Return to Transcripts main page

First Move with Julia Chatterley

Another Region of India Announces Lockdown as COVID Cases Total 20 Million; Bill and Melinda Gates Announce Their Separation; Apple and Epic Games Each Make Their Case. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired May 04, 2021 - 09:00   ET



JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR, FIRST MOVE: Live from New York, I'm Julia Chatterley. This is FIRST MOVE and here is what you need to know.

State shutdown. Another region of India announces a lockdown as COVID cases total 20 million.

Billionaire breakup. Bill and Melinda Gates announce their separation.

And App-osing arguments. Apple and Epic Games each make their case.

It's Tuesday, let's make a move.

A warm welcome once again to FIRST MOVE. Great to have you with us on this Tuesday where tech breakups are once again making headlines, but we aren't,

of course, talking antitrust action by regulators. Nope, the sad news that Bill and Melinda Gates are separating after 27 years together. What's it

going to mean for the foundation and for the global health causes in particular that they've championed for decades now. All the details on that

coming up.

For now though, no fortunes are being made or lost on Wall Street at this hour. We are set for some consolidation as you can see some weakness there

after gains. In a speech yesterday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell using the F- word -- don't panic, we're talking froth -- to describe parts of the equity market while Bank of America used the phrase "inching towards euphoria."

There are other reasons for a pause here, too. U.S. factory data, now factories are seeing their order backlog grow and they are also seeing

inventories plunge. Now, that should be good news, except we are also seeing supply chain disruptions, spiking commodity prices and chatter about

labor market shortages, too, and of course, that then all plays into fears of rising inflation.

Now good news from Europe today with Germany hoping to ease lockdown restrictions as France begins its gradual reopening, too. China and Japan,

meanwhile, are closed for holidays. Hong Kong, as you can see, higher there after both UBS and Nomura produced upbeat reports on future growth for Hong

Kong -- just good news.

Now, the crisis in India, however, only worsening. New calls for wider economic lockdowns there as the country's COVID death toll passes another

terrible milestone, and that's where we begin today's drivers.

Twenty million COVID cases in India. More than 220,000 people have now lost their lives and that includes nearly 3,500 in the past day alone. The

leader at the Indian opposition wants a nationwide lockdown. The State of Bihar, the latest to announce its own restrictions.

Sam Kiley joins us with more.

Sam, great to have you with us. You and I were talking yesterday about the need and the arrival of aid in the country, but we also were discussing how

it gets to the places that it is needed. Do we have any more information on whether it's getting through to those hot spots and obviously helping to

save lives?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Julia, it's very opaque to say the least. If we take the example of the $100 million worth of aid

being sent by the United States, it's not all here yet, it is arriving almost daily. I understand there's been an aircraft -- heavily laden

aircraft arriving today.

The U.S. Embassy here says simply that they handed over to the Indian authorities and they are unable to account for what happens to it next. The

Indian authorities have issues saying they have, and I quote, "distributed four million items of aid being delivered to the country," that they are

expediting aid through the Customs systems and they are prioritizing the states around India that have high need in rural areas and very high need

in other respects.

Now, I'm in New Delhi, the capital, where if the need is as bad here as elsewhere, then the catastrophe that has hit India is even worse than we

have imagined. We are in the capital city where a hospital -- we were in a hospital, we reported, we had mentioned on your show yesterday, Julia, 12

people died in the few hours that we were there through lack of oxygen. That was a sophisticated hospital.

Elsewhere, people are dying on the streets for lack of oxygen. There are queues for oxygen tanks. We all know this. We have seen no evidence

whatsoever of any foreign aid reaching anywhere inside New Delhi.

We've repeatedly asked both the Indian Ministry of Health, the local administrations to explain this and, indeed, two major donors, the U.S. and

the U.K., the United Kingdom, none of them seem to be able to account for what has been a pretty effective international aid effort in terms of

getting equipment and goods into India, though it is very difficult to see where it has gone.


KILEY: That is not to say that it hasn't been distributed, merely that we are unable to find out from any of the authorities or any of the donors

where specifically aid is going. The Indians are saying that they've distributed four million items. I'm not sure if that means individual

gloves right through to oxygen production plants. They have also said that six oxygen plants have been established in Delhi, but that's it so far in

terms of where this aid is going.

It's going to trouble the donors, I think that's why the donors are simply not answering questions about where this has gone because there is always a

Catch 22 with donations particularly ones given in the emotional heat of the horrors that are unfolding on people's television screens, Julia, is

that donors don't want to be seen to be over accounting for it for fear of being put under pressure by their own taxpayers to stop giving until they

know where it's going to end up -- Julia.

CHATTERLEY: I know, you're right and it is a huge country and it is a complex logistical effort and it is tough to see how to choose between huge

need in various parts of the country, too, but Sam, thank you for trying and keep requesting information for us, please. Thank you. Sam Kiley.

