Source Code: Your daily look at what matters in tech.

source-codesource codeauthorDavid PierceNEWSLETTER LayoutWant your finger on the pulse of everything that's happening in tech? Sign up to get David Pierce's daily newsletter.64fd3cbe9f
×

Get access to Protocol

Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy

I’m already a subscriber
Protocol Source Code
What matters in tech, in your inbox every morning.

Bye bye Bezos

Image: Amazon / Protocol
Jeff Bezos

Good morning! This Wednesday, Andy Jassy is the new CEO of Amazon, how Jeff Bezos will keep himself busy, Uber has a new delivery company to integrate and a startup is just giving away its investors' money.

We also have a new episode of the Source Code podcast today, with Andy Yen of ProtonMail. He talks about privacy, email, encryption and why he doesn't think Apple's the good guy in these debates. (We have new episodes every Wednesday and Sunday, so subscribe to get them all!)

(Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here to get Source Code every day. And you can text with us, too, by signing up here or texting 415-475-1729.)

The Big Story

Andy Jassy takes the reins

Big day for Amazon yesterday: It unveiled a new Virginia headquarters that looks like either a drill bit or a poop emoji! And then, oh, side note: Jeff Bezos is stepping down as CEO.

Andy Jassy will be running the whole shebang starting in October, stepping up from his role as CEO of AWS. Most people assumed this was coming, especially after Jeff Wilke announced last year that he'd be retiring in 2021. And while Bezos has been running the company for its entire 26-year history, as Protocol's Tom Krazit writes, Jassy's been a core piece of the company for almost as long.

  • Jassy joined Amazon in 1997, and was Bezos' chief of staff by 2003. He was one of the early proponents of pushing Amazon beyond books, and has been a crucial part of the company ever since.
  • "Inside AWS," Tom writes, "Jassy has a reputation for sweating the details, driving the company to focus on executing its plan to deliver the most comprehensive suite of cloud infrastructure services on the planet: 'The Everything Store,' just for CIOs. In the early days of cloud computing, this was an uphill battle, trying to convince risk-averse business leaders to bet on an emerging technology when all they really wanted was tech that wouldn't break."
  • Jassy is a ruthless competitor, a "win-at-all-costs type of person," as former AWS exec Zoltan Szabadi described him a few years ago. And over AWS' life, he's proven to be capable of moving fast to stay ahead.

As for why this is happening now, Bezos said only that "Amazon couldn't be better positioned for the future." He's not wrong, given that Amazon just dropped a ludicrous earnings report in which the company nearly doubled both sales and profits from last year.

  • Bezos took a much more active hand in running the company in the early days of the pandemic. Now that it's on such solid ground again, and on a faster upward trajectory than ever, he seems to feel safe walking away.

There's one big question we don't have an answer for: Who will replace Jassy? Amazon declined to offer much information, but AWS is such a core part of Amazon's business — it accounts for more than half its profits — that ensuring a smooth transition there is critical.

  • Here's the name to watch, though: Matt Garman, who currently runs AWS' sales organizations. Folks in the know tell Tom he's the most likely candidate for the job.

All told, 2021 will be a year of big change at Amazon: It will see new people in all three of Amazon's top jobs, with Wilke retiring from the top retail job and handing the reins to Dave Clark. The company chalked the overhaul up to "a lot of bench strength" and great succession planning, but it's still a lot of change at once. You could even say it's like it's … day one.

More Bezos

Bezos' next act(s)

Who is Jeff Bezos when he's not the CEO of Amazon? Well he's a top-two richest guy in the world, a self-reported Lizzo stan, the owner of an increasingly spectacular set of real estate holdings and a high-profile blueberry pancake chef. He's also famous for liking to "putter" around the house, which he'll certainly have more time to do now.

But Bezos made very clear that he's not retiring. He'll be Amazon's executive chair going forward, for one thing, involved in M&A, big strategy moves and other things Amazon calls "one-way doors." And he named a number of other projects that will occupy his time going forward:

  • The Day One Fund: A $2 billion fund focusing on funding nonprofits that help homeless families and "creating a network of new, non-profit, tier-one preschools in low-income communities."
  • The Bezos Earth Fund: A $10 billion pool meant for projects related to fighting climate change.
  • Blue Origin: His space company, working on rocket engines, reusable launchers and all the things required to make space travel a mainstream thing.
  • The Washington Post: Hands-down the best way to find out if tomorrow's a snow day in D.C.

Bezos also mentioned "other passions," which might include the 10,000-year clock, his expeditions to find rocket engines on the ocean floor, presumably very good seats at the Climate Pledge Arena and taking epic photos at wind farms. But I'm betting Blue Origin takes up most of his time. Even while running Amazon, he called it "the most important work I'm doing."

Delivery

Running the Bezos playbook

Anna Kramer writes: Remember when Amazon bought Diapers.com, Zappos, Soap.com and a bunch of other brands to shore up a whole industry? Uber's after the same thing: It intends to acquire Drizly for $1.1 billion later this year, in yet another acquisition of a company oft-cited as one of Uber's best competitors.

File the Drizly acquisition in the "pandemic-related purchases" folder. Online alcohol sales in the U.S. were once considered a "sleepy" market, but no longer.

  • Drizly also has an unusual advantage: The legal hoops for alcohol delivery are extremely complicated and vary widely state-by-state, and Drizly has that mostly figured out. Getting into this business would have been a very messy problem for Uber (or anyone else) to solve on its own.

