S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership.
S2: Hello, welcome to the cloud discussion of Slate Money, your guide to the business and Finance News of the Week.
S3: I’m Felix Salmon of Axios. I’m here with Emily Peck of Huff Post. Hi. I’m here with Anna Shamansky of Breakingviews. Hello. And we are coming to you from some podcast hosting service in the cloud. There was a very good chance that you are streaming this podcast as I speak. And we are going to talk all about these cloud services this week. The news is that Salesforce, the company that more or less invented this whole concept of cloud services, has bought slack, which if you use it, you probably use every day, all the time. We are also going to talk about the Nasdaq, the stock exchange, which has a big board diversity push going. We are going to talk about Amazon and its massive hiring spree. And we also have a Slate plus segment about movies and whether we are ever going to go back to movie theaters. All that coming up on Slate Money. I feel like I have spent most of this pandemic on slack in one way or another, it is become my life. Emily, you’re nodding you all of us, like all day, all night is just consumed you in the way that it has many of us.
S4: Yeah. Slack has always been a big part of my work life and definitely in the pandemic that has doubled because all the little incidental conversations and office gossip and random complaining that I typically do has moved completely over to slack from in-person communication. And I suspect that’s the same for most workers who are using slack. You’re just using it a lot more.
S3: And UNOPS is is breaking views on Slack know. Are you on Microsoft, on Microsoft team.
S1: Are on Microsoft teams. Yes.
S3: Wow. OK, so you can see where we’re going with this. Right. Is the news of the week. The big news of the week is that slack, which was this rocket ship, enterprise software company. I never quite know what an enterprise software company is. It apparently is an enterprise software company. This mortgage company, which took the tech world by storm, was basically beaten by this product called Microsoft Teams, which is loved by no one. And eventually this week wound up announcing that it was selling itself to Salesforce because apparently you need to be part of a massive, massive organization like Microsoft or Salesforce if you want to have any hope in getting big organizations like Thomson Reuters to buy you and it that more or less what happened.
S1: Yeah, I think that that is somewhat what happened. And I think from Salesforce side, they are also looking at this and that is a bit of a defensive move because they can see Microsoft being helped by having teams. And when people use teams, that then also means they’re using a lot of other Microsoft products. So that may be another one of the reasons that from Salesforce aside, why this looks attractive.
S3: So, Emily, given how ubiquitous slack is in our lives, do you understand why it has kind of failed to be everywhere for everyone? Why is it that it is everywhere for us and not everywhere for everyone? Is it a media thing?
S4: Yeah, I was thinking about this, Felix, because you posed the question in your newsletter, even though you’d think in the pandemic slack would have exploded and so many people would have started using it. And like I just said, I have been using it more. It hasn’t exploded the way Zoom has. Zoom use has gone crazy. Zoom has really thrived in the pandemic. And I think the difference is or one of the differences is that Zoom is something that was used by everyone outside of the weird world of enterprise software, outside of companies and outside of work. People have been using Zoom and all kinds of ways outside the work world. Like my family uses Zoom, many people’s families are using Zoom to do like holidays and events and people are using it to do funerals. And, you know, there is press conferences on Zoome and there’s that horrid word, webinars on zoom and zoom. Zoom. Zoom has just had more universal pick up than Slack has, just really hasn’t gotten to the mainstream the same way that Zoom has in the pandemic.
S3: And I think that’s part of the reason why it got gobbled up in a bunch of WhatsApp groups on a bunch of text threads. I have a bunch of groups of people that talk to each other and most of them are not on slack. If I were to go to my cousins in Germany and say, hey, can we move off this WhatsApp group and can we all just move on to slack because it’s a pretty product or something. They would all look at me like I had seven heads. And I think that is one of the big differences between black and Zoom, like in principle is has the same model. Right. You can download it for free. You can use it for free. You can set up a little family select group if that’s what you’re inclined to do. But in practice, people don’t do that. I am in a handful of different groups. I’m in select groups with friends which are fun. But that is not a super common use case in the way that having a quick sort of celebratory birthday Zoome during a pandemic. I think everyone has experienced that.