Okay, the two people who have been at the forefront of the global response to COVID are Bill and Melinda Gates. Their foundation pledged more than

$1.5 billion in response, just a fraction of the $54 billion they've donated to charity in recent years, and now, they are getting divorced.

Christine Romans joins me now. Christine, we can talk about the personal side of this.


CHATTERLEY: But let's talk about the foundation side. I mean, it's a shock. I think everybody was shocked because they are so synonymous with

each other, quite frankly, and the work they've done over decades.

ROMANS: And this partnership, what it has been able to do has been nothing short of phenomenal. You talked about the $54 billion they have given away,

but they've really remade how rich people think about philanthropy. I mean, they go at some of the thorniest, most difficult situations in the world

and laser focus money and intelligence and ideas on fixing those problems.

There are other CEOs and wealthy people around the world who have said, look, Bill and Melinda Gates have figured this out. I'm just going to give

my money to them, not try to start my own foundation to compete because they have found sort of the secret sauce.

What they are saying -- and really caught a lot of people by surprise -- they will work together for their foundation, but they won't be working

together as a married couple anymore. We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.

They are saying that they have three children -- three incredible children. They've spent 27 years together. They are very proud of the work they've

done in the philanthropy and will continue to do that, Julia, they just will not continue it as a married couple.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, I mean, they've set the standard, I think, haven't they, to your point for those with wealth all around the world and how to give it

with the giving pledge, of course, is one of the huge issues. You know, no one ever knows what's going on in terms of a marriage or a relationship.


CHATTERLEY: I'm not married. I don't have children. It's incredible that they've been together for 27 years, and you and I were discussing off air,

if you have to look at a relationship and the product of that relationship and a metric for success, these guys have it.

ROMANS: I mean, a lot has been accomplished here. Three incredible children, in their own words. This philanthropy, 27 years of marriage, and

a nest egg that is something like $130 billion.

I mean, Bill Gates of course is the cofounder of Microsoft all the way back in the '70s and he literally put a computer on every desk in this country,

if not around the world.

You know, in an interview a couple of years ago, Julia, Melinda Gates talked about the give and take in a marriage. Let's just listen to that a

little bit, about how she is married to Bill Gates, the Bill Gates brain, yet there is still this give and take. Listen.


MELINDA GATES, COFOUNDER, BILL AND MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION: We would go to dinner parties and when someone would throw out a question, Bill would

immediately answer it. I mean, he had, you know, the perfect, whatever, answer for it.

And I started to realize that I wasn't using my voice as much. I wasn't speaking up. Or sometimes, not very often, but sometimes I would speak up

and he would talk over me.

I said, you have to stop doing that because you can't either cut me off or you can't -- if you think I said something that was wrong, don't correct me

because everybody automatically assumes at that dinner table you're the smartest person at the table.

And so he learned and I would give him feedback and then it took him a little while and then he stopped doing it.


ROMANS: I think that's sort of a fascinating little insight into their marriage and in the statement they issued, they said they found they

couldn't grow together as a couple anymore. You can hear her there talking about how they were growing together.

He has said about her in the past that she is the one with the people skills. She is the better people person and he always said she was -- you

know, a 100 percent true partner in every sense and that she was better than he was at some things and certainly in the philanthropy, she is known

as a real force in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for really kind of, you know, putting into words and crystallizing what are their goals and

really working with people quite well.


CHATTERLEY: And they've said that partnership will continue, but you know what, I'll tell you what, over the past 18 months with what people have

been through, with the pandemic, if that doesn't teach you what's important in life, what you need, that time is precious, what the future needs to

look like, then I think nothing will.

So I think it's a brave decision and we wish them both well.

ROMANS: Yes, we do.

CHATTERLEY: Christine, thank you. Christine Romans there.

All right to London now where G-7 Foreign Ministers are holding their first face-to-face meeting in two years, some of the things they will be talking

about, relations with China, Russia, and Iran as well as the crisis in Myanmar.

Nic Robertson is live in London with the latest. No shortage of tough topics to discuss, Nic, but I think we have to talk about the fact that for

the first time in what -- 18 months, we are seeing leaders all together in one place and not doing this via Zoom or some form of other digital


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, though when you look at the family photograph, it's not like your average family photograph

of these big G-7 Summits where everyone is standing side-by-side, you know, it is all very carefully, diplomatically positioned.

But this one, they are standing on the stairs and everyone has got a whopping great big space between them and the next person, but that's the

way they're getting this done.

There have been COVID tests on site. There are strict protocols on how big the delegations can be, but it is the issues that they have had to discuss


This really is teeing up the Leaders' Summit which comes in about a month. So they are getting their ideas together on China, on Afghanistan, on Iraq,

on Syria or on Libya or on Myanmar, on a whole host of issues and China is the one that has had the sort of most time devoted to it.

