Is Amazon Primed for Profit?

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April 24 (Bloomberg) -- Rosenblatt Securities Analyst Brian Blair discusses Amazon ahead of earnings with Emily Chang on Bloomberg Television's "Bloomberg West." (Source: Bloomberg)

Live from pier three in san francisco, welcome to "request" where we cover the future of technology and business.

I'm emily chang.

The sec is putting out a proposal that could give companies willing to pay for it a faster lane on the internet.

And wearable tech design is more important than ever to the tech industry.

We will get the latest trends from kleiner perkins design partner and former president of the rhode island school of design, who joined me as a special guest today.

First, a check of headlines.

Investors are reacting in a big way to apple's earnings report and stock splits.

Shares are up about eight percent as the company sold a record number of iphones.

The company also boosted its share buyback to $90 billion.

Facebook shares are up about one percent today, not showing too much of a pop-out to the social network on blowout earnings.

Facebook reported a 72% rise in revenue and said mobile is accounting for 59% of ad revenue.

Still, executives said spending will increase the rest of the year, but warned it will take a while for video and instagram adds to contribute to revenue.

And time warner cable is doing a better job of hanging onto subscribers.

It lost only 34 thousand residential tv customers in the first quarter, compared with 217,000 in the prior quarter.

The company has been offering more viewing options on tablets and set top boxes, head of its planned takeover by comcast.

To our lead story of the day, the days of all traffic being treated equally online are coming to an end.

The sec is set to propose new rules for net neutrality.

This would allow internet service providers to charge companies like google and netflix a premium for access to faster service.

That could mean more -- higher prices for you.

Critics that say net neutrality is dead, our next guest says they are wrong.

Your cook joins us with more.

-- peter cook joins us with more.

Everyone has been anticipating a decision from tom wheeler and the sec as to how this decision will move forward.

This latest proposal caught a lot of people by surprise and i think even the sec has been surprised at some of the pushback it has been getting initially to this proposal.

Basically, the sec maintains this is not an abandonment of net neutrality, but if you will, a strategic retreat, one that they think will pass legal muster with the court, and one that does not automatically guarantee every high-speed wealthy content player out there will have to charge for access to those high-speed lines, but that the sep see -- the sec will decide on a case-by-case basis whether those are "commercially feasible" going forward.

If they are, that will be the practice going forward.

The sec still believes net neutrality is in tact.

Not an abandonment of net neutrality, but will it be a tough sell?

It is already emerging as a tough sell.

You have consumer groups opposing this.

It will be a tough sell with democrats on capitol hill, who have lobbied very hard for the most open internet possible.

But this is where the court may ultimately position the sec to where this is where they have to go to get some sort of tying field for everyone to abide -- some sort of playing field for everyone to abide by the same rules.

Netflix and amazon prime costs may go up because of this.

Thanks so much.

I want to get to amazon, and the key question for ceo jeff bezos this afternoon when they report earnings.

Is the company ready to prioritize profits?

Bezos has been pumping money into initiatives like drones, warehouse expansion, even as sales growth has slowed down.

But it has raised prices on prime membership to 29 -- prime membership 29% to $99 a year.

Brian, what are you looking for in the amazon numbers today?

The street is expecting about 21% growth.

Over the last quarter, 20% growth.

That is the first thing.

From there, you break it up into segments.

Amazon has its hands in so many things now, you come at it from the top.

Loud services will be a key area that people will be looking for insight into.

There have been recently announced cuts.

Investors want to get a sense for how amazon is faring against google, who also recently cut prices, and microsoft as well.

There's a battle going on.

One of my coworkers in i.t. support asked me if i was interested in amazon's new workspaces products, to give me new workspace.

Very interesting.

Aside from that, investors will be looking at new initiatives like amazon fresh, which is there grocery -- which is their grocery delivery effort.

And they have announced the raising of the prices with amazon prime, so we will be watching that.

And the tv is attracting a tremendous amount of attention as an affordable set top box, competing with apple and row crew -- roku.

