Aug 9, 2019

Axios Login

By Ina Fried
Ina Fried

After today, I'm off for two weeks. The good news is next week Login will come to you via the fabulous Scott Rosenberg. The following week, though, Login itself is on vacation (not sure where it's going).

Today's Smart Brevity count: 927 words, < 4 min read.

1 big thing: Lisa Su on AMD's resurgence and China

AMD CEO Lisa Su, speaking at the 2nd generation EPYC launch in San Francisco. Photo: AMD

With Intel struggling to get to the next generation of chipmaking technology, AMD has an opportunity to gain some ground on its longtime rival.

AMD chief executive Lisa Su says that's why she wants to quickly ramp up production of the EPYC server chip, which launched this week. At the same time, she says AMD's long-term success can't be predicated on Intel's stumbles.

"I am counting on our competitor being really, really good. That just means we need to be better."
— Lisa Su

The big picture: AMD's history has been about brief moments in time where it was able to outflank Intel, but Su wants to transform the perennial also-ran into "one of the great technology growth stories."

  • "We are extraordinarily ambitious," she says. "I don’t want people to think this is a [temporary] thing."

Where it stands: At the moment, analysts say AMD is set to put a lot of pressure on Intel, including in the profitable data center business where AMD's new chips appear to outperform Intel's while costing significantly less.

  • I asked Su if she thought AMD would always have to price at a steep discount even when it can outperform Intel. She says that need not always be the strategy, but acknowledged that her company remains the underdog.
  • "What we are trying to do is make it very, very attractive for people to switch," Su adds.

Yes, but: For all its current success — and it is gaining ground on Intel — AMD recently cut its financial outlook for the year. Su blames that on lower expectations for the game console industry's performance this year.

  • "If you take out the console business, our new products are growing approximately 20% year on year," she says.
  • She adds that when the new generation of game consoles do make their debut, they will also have AMD inside, giving the company yet another boost.

Meanwhile, one area where Su has had to shift course is around China. AMD had licensed a lower performance version of its earlier technology for sale there through a joint venture, but was forced to change course amid shifts in U.S. policy.

"China is a big market; it’s a market that’s important for all of us in tech," Su says. "But make no mistake, we are a U.S. company. National security is priority number one. I’m really trying to find that balance."

  • The best way for the U.S. to battle China for technology leadership is to continue investing in R&D, according to Su. The U.S. has done that in the past and has plenty of engineering talent, she says.
  • "It’s a matter of deciding where you want to put that emphasis," she says. "I think that’s the key."
  • Su points to the work that AMD did with Oak Ridge National Laboratories to create Frontier, set to be the world's biggest super computer.

Go deeper: Lisa Su on building the new AMD

2. Apple Card's pairing trick

Photo: Apple

Apple's new credit card isn't a contactless card, yet it activates by pairing with the iPhone, so how does that work?

Well, it turns out that Apple has embedded a near-field communication (NFC) chip — in the cardboard packaging that accompanies the white titanium credit card.

Between the lines: As for why the card itself doesn't have wireless payment technology, Apple wants people to use the iPhone for those technologies, not the physical card.

3. Uber stock plunges after missed expectations

Uber's stock price dropped by more than 12% after hours Thursday after its Q2 revenue and losses missed analyst expectations, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva reports.

By the numbers:

  • Revenue: $3.17 billion, versus $3.3 billion expected.
  • Net loss: $5.24 billion, versus $3.4 billion expected. Uber says its losses include $298 million in IPO-related driver rewards and $3.9 billion in employee stock compensation.
  • Loss per share: $4.72, versus $3.19 expected per share.
  • Gross bookings: $15.76 billion, up 31% from a year ago.
  • Monthly active platform consumers: 99 million, up 30% from a year ago.

Separately, rival Lyft yesterday posted better-than-expected revenue for Q2 and raised its outlook for the rest of 2019.

4. Toca Boca partners with H&M for clothes line

Photo courtesy of Toca Boca

Children's game maker Toca Boca is launching a new line of kids' clothes in conjunction with retailer H&M, a second try at extending its brand into "wearables."

Why it matters: Merchandising is an important part of leveraging game franchises as well as spurring enduring interest.

  • The line includes clothes and accessories for kids size 2-10.
  • Items are priced from $5.99 to $34.99.
  • The inspiration for the line is Toca Life, the company's current flagship game.

My thought bubble: One bummer is that the new clothes are separated into girls' and boys' items. In its games, Toca Boca notably doesn't apply specific looks to any gender — and its previous line of clothes, sold at Target, wasn't separated by gender, a significant move.

What they're saying: Toca Boca art director Sebastien Roux tells me...

"The collection is merchandised in stores and online in gender-specific categories. ... However, there aren’t any rules about who wears what, so we hope our fans will just wear whatever clothing and accessories make them feel great."

Go deeper: Toca Boca changes course

5. Take Note

On Tap

  • The White House is set to convene a meeting on the role of social media in violent extremism.

Trading Places

  • As I scooped yesterday, Google Pixel boss Mario Queiroz is leaving that post for an unspecified role working with the office of Google CEO Sundar Pichai.


6. After you Login

Will your home or business survive a San Francisco disaster? It's tough to tell in this earthquake-prone region. But, a new tool from the San Francisco Chronicle can at least tell you how it would have fared in past disaster movies set in the Bay.

Ina Fried