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First Move with Julia Chatterley
Study: Pfizer Vaccine Less Effective Against Omicron; UK PM Johnson Faces Revolt over Planned COVID Crackdown; Second Case of Omicron Coronavirus Variant in China; China Mobile Set to List in Shanghai; South Africa Grapples with Omicron Variant; Tipalti Raises $270 Million in New Funding at Valuation of $8 Billion; British Company Sells Robots with Human Looking Faces. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired December 14, 2021 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Live from New York, I'm Julia Chatterley. This is FIRST MOVE. And here's your need to know.
Cases climb. Omicron source in the UK And Denmark as China gets its second case.
Hospitalization hope. A new study - a new South African study shows severe cases are less likely.
And no Shanghai surprise? China mobile heads home after its New York delisting and -
(VIDEO PLAYS HUMANOID ROBOT)
Expressions making big impressions.
The UK startup behind this very life like robot, and it's going to anchor the rest of the show.
I'm just kidding.
It's Tuesday. Let's make a move.
A warm welcome to FIRST MOVE. Yes, it's me. And it's great to be with you.
We are more than ready for some holiday cheer. But before that, Central Bankers must address the global inflation every fear and who would want
that as a career.
Undeterred the king of the tech sphere, a $3 trillion Apple market cap comes ever near and maybe thrilling new products will finally appear.
And from Tesla to space, the final frontier, Elon Musk is "Time's" Person of the Year, but even he's a little queasy about this fellow here.
Yes, you just saw it. We'll be talking to the tech pioneer behind the emotional new robot's seemingly without peer. Will Jackson of Engineered
Arts also wants Musk to help him steer.
Global markets looking a touch insincere. OK. I'm stopping with the rhyming now. Investors are waiting at tomorrow's Fed policy decision. Jay Powell
and crew widely expected to announce a faster end to their bond buying program, as pricing pressures mount. Data out this morning showing factory
level prices rising by a hotter than expected 9.6 percent year over year in November. If you exclude food and energy hotter two in a month-to-month
basis as well. And this comes after the fastest consumer inflation data print in almost 40 years.
The Bank of England, the European Central Bank and the Japanese Central Bank all meeting this week to discuss the inflationary threat, but its
delicate COVID balance as China well knows. Stocks across the region are weaker with concern that China's zero tolerance COVID policy will further
pressure growth recoveries.
The global COVID fight once again topping our drivers.
The Omicron variant is more transmissible and better able to evade the Pfizer vaccine. But it does cause less severe illness. Those are the latest
findings of a major new South African study. It suggests people are more likely to catch the variant but less likely to be hospitalized with it.
Elizabeth Cohen joins us now.
Elizabeth, there was a lot there. Just give us the headlines once again please. And can you quantify for us what this study is telling us?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: All right, Julia. So, the bottom line here is that if you have been vaccinated with two doses of
Pfizer, you still have a reasonable chance of catching Omicron, but the vaccine does a very good job at keeping you from becoming severely sick,
from keeping you from going to the hospital or from dying.
So, let's take a look at those specific numbers. This was a study down by South African large insurance company, and what they found is that two
doses of Pfizer were 33 percent effective against infection.
That's not great, right? That means that even if you've got two doses, you still have a pretty good chance of getting infected. But it was 70 percent
effective against hospitalization.
And so, that's good news in many ways. Many people thought Omicron, the situation was going to be even worse. So, the fact that it's 70 percent
effective against hospitalization, that is definitely good news.
And you know, this is just one study, but it meshes well with studies. Another study that came out from South Africa, a study that Pfizer did.
They're all kind of finding -- findings along similar lines. Julia?
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. We're seeing parallels with all of these studies. What about reinfection risk?
COHEN: So, reinfection is so if you've gotten Delta, and you're concerned about being infected with Omicron, that's a reasonable concern. As we've
seen, there's only 33 percent protection, so if you've been vaccinated or if you've had Delta, there is still a reasonable chance that you could
become infected with Omicron, but chances are you will not get very sick. That's what these results are showing.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. But just because you've had COVID in the past, doesn't mean you can't catch COVID once again, and oh, boy, once again, the need
still to be vaccinated and to get that booster shot, still the message, I think, from this study, too, Elizabeth.
COHEN: Absolutely. The boosters. This study, Julia, didn't look at boosters, but others have and shown that it does help against Omicron.
CHATTERLEY: You got it. Thank you so much for that there.
(INAUDIBLE) on the line. Right now, in the UK House of Commons, lawmakers are about to vote on a new COVID restriction package with the prime
minister facing his biggest revolt of his premiership. Members of Boris Johnson's own party signaling opposition against the tougher measures to
fight the Omicron threat.
