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It’s a big week for Andy Jassy — and for Amazon

It’s a big week for Andy Jassy — and for Amazon

Good morning! This Tuesday, Andy Jassy has a lot to do as Amazon's new CEO, full self-driving is hard, the billionaires are heading to Sun Valley (and to space), and vaccine mandates are so hot right now.

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The Big Story

Still Day One at Amazon?

Andy Jassy is now CEO of Amazon. And he has a lot to do. Amazon is this big, interlocking puzzle of a company with an unusually wide purview and an even wider effect on the modern world. Jassy's vision and plan will have to be similarly widespread.

He'll have to answer the same question in so many places around the company: Where does Amazon need to slow down and focus, and where does it need to push and experiment? Because while it's obviously still good to be Amazon, not all is well inside the company.

Here are eight things facing Jassy as he takes over the big chair in Seattle.

  • The looming antitrust battle. Investigations are underway into the way Amazon works with third-party merchants, into the combination of its store and AWS, even into how its MGM acquisition affects its position in the toilet paper-shipping industry. Jassy has mostly been left out of antitrust issues and hearings so far, because AWS hasn't been the focus of Congress's inquiry, but that's going to change quickly.
  • Worker unrest. Amazon has long said that it pays and treats workers well, but the dissenting voices are starting to get loud. Jassy will have to either acknowledge the increasing unionization effort or put even more resources into fighting it. He'll have to find more ways to keep workers safe and happy, all while facing that typically Amazonian, relentless drive toward making everything more efficient.
  • A fast-changing S-team. Bezos isn't the only important Amazon executive leaving the company. Jeff Wilke, Steve Kessel and others have left the vaunted S-team in the last couple of years. Jeff Blackburn and Adam Selipsky boomeranged back in new jobs, and as The New York Times reported, an unusually large number of high-ranking executives have left the company in recent months. Jassy has a lot of leadership and culture work to do.
  • Expensive entertainment aspirations. When you're the richest guy in the world, it's natural to suddenly get Hollywood ambitions. And Bezos sure did; the company has spent billions of dollars on everything from MGM Studios to Thursday Night Football in an effort to become a major player in the entertainment world. Does Jassy have the same Tinseltown ambitions, and the stomach for spending on them?
  • Evolving the Everything Store. Fake reviews and counterfeit products are an enormous threat to Amazon, there are antitrust questions about how Amazon uses third-party data to inform its own product decisions, and companies like Shopify are showing sellers that there's life outside the Everything Store. With a new consumer-side leader in Dave Clark, Jassy's going to have to help decide what kind of store Amazon wants to be.
  • What's next for AWS. It's already the (mostly) undisputed king of cloud services, thanks in large part to Jassy's leadership. And its ambitions are as big as anything at Amazon. Selipsky, the new CEO, has a long to-do list in front of him. It gets even longer if it becomes a real possibility that AWS could be split off from Amazon.
  • Climate change. None of the rest of this matters if everything's underwater, right? Amazon has spoken loudly and often about the Climate Pledge, and the company's commitment to being net-zero carbon by 2040. Bezos got to set the lofty goal; Jassy has to accomplish it. That gets harder every time Amazon gets bigger.
  • A new leadership style. Bezos in recent years became a larger-than-life figure, a red carpet fixture, a tabloid mainstay. Jassy has historically been much more private and down to earth, famously driving his old Jeep and not wanting to fly on private jets. Internally, he's known for being quiet and sharp, not the Bezos-style bombastic leader. Will he be forced into the limelight simply by virtue of the fact that he's the CEO of Amazon? Or will he try to stay lower-key?

You can't sit in a room with an Amazon employee and not have them tell you, "It's Day One." That has been Bezos's mantra, and Amazon's, for the 9,863 days since the company's incorporation. More than anything, Jassy's job is to make sure his first day as CEO doesn't go down in history as the first day of Day Two.

— David Pierce (email | twitter)

A MESSAGE FROM MICRON

Recently, Micron announced new memory and storage innovations across its portfolio based on its industry-leading 176-layer NAND and 1α (1-alpha) DRAM technology. But what does "1α" mean, and just how amazing is it?