We will need to get clarity across all of amazon's business initiatives, and get a sense, like you pointed out earlier, of when we will see a profit.

This is an expensive stock and investors still believe in bezos's investment.

People will want some insight.

I feel like every single quarter, amazon's margins are slim, as they always are.

And the stock goes up and nobody seems to care.

A lot of investors are looking out 3-5 years and as long as amazon continues to invest in new areas, grow the top line, and gain share in these critical areas that are growing in importance, like media streaming, like tablets, then investors will be content to see a lower margin and not much on the bottom line.

That will eventually end, but for now, amazon is showing a lot of strength.

This fire tv, i thought the day it came out it was fantastic.

The whole family loves it.

And amazon is likely to do a smartphone near-term.

I am interested to see what they do on the smartphone side.

That is something that i don't think they will talk about, but we are likely to hear more about their view on opportunity and hardware.

Maybe the idea of doing a smartphone might be hinted about in this call.

I do want to ask you about apple.

Surprising iphone sales, surprising revenue.

You had a good question -- why?

Why do you think that it?

There has been a lot of promotional activity in the march quarter, especially with the five c, which has not done that well since it came out last fall.

At least, in my estimate.

You have seen carriers not in the u.s., but around the globe, offering this at discounted pricing.

That is bringing in new buyers.

It is not coming from china.

China mobile increased their iphone sales recently and they were not that great.

The 5s continues in strength.

And apple is still selling the iphone 4s. it is not something they talk about much, but i may have seen an upside in unit.

Yesterday, we were talking about this, some people call this an air pocket of new product, a black hole that apple is in.

Without these new products, can they sustain growth?

No, we need to see a new product.

It has been four years since the ipad came out.

And i think this is one of the reasons that investors are enthusiastic and why i am bullish on the stock and we are telling customers to purchase apple now.

We think you will see one of the most innovative cycles that we have seen.

It will start in june and continue until the end of october.

His is a tremendous product cycle, and -- this is a tremendous product cycle, and this is in addition to the buyback.

This is a tremendous cycle for apple.

And maybe the most important one.

X thank you for weighing in with us -- thank you for weighing in with us today.

He is a designer and the latest to join kleiner perkins.

And he is a guest next on "bloomberg west." ? i'm emily chang and this is "bloomberg west." john meada spent a decade in research and then went on to be the president of rhode island school of design.

He is with kleiner perkins and also the chair of the ebay design advisory council.

John meada, our special guest this hour.

Thanks for joining me.

I have been looking forward to this.

Me, too.

How is he going so far?

How do you like silicon valley and venture capital?

It is amazing.

I think the speed is so extraordinary that -- the people, the energy, it is intoxicating.

How did kleiner perkins convince you?

I was tracking a lot of designers going into venture.

Like the ceo of air bnp.

And i kept telling students to go be like them, and i felt a bit disingenuous that i was not going myself.

So why not, i thought.

What is it you're helping the company do?

You are also sourcing investments.

It is really strategic value design in company formation, complete mission, and company incubation.

How to get design as early in the process as possible.

It is something i'm lucky to get the chance to look at very closely.

We have been talking about companies reporting earnings.

What are some established companies that you think are designed well?

It is important to know that doing design well is not something that you get good at suddenly.

If you do it for a long time, things work out well.

People say apple's design is great.

You have to remember that they have been added for 30 years -- at it for 30 years.

They have always been a design company.

They have always been design first.

Do you think that apple is the gold standard still?

I think apple is one of the standards.

I see ibm coming back.

They began in the 60's and they had to revise it.

I have gotten the chance to work with ebay closely.

I'm watching that.

And an ecosystem of startups, a lot of activity there.

Any particular company that you would call out as doing a good job?

Definitely flip board.

They are moving like a rocket.

And people ask me why they are doing well, and it is because of this guy marco west capcamp, one of the world great designers and he disappeared and he has come back with this company.

It is interesting, when you think of ebay or air bnb, i don't think of design with those companies first.

People think them a great designers, i love their website.

But that is not the point.