S1: Yeah. I mean, I also think that going into the pandemic, people had, as you said, they were using WhatsApp. They’re using all of these other tools, have been using them for years to communicate with people. But people didn’t already had set up channels of video communication. Like that’s something that really only started for normal people outside of companies with the pandemic. So then it makes sense why Zoom could gain all this market share, whereas something like Slack is not going to be able to.
S3: And the other. Thing which I have learned about back in the day or so since my newsletter came out is that a lot of people really hate it. It was incredibly popular in the early days when it took off among early adopter techie types who really loved the product and who loved how they could plug in all manner of plug ins and use it to do very powerful things. But it turns out that just normal folks who work in offices really don’t like the way that it kind of takes over your life and. Intrudes on your work life there, like I actually have a workflow and it is incredibly distracting and unhelpful and I don’t want to be looking at gifts all day. And what I think the advantage that Microsoft has is that it isn’t fun. Microsoft teams is not a fun experience where people love to goof off and play around. It is just another random work tool, like Word or Excel or even Windows for that matter, which you just have to use because that’s what you use at work and it doesn’t feel as intrusive in the same way. But tell me, because you’re the person who uses it. How do you feel about it?
S1: Yeah, I mean, I don’t dislike teams as much as I dislike teams a few months ago now that I’ve kind of figured out for the most part how it works. But I do think that the one annoying thing about teams and I imagine is the same with Slack, is that when you’re sent an email, you can respond to that email or you can respond to that email later. If somebody sends you something on teams, you feel like you have to respond in that moment or you’re being rude. It’s like somebody tapping you on the shoulder and you’re like not looking and responding. And I will say that that is not always great. Now, sometimes that is definitely a benefit, especially in the media where you’re working on tight deadlines. It can be useful if you need to get somebody very quickly, but it can also be frustrating.
S3: Yeah, it’s very difficult in slack or in teams to differentiate between. This is incredibly urgent. We need to do this now. And here’s a stupid joke that I dropped into the channel because, you know, we’re having fun here, especially when a single channel can be used for both purposes, which, you know, they should be like. It’s important to lighten things up occasionally. It can be very difficult to try and get your mind in the right space. And if you’re trying to concentrate on work and not be distracted, both of these products are suboptimal. And on some level, I think that the post pandemic life, once the pandemic has gone away and people start going back into offices again, one of the things that people will love to be able to do is really use these things much less. And they might well be associated with like, oh, remember that terrible software that annoyed me so much during the pandemic. I’m so bad. I don’t need to use that anymore.
S1: I don’t know about that. I, I think that people certainly will use these things less for the obvious reason that they will be in a room with other people. But I think that these habits have been pretty ingrained. And also before the pandemic, we were being pushed to use teams more and more. And I think that has been happening at a lot of companies. So as everyone says, with everything in this crisis, I think it has accelerated something that was already happening.
S4: I would add that the reason Slack was just sold for so many billions of dollars is because it is the rare piece of enterprise software office work software that’s actually pretty good and and intuitive and easy to use. I remember at Huff Post first we went to a product called Campfire that I guess didn’t really take off, and then we moved to slack. But it was so much more productive to talk to your team on Slack versus what we had been doing before, which was like an amalgam of like emails and chats and this and that. It was truly a breakthrough product for our workplace. And I think it’s this business model, black hat and a few other software products where it’s like people in the office start using it on their own and then you kind of force the manager to buy the product. And that was like Slack’s innovation. But it’s also its limitation because at the end of the day, the I.T. officer and the the people at the top of the organization, they’re going to go with the product that is bundled with all the other products, even if it’s like the crappier product. So this is kind of like the best thing in a way that could happen to slack.