And to that point, they've actually invited along the G-7, of course, United States, Canada, Japan, France, the U.K., Germany, and Italy. But

they have invited along nations with a big stake in the Indo-Pacific as well, like India, like Australia, like South Korea, also South Africa has

been invited. The Brunei Foreign Ministry is there representing the ASEAN nations.

So, it is really is an effort the way that they are describing it to bring together countries that value democracy, that try to find a way to head off

the threats of countries like China, like Russia that would undermine these democratic values and principles by abuse of human rights, by theft of

intellectual property, by cyber espionage, by manipulating elections.

All of these things that go on, this is a way to try to find a collective way to deal with that, but underlying all of that, of course, COVID is a

debate and COVID is an issue and it is how to come back better, greener after COVID. Climate issue is a big one.

But, also how to get ready for the next pandemic, how to prepare for that. So it is a host of issues that they are discussing here, but underneath it

all, it's happening in the face of the pandemic, in the face of what's happening in India, and they hope that if this is a success in these few

days, then the Summit and Cornwall with the real leaders, that can also go off -- with these COVID protocols, it can go off well.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, fingers crossed. And to your point, a lot of important discussions to take place, too. Nic Robertson, thank you so much for that.

All right, let me bring you up to speed now with some of the other stories making headlines around the world.

At least 23 people have been killed after an overpass carrying a subway train collapsed in Mexico City sending train cars onto the traffic below.

Surveillance video caught the moment it happened late Monday evening, dozens of people are being treated in hospital.

CNN's Matt Rivers is on the scene and he joins us now live from Mexico City. Matt, great to have you with us.

Clearly, we're interested in what on earth happened here. I believe it was a relatively new piece of the subway system. But what do we know about

those that were injured and their status at this moment?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So at this point, as you mentioned right off the top there, Julia, 23 people confirmed to have lost

their lives as a result of this incident. Seventy nine people have been hospitalized as a result of this.

Unfortunately, we know that included in the death toll as well as people who were hospitalized, some with serious injuries are children. Children

are included in both of those figures.

In terms of what happened here, that's going to be the big question moving forward over the coming days and weeks. What we know is that it was about

10:30 p.m. local time yesterday evening here in Mexico City when that section of this overpass that is just behind me, you can see it is quite a

large overpass, it was built within the last 10 years or so, when a section of it simply just collapsed suddenly and without warning taking those two

subway train cars down with it and ultimately landing on at least one car that was driving along the road here underneath.


RIVERS: Hundreds of rescue personnel responded very quickly. They were able to get a lot of people that were trapped out relatively quickly, but

unfortunately, they weren't able to save everyone. We actually saw several bodies being removed from the debris within the last several hours.

But the concerning part about all of this, beyond just the deaths and the injuries would also be the fact that many people saw this coming. This line

was built by the Mexico City government and it was inaugurated back in 2012, but in 2014, there were structural problems identified with this

line. More than half of the stations along this line were closed for structural repairs. There was damage during the 2017 earthquake.

So this is a line that has had problems before, Julia, and so many people in this neighborhood and all across the city, really, this is huge news in

Mexico right now, are saying how did this happen? Something clearly went wrong.

We don't know what went wrong, but there was a catastrophic collapse here, and so clearly something was at fault. That's going to be what

investigators are going to try and determine over the next several days and weeks and maybe even months.

CHATTERLEY: Matt Rivers, thank you for that update there.

Okay, still to come on FIRST MOVE, the Indian pharma firm that says it is just weeks away from requesting approval for the country's second

domestically developed vaccine.

And Apple has quote "total control" over iPhone users, so say the Epic Games CEO. More of that trial coming up on the show. Stay with us.


CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to FIRST MOVE and back to our top stories. A second wave of COVID-19 infections paralyzes India.

One of its leading pharma firms is racing to find solutions. Zydus Cadila, also known as Cadila Healthcare has a vaccine in late stage trials. It

hopes to apply for emergency authorization later this month.

It also has a drug to treat moderate cases of COVID-19 which was granted Emergency Use Authorization just last week.


CHATTERLEY: Joining us now is Sharvil Patel. He is Managing Director of Zydus Group. Sharvil, fantastic to have you on the show.

Let's talk about that antiviral agent first, Virafin, I believe is the name. Just explain how it works.

SHARVIL PATEL, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ZYDUS GROUP: So thank you, Julia, for having me on. So, I am very, very excited with the results of our clinical

study that we just got over and we got emergency use.

So you know, interferons are the naturally occurring proteins in the human body and for any kind of virus infection, the first line of defense is for

the body to produce interferons, which removes the -- it stops the virus replication and allows the immune system to remove the virus.

