Amazon

Amazon’s next conquest will be apparel

Sunny Dhillon Contributor More posts by this contributor The rise of experiential commerce Approaching e-commerce investments in the age of Amazon Late last year, after Amazon announced it had acquired the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic “Lord of the Rings” saga for $250 million, I wrote how the move underscored Amazon’s relentless pursuit to build one platform to “rule them all.” Now that Amazon is investing half a billion dollars into developing a Middle Earth show – making it the most expensive TV series ever made – it won’t be a surprise to see Jeff Bezos front and center at the Emmys soon. But Hollywood isn’t the only industry Amazon wants to upend. Based on the company’s great ambitions in apparel, it may not be long before we also see Bezos at New York Fashion Week next to Anna Wint...

Friday Night Lights is on Hulu now. You’re welcome.

Friday Night Lights, the football show that was never just about football (and one of the best shows on television), is now streaming on Hulu. Say goodbye to the weekend is all I’m saying. Hailed as one of the most honest depictions of a functioning adult relationship in its portrayal of the husband and wife duo of “Coach” Eric and Tammy Taylor, Friday Night Lights also worked wonders for showing the life and high school times of teens in a small Texas town. The show is phenomenal. If you haven’t seen it, you should, and if you have (and if you’re me, you have many many many times), this weekend is as good a time as any to watch it again. For Hulu, this is part of a clutch of shows from the ’90s and 2000s that are touchstones of popular culture. The streaming service already holds Will &am...

New York’s programming ed tech startup, General Assembly, sells to Adecco for $413 million

The European human resources services company Adecco Group said that is acquiring the New York-based, programming, design, and management training startup General Assembly for $413 million. With the acquisition, Adecco adds to its ability to provide job training and re-skilling services for businesses. It’s proof that General Assembly’s own business has come a long way since its early days as a startup offering continuing education or training programs for new entrants into the tech-enabled white collar workforce. General Assembly was worth $440 million after its last, $70 million investment round, according to a report in Axios, which means that early stage investors will see a nice return on their investment while many later stage backers — including Wellington Management and Fresco Capi...

Is America’s national security Facebook and Google’s problem?

Jamie Metzl Contributor Jamie Metzl is a Senior Fellow for Technology and National Security at the Atlantic Council. More posts by this contributor Homo Sapiens 2.0? We need a species-wide conversation about the future of human genetic enhancement Eleonore Pauwels Contributor Eleonore Pauwels is Director of the Anticipatory Intelligence Lab at the Wilson Center, an international science policy expert specializing in the governance and democratization of converging technologies, and a former official of the European Commission’s Directorate on Science, Economy and Society. Outrage that Facebook made the private data of over 87 million of its U.S. users available to the Trump campaign has stoked fears of big US-based technology companies are tracking our every move and misusing our personal ...

After bashing Amazon deals, Trump orders investigation of U.S. Postal Service

The president issued an executive order after hours last night, aimed at evaluating the U.S. Postal Service. Citing the mail service’s “unsustainable financial path,” Trump’s order demands a “thorough” task force evaluation of the USPS’s finances and operations. The service has been a long time talking point for Trump, with Twitter attacks dating back to 2013, when he bemoaned a planned end of Saturday mail delivery. Of late, however, the Postal Service has seemingly been caught in the crossfire of his single-minded attack on Amazon. Back in December, Trump called the USPS out on Twitter once again, saying it was “losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer?” Of cour...

Amazon’s fart app is the best reason to buy an Echo Button

As of this writing, there’s a single, solitary review for Button Tooter. It’s three stars and three sentences, and it’s a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. “They clearly ran out of ideas!” the reviewer writes. “It’s kind of fun! How about a game where you can make music. [sic]” Is Amazon’s creation of a fart app a true indication of creativity bankruptcy? Or is it the sign of a company that’s finally discovered the killer app for its new hardware platform. It’s true that, in the past, fart apps have become a bit of a shorthand for useless mobile software. And for a brief, but glorious moment several years back, fart apps topped the various mobile charts, only to pass like, well, to quote the Oscar-nominated film, “a fart in the wind.” But Buttons have always been a curiosity among the Ech...

Amazon isn’t to blame for the Postal Service’s woes, but it will need to innovate to survive

At the heart of our current President’s criticism is a claim that Amazon is making a mint and leaving a *failing* U.S. Postal Service holding the bag. It’s not a new critique from the Twitterer-in-Chief, but it is one that’s worth unpacking given the crippling effect technologies have had on the USPS — where email is even more reliable than a carrier undeterred by “snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night