S3: Yes. So the great advantage of teams and the reason why teams is now so much more popular has massively overtaken slack is simply that it is perceived by. Senior management to be, quote unquote, free, now, nothing is ever free, but the fact is that if you have an enterprise license for office, then teams comes with it so you don’t need to pay. And so if you’re if you’re on the sales team and someone’s like, why should I pay for slack when I get teams for free, it’s hard to come up with a compelling answer. Teams integrates into the office we already have, and it doesn’t involve paying more money and maybe at the margin it is a slightly prettier and better design products. But corporations don’t love paying money for pretty and better design.
S1: Definitely. Bloomberg has certainly taught us that.
S4: The other thing Shira Ovid pointed out at New York Times, which is just so true, is like the client for a product like slacker teams is not even the person that really is using it that much at the company like Slack. And teams are selling to these I.T. managers and to these senior executives who are making decisions about about products that they aren’t really the end user for, which in the end gives you a worse product like email, for example. I remember the bad old days when I was at the Journal and I had to use Microsoft Outlook for email. And it was you know, I didn’t know that there was a better world out there. But then when I finally got to her first, we started using Gmail and I was like, oh, this is this is the brave new world. And then I had learned that when the company was bought by whatever big company bought it, first AOL, they had to beg to use Gmail because the big corporate overlords wanted outlook. And it was like a whole struggle. And it’s always it seems like it’s always a struggle to use the most user friendly stuff at these big corporations. They want to steer you into the wonkiest, worst software products that are out there.
S3: I remember when I worked at Condé Nast and even before that I worked for a couple of companies where you got your email address and then they gave you a certain amount of email, like a quota of email. And then every so often you would get these rude automated messages saying, like, you have reached your quota for the amount of email you allowed to have. Please start deleting lots of emails. And you’re like, how is this a productive use of my time? But they were like, oh, no, we can’t allow you to use more than X gigabytes of space. Space is expensive. It was insane.
S1: Well, two things. One, I say every job I’ve basically ever had, I’ve used outlook for work, email, and I actually vastly prefer outlook out on a limb and say that I can’t stand Gmail. But I would also say that we are still seeing a lot of companies saying that you can’t keep like all of your emails. So they will still put limits. But now I don’t think it has as much to do with cost as it does with security, that it’s better to just say, OK, everybody, you can only keep three months worth of emails. Everything else just gets deleted her.
S3: I will say the one thing I like about the move into the cloud is that the front end and the back end have been disconnected. You can use Gmail to check your outlook email. You can use Outlook to check your Gmail, whatever kind of front end you prefer you can use and whatever back. And the company prefers that you can use and they don’t need to match anymore. And that is a great leap forward.
S4: Do we need to talk about Salesforce at all? Because I saw a lot of chatter on Twitter about what is Salesforce? What the heck does it do? I don’t even know what it does. What is CRM? What is A. S all these weird words?
S3: Let’s do it. What is what is CRM and what is SaaS? Because Salesforce is interesting in that it. Basically invented. SAS, the cloud, all of these things that are now ubiquitous, it kind of got there first. It really was the first company to sell software as a service rather than as a program that you just download and buy for a fixed amount of money. That was its great innovation and it’s done very well about that. And now the software it developed was known as CRM, which stands for customer relationship management. It’s basically a way of if you’re selling anything to anyone, you want to know who you’re selling stuff to and what they have bought and all of the different ways in which they have had contact with your company in one place. And so that’s why you need CRM software to deal with that. And Salesforce makes that CRM software, and it has since expanded from that core CRM product into a whole bunch of other things to the point at which it is now beginning to compete with Microsoft. And so that’s why it bought so that it could compete with teams. Both Salesforce and Microsoft sell massive suites of software to large corporations, and Microsoft has really adopted the Salesforce model. Now, you can’t pay for Microsoft Word and just download it and use it forever like you used to be able to. It’s now software as a service. You pay them a monthly amount per user per month, and that’s how all software works. And Salesforce is really ahead of the game on that.