Salma Abdelaziz joins us now on this.
But the bottom line, Salma, is we are expecting to see a positive vote for these measures, not because the government's own Conservative Party is
going to back them, but the opposition Labour Party will. And Keir Starmer. the head of the opposition party saying look, it's the right thing to do.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Look, I think, Julia, everybody is going to be watching for these COVID restrictions to come through. But the real
debate here is about whether or not the prime minister's own party is going to back him. Dozens of MPs, conservatives, backbenchers are set to vote
against their own prime minister, against these measures.
Now, many of them say that they see these new rules as curbing civil liberties, particularly the COVID path. That's one of the crucial
controversial ones. That is a pass or requirement to either show that you are fully vaccinated or show a negative test before you go into mass public
venues, think nightclubs or sports stadiums.
A lot of conservative MPs take issue with this. They say it's a step towards authoritarianism. We just saw the health secretary Sajid Javid on
his feet in the House of Commons, answering, responding to that criticism saying these restrictions are absolutely necessary because the authorities
are concerned about this Omicron variant, Julia.
The number of cases is doubling every two to three days. It's set to be, if today, if not any day now, the predominant strain here in London. It should
be the predominant strain by the end of month. Health officials saying it is more transmissible. So, it sets a very serious threat through the
Still, you have these dozens of MPs who are going to vote against it. And why this is so important, Julia, is because the prime minister right now is
facing a battle for his political survival. So, if he can't convince his own party, his own backbenchers, his own side, if you will, to push through
these measures, that's when you begin to see cracks in the system. So, this is the first true test of his authority since the scandals, these Christmas
party scandals broke out last week. Julia?
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. The question is, is it about the prime minister and his inability to, to your point, push his own party over the line on these
measures or the belief that this is contravening civil liberties. We have seen this in other nations across the broader European region as well.
It's interesting because I saw a report over the weekend and it was UK research is projecting that without these additional mitigation measures in
the UK, the surge fueled by the Omicron variant in England, they may see more hospitalizations than actually we saw this time last year.
If that's not a way to convince your party and the country that this is the right step, however inconvenient, I don't know what is.
ABDELAZIZ: I mean, Julia, politics is nothing but the power of persuasion, right? And that's what's in question here, is if Prime Minister Boris
Johnson is unable to persuade his own party to do what our really by most standards, commonsense measures. If you compare the measures here in the
UK, compared to most of Western Europe, these are very, very minimal.
Across most of Western Europe, you have to show some sort of vaccine certificate or negative test just to get into a cafe or a bar or a
restaurant, that's not the case here. Masks were only made mandatory last week. These work from home orders that went into place yesterday.
Again, all very commonsense measures. It's nothing like a full style lock down that we're seeing in other parts of Western Europe to battle Omicron.
So, again, to get back to that point. If the prime minister cannot persuade his own party to implement these commonsense measures. What if Omicron gets
worse, Julia? What if more measures are needed? What if the prime minister needs to get tougher and he can't find that support within his own party?
That's when you really get into hot water and you start to wonder if this prime minister still wields that authority, wields that power over his own
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. Too much politics in this pandemic all over the world, including in the UK. And not enough health professionals, I think, being
Salma Abdelaziz, thank you for that.
China's COVID conundrum, the nation detecting its second case of the Omicron variant in a man who had recently travelled from overseas. However,
the traveler didn't test positive until two weeks after arriving in Shanghai, posing a fresh challenge to the government's zero-COVID strategy.
As Kristie Lu Stout reports.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After health authorities in Tianjin detected Mainland China's first case of the Omicron variant, another case
has been detected in Guangzhou. A state media reports the case involves a 67-year-old male. On November 27th, he touched down in Shanghai, he was
tested multiple times during two weeks of hotel quarantine. He then flew from Shanghai to Guangzhou where he tested positive for the Omicron
variant. At the epicenter of China's latest flare of infection continues to be the factory and shipping hub of Zhejiang province.
On Monday, China reported 51 new local cases of the virus, including 44 in Zhejiang. A Zhejiang is home to tech giant Alibaba, as well as a major
shipping port. Ningbo-Zhoushan, the world's third busiest container port.
Back in August, a simple confirmed case shut down the port for weeks causing shipping congestion and wreaking havoc on the global supply chain.
And now, tens of thousands of citizens across the Zhejiang province are in quarantine, and more than a dozen Chinese listed companies have said that
they had suspended production in parts of Zhejiang in response to local COVID-19 restrictions.
