September 1, 2022
Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol
Good morning! If you’re wondering how the economy is doing, look to Amazon. Just don’t be surprised if the outlook is a little worrying.
Amazon is starting to tighten its belt. One of the country’s largest employers, it's showing it’s not immune to the economic uncertainty weighing down everyone from Alphabet to Zoom. And because Amazon’s a rare bright spot in the increasingly gloomy tech sector, its cost-cutting measures should send a dire message to most other businesses.
Recruiters are unable to extend offers to candidates in some divisions, like Amazon Music, sources told me. In other divisions, such as devices, hiring has been significantly, if not entirely, curtailed. College recruits for that division will also now be sent to other units, the sources said.
The company says it continues to hire — which has been Amazon’s public message since the downturn started — and instead says it is simply refocusing recruitment efforts on more-strategic roles.
But even recruitment for open roles has gotten more difficult. Across Amazon, including in AWS, recruiters are also limited in how high a salary they can offer prospective employees.
The hiring changes underway are already having big ramifications. Amazon just had its largest quarter of head count reductions. And it appears head count could be further reduced across the board, not just in warehouses. AWS, for example, is doing a considerable amount of “restructuring,” according to sources, which employees say is the company’s preferred mechanism for laying off workers.
Some businesses are often viewed as a bellwether for whole sectors. Salesforce, with its historically strong growth and wide breadth of products focused on business users, is often a signal for enterprise technology, while Snap and others give solid indicators on the state of the ad industry.
But Amazon is a bellwether for the whole economy. And if it’s taking more aggressive steps to control spending, there’s a long road ahead for everyone.
— Joe Williams
In 2017, on-demand consulting firm Catalant moved into a 27,000-square-foot office in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood. It doesn’t really need that big of a space anymore, but Catalant still thinks it’s worth having an office. And the key to making the space worthwhile? Making it cool.
The future of the office is unclear. But at least for now, Catalant is looking into a smaller, more “creative” space when the company’s lease ends next June, CEO Pat Petitti told me.
Catalant is still bracing for whatever happens to the office next. The company plans to sign on to a shorter lease because it’s hard to predict how much more or less people will use the office in the long term, but Petitti made clear that he thinks it’ll never entirely disappear.
— Sarah Roach
DataRobot's AI Cloud for Financial Services Unlocks the Art of the Possible: DataRobot continues to attract clients in financial services who want to de-risk their AI investments and rapidly scale AI to almost every part of their operations, resulting in improved productivity and higher customer satisfaction.
Now that the world is reopened, people are increasingly choosing fresh air over a Peloton class. New data from Wi-Fi networking startup Plume Design found that during the first six months of 2022, the average amount of data streamed to at-home fitness bikes was down 23% year-over-year, the single largest contraction Plume measured among home Wi-Fi device usage.
It’s a bleak stat given Peloton’s recent turmoil. The company announced plans to cut 780 employees, and saw losses of $1.2 billion and a 28% year-over-year drop in revenue in its most recent quarter. Users who’ve stuck with Peloton are also working out less and less, down 26% year-over-year.
Cloudflare co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince and VP Alissa Starzak said the company isn’t likely to terminate services to controversial customers:
Medium's Tony Stubblebine doesn't think the platform is the best place for journalists in the long-run:
Zendrive is spinning off insurance startup Fairmatic. Jonathan Matus, co-founder of driving analytics company Zendrive, will become Fairmatic's CEO.
Steven Stone joined Rubrik to lead the Rubrik Zero Labs threat intelligence initiative. Stone previously served as a VP at Mandiant.
Mark Lenhard is the new CEO of Zepz Group, the parent company of WorldRemit. Lenhard was previously the COO of Bill.com.
Rajeev Misra stepped down as SoftBank’s corporate officer and executive VP. He will remain CEO of SoftBank Investment Advisers.
Necip Fazil Ayan is joining LinkedIn’s Knowledge Graph, the company’s large-scale data and engineering project. Ayan previously served as the director of Facebook’s AI team.John Mocny is leaving Canoo, where he led the EV company's manufacturing, amid plans to outsource production.
Disney's looking into its own version of Amazon Prime, where customers could get perks or discounts as an incentive to use its parks and streaming service.
Meta's building a team focused on adding paid features to its platforms. It'll be called New Monetization Experiences, and head of research Pratiti Raychoudhury will lead it.
Arm is suing Qualcomm, alleging that it violated its licensing agreement by transferring licenses from its recently acquired Nuvia subsidiary without Arm’s consent.
Washington, D.C.'s attorney general is suing MicroStrategy and its CEO Michael Saylor for allegedly evading $25 million in taxes by faking his residence.
Klarna reported heavy losses in the most recent quarter. Its pre-tax loss reached more than $580 million, up threefold from last year.
Toyota is pouring billions more into EV batteries, including spending $2.5 billion on scaling up production at a North Carolina plant.
Netflix wants to charge advertisers $65 per thousand viewers for its ad-supported tier, significantly higher than rival streaming platforms.
Ticketmaster will let event organizers issue NFTs as tickets. It’s partnering with Flow, a blockchain operated by a16z-backed Dapper Labs, for the service.
Moving in with your romantic partner can cause bumps in the road. And for Dan Shipper and Nathan Baschez, co-founders of newsletter company Every, starting a business together felt like moving in with a partner. So, like a couple working through their problems, they took their spats to their couples therapist. The practice creates a space “dedicated and planned that you’re going to be diving into the more uncomfortable stuff,” Baschez said.
One overlap between romantic couples therapy and business couples therapy? Money troubles. Instead of talking through personal finance stresses, therapists help founders work through tensions caused by company budgeting decisions. Got to be worth a try, right?
DataRobot's AI Cloud for Financial Services Unlocks the Art of the Possible: Banks need to secure a competitive advantage in an increasingly tight race to harness best-in-breed technology. Decision makers need to not just plan a future-ready strategy, but also recognize the value of AI that could boost not just their performance in-house but also their reputation among their global customers.
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