I think this week could prove both in our in vitro and in vivo studies, so we did an in vitro study which showed that this is significantly more

potent than any of the antivirus that are currently used for the treatment of COVID, so that was the one first positive thing.

This treatment has always been used for hepatitis B and C, which are other viruses, so we knew that this works against multiple viruses. Same is what

we could prove -- and we did a patient study in India in moderate cases where we showed that we reduced the virus replication and removal by

showing RT-PCR negative in eight days.

We showed a two-point important on the W.H.O. ordinance scale of important which is significant. We showed less oxygenation requirement for the

patients who were taking Virafin and also other symptoms were reduced and the number of days of hospitalization was reduced.

All of that was done against standard of care and in India, standard of care includes treatments which are steroids, maybe remdesivir and others,

and we have cohort analysis against all of these in conjunction with Virafin and using independently.

All in all, in all of the data, either we are equivocal or statistically significantly better, so that gives us the confidence that use of this in

early treatment can help patients a lot. The beauty of this product is that it's a single dose which helps in terms of convenience of dosing and it can

be given by any medical practitioner.

CHATTERLEY: Wow. Okay. So it stops the shedding of the virus, it helps the body's own immune system fight back and protect itself as well.

Just give us a sense, if you can, how quickly -- once somebody has been diagnosed with COVID, how quickly -- what's the window that they get this

vaccine? And then, I guess, the most important question is manufacturing. How quickly can you produce this and start helping people and saving lives

as soon as possible?

PATEL: So, the trial that we had conducted was in moderate patients who are already in the hospital. So I would assume that they were at least

three to five days post infection and, you know, it being a very strong antiviral agent and we know that the virus is active for the first eight to

10 days, the rate of treatment, this would be there as soon as possible, one should use this because it is an antiviral agent and using this later

has less of a benefit versus using it earlier when the virus is not replicated enough and not destroyed the epithelial cells and created other


And the second part to your question related to the capacity, so you know, it is a biological product. We have been manufacturing this, but we have

significantly put in capacities and investment to scale this up.

We are going to be making it available immediately for 50,000 patients in this month, but in the following month onward, we believe we can reach up

to 10 lakh patients or one million patients per month.

CHATTERLEY: And you can achieve that in the next couple of months as you ramp up production?

PATEL: Yes. Our hope is by end of June we can achieve one million per month run rate.

CHATTERLEY: Yes. I mean, I compare it to the number of cases out there and it feels like a drop in the ocean, but I guess if you're giving it to the

most sick patients, if you can catch them early enough, then that's the important part.

Let's talk about vaccines as well because you obviously have and are in Stage 3 or Phase 3 trials with your own vaccine candidate. We're expecting

results -- fingers crossed -- this month. What can you tell us just even in these early stages about the efficacy, even if it's only with regards Phase


PATEL: So I think this has been a very gratifying project for all of us. This is one vaccine where Zydus has developed this from scratch. We have

been doing all of the technology development all the way to scale up all the way to now, clinical trial.

I'm also very happy to say that this is by far the largest clinical trial done in our country where we have covered 28,000 volunteers for the

administration of this vaccine.

So, it is by far one of the largest trials that we have done and we have been good on recruitment, so in spite of vaccines being there, people have

shown faith in terms of coming up for the clinical work on this. So, I thank everybody for doing that.

But more importantly, I think what we like about the vaccine is that it is -- the platform is an extremely safe platform, well established.


PATEL: We use -- don't use any other viral vectors, which can cause other kinds of infections. So this vaccine is very safe in terms of multiple

dosing. It is stable at 25 degrees for at least four months. So you know, in a country like India, it is important.

We have gone through multiple cycles and has shown good data in terms of it not going to waste. Again, the beauty of the vaccine is, it will be that it

is a needle-free dosing. So it takes away a lot of fears for young people and people who have phobia related to needles and vaccination. So again, it

helps on that, and we have a whole new technology to deliver the vaccine for that.

So all of that has been good. Our Phase 2 efficacy -- in Phase 2, you don't really see efficacy, but you see immunogenicity. We showed comparable

immunogenicity to most of the peers that are there in the approved vaccines that are in there in the country.

Efficacy is something that we can only get to see post Phase 3, which we're confident of that in May we can achieve that event number. And as soon as

we do that, we will file for our emergency use authorization.

CHATTERLEY: And what about in terms of fighting variants that we're seeing in India? Are you also focused on the ability to adapt this if necessary to

fight specific variants? Or can you tell us anything about its -- I know, you're saying you can't give efficacy numbers, but the sense that it can

fight the variants that we're already seeing?

PATEL: So again, that's a very important question. So I think two important things. One is, I believe that in this clinical study, this will

be the most truly represented clinical study, because we have, you know, variants of critical nature in India and multiple of them. And all our

event data will be a subset of many of these events of infections happening.