As China battles a small flare up of infection, the final version of the Beijing Winter Olympic games playbook has been released. And in this era of
Omicron, it offers clarity on booster shots. Athletes are quote, "strongly encouraged" to get COVID-19 booster shots but not mandated to do so.
Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.
CHATTERLEY: Let's move on.
Reconnected. China Mobile, the country's largest telco is set to list in Shanghai. This after SenseTime giant was forced to delist from the New York
Stock Exchange over the U.S. national security concerns.
And Selina Wang joins us now with more.
Selina, great to have you with us.
I don't think we can over play the huge, vested interest in making this a success particularly relative to being listed in the United States for
example, but it's also a crucial company to China's broader 5G ambitions. This has to work. And it has to be lucrative.
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. You could partially see this, Julia, as a symbolic move after getting kicked out of New York. China Mobile,
China's largest telecom company now going back to the home stock market. China Mobile's chairman in August put it this way, saying that this listing
in Shanghai, possible listing domestically would allow its customers to benefit from the growth of the company since its customer market is in fact
in Mainland China.
This however, Julia, has been a long time coming. Back in January, this company as well as two other state-run telecom companies were forced to
delist from the New York Stock Exchange. That was after the Trump administration banned Americans from investing in companies that the
administration had deemed were threats to national security.
Now, it is not clear at this point how much money exactly China Mobile would raise from the Shanghai listing but based on what we know about the
number of shares it would plan to raise and the closing price of its stock in Hong Kong on Monday, it could be raising about $5 billion.
And yes, as you say big 5G plans here. The company has said in its prospect is that it wants to use roughly half of the money it raises from the
Shanghai listing for its 5G plans. China Mobile is critical to the China's ambitions in the global race, and 5G development. The country aims to
triple the number 5G base stations it has by 2025, which would be an increase that would cover more than half of China's 1.4 billion people,
CHATTERLEY: And this is just one little piece of the broader U.S.-China tech tensions puzzle. Do we see more of these companies that were or
actually remained listed in the United States moving over to Shanghai? And you can choose to look at it in terms of a company perspective but also as
the broader tech tensions. Do we see more to come?
WANG: Well, certainly and we've just been talking about this over the past week. You've got a growing list of companies that are getting caught
between U.S.-China tensions as you have Washington growing increasingly hawkish towards China. But you actually have pressure from both sides. From
both the U.S. and China that is causing the ties between the Chinese business community and Wall Street to weaken.
As we talked about just last week, the U.S. banned Americans from investing in Chinese AI company SenseTime as part of broader human rights sanctions.
Also, recently, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission finalized rules that would allow it to delist foreign firms that refused to open up its
books to U.S. regulators.
But then, Julia, at the same time, on the China side, Beijing is also making moves that makes it seem like it's discouraging Chinese companies
from listing overseas. Didi, China's ride-hailing giant has become the poster child of that. Didi is going to delist from the New York Stock
Exchange after facing immense regulatory pressure from China. Julia?
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. Didi, SenseTime, TickTick, watch this please.
Selina Wang, thank you for that.
OK. Let me bring up to speed now with some of the other stories making headlines around the world.
At least 59 people have died in Haiti's second largest city after a gasoline tanker exploded on Monday night. Officials say dozens of people
are injured and have been taken to the hospital. Rescue efforts are ongoing. And the death toll is expected to rise.
At least 88 people have lost their lives in five U.S. states after a tornado outbreak struck this weekend. Kentucky has reported 74 deaths
alone, and officials fear the number will continue to rise. Emergency crews have been digging through piles of debris searching for those that remain
A powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck off the eastern coast of Indonesia, sending nervous residents out into the streets, and triggering
tsunami warnings which were later discontinued. At least 15 aftershocks have be reported. There were no reports of serious damage or injuries.
Still to come.
On the ground with Omicron, the head of South Africa's largest private hospital group on what he's learning about the variant.
And faking a face. I speak to the creator of the humanoid robot that can mimic your expressions.
That's all coming up. Stay with us.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to FIRST MOVE.
The U.S. stock market futures pointing to a softer open with the S&P 500 set to ease further from records. Nervousness as the Federal Reserve meets
today to discuss the state of stimulus after a hotter than expected read on factory level prices.
A swifter end to the Federal Reserve's bond buying seems to be priced in but there's wariness over the Central Bank's timetable then for future
interest rate rises. The riskiest parts of the market that have benefitted the most from ample Federal Reserve support were harder hit on Monday.