S4: Yeah, and I think this purchase of Slack, like you said, was a way to compete against Microsoft. But it’s worth pointing out that at one point Microsoft was considering buying Salesforce or Salesforce was pitching itself to Microsoft for purchase. And it never kind of worked out. And the relationship between the two companies, someone described them as basically frenemies. And this is, I think, important component of what’s going on here.
S3: It’s very common in Silicon Valley. It’s like the relationship between Google and Apple, you know. Yes, frenemies. Let’s talk about Nasdaq, Emily, this is right up your alley. They just came out and said that seventy five percent of the companies that are listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange don’t have what they call to divest directors, basically one who is a woman and one who takes various other boxes, like being gay or a person of color, which is, you’d think, a pretty small lift. But apparently the vast majority of Nasdaq companies have failed to get even that far in terms of diversity. What do you make of this and what do you make of the proposed solution to this problem?
S4: Their proposed solution is it’s kind of squishy. They’re asking all the companies. Thirty two hundred or so companies on the Nasdaq to produce reports about diversity on their boards. And if they can’t do that, they have to explain why. They’re also saying companies should have at least to like Felix, that two diverse directors on the board, one woman, one from an underrepresented group. And obviously this can overlap. Right? We know about intersectionality here. It’s slate money.
S3: You can have like a woman of color, but that’s still only one slot. You still need to like warm bodies on the board.
S5: Yeah, you can’t double, I think I mean, this is very much on trend. We know California has a law now that requires gender diversity on boards. We know that Goldman won’t take your company public anymore if you don’t have a woman on your board of directors.
S4: So I think this is you know, it’s like the next logical step that’s going to happen. And obviously not, obviously. But I do think it’s a it’s a good thing. I mean, a lot of people will say quotas are bad because then, you know, whoever gets chosen, whatever woman or person of color gets chosen for the board is going to be seen as kind of like a token or and there might be some of that. But I think sometimes you have to push hard to get diversity, especially in this world, this little exclusive corner that’s so powerful of corporate America. So I think it’s generally a good thing. And then there’s going to be pushback from places that already its editorial page already wrote some snarky thing about the quote unquote, WOAK Nasdaq. And people are going to complain that this is like tyranny. But I mean, the proposal from Nasdaq is pretty gentle. If you don’t if you don’t do this, you have to just explain why. It’s not like if you don’t do this, you’re automatically out of of the Nasdaq. It’s like it’s more gentle than that. Plus, the SEC still has to sign off on this.
S3: So the question which I have is, from what you might say, like a public policy point of view, it is very easy to see why this would be a good idea. And we’ve seen, as you say, precedent across Europe and in California and places like that. On the other hand, it does feel weird to me that the entity pushing this and effectively mandating it on some level is a private stock exchange rather than any kind of public institution. It’s not any kind of government that the stock exchange is just saying, like, this is what we want. And you and with the very express intention of trying to push companies into doing what it wants and. That sort of puzzles, I wouldn’t say concerns, but like is weird to me, like, is that really the job of a private stock exchange to be one private stock exchange is to have that kind of power?
S1: I think I’d rather have it coming from private companies than necessarily a government mandate. And I think that in the United States, which is not really have a history of loving government mandates and has always had some suspicions about so much government power, it’s not surprising to me that we’re starting to get these more from private companies as opposed to the government.
S4: Also, don’t Nasdaq and other exchanges, don’t they have all kinds of requirements for the companies that list with them? Why not have, though?
S1: They certainly do. They certainly do. And this would also be, you know, in a way, it’s kind of a public private because the SEC also would have to sign off on this and look, private companies or private companies, they can have whatever requirements they want that are legal. I think that when you start to have federal mandates, I’m not saying that at some point we might not need them. We might, but I just think people may actually bristle less at it when it comes from a private company.