Uber obviously wants to be more than a ride-hailing company — Dara Khosrowshahi loves to talk about being "the Amazon of transportation" — and it's particularly set on winning the food delivery space.

  • Hence Uber's Postmates acquisition, which made Uber the second largest delivery service in the U.S. (after DoorDash) when it closed the deal in December 2020.
  • Uber has also announced plans to acquire U.K.-based taxi-booking company Autocab and grocery-delivery app Cornershop within the last couple of years.
  • In August, the company launched pharmacy prescription delivery in Seattle and Dallas, which it expanded to Manhattan just last week.
  • It's also invested in scooters, flying taxis and self-driving cars.

By investing in … everything remotely related to "moving people and stuff from place to place," Uber's trying to do what Amazon did for "buying stuff on the internet." Of course, Amazon's not-so-secretly building its own epic logistics network. Maybe Khosrowshahi is hoping Andy Jassy won't care so much about that.

A MESSAGE FROM SLACK

Slack

Why sales teams at Box and Segment rely on Slack to build stronger customer relationships and seal deals faster.

Read how sales organizations at Box and Segment are harnessing the power of channel-based messaging to keep communication strong, seal deals and streamline the sales cycle when everyone is remote.

Read more

Number of the Day

61,700,000

While we're talking Amazon: That's how many dollars the FTC ordered Amazon to pay its Flex drivers, after it was found to be withholding tips from them for two and a half years. The company promised drivers 100% of their tips, but kept 30% for itself. "The conduct alleged in the complaint is outrageous," Becca Slaughter said. And as Protocol's Emily Birnbaum reported, the FTC's likely to keep pushing in this space.

People Are Talking

There's a coup happening in Myanmar, and Facebook's Rafael Frankel said the company's trying to help:

  • "We're putting the safety of people in Myanmar first and are removing content that breaks our rules on violence, hate speech and harmful misinformation. This includes removing misinformation that delegitimizes the outcome of November's election."
  • Worth remembering that the company has previously admitted that its platform was used to incite violence in the country.

Wikimedia created a "Universal Code of Conduct" for Wikipedia, and CEO Katherine Maher said it's in service of inclusion:

  • "Our work is built around a radical premise that everyone should be able to participate in knowledge. Our new universal code of conduct creates binding standards to elevate conduct on the Wikimedia projects, and empower our communities to address harassment and negative behavior across the Wikimedia movement."

On Protocol: Vaccine-scheduling websites are … awful. Zocdoc CEO Oliver Kharraz said that's why tech needs to help:

  • "Those are things that aren't top of mind for a lot of these executives. Hospital execs don't look at abandoned shopping cart stats like an online retailer."

Poland wants to stop Big Tech censoring its citizens, its deputy justice minister said:

  • "We see that anonymous social media moderators often censor opinions which do not violate the law but are just criticism of leftists' agenda. This creates important risks of infringing freedom of speech."

In Other News

  • On Protocol | Enterprise: Google Cloud sales rose 46% last year, though it still remains far behind AWS and Azure. Alphabet had a good quarter overall, beating estimates thanks to huge ad demand.
  • Apple will invest $3.6 billion in Kia, according to DongA Ilbo. It reportedly plans to build Apple cars at Kia's factory in Georgia, in the U.S., and could sign a deal on Feb. 17.
  • Amazon is putting anti-union ads in its warehouse toilets. One Alabama worker said Amazon's aggressive messaging ahead of the unionization vote made them feel "harassed."
  • India sided with Amazon against Future, blocking the latter's $3.4 billion sale to Reliance Industries. Future said it will challenge the court's decision.
  • On Protocol: Facebook's allowing other Oculus app stores. Its new App Lab program lets developers distribute apps without store approval or side-loading, in a seeming attempt at heading off antitrust concerns.
  • On Protocol: Facebook's Project Aria AR glasses passed through the FCC. The headgear will be equipped with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS antennas, and run a version of Android 7 — the same software the Oculus Quest uses.
  • Volkswagen wants to make its own self-driving software and compete with Waymo. Meanwhile, the company is reportedly looking at buying chips directly from manufacturers rather than through suppliers like Bosch.
  • On Protocol: Tesla recalled 135,000 cars after the NHTSA said problems with their touchscreen displays could cause malfunctions with cameras and windshield defogging.
  • ByteDance sued Tencent, accusing it of violating antitrust laws by blocking access to Douyin content on WeChat and QQ.
  • On Protocol | China: Clubhouse is blowing up in China after Elon's weekend appearance. China's elites are joining the platform, with politics the conversation topic of choice.

One More Thing

Spreading the wealth

In a post-GameStop world, money means nothing, investments are jokes and everything is bananas. Or something. Anyway, into that world enters Millions, an "anonymous" fintech app that raised $3 million and is just giving away $1 million of it through a bunch of social-media giveaways. There are apparently real products coming, but again, if GameStop taught us anything, it's that real products have no place in a billion-dollar business.

A MESSAGE FROM SLACK

Slack

Why sales teams at Box and Segment rely on Slack to build stronger customer relationships and seal deals faster.

Read how sales organizations at Box and Segment are harnessing the power of channel-based messaging to keep communication strong, seal deals and streamline the sales cycle when everyone is remote.

Read more

Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from Anna Kramer and Shakeel Hashim. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to david@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day; see you tomorrow.

Recent Issues