Meme names, if you remember, like GameStop and AMC cinemas falling 13 percent or more to levels not seen since the spring.
Travel stocks also pulled back sharply on continued Omicron variant concerns.
Banks and financials also pulling back from recent highs, too. Concern, I think, that the economic growth might weaken next year.
We have also seen longer term bond yields. Bond interest rates have also been pressured amid 2022 growth concerns.
Now, we return to the latest on the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
A large scale South African study suggests Omicron is easier to catch than previous variants, but less likely to cause hospitalization. The study also
indicates that Omicron is better at evading the Pfizer vaccine.
Now my next guest has witnessed the impact of the Omicron wave on South Africa firsthand. He operates the country's largest private hospital group.
And joining us now is Richard Friedland. He's the CEO of Netcare.
Richard, great to have you on the show.
Let's talk about that study first, if I may. Your thoughts on some of the findings there.
RICHARD FRIEDLAND, CEO, NETCARE: Well, many of those findings corroborate what we have seen, Julia, across our network of some 49 hospitals, and
10,000 hospital beds, and more than 60 primary care centers across South Africa.
Thus far, and it is very early days, our data over the last 30 days indicates that we are seeing a very mild to moderate form of COVID-19. Many
of the cases are asymptomatic. There is a small cohort of more elderly patients with comorbidities that are being hospitalized, but don't yet have
evidence that this variant is causing the severe disease, which really results in hospitalization and potential death.
CHATTERLEY: What proportion of those that are being admitted, Richard, are Omicron now versus Delta?
FRIEDLAND: Interestingly enough, the vast majority are now Omicron.
FRIEDLAND: It does look like this virus is fit and robust. And has become the predominant variant taking over from the Delta variant here in South
CHATTERLEY: And what about adults versus children in terms of admissions.
FRIEDLAND: So, we've seen a few interesting things around admissions, if I may mention them.
FRIEDLAND: Firstly, in the first three waves, as we saw a rise in community transmission, we saw in tandem, a rise in hospital admissions, and patients
coming into our hospitals were desperately ill.
Let me give you an example.
In our first three waves, we treated 126,000 patients of which 44 percent of them had to be admitted to hospital, and 26 percent of those patients
required ICU. Every one of the patients we admitted required oxygen. We're not seeing that at the moment.
And at the moment, even though community transmission is in the 20 and 30 percent in certain provinces, we have seen very low hospital admissions and
only about one in five patients requiring any form of oxygen, which tells us that thus far, and it is early days, this does appear to be mild and
moderate. And obviously there might be reasons for that.
CHATTERLEY: So, for those that are the most severely ill is it perhaps comorbidities or are you unable to say at this point? Can we directly point
to the severity of COVID, and say these people are severely ill with COVID or it's the other things that they're suffering from that perhaps are key
part of how severely they're ill, particularly if we're not seeing, to your point, level of oxygen demand that we have seen with previous waves.
FRIEDLAND: Yes. And I think you raise the quintessential question. Because I think this is what we know. We know it's highly transmissible. It's 4.2
times more transmissible than Delta. We know it's a robust virus, and it's taking over from Delta in terms of being the most predominant virus. We
know it's causing mild or moderate disease, but the question is, is it the virus itself that is not that virulent or deadly, that isn't causing the
severe disease or is it because of high levels of underlying immunity in South Africa.
FRIEDLAND: Either through previous infections and/or vaccination, and I think at this stage, that's the big question. Is that underlying immunity
that's preventing severe disease or is the virus itself less severe.
CHATTERLEY: And what proportion of people then that are being admitted at this stage or that you're seeing have been vaccinated?
FRIEDLAND: So, about 73 percent of the cases we've admitted are unvaccinated, but many of them are young children and adolescents who
ordinarily wouldn't have been vaccinated by this stage. So, at the moment, it's touting towards mainly unvaccinated people.
Certainly, in the deaths that we've seen, and we have only had a mortality rate, and I say only every life is precious, and every death is a tragedy.
But we only ever had a mortality rate of about 1.7 percent versus up to 20 percent in the previous waves. The majority of those cases have been
So, it does point to the fact that vaccines do protect all-natural immunity. We're not sure which is responsible but certainly it has an
CHATTERLEY: Yeah, I know it's difficult as well when this is all an anecdotal as well. But again, of those that are coming in and seeing you,
do you have a sense of those that have already had some form of COVID?
FRIEDLAND: Yes. We certainly take that history and the study that came out this morning said that double dose of the Pfizer vaccine will give you a 70
percent protection against the severe disease or being admitted to hospital for the severe form of the disease. Whereas only give you a 33 percent
protection against the mild disease.