S3: What do you think, Emily? The effect of this is going to be assuming that the SEC signs off on this? And I don’t think that’s a safe assumption. I think it will be non-trivial to get this passed the FCC. But assuming they do say it’s OK and assuming that the Nasdaq does implement it, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a very large number of companies do exactly what the Nasdaq would like them to do, which is start hiring more diverse directors. Do you understand that mechanism? Do you understand why they would start hiring more diverse directors and why they haven’t done so until now? But this change is the thing that would make them do it.
S4: I think I understand why they haven’t. Some companies haven’t hired more diverse directors. First, it’s good to point out that the biggest companies in the US have done this Amazon, Apple, Google, they’re all good. But this is not going to change anything at those companies. But there are these laggards. And I mean, it’s not a hard thing to figure out. These are most companies are still run mostly by white men. And when you’re looking for people on your board, you turn to the people you kind of know and you turn to CEOs. Most CEOs are white men. So it’s sort of like self-perpetuating kind of thing. So this this mandate, this effective mandate shakes that up and finally has is that last push that some companies need. And I think the effect will be that there will be more women and people of color and other minorities on boards. Whether companies will go beyond the the bare minimum, I don’t I doubt it at first. And then the other question is what that extra bit of diversity all the way at the tippy top would mean for the company overall, because there’s no requirements or mandates for the C Suite or for management or anything like that. And we know those areas of companies are still woefully women and minorities are still woefully underrepresented there. And it’s not clear to me that these quotas I think we’ve seen in Europe, for lack of a better term, like trickle down to the whole workforce. Right. I mean, you have to really make an effort there to like this isn’t going to move that needle.
S1: Part of the problem is because quotas don’t fix the problem, that you have discrimination at every level in in society. That creates all of these reasons. Also why it’s sometimes you’re more apt to have the kind of people from the most privileged groups tending to be on these boards. And so I’m not saying that it’s I mean, it’s good, obviously, if you have more diverse boards, but that does nothing to change all those other things.
S3: Let’s talk a little bit about Amazon, because I was particularly struck by a headline this week saying that Amazon has hired four hundred and twenty thousand people this year. This is a big expansion of the corporate workforce than has ever been seen in American corporate history or quite possibly global corporate history. No company has ever hired so many people so quickly. And and I’m fascinated to hear what you think about that and what it means.
S1: Yeah. I mean, partly it’s because we’re in this bizarre moment where so many companies and so many retailers have literally not been able to operate at the same time that Amazon could because of the way that the pandemic and lockdown’s worked. So I think that’s part of the reason you’re just seeing this bizarre situation. But again, it’s an acceleration of something we were seeing beforehand. And the concern is twofold. One is the potential monopoly of Amazon and e commerce and then the monopsony potential monopoly.
S3: I think they have a monopoly in e-commerce. They have like half of the e commerce market right now.
S1: Yeah. The other issue and I think to me almost at this stage may be more concerning is the monopsony issue and the idea that you really may only have this like one company hiring. And while on the one hand, Amazon does pay better than a lot of retailers do and their minimum wage is about on par with if you look at what a lot of the kind of median warehouse salaries are for not managers, but kind of people who are doing more of like stocking the shelves and delivering. So on the one hand, you say, OK, but there’s not going to be that much pressure on Amazon to increase wages. There has been some we’ve seen bonuses, but if you’re basically the only game in town, you’re the only one hiring that does put workers at a disadvantage.
S3: One thing I wanted to point out was that the four hundred thousand new employees is not everything. You know, there’s like five hundred thousand delivery drivers who aren’t on payroll. There’s another hundred thousand temporary workers who have been hired just for the holiday season who aren’t counted in that big, full time employee number. So this isn’t just some weird like we need to ramp up to respond to the pandemic thing. These are the actual full time permanent jobs that they’ve included. And there’s even more contractors like you can think of. And I’m sure that during the head long years of Uber growth and when Uber was growing super fast, I’m sure the number of drivers that they signed onto that platform was growing at some astonishing rates as well. But those weren’t permanent long term employees on payroll. This is a real move away in some way from that model. If we just want to outsource the the people to call them self-employed and that kind of thing, it’s there is a sort of whiff of old fashioned paternalism here, like, actually, yeah, we want to take all of these people working in a warehouse and saying, yep, make them part of the family.
