanks for listening. You've just downloaded the latest insights from CES 2023 into your brain. But of course, there's always more tech to talk about and we have more coming your way from Las Vegas. Please subscribe to this podcast so you don't miss a moment. You can get even more CES at ces.tech. That's C-E-S dot T-E-C-H. Our show is produced by Nicole Vidovich, with Mason Manuel and Kristen Miller, edited by Third Spoon with our lead audio engineer, Andrew Lynn. I'm James Kotecki, talking tech on CES Tech Talk.
 

 
 

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