There was a study done here in the Gauteng, it's the large -- most populous province of South Africa that said up to 72 percent of people have
antibodies or have immunity against COVID-19. And this may be playing a role in why we're seeing a very mild to moderate disease at the moment.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah, this is so important to understand. And I want to just circle back to the point that you were making about the younger people that
are being admitted and less proportion of people at that younger age points that have been vaccinated.
Do you think that's what perhaps is leading to the skew towards younger people rather than them perhaps being more at risk of this latest variant,
FRIEDLAND: We're seeing a lot of children and adolescents coming in, but honestly, we're seeing something we've never seen before. The only
admissions we ever had that were COVID positive in the past were very sick patients.
We're now seeing, Julia, a cohort of patients who don't require oxygen. We call those incidental cases of COVID. They have come in for other medical
or surgical procedures. They have come in for emergencies. They have come in for obstetric procedures or to give birth and we happened to discover
that they are COVID positive.
And I think this is causing the large proportion of number of COVID cases in our hospital. You know, as we stand, we only have 16 patients in our
ICUs that are ventilated. That is a fraction of the number of cases we have. It's 3 percent. In our first three waves, 24 or 25 percent of our
cases were being ventilated. And I think it just talks to the lack of severity certainly at the moment.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah, I guess the only challenge to this is the -- how rapidly it spreads, so even today where you've only got on a relative basis
compared to previous waves so few people in the ICU, as this thing continues to spread, the risk is that those numbers increase just by sheer
Richard, I know it's difficult to predict at this stage, but are you confident that your medical staff can handle this wave and handle it far
better based on what you're seeing today compared to other waves.
FRIEDLAND: I think we have brought a lot of experience from the previous three waves, but as we have all learned to -- we know very little about
COVID-19 and the textbook is still being written. And so, we may be surprised but the early indications are pointing to a fact that a large
majority of cases can be treated at a primary care level as opposed to a hospital level.
And certainly, if this trend were to continue, I think we're well positioned to deal with this pandemic. It's early days. We've only been in
it for 30 days. And it's now spreading to the other provinces. But if this trend does continue, I certainly believe that we'll be able to deal with it
more adequately than we did with the first three very virulent waves.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. There's hope certainly in that. And we pray for those that are severely ill and pray for their recovery.
Richard, great to have you with. Thank you to you and all your staff that are now working hard to keep people safe.
Richard Friedland there, the CEO of Netcare. Sir, thank you.
FRIEDLAND: Thank you.
CHATTERLEY: We'll be back after this. Stay with us.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to FIRST MOVE.
U.S. markets are up and running this Tuesday. And it's a cautious picture for U.S. stocks with the major averages falling for a second straight day.
We're still only around 1 1/2 percent away from all-time highs. So, perspective on this is important, but markets remain vulnerable to lots of
The U.S. reporting a scorching hot read on U.S. factory level inflation today. Producer prices soaring almost 10 percent on a year over year basis
last month. And that certainly impacted sentiment this morning.
It's also the last big piece of economic data before the Fed begins its last two-day policy meeting of the year today. How will they decide to act?
That is the question.
Now, for most businesses, the challenge of high prices, managing COVID, supply chain disruptions, keeping customers happy and investing for growth
is more than enough.
Back office work, like IT infrastructure, payrolls, taxes and payments to and from suppliers is an essential part of the business but it's also a
burden. And that's where Tipalti, Hebrew for we handled it comes in.
The Israeli firm claims it eliminates around 80 percent of the typical workload for its clients. And they are of all shapes and sizes but include
big names like Amazon, Roku, Twitter, and Roblox.
And joining us now, cofounder and CEO of Tipalti, Chen Amit.
Chen, fantastic to have you on the show. It's a hugely neglected parts of the business. Because one, I think, it's not sexy. But two, it's not
obviously productive, whether it's customer reach or growth investment as I mentioned there in the introduction. And so, it gets sidelined. But it's a
crucial part of the business, and you're monetizing it.
CHEN AMIT, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, TIPALTI: Yeah, I think that's kind of the magic in what we're doing. It was neglected for so long and it's a huge
market. It's around a million customers worldwide that need the solution, completely under served. 95 percent of that population has no solution
whatsoever. They use e-mail, and Excel, and manually writing checks and such. And that's the opportunity for us. That's what got the investors
excited. We have a leadership position and are executing to grow as fast as we can into this market.
