Adam Selipsky, AWS CEO, on stage during his keynote address for Amazon's AWS re:Invent 2021.
Photo: AWS

AWS is all grown up

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Good morning! This Wednesday, Adam Selipsky remembers the past at AWS re:Invent, Bret Taylor has a LinkedIn profile to update, and Twitter confuses everyone with its new privacy rule.

Adam Selipsky walks us down memory lane

AWS is having a big anniversary year; it’s been 15 years since it launched its first cloud service to take the enterprise tech world by storm, and 10 years since it started gathering early converts to cloud computing in Las Vegas for its annual re:Invent conference.

In his first address to that group yesterday, CEO Adam Selipsky sought to paint a picture of AWS and its customers as “pathfinders” who took risks to completely change the way enterprise tech is bought and sold, which was certainly true years ago.

But Selipsky offered evidence of a maturing AWS, in which incremental progress that cloud laggards can digest rates top billing during its most important event of the year.

  • “In the 15 years since we launched AWS, the cloud has become not just another tech revolution, but an enabler of a fundamental shift in the way that businesses actually function,” Selipsky said. “There's no industry that hasn't been touched, and no business that can't be radically disrupted.”
  • The most noteworthy announcement was a new generation of AWS’ Graviton Arm server chip, which was definitely a game changer for server customers when it was first introduced three years ago.

Serverless technologies have been a big part of AWS’ product strategy over the last several years, and the cloud infrastructure leader announced several new serverless features for data analytics tools.

  • Serverless promises to make key cloud technologies like computing, container management and now data analytics easier to use on a day-to-day basis, but they also make it harder for customers to switch away to competing services given the amount of upfront custom code that’s required to use these services.

Still, it’s clear that AWS has shifted its focus from the scrappy upstarts that built huge companies around its services in the wake of the Great Recession — companies like Airbnb, Pinterest and Lyft — toward older companies like United and 3M, which make up the bulk of the new cloud business that Microsoft and Google are also targeting.

  • Selipsky, one of the first sales and marketing leaders of AWS from its initial launch, recalled the pre-AWS enterprise tech market as “dominated by the old-guard vendors who loved the expense and the lock in … we knew there had to be a better path forward for all of us.”
  • Fifteen years later, AWS customers love to complain about out-of-control cloud costs, and the higher-level managed services that the company has focused on delivering over the past several years almost guarantee customer lock-in. It was an interesting parallel to draw, especially considering AWS recorded over $45 billion in revenue last year and is growing even faster this year.

Selipsky’s main job over the next year, as only the second CEO in the history of AWS, will be making sure AWS doesn’t fall into the old-guard vendor mentality it so successfully overturned more than a decade ago. However transformational AWS was back in those days, it chose a rather conservative path for the most important two hours of its year.

— Tom Krazit (email | twitter)

On the schedule

China's fintech future

How will China shape the future of fintech in the medium and long term — and what does that mean for the existing financial system? Join us at 10 a.m. PT tomorrow for a discussion about Beijing's latest moves to test the CBDC, what we know already about how the CBDC does (and doesn't) work and in-country fintech innovations we should adopt globally.

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People are talking

Arjuna Capital’s Natasha Lamb, along with several Microsoft shareholders, wants the company to better address sexual harassment:

  • “We are concerned about Microsoft’s alleged continued culture of workplace sexual harassment and its history of unfulfilled previous commitments to resolve it.”

Elizabeth Holmes isn’t happy with the way she handled the press about Theranos:

  • “I couldn't say it more strongly: The way we handled the Wall Street Journal process was a disaster.”

Elon Musk is worried SpaceX is falling short on producing Raptor engines needed for its Starship rocket:

  • “We need all hands on deck to recover from what is, quite frankly, a disaster.”

He also told people to buy Tesla’s “Cyberwhistle,” which then went out of stock:

  • “Blow the whistle on Tesla!”

Timnit Gebru said workers need more power at big global companies:

  • “We can have all this discourse about AI bias & such but unless this happens we’ll continue to have cycles of harmful AI or other tech.”

Making moves

Bret Taylor moved up at Salesforce to co-CEO. He now leads the company alongside Marc Benioff. That's Taylor's second new job of the week, in case you're counting.

David Marcus is leaving Meta at the end of the year. Stephane Kasriel, who’s been the VP of Product for Novi for a little over a year, will take over the role leading Meta’s fintech unit.

Jessica Gonzalez is leaving Blizzard Entertainment. The senior test analyst told Bobby Kotick in her resignation note that his inaction is “driving out great talent.”

Susan Epstein joined Meta as associate general counsel for civil rights tech. She last taught software engineering and algorithmic decision-making at Stanford.

Sandeep Gupta moved to Universal Audio as COO. He’s been with Amazon for a decade and most recently served as VP and general manager for Amazon Fire TV.

Griid wants to IPO. The bitcoin miner is looking to go public via a SPAC in a deal that could value the company at $3.3 billion.

Coinbase bought Unbound Security, an Israeli security firm that created ways to store and transfer crypto.

In other news

You’re not the only one confused about Twitter’s new privacy rule. The platform now prohibits people from posting photos or videos of people without their consent, but users are scratching their heads over what that means for a photo of a crowd or other images.

The Senate will consider some big nominations today: Jessica Rosenworcel and Alvaro Bedoya. Rosenworcel is Joe Biden’s pick to lead the FCC, and Bedoya is his choice for the FTC.

Tech CEOs want Congress to do something about the chip shortage. Tim Cook, Mary Barra and dozens of others sent a letter to leadership asking for at least $52 billion in incentives for the U.S. chip industry.

Cyber Monday spending dipped compared to last year. But that makes sense, considering that Black Friday spending also decreased as people got their shopping done a little earlier in the fall.

Google must hand over documents it created to stop unions. The NLRB told Google to turn in materials from “Project Vivian,” the code name of the alleged plan Google had to prevent unionization efforts within the company.

A labor group wants a probe into Amazon’s COVID-19 data. Amazon reported that just under 30 of the 20,000 workers who got sick last year caught the virus at work, but the Strategic Organizing Center thinks those figures are sketchy.

Facebook Marketplace is the platform’s saving grace. Despite the slew of issues Facebook has faced in recent months, people still seem to love Marketplace, saying it helps them connect with local vendors and feels safer than other resale sites.

Have you purchased your metaverse house yet? Homes, land and shops are going for big bucks in the metaverse, with a metaverse real estate firm recently paying $4.3 million for a piece of land in the virtual world Sandbox.

Hinge goes viral

Everyone’s trying to throw some sort of audio tool on to their platform, be it Facebook’s Audio Rooms or Twitter’s Spaces, or the entirety of Clubhouse. But nobody’s really been able to make audio take off the way Hinge has. The dating app recently began letting users record an answer to icebreaker questions, called voice prompts, in their dating profiles.

Thirteen percent of new people who sign onto the app have a voice prompt in their profiles, according to The Verge. And almost half of its estimated 6 million monthly active users have listened to at least one voice prompt, which is probably because some of them are pretty funny. Could the way to break into audio be as simple as not taking it too seriously? We’re looking at you, Clubhouse.

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