So I believe this would be one of the true deflections of how this vaccine can work against a plethora of variants that are there in the country. What

is also good about this is that it definitely neutralizes many of the viruses that are there.

But more importantly, this platform is very scalable, and very, very changeable to the new variants. So in fact, against the British variant,

the South African variant, the Brazilian as well as the new Indian mutant variant, we have already finished three upgradations to the platform. We

already finished animal studies on them.

So you know, we would be able to, not in a long time, but in a very short period of time repurpose the vaccine with the new variants, whichever

becomes dominant.

CHATTERLEY: We keep our fingers crossed. Sharvil, very quickly, another vitally important question: cost of both the antiviral and this vaccine,

can you give us just a comparison or a sense of how much this will cost? Because clearly there will be -- I'm sure people in India watching this and

just wondering how they get access, whether they will be able to get access?

PATEL: So yes, that's a very important question to our country, access and affordability is paramount in terms of how one can get to use the

medicines. So on our Virafin, we have committed and promised that to any of the standard of care, it will be substantially cheaper. It will be at least

less than half of one-fifth of the current treatments that are there for patients who are taking remdesivir and hospitalization kind of efforts.

So we believe that we will bring it at very affordable pricing. And as I said, again, it's a single dose. With respect to the vaccine, definitely

our aim is that we will bring it at an affordable price.

If you look at our track record in the last one year, whether it was hydroxychloroquine, we were the largest manufacturers and distributors of

hydroxychloroquine. We brought it below the price.

It was remdesivir. We are today the lowest priced remdesivir in the country by a magnitude of threefold. If you look at dexamethasone, which is of the

steroids that is used, it is the cheapest corticosteroid available in the country.

So we will definitely work on it to make sure we make it affordable, but obviously, it has to make sense in terms of us being able to recoup all our


CHATTERLEY: I understand. You give us hope though, Sharvil. I'll let you go because you and your team have a lot of work to do, I know. Sharvil

Patel, Managing Director of Zydus Group, thank you for all your work.

Okay, you're watching FIRST MOVE. More to come.



CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to FIRST MOVE. U.S. stocks are up and running on Wall Street and word from the NYSC that all traders can now return to the

floor if they are vaccinated, perhaps contributing to reopening hopes in the United States.

The Wall Street bulls however taking a pause after recent record runs as you can see there. We are lower in early trade this morning.

European airline stocks are gaining altitude though as the E.U. makes new moves to open its doors to vacationers this summer. Vaccinated vacationers,

that's a tough one to say. Word too that the number of U.S. air passengers are at fresh 13 month highs. But once again, context is everything. Air

travels still some 35 percent below peak levels in the United States.

And a pretty cute visitor, if we have pictures of this, I think Baby Yoda actually run -- look. Now that's cute. That may be the best ring bell ever.

There we go. Baby Yoda. May the force be with you.

All right, another bite of the Apple. Day two of the Epic-Apple trial set to begin here in the United States. Epic Games CEO, Tim Sweeney is expected

to return to the witness stand a day after he strongly criticized Apple over its rules regarding the App Store.

At the center, the core of this lawsuit, the 30 percent slice -- fee -- Apple charges developers on sales made through apps. Clare Sebastian, joins

me now. Sorry, Clare, I couldn't help myself. No more puns. I promise.

It was quite fascinating, though, to listen to what the Epic Game CEO was saying because he was painting this picture of Apple having this huge hold,

this monopoly, and of course, under U.S. law, having a monopoly is not illegal, it is how you utilize that.

And if you keep out competition, and that ultimately harms the consumer. He's got a case to make.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is really the center of this. And what we saw yesterday, Julia, along with quite a few

internal e-mails that both sides produced that, frankly, didn't make either side look very good, was this sort of framing exercise. The question of

whether Apple's App Store is a market in its own right, or is it part of a broader market?

Now obviously, Epic was to make the argument that the App Store is a market in its own right, and therefore Apple shouldn't be allowed to set all the

rules. They produced a number of different internal e-mails, one in particular from Apple executive Eddie Cue, where he talks about getting

people hooked into the ecosystem, so they never leave.

This gets back to the idea of abuse of monopoly power that Epic is trying to prove.

Apple, of course, says no, that's not the case. They are part of a broader market, particularly in gaming. They made the point that consumers have a

lot of choice about where they go to play their games. They pointed out that Epic pays the 30 percent commission or thereabout to have its games on

consoles like Xbox and PlayStation, though Tim Sweeney made the point that that's a different business model.


SEBASTIAN: And Apple, of course, also saying that this is really of Epic's own making, the way they came up -- this whole case came about, the PR

campaign of last summer using that to undermine them.