Joe and brian are industrial designers.

They design physical things.

They love the physical environment.

They get the physical environment, the space.

The website is like an artifact of that.

The website is a scaling mechanism for their sweet understanding of the physical environment.

The design is over here, not on the web.

What is the wrong way to go out -- about design?

Who is doing design poorly?

I don't like to throw apples at people.

I figured you would not.

What arewhat are some common mistakes?

I think it is common to get the technology going and then realize, we forgot to make it powerful for people to use.

So they will spray that on the top, kind of like lip stick on the pig.

And what happens?

Technology is always a game changer.

Design was something that was pretty frivolous and never had a big impact.

But if you have a significant design, design of a business model, and great technology, scalable, then you get a great company like flipboard.

Do you think design is more important than technology?

No, technology is the most important.

I went to m.i.t., two, so i am kind of schizophrenic in that respect.

Technology is the game changing experience in which human experience can happen.

It has a good idea and has to be implemented.

And this area will get it to scale.

We will talk a little bit more about your role at ebay next.

Coming up, you may not think of ebay first when you think of a company focused on design.

We will ask john meada why he is working with the company.

? welcome back.

I'm emily chang.

Ebay may not be the first company that comes to mind when you think about design, but john maeda reports directly to the ceo, john donahoe.

Thanks, jane, for coming up from san jose.

I will start with you will stop it is so great, the story of how you ended up with ebay.

I would like you to tell it for me.

Brian chesky and john donahoe are great friends.

John noticed his great design and that is why he asked me.

How does ebay think about design?

Ebay has moved from just thinking about pixels to something more holistic.

The more that we can be customer focused, bringing design and technology and product together.

You work together a lot.

I work all the time with dane.

If you think about brian chesky post on social media, it is about culture.

We have been coalescing the culture across all of ebay's companies.

What is that all about?

We are working on awareness and bringing the different designers together.

We are focused on activating that conversation and revealing some of the great designers that are already there at the company.


Are you working on the ebay marketplace's website?

One comment that i was very moved by was les schwab's founders, and that we are moving from capitalism to talentism.

The way you make rate products is through great people.

And when you -- the way you make great people connect together is through a strong community.

Just yesterday we had an event.

And you were there and speaking with brian chesky and speaking before employees at ebay.

Dane, tell us about some of the products you are working on that we might not know as much about.

We are moving design thinking into the process.

You will see a lot more design early.

That is what yesterday was about, getting the leadership to validate the product-centric parts of where we are going.

This long-term initiative is about getting the thinking forward and bringing the designers to the forefront.

How is design at a big tech company different than a startup?

Very different.

I was saying to dane, when i work with startups i might have half a designer, or one and 1.1. working with a company like this, you have hundreds of designers.

It is a major advantage.

But they all have to work together.

Can it be more difficult when they are all involved?

It is like a symphony.

It is an amazing sound.

But how do you get them together in the same room?

You are an entrepreneur.

You started your own company and now you are working at a company where -- how many designers are there at ebay?

Just north of 300. how does that work, getting everybody on the same page?

It is about activating the conversation and bringing it to life.

You think about visualizing what the experiences could be.

And the greatest thing is you start to dream a little bit and be able to move the product experiences forward in that way.

Dane howard, thanks so much for joining us.

John maeda of kleiner perkins, you are with us for the hour.

We will be right back.

Where do they find all of these designers?

We will talk about the competition for new design talent coming up.

? it is 26 minutes past the hour and that means bloomberg television is taking you on the markets.

I'm stephanie ruhle and i'm taking a look at sotheby's, up over five percent on the day.

Now about $42 and change.

Y echo the largest proximity -- why?

The largest proxy advisory term has come out on sotheby's. he had asked for three board seats and recommending dan loeb should get a seat.

They are not pursuing all of the growth opportunities that they should.

What is dan loeb saying right now?

I told you so.

When you have iss backing what you are calling for, it is a positive for you in the market.

Remember, that old is coming in early may.

We will have more on "bloomberg west" in a few.


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