CHATTERLEY: Let's tip that statistic on its head. So, what you're saying is, and you can describe the kind of customers beyond the big names that I
mentioned that are already using your services. Just 5 percent of these businesses are actually trying to improve their automation, and to
outsource this to tackle it more efficiently.
AMIT: Yeah, we tackle a tricky part of the market.
I think it's a little bit easier in a way to serve small businesses. It's a little bit easier in a way to serve very large businesses where you can
deploy a lot of resources. We tackle high growth, mid-market and high growth companies, they are tricky because they have complex needs already.
The absolute - the finest departments want to act at a similar level to that of larger enterprises but in a mid-market company they will never get
the resources to do that, and that's why they do it manually.
So, you need to have irritably broad solution to serve them. You need to be irritably deep because they are already somewhat complex, these
organizations, but it needs to be really simple, and making it really simple is hard work.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah, you asked for the budget to attack some of these things, and they go, whoa, that's way too expensive.
How much does it cost to get these kinds of services for the average medium sized businesses? And I know that's a difficult thing. Because there's
obviously a medium sized business could be many things. But I did read around 3/4 of the companies that you even go to and pitch your services
for, no one else is pitching them to your point about this being a tricky segment. Is it out there on your own, and they're offering you services?
AMIT: Yeah. Actually, an anecdote, one of our customers when we asked them after implementation if there was any frustration in the process, they said
their frustration was that they couldn't find anyone else to bid for the -- request or proposal.
CHATTERLEY: Yes. Good for you.
AMIT: And I was happy that that was their frustration. Yeah.
What's nice about Tipalti is that most of our revenue comes from transactions and currency conversion which are tied to the success, ebbs
and lows of the business. If a customer is growing fast, then they will succeed more, and we will succeed with them. If like some of our customers
under COVID, we're under pressure, so they obviously pay us less because we do less for them. So, I think that's a real cool aspect of our pricing is
that when you're more successful, that's great. When you're less successful, it will cost you less.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah, and if you get your currency exchanges or remain unhedged wrong, you can lose a lot of money unnecessarily as well. I'm sure you have
been discussing crypto and block chain technologies. Just when I hear payments and I hear exchanges like that, suddenly my ears pick up. What
kind of demand, if any, at this stage are you hearing from these kinds of businesses for those kinds of services?
AMIT: Yeah, the quick answer is zero. No demand whatsoever. That's the short answer, the longer answer is that crypto is really at the moment --
and when I say at the moment, I mean since I started looking at 2011, so for the last 10 years, crypto is really an asset class or a currency or
commodity, it's not commonly used to transact. We are in the business of transacting, of paying people. That's less of the use case of crypto. For
now, maybe NFT, maybe metaverse, other drivers will trigger a crypto change gears - switch gears. For now, there's really no demand for the reason I
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. But if they ask, one day you'll provide it. It's just at this stage, no demand. You're raising money successfully in the private
markets, I know, and I have seen you make comments about a future potential listing. But actually, what interested me most about some recent comments
that you made is that you mentioned hiring lots of people, but you have not physically met around half of your work force.
And I know this is more and more recent due to COVID, so a lot of people are struggling with this in high growth businesses but how do you make that
work when you don't have that kind of physical touch with people that are so critical to your business, particularly a huge growth space?
AMIT: On one hand, evidently with the fundraising, evaluation, everything, we're doing something right, we're successful, we're growing the business.
But I agree with you, like it hurts. For the first time in I think 15 months, the executive team, we meet quarterly, for the first time in 15
months, we met together in person a couple of months ago.
The experience was completely different than all those Zoom meetings. Zoom meetings can be efficient but you're missing out on so many, you know,
these interactions, these chitchats, these whispering in the ear and all of that that enriches discussion. So, I'm eager, eager to go back in meeting
my team. It hurts me that when I don't, and whenever there's a window of COVID remission.
I try to work with offices in many places, I'm looking forward to these opportunities. I travel as much as I can.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah, it resonated with me just the need for innovation and to all be in the room and that touch point for me is something certainly I
miss. So, it's interesting to hear your perspective on that, too. Come back and talk to us soon, please. As always, many more questions, but we shall
Chen, great to chat to you. The co-founder and CEO of Tipalti there.
AMIT: Thank you very much.
CHATTERLEY: Thank you, sir.
OK. And some breaking news now just in, to CNN, the British health minister has just announced his country will be removing all 11 countries from the
red travel list. The countries are all in Africa and were added to the list after the Omicron variant was detected last month.