So much more to come, Julia, but expect this framing exercise to remain at the center of the arguments here.

CHATTERLEY: #FreeFortnight. Do you think that PR campaign backfires, Clare?

SEBASTIAN: I think it's a risk. I was certainly a risky move from Epic to do that last summer, to basically publicly go out there and breach the

terms of the contract that they had already signed with Apple, and Apple is going to continue to use this against them.

If you look at the opening statements that the slides that Apple produced yesterday, there was another e-mail, this one from Tim Sweeney, the CEO of

Epic to a Microsoft executive in early August.

He says, "Epic has plans for August that will provide an extraordinary opportunity to highlight the value proposition of consoles in PCs in

contrast to mobile platforms." Apple making the argument that Epic was willing to deceive Apple, but give Microsoft a heads up. They are trying to

paint this as a sort of profit move from Epic whereas Epic says this isn't about profits. This is about getting Apple to change its way.

So I think, look, this was very risky. Apple is going to continue probably to use this to undermine Epic as this trial continues.

CHATTERLEY: Watch this space. Clare Sebastian, thank you for that.

Okay, after the break, we've had it all before, your call is important to us. But is it? After the break, MessageBird on a mission to end hanging

around on hold?


CHATTERLEY: It was once worked out that America spends 900 million hours a year on hold and for the average person, that's 43 days wasted in their


Well, my next guest thought there has to be a faster way to get good customer service considering how many communication tools are available.


CHATTERLEY: Now with big brand clients like Disney and JPMorgan, MessageBird has a strong presence in Europe, Latin America and Southeast

Asia and it has been using Series C funding to go on a bit of an acquisition spree. Series C

Robert Vis is the CEO of MessageBird and he joins us now.

Robert, great to have you on the show. So you facilitate better communications between businesses and their customers, but you're also

trying to do it in the most efficient way possible.

ROBERT VIS, CEO, MESSAGEBIRD: Yes, and hi, Julia. Nice to meet you. And I couldn't have done the intro better myself. So I think you explained it

very well.

Look at MessageBird, we want to make talking to a business feel as easy and natural as talking to your friends and family. So we like consumers,

essentially, all of us talk to a business on the channel that they prefer, which could be things like Instagram, or WhatsApp, or SMS, or email, or

even being on the phone. But it is right, essentially, our premise is, we want to make communication way more efficient, I want to stop people being

on hold for bad customer service.

CHATTERLEY: How easy is that for a company to set up a situation where they have, okay, we're less efficient at this moment communicating via

WhatsApp, maybe it's easier to send an e-mail, maybe it's easier to send by text, because I was just trying to think of the number of companies that I

interact with that actually send your message by text and probably posts like UPS as the most obvious example. Very few.

VIS: It is true, and that's very unfortunate. And this is essentially exactly what we're trying to fix.

So today, most of the interactions are still happening on e-mail and voice, which isn't a very efficient way to communicate with a business, and we

just want to live in a world where you can text with a business and that's essentially what we're trying to make happen.

And we're providing as we are building the technology on the back end, to provide that to businesses, because you're right, it's very complicated.

And part of the reason why we're not able to text the businesses today that has a lot to do with their internal infrastructure and backend technology

that doesn't allow them to do that.

So we're essentially selling that technology to the business so that with MessageBird, they can now talk to their customers on any channel, and they

don't have to be on hold.

CHATTERLEY: I mean, it makes sense to me. Give me that weld as soon as possible, please.

VIS: Let's do it.

CHATTERLEY: You mentioned that -- you're working on it -- you mentioned that e-mail actually is a less efficient way of communicating. And yet when

I look at -- and I mentioned it in the into -- your acquisition trail, Spark Post, predictive e-mail intelligence platform, I mean, I can see that

this gives you a foothold in the United States, but there will be people going, hang on a second, aren't we trying to move away from communications

on e-mail? Are you saying here, actually, you still see e-mail as being a crucial part of the way that e-mails interact -- companies interact with

their customers?

VIS: It is. So e-mail is still -- I mean, today, it's the most important channel that people communicate with businesses on and we think e-mail is

very powerful also for the future. There's new technologies coming out on e-mail, like AMP, which makes it much more like an application.

But what we're after here is actually very simple. I mean, first of all, we're now the largest business to consumer interaction company in the

world. We do over four and a half trillion interactions to customers, and think about that, that's a thousand billion. These are a lot of

interactions that we're sort of doing, which I think is very powerful to do our business.

E-mail is still being the dominant way we talk to businesses today, it makes it super important. I think the challenge is, how do we get an e-mail

that really provides the right context so we find it valuable?

I think from a consumer perspective, we think about e-mail as something that lands in your SPAM box and we think about e-mail as something that

provides a ton of value to you. It just needs to have the right message. So that's what we help businesses do.

