The best of Jeff Bezos’ goodbye letter to Amazon
Image: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images/Protocol
Good morning! This Friday, Jeff Bezos lays out his vision for a post-Bezos Amazon, fitness is driving innovation all over the tech industry, Big Tech has some updates on its climate goals and there's more money in the self-driving world.
Jeff Bezos is still Amazon's CEO for a few more months, but he used his 2020 Letter to Shareholders to write something of a goodbye note to the company he created almost 27 years ago. Now, Bezos is many things, but he's not brief. (Maybe not surprising, given Amazon's love for the six-pager.) So let's go through the highlights!
For his parting words to the company he founded — and isn't technically leaving, but we'll give him his moment — Bezos urged Amazon employees to make sure the company didn't become "typical."
They used to say that if you wanted to know where tech was headed, watch the adult industry. I think fitness might be a smarter bet. Over the last few years, but particularly during the pandemic, exercise has become one of the most interesting (and lucrative) areas of the industry.
Fitness is an utterly mainstream thing that people are used to spending money on. As Chris Milk, a longtime VR pioneer and creator of VR workout app Supernatural, told The Verge recently: "Fitness will be the first driving force of mass adoption through a normal consumer audience."
Oculus clearly agrees that fitness can drive VR adoption. It's adding in-app subscriptions, Protocol's Janko Roettgers writes, as it tries to make it easier for app developers to build sustainable businesses. Half its early partners are fitness apps, including FitXR and VZfit.
There are a million other examples. Peloton and Tonal have both become hardware, software and services giants on the back of a fitness system; the Apple Watch really took off when Apple started focusing on health and fitness; Fitness+ has now become a crucial part of Apple's services business in general.
Everyone seems to agree that exercise won't go back to the way it was, that in-home fitness is part of the future even after the pandemic. That means a lot of gym membership money is suddenly looking for a new place to go.
Filmmaker Caolan Robertson said YouTube's algorithm absolutely does reward extremism:
Dogecoin is growing because it's a joke, not in spite of it, said co-creator Billy Markus:
Who's to blame for the meme-stock craziness? Chamath Palihapitiya and Elon Musk, according to Greenlight Partners:
"The GameStop trading shot heard round the markets served to many as a wake-up call: Retail investors are all in and they're here to stay. The issue is: How will they use their power?"
Paul Kwan is a new managing director at General Catalyst, leaving Morgan Stanley after two decades of working with Silicon Valley companies.
JD Vance is planning to run for the U.S. Senate in Ohio, Axios reported. The author and VC has recently been loudly anti-Big Tech.
Gina Mastantuono is joining Roblox's board. In her day job, she's ServiceNow's CFO.
Silvio Savarese is the new EVP and chief scientist at Salesforce Research, joining the company from Stanford.
Walmart invested in Cruise, adding to a giant $2 billion round it raised in January. Cruise has been "two years away" from full autonomy for ... a lot longer than two years. Maybe this is a sign it's getting closer?
Robinhood is suing Massachusetts over its new fiduciary rule, and to get Massachusetts to stop suing Robinhood.
Wise is considering a direct listing, The Financial Times reported. The fintech, formerly known as TransferWise, could hit a $10 billion valuation.
Since we're all planning our returns to the office, rethinking our home setups for the umpteenth time and generally trying to figure out what to do now that "going outside" feels like a plausible life decision again, we're going to use this space every day to offer some expert-approved, science-backed tips on the future of work.
Starting with: Get a better microphone! People find speakers smarter, more engaging and more likable when they're presented with high-quality audio. (If you think back on your Zooms over the last year, I bet you'll agree.) One group of subjects rated a physicist's talk 19.3% better when they had good audio. Here's the mic I tell everyone to buy, here's a better but more expensive one and here's a real pro tip: Those wired earbuds that came with your iPhone sound a whole lot better than your AirPods. Either way, it's a small price to pay for being a fifth smarter.
Companies all over the tech industry are making big promises and big plans for the coming decades, trying to do their part to fight climate change, promote equality and take a view of success longer than next quarter and wider than Wall Street. Our panel of industry leaders will examine these questions and more.
Are you tired of explaining the tech news of the day to your co-workers every morning? Let us do the heavy lifting and refer them to Source Code.
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We got a couple of things wrong in yesterday's piece about whistleblowers. First, Ifeoma Ozoma is working with the Omidyar Network, but she's not helping lead it. Second, we mischaracterized the impact of Ozoma's and Aerica Shimizu Banks' whistleblowing: The settlement made by Pinterest following their revelations was awarded to another employee. Sorry for the confusion!
Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from Anna Kramer and Shakeel Hashim. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or our tips line, email@example.com. Enjoy your weekend; see you Sunday.