Here's Sajid Javid making the announcement in the House of Commons just moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAJID JAVID, BRITISH HEALTH SECRETARY: Now that there is community transmission of Omicron in the UK, and Omicron has spread so widely --
widely across the world, the travel red list is now less effective in slowing the incursion of Omicron from abroad. So, I can announce today that
whilst we'll maintain our temporary testing measures for international travel, we will be removing all eleven countries from the travel red list
effective from 4:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHATTERLEY: The people arriving from red list countries have to isolate at their own expense for 10 days. Critics have said the red list was punitive
against African nations and didn't help prevent the spread of the variant. We'll watch for other nations to follow suit perhaps in the coming days.
Coming up after the break, another company taking humans out of the equation.
Once, Elon Musk warned about an AI apocalypse. Now, a British firm making life like robots is on his radar. All the details after the break.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to FIRST MOVE.
And prepare for your jaw to hit the floor. Take a look at this video of a robot waking up. This went viral and prompted a response even from Elon
This robot is called Ameca and we'll go and show at the consumer electronics show, CES, next month. It's made by a UK firm and costs around
Now, here's the scary bit, if that price isn't scary. It's life like silicon skin is wrapped around a metal and plastic bolly with motors to
They're made to draw crowds at the exhibitions and trade shows, but also a platform for potential AI developers. This one is called Mesmer. Elon Musk
says he wants to build a humanoid prototype called a Tesla Bot. Well, in a response to a video Musk didn't mince his words, tweeting real androids are
Now Will Jackson is founder and CEO of Engineered Arts and joins us now.
Will, when I watched this video, I was blown away by the facial expressions, just explain the technology piece behind what you've created.
WILL JACKSON, FOUNDER AND CEO, ENGINEERED ARTS: Yeah. With Ameca, what we're trying to do is use the full capacity of the human face for
communication, so it's about recreating all the expressions, the small nuances, wink of an eye, bat of an eyelid, the ways that we communicate
nonverbally, so not just talking, but using all of these subtle gestures.
CHATTERLEY: It's astonishing, even just the hand movements as well and the surprise and then the almost joy that it seems to display. I mean, I read
that you have cameras, depth sensors, you slide out technology. Is it motion sensor? I still think of the movie "Avatar." How exactly are you
creating those movements? What's the stimuli?
JACKSON: OK. So, there are a number of actually simple programs that build up the movement that you see. So, the very simplest level is just to do
with the way the eyelids move in relation to where the eyes are. Within the eyes are two cameras, so we're running computer vision there that can
detect faces, expressions, it can do estimation of what your expression is, are you happy, are you sad. We can also do gender, age estimation, so the
robot knows quite a lot about you. That doesn't mean it's -- it's not thinking. It's basically using this stimulus to execute different parts of
its computer code.
CHATTERLEY: So, can it mimic you. So, if I walked up to it and smiled, is it clever enough to smile at me or smile back.
JACKSON: Yes, it will. So, one of the things we were just working on actually this morning is just also looking at hand gestures, so what does
it mean you know when I wave, when I point, there are all kinds of hand gestures I won't make. You know, went to the robot, take offense, what's a
friendly gesture, what's not.
There are so many rapid advances in computer vision, we're able to rollover these things into the robot. What many people don't have who are
researching in the area is a platform to work on. So, you know, if you troll around YouTube, you'll find some fantastic machine learning examples
but generally it's always done with simulations. It's not done in the real world.
So, what we wanted to bring to that was a real physical presence. I would liken it to -- you can go and see "Jaws" at the movies, or you could swim
in the sea with a shark. It's a completely different experience when you're up close with a real robot.
CHATTERLEY: Wow. I mean some of these things are astonishing, and it makes no surprise, I think, to my viewers to know that some of your customers
include Madame Tussauds, but among them to "National Geographic," Facebook, NASA.
I mean you've got some incredibly high-profile customers. When you're talking to me about the prospect of being able to identify certain
characteristics of individuals that the eyes see as well, suddenly my ears pick up and I did read that you said you'll never work with governments.
And I think I'm sort of answering my own question here, but why?
JACKSON: We do work with governments. We just don't work on defense.
JACKSON: So just to clarify there.
JACKSON: We have a little internal saying which is make people laugh, not make them cry. Or if they do cry, make it in a good way. So, I personally
believe that the compelling reason to make a humanoid robot is for human interaction.
It's about talking to people. It's about expressing. It's about understanding expressions. It's basically a portal to the digital domain,
so imagine there's been a lot of talk about the metaverse, imagine you've got a character in the metaverse and you can come out of that metaverse and
inhabit a humanoid robot in a remote place, a place maybe you have never been. So, these are the kind of possibilities we're interested in. We're
not interested really in the defense military possibilities.