Talk on WhatsApp, talk on the phone, talk on e-mail, but it's really about the context and making things more efficient. That's the opportunity we are


CHATTERLEY: We've spoken to Twilio, which when I thought about what your business does, and the sort of direction that you're heading in,

particularly as you enter the United States, that's probably your most fierce competition.

What makes you better than them, particularly as you tackle a new market like the United States? Or is the market simply big enough to have more?

VIS: Who is Twilio again? Sorry, I won't -- look --

CHATTERLEY: You can leave it there, if you want to.

VIS: I would almost leave it there. Look as a company, I think -- and look, you'll probably hear a lot of founders say this, but like we focus on

our customers. Our customers, they have all the answers that we would ever need. They tell us what they would like from us, how they want to make

things more efficient, and you know what, they pay our bills.

So from our perspective, looking at our competitors, there's never been a strategy that we've done. So I don't know what our competitors do,

including the one you just mentioned, but we're very confident about how we solve problems for customers and they love us, so I think we're good.

CHATTERLEY: They shall not be named, "Harry Potter."

VIS: Exactly.


CHATTERLEY: One of the things I noticed, and it is a sideline to business, but I do think it's a very important one as we go forward is your work from

anywhere policy. And I just wanted to touch upon this because I do think this is fascinating. It opens up a global workforce, and I wonder,

particularly for tech companies, but for those where you've got employees that can work anywhere in the world, why is this important?

VIS: So there's many different reasons why we think it's important. So let me touch on a few. I mean, let's start off with the fact that, you know,

COVID has changed a lot of things. But I think one way it has accelerated the need for all of us to be able to do things more in a digital world.

I think forcing us to have our employees be at home has made us rethink the way we want to do employment at MessageBird for the future. And one of the

things that still mind boggles me if I look back at it, and I am just as responsible as everybody else, the whole notion of an employee being on a

train or bus or a car for an hour to work, and then an hour back, that's two hours out of your day that you could be spending with your friends and


So talk about, you know, wasting time for bad customer support, what about wasting time on traveling to your place of business? So from our

perspective, we want our employees to be able to work at an office or work from home as they please and we will facilitate both.

But we think that's very, very important in terms of the time and work life balance that they have. But also let alone the environmental impact, right?

Like, this is a much more, I would say cleaner way to run employment. And it's really of this time and world. People will want to have a better work

life balance. Sometimes they want to go to the office, sometimes they want to stay at home and focus.

We think this is a really, really good thing and we are excited to support it and have Birds join us all across the world from any country. I think we

now have like 50 countries, but we're excited to get to like 180, which I think is the total countries they are. I'd love to have an employee in

every single country in the world. That's true organization right there.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, that's ambition. I have 10 more questions for you. So come back soon, please. Robert Vis, the CEO of MessageBird. Great to chat

today. Thank you.

Okay, after the break, in his final report for FIRST MOVE, my heart is broken. John Defterios on Saudi Aramco's bumper earnings. Oil miss you,

J.D., that's next.


CHATTERLEY: Higher oil prices help fuel first quarter earnings at the oil giant Saudi Aramco with clear signs of energy demand soaring.

The Chief Executive says better times are coming.

John Defterios joins me now. John, that is good news. And these were what profits that were 30 percent above what we saw this time last year. A

relief, I think, if nothing else.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Yes, I would say that, Julia, 30 percent profit is nothing to sneeze at, coming in at $21.7

billion and in fact, the CEO of Amin Nasser was saying he has reasons to be more optimistic going forward, although he says there are some headwinds

that exist.


DEFTERIOS: Demand today is still about five percent below where we were pre-pandemic, we were almost at a hundred million barrels a day in the

third quarter of 2019 and we're not there now.

So this is a kingdom that's being cautious and what do I mean by that? The Minister of Energy Abdulaziz bin Salman, working with Amin Nasser cutting

back production. The first quarter production was at 8.6 million barrels a day and they have capacity for 12. So they're taking oil off the market,

along with the OPEC Plus players, Julia.

And as a result here, we see prices hovering between $65.00 to $67.00 to $68.00 a barrel, so obviously their income is improving. So they are hoping

that demand in the second half of the year will pick up.

And the big question for Saudi Aramco is you knows what happens in the future? What are the plans of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to try

to sell another one percent stake? The two leading candidates are big oil importers in China and India. Mukesh Ambani of Reliance who has the largest

refinery in the world, in discussions with Saudi Aramco as well, as well as CNPC of China.

So this is not going to happen imminently. They're saying maybe one to two years, that was the latest guidance from the Crown Prince MBS. But if they

can make it happen, it could raise another $25 billion.

The danger here longer term is leaning too much on Saudi Aramco to raise money for the state investment fund the PIF and also to help in the

diversification. It is an energy company. It's done other things in the past, but you don't want to wait it down as we go forward here with a 2030

plan of the Crown Prince -- Julia.