Learn more

People Are Talking

Full self-driving is hard, Elon Musk said, presumably causing the rest of the industry to nod vigorously and mouth the words "told you so":

  • "Generalized self-driving is a hard problem, as it requires solving a large part of real-world AI. Didn't expect it to be so hard, but the difficulty is obvious in retrospect. Nothing has more degrees of freedom than reality."

Qualcomm is pushing hard into China, Cristiano Amon said, and the Android market is a place to start:

  • "Just for the premium tier alone, the Huawei addressable market is as big as the Apple opportunity is for us."

On Protocol: The key to the cookieless future lies in first-party data, Adobe's Anil Chakravarthy said:

  • "I think the first-party data is always the cleanest, right? If I have your authorization, and I got the data directly from you, and you told me what you want to use it for, that is the cleanest. So that's the sweet spot. So let's try to get as much as possible there."

Tobi Lutke likes the QR code menu trend, but thinks it could be better:

  • "The west is still using QRCodes totally wrong. A QRCode on a restaurant table that opens the menu is not really what we want. A QRCode can be unique to the table and allow food ordering directly to it. Should carry state and context."

Coming this week

Tech is heading to Sun Valley this week. Reed Hastings, Mark Zuckerberg, Brian Chesky and Tim Cook are all among the rich and famous expected at the Allen & Co. conference.

The Billionaire Space Race is scheduled to kick off in earnest on Saturday, as Richard Branson hops aboard a Virgin Galactic plane in New Mexico.

In Other News

  • On Protocol | Workplace: Tesla's ex-workers say the company is still racist. More than 100 factory workers said in sworn statements that they experienced racial slurs, demeaning jokes and retaliation on the basis of race. And they want to sue.
  • China's government kicked DiDi out of Chinese app stores. The government said it was acting on concerns about data security, and is now investigating similar transport tech companies. One thing they all have in common? They're public companies, listed in the U.S. The government had also reportedly told DiDi to delay its IPO, and its shares are crashing as a result of the move.
  • Big Tech is threatening to leave Hong Kong. A trade group representing Facebook, Twitter, Google and others told the government the companies may leave if new doxxing and data-protection laws go into place, The Wall Street Journal reported. The law could make those companies liable for any personal information shared on their networks.
  • On Protocol | Enterprise: Jim Whitehurst left IBM. He was the company's president and No. 2 after coming over in the Red Hat deal, and is leaving as part of a big reshuffle in the executive ranks.
  • European automakers are building an EV charger network together. Volvo, Daimler and the Traton Group are planning to build 1,700 stations around the continent, meant specifically for long-haul trucks.
  • We have another huge ransomware attack. REvil, the Russia-associated group that was also responsible for the JBS hack, is demanding $70 million in bitcoin to unlock the systems at Kaseya, an IT software company.
  • TikTok's AI is for sale. ByteDance is selling some of its AI systems to fashion apps, travel sites and more, giving those platforms a huge personalization boost and giving ByteDance another potentially huge source of revenue.
  • Apple's privacy push has been great news for Google. Prices for Apple-targeted mobile ads are falling, The Wall Street Journal reported, and Android prices are now about 30% higher than those for iOS.

One More Thing

Vaccine mandates: So hot right now

A few months ago, companies all over were tiptoeing around the idea of mandating that employees be vaccinated if they want to come back to the office. Now, as Protocol's Allison Levitsky reported, they're getting comfortable with the idea. Everything's still voluntary and part of "soft reopenings," which is to say nobody's exactly flying flags that say "No Jab No Job," but the message is becoming clearer all the time.

That brings up all sorts of questions about verification and other protocols, but if nothing else, maskless work is going to be a huge perk for a while. Now that OSHA has said vaccinated employees don't need to mask up at all during work, going to the office might be a lot more appealing.

A MESSAGE FROM MICRON

Recently, Micron announced new memory and storage innovations across its portfolio based on its industry-leading 176-layer NAND and 1α (1-alpha) DRAM technology. But what does "1α" mean, and just how amazing is it?

Learn more

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day; see you tomorrow.

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