CHATTERLEY: I've got visions of myself now appearing at a meeting in robotic form, and its facial expressions mirroring my own. Something
slightly less expressive. I'll get myself into trouble.
Let's talk about Tesla Bot. It's because obviously Elon Musk responded to one of your videos, yikes, you have expressed an interest in working with
him perhaps in some of this technology being used.
If Elon is watching, what would you like to say to him?
JACKSON: Hello. So, yeah, of course, huge admirer of Elon Musk, for one person to achieve all the engineering feats that Elon Musk has achieved is
just, just breathtaking. So, we would quite - you know we all sat up in our chairs and paid attention when we saw the Tesla Bot video go out. A little
bit disappointed to see a man dressed up in the robot suit for the launch back there.
So, we think, you know, we have been working on humanoid robots for 15 years. We have worked on biped and walking robots. We've worked on
expressive gesturing robots. So, really, we're just very enthusiastic about the project.
It is a little bit hard to see exactly what the commercial use case would be within Tesla because I don't really see much of a use case for utility
tasks. If you're going to build cars or something like that, an industrial robot is probably your best choice.
I think where these kinds of robots really, really work well is where you have a large number of people. So, a crowded museum, shopping mall, sports
events, airport terminals, I think these are the kind of areas where a humanoid robot can work really well.
CHATTERLEY: TV anchors maybe one day she says, hoping to stay in bed, just one day. Just one day. One of your quotes give us 10 percent of your budget
and we'll see if we can beat you to it. That's my challenge to Elon Musk. Can you beat Elon Musk, do you think at this world modestly?
JACKSON: Well, I think you always need competition for a team. So, if you're putting a team together, the last thing you want to do is give them
unlimited budget and tell them, you know, there's nobody else to race against. So, we're quite happy to be the person to race against.
Of course, you've got some really great other competition. There's fantastic robots from Boston Dynamics and other companies. Boston Dynamics
tends to focus on mobility. So, it's all about movement. Locomotion, we're more about expression and interaction, so I would say that's the difference
there. But we would just -- we love working on humanoid bots.
CHATTERLEY: A gentleman there shouting out for the competition as well, a supremely confident one. We'll let our viewers decide.
Great to have you with us. Come back soon, please.
Will Jackson, founder and CEO of Engineered Arts. Thank you.
OK. Coming up on FIRST MOVE.
It's that most wonderful time of the year if you happen to belong in energy, tech and other Wall Street winners, the stocks you want to meet
under the mistletoe, and those that have lost lots of dough. Next.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to FIRST MOVE.
And it's that time of year once again where Santa checks its list of stocks that have been both naughty or nice.
It's a good year for markets overall. But a lot of grinches to make us grumble too.
Paul La Monica joins me now.
Paul, let's go naughty first, please.
PAUL LA MONICA, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Do you want to talk about the lumps of Paul, if you will?
LA MONICA: Yeah, casino stocks have had a rough go. Pen national gaming, one of the worst performers in the S&P 500, Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts.
I think a lot of that, Julia, has to do with all the competition in you know online sports betting, you know, from the likes of DraftKings, and
what have you. That, I think, is hurting. But also, you know, concerns about travel. I don't think people have flocked back to Vegas or Macau for
that matter, and that's hurting the casino companies too.
CHATTERLEY: And let's talk about nice, not nice in terms of higher prices for gas costs and petrol costs around the world but great if you're an
energy stock investor.
LA MONICA: Yeah, the top stock in the S&P 500, Devon Energy, you know, in oil and gas company, you've got other big oil firms like Marathon Petroleum
and Diamondback Energy which has my favorite ticker, Julia, because it literally is a bank stock. Its ticker is F-A-N-G, you know talking about
the Diamondback snakes. That's your FANG winner, forget about Facebook or meta and all those other tech companies. FANG is the way to go if you want
to be a winner this year.
CHATTERLEY: It's a fake FANG, and now is fang is mang, isn't it, because of meta.
LA MONICA: Yes. I think - and I think some people are talking about you know mana as well to replace Nvidia. Yes, exactly. We got to stay with
CHATTERLEY: I'm being told to shut up. And tell you what, Ameca, the robot, I don't know whether you saw that Paul. At least Ameca would shut up when
told. I'm being told again.
Paul La Monica, great to chat to you as always.
LA MONICA: But Elon Musk would not, probably.
CHATTERLEY: You are completely right. Now really, I'm getting it.
That's it for the show. Stay safe.
"Connect the World" is up next. And I'll see you tomorrow, maybe.