CHATTERLEY: It's such a great point, and you also provided me with another follow up question, as you always do to make me look smart. And then when I

ask you that question, you always say, Julia, that's a fantastic thing to be asking because you're so graceful and you are amazing.

And our viewers are probably not aware, but that was your last chat with me on FIRST MOVE, because you're leaving after 25 years at CNN and I am truly,

truly heartbroken, as is Richard Quest who we tracked down on the streets of New York City because he also wanted to come and talk because, you know,

the three of us have not been here this long, that long. But the three of us have had some real fun and J.D., you're amazing.

I've never worked with someone so graceful, so smart and intelligent, so patient and so funny. And we love you -- Richard.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: Johnny D, Johnny D. There's nobody else who could get me out of the gym, and away from my

workout other than just say, look, doing battle with you and Julia at Davos on oil, where I constantly have to put you right, Johnny D. on these


What am I? Who am I going to play with once you've gone? And we're going to miss you tremendously. You are unique. And when they made you, they broke

the mold.

DEFTERIOS: That's a great compliment from both of us. You guys are surprising me here today. I'm not expecting any of this. I thought it was a

straight hit on Aramco. And I thought it would be fitting to finish on oil coverage considering I cover it half the time being based in the Middle


But very quickly, I have nothing to complain about, actually. Twenty five years at CNN, 35 years on air. You both know, that's a long time. I

traveled 70 countries, but the family has to take priority at this stage. And I've got to reunite with them in London.

So I had a fantastic time. I actually interned at CNN in 1983 and 1984. That's how long the relationship goes back.

So thanks a lot for underscoring. It's been a great time.

CHATTERLEY: Can we ask you what you're going to do next? Because you inspire me. I know you inspire my whole team. I will say it again. You're

always happy. You're always innovative. You're always very caring. What are you going to do next, can we ask?

DEFTERIOS: You can ask. I don't have the complete chapter written just yet. Julia how is that?

CHATTERLEY: Inspiring the next generation, I hope.

DEFTERIOS: But it is taking shape. How do you like this? I am. I am going to be doing some teaching for one, some consulting for another and working

with an energy thing, of course, because I cover energy so much, so I look forward to that.

And you'll love this. I've never taken a summer off since I was in university and I'm taking a summer off. How do you like that? I'd love to

go to Italy with the family. So it is not bad.

QUEST: John, John, can you just reassure us that we have not heard the last of you? Because that's what we both want to know. We want to make sure


CHATTERLEY: I don't even need to ask.

QUEST: We want to make sure, you're still going to be around.

DEFTERIOS: I'll be around. I'm in London. I'm not very hard to find either. So if you need a special energy analyst to come in, Richard or

Julia, just knock on the door. Give me a call. I'm around.

And the final thing, Richard has been here many times. I know Julia visited Dubai last year. I mean, I came right after the Arab Spring and had a

fantastic decade here in the UAE and covering the region. We've had a lot of stories ever since.

So it's a good place to be for the last decade of a career and my longest stint ever in my 35 years was here in the Middle East, it was fascinating.


CHATTERLEY: You interned in LA. You anchored in New York, in London, in Abu Dhabi. I mean, this has been an incredible journey. CNNI would not be

what it is without you, John.

DEFTERIOS: Well, very flattering, but thank you very much. The brand is big. It was great to work for it, let's put it that way.

CHATTERLEY: Favorite moment?

DEFTERIOS: Oh, gosh, Julia. I don't think we have that much time to be honest with you. A lot of good, fantastic interviews, and I'll share one

tale that most viewers don't know, but the piano bar in Davos is pretty having Julia singing with Richard Quest and John Defterios.

CHATTERLEY: Last Davos we were at.

DEFTERIOS: How is that?

QUEST: There must -- there must be video. There must be video somewhere of you in the piano bar that we can blackmail with you for the foreseeable


CHATTERLEY: And me refusing to sing the last one we were at despite your encouragement, J.D.


CHATTERLEY: I will get there at some point. I'm speaking for Richard and for all of CNN when I say, we will miss you and from the bottom of my

heart, we thank you for your expertise, the insight, the wisdom, everything that you have provided over the years.

Good luck. Sending you huge kisses. We love you, J.D., you are the best. You truly are.

QUEST: Hear, hear.

DEFTERIOS: Thank you very much. Thank you both, yes.

CHATTERLEY: Thank you, Richard.

DEFTERIOS: Thanks a lot, Julia. And Richard, we'll see you soon. Take care. Thanks.

CHATTERLEY: Okay. Thanks, guys. Go back to the gym, Richard.

That's it. Stay safe. "Connect the World" with Becky Anderson is next.