S1: Well, but I also think that that is partly because of the pandemic, because what the pandemic has done is it’s shifted people’s habit that shifted so much more commerce online. People are buying things more in line that is going to continue afterwards. Amazon has taken over even more of this market. So thus it’s not just that they need more workers right now. They will need more workers moving forward.
S3: And this is something we talked about on Wednesday and the live show when we mentioned Black Friday and we were saying, you know, this is an inflection point in the way that people shop. People don’t run out to physical stores in the way that they used to and probably never will. Isn’t that what you’re saying, Emily?
S5: Yeah. I mean, I think what’s happening with Amazon is one of those changes, pandemic changes that is probably going to stick. Amazon has seen an explosion in sales in this pandemic while other people have seen shrinking. And it’s going to stick around. So what Anna was saying feels absolutely correct, like these full time hires are purposeful and strategic and are going to be lasting. And I think The Times estimates that in about a year or so, Amazon overtake Walmart as the country’s biggest employer. And I feel like if you look at the actual number, like half a million drivers for Amazon that aren’t technically Amazon employees, that’s already massive. And possibly if you included all those numbers bigger than Walmart. And, yeah, I think it’s going to not be so great in the long run for innovation and in the country to have Amazon dominate retail like this, just like it wasn’t great when Walmart dominated retail and that came with its own host of problems. If you’ll recall the 90s.
S1: Yeah, I mean, I know I’m like the resident Amazon apologist here, and partly because I buy everything on Amazon. But yeah, I mean, the the amount of power this one company is going to have, especially coming out of this crisis, I think should concern almost anyone on any part of the political spectrum because like that, that’s not how a kind of vibrant, competitive economy is supposed to work.
S3: The one thing I want to add here is the Amazon is the one mega cap company. It’s the one trillion dollar company in the world that has never paid a dividend, has not spent a bunch of money buying back its stock. In fact, I haven’t bought any stock in the past eight years and is actually finding places to invest free cash flow. It is taking a bunch of money that it’s making and it’s making a bunch of money and is plowing it effectively back into its business by doing things like hiring people. And that is very, very uncommon. We’re in this crazy world right now where people are like, what are we meant to do with our stock? We’re going to spend it on buybacks. We’re going to try and invest it in bonds. And they all have negative yields as a result because everyone has nothing better to do with that money. Amazon is the one place which actually has something better to do with the money, and they’re taking that money and they’re using it to hire people. So on that level, it’s one of the few bright points of the economy.
S1: Well, yeah. I mean, Amazon has a long history of saying we are we’re thinking long term. We don’t think quarterly. The one thing that I would maybe point out is part of the reason that you’ve had a company like Apple buyback so many shares. It’s just it throws off so much cash. There just is not enough places for for Apple to put that money productively. And so, honestly, for its shareholders, the best thing it could do is buy back at shares.
S3: Right. That’s exactly my point, that Apple doesn’t have productive uses of the capital, but Amazon does. That’s the great, great thing.
S5: I did want to say my one thing, which is Amazon does pay relatively well, even in the warehousing world. And I think this was in the most recent Beige Book because Amazon is doing so much hiring in this warehouse space. Other companies that do this work have been really scrambling to hire people and it is forcing the wage ceiling up a bit, which is not a bad thing. So that’s I feel an unusual thing for me to say, but at least Amazon doesn’t pay as badly as it as it probably could get away with, and that’s helping a lot of workers.
S3: Let’s have a numbers round. I’ll kick off this week. I want to start with ninety five million, which is the number of dollars that franc’s luttmann gets richer by every month. He is the CEO of Snowflake. It’s another one of those cloud enterprise software as a service. Something, something, something companies that no one really understands. And he signed this contract when he came on the CEO a couple of years ago. And according to that contract, he’s getting this whopping great slew of stock options, vesting every month and every single month. The options that vest for him are worth about ninety five million dollars. Nice work, if you can get it. That is obscene, isn’t it? It is.
S5: This economy in this pandemic yukky.
S1: Why do you care so much? I realize that’s my answer to everything.
S3: But just imagine this leg was worth that much on a multiple of revenues. It would be worth more than Amazon.
S1: Oh, my number is 20 percent. So Ancestry.com did this debt offering and for the first time ever, they actually have a voting cap. Blackstone is is backing ancestry.com and this is part of a of a buyout. And basically what it means is if you are we’re a very, very large holder and you held more than 20 percent of the outstanding bond, you would still only get to vote 20 percent. And when the bonds vote, when you have consent solicitations, if you’re saying is they are going to be an event of default, if you want to accelerate the mean battle bonds work like a bond is a contract. So if you want to change something, you have to ask everybody to vote and then they have to vote. And that’s actually one of the interesting things, too, is because when you’re doing a consent solicitation, you get a consent fee. So there’s a little bit of game theory here because you’re like, well, if I even if I don’t like it, if I think everyone else is going to vote for it, I don’t want to not get the consent fee. So that’s why to me, this is a really bad sign of just how frothy these markets are and how borrowers have so much more power than creditors in a way that I think is not great for the markets. Emily, OK.
S5: My number is eleven point two percent, and that is we are recording this on Friday, eleven point two percent is the unemployment rate for African-American men as of November. That was just announced Friday morning. This is a very high unemployment rate. And I wrote about an interesting strategy proposed by one of Biden’s economic advisers, Jared Bernstein, over the summer where the Fed would start taking into consideration black unemployment when making decisions about the economy. And I think that what’s going on right now at the unemployment rate, where you see black unemployment still in double digits, while overall it’s kind of sinking and seems like things are going better in the work world, this could be kind of like a game changing way of looking at the real economy.
S3: On which depressing note, I think that is it for us this week. Thank you for listening. I hope you manage to find gainful employment, especially if you’re a black man. But if you’re anyone, do keep on listening to state money. It’s free so it doesn’t cost you anything. Do leave us the occasional nice note in the Apple podcast store app thing so that other people can find us. Many, many thanks to Jasmine Molly for producing this show from her seaplane Omada HQ in Brooklyn.
S2: Do keep on emailing us the email is sleep money at sleep dot com and we will talk to you next week on Slate Money.
S3: Emily, are you ever going to see a movie in the movie theater ever again for the rest of your life?
S4: Yes, Felix, I love going to the movies. And as soon as we are clear we’re living in vaccine world or whatever, I don’t care if it’s 20, 30. I promise you that I will I will return to the movie theater, even though they shut down my favorite Westchester movie theater over the past few months because of the stupid pandemic. And that’s why that’s what we’re here on Slate plus to talk about. Right. Recently, Warner Brothers just announced this week that it’s going to put all its movies for a tiny, tiny one, not only in theaters, but on HBO, Max. And so that triggered a lot of hand-wringing from people who are like, oh, my God, the movies, the movie theater, it’s all it’s all over.
S5: It’s all ending. This is the death knell. And I don’t know if you guys are sad about that, but it does make me sad because I think going to the movies is a universally wonderful thing.
S1: Have you gone to the movies in New York City recently or like not not funny, but before that because. Yeah, the movie theaters in New York City, it’s not it’s not a wonderful experience.
S3: I’ll say I’ve had wonderful experience is going to the movies in New York City. I have. Although admittedly for them that’s the wonderful thing. Alamo Drafthouse is a wonderful thing down there where I live called the IPIC in the South Street Seaport in Manhattan. And oh my God, that is like Super Lux movie theater experience. But you pay I don’t know. Probably by the time all said and done, you’ve had your bottle of wine and there’s no cocktails and whatnot. You can spend 50 bucks to go to the movies. But yeah, I think Emily is right. The movie theater experience, we will go back to the movie theaters, but it’s going to become one of those like special and treat type things. I, I feel like what has ended here is, oh, this new movie has come out. I should see it. The default way of seeing that movie is just going to be to fire up HBO Max and see it rather than schlep out to the movie theater.
S1: I agree with that. I think that we’re probably going to see something like what happened with live theater because you you read in history or people used to go to so many shows because they were much more affordable. I think now, as you say, like there are nice moviegoing experiences, but you do have to pay for them. And I think the cheap moviegoing experiences will just go away.
S4: I guess the question is going to be what does the price the movie going experience look like? Because there’s the there’s on the one hand, there’s like go to the multiplex and pay like twenty five dollars to have a stadium style seat with a cup holder that reclines fully to a bad position, which is its own kind of luxury experience, versus like a more Feliks oriented movie experience of luxury where like wine is involved and some kind of micro green or whatever, everything goes better with wine and there’s no movie that isn’t improved by wine. Yeah, but I think it’ll become this more exclusive thing. Right. Like I was saying, like Broadway shows or even like getting the newspaper right. Like everyone used to get the newspaper. And now it’s like this add on that you could get but don’t really need anymore.
S1: But I do think it’s just notable that while movies themselves, because movies have increasingly become this kind of temple experience even before this, have often not been as fantastic, like entertainment has been great. We’ve had true the best television ever. You have so many options and there’s so much better than they used to be. So I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing. It’s just a sign of things change.
S4: I don’t know. I think going to the movies is one of those fun communal experiences. And there is something a little I don’t know if I’m being curmudgeonly, but there is something special when people aren’t going to the movies because it’s fun. Like the crowd responds to things I think can make certain movies are certain. It’s a phenomenon that you might lose. I mean, maybe you get it back with social media and movies at home. I don’t know. Going to the movies is a communal experience, just another communal experience lost.
S3: I would say, though, that to a certain degree that communal experience was already being lost with the luxury ization of movie. Yeah, the feeling of being in this huge crowd of people who are all experiencing the same thing at the same time, you can hear everyone gasp at the same point and it’s opening weekend and you’re going to go off and start talking to your friends about it. At the same time, that feeling of like I am in this movie theater with a thousand other people that’s gone away already. I mean, that was a that had gone away even pre pandemic because of exactly what you’re talking about, the stadium style style seating in the recliners and everything. You just didn’t have that feeling of like crowdedness and density, even pre pandemic.
S1: Yes, because I think people say they like those things, but I think they obviously don’t really like those things are they would have continued going like people like convenience.
S3: People like I don’t even I can’t tell them that it’s humans now, I think people did like them, but like, you know, it’s just a question of you can charge more for the fancier seats and so that the theater owners put in the fancy seats, because this is a long term secular decline in moviegoing, which has been, you know, but the fact that there’s a long term secular decline in moviegoing is because people weren’t going to that commuter experience and we’re approaching Christmas.
S4: So I just want to give a shout out to one of the most communal experiences I’ve ever had of going to the movies, which is so I’m Jewish, but now I’m married to someone who isn’t. So we celebrate Christmas and stuff. But prior to being married as a Jew on Christmas, what one does is go to the movies. And when you go out to the movies on Christmas, it feels like this very Jewish experience because you look around and there’s all these people out there who mostly aren’t celebrating Christmas. I mean, there are still people who do that. And it always had kind of like a special communal feel to it. So power went out for the Jewish movie Christmas Day experience.
S3: We will still have Chinese food.
S5: Yes. Forever Chinese. And on that note, I think we’ll wrap up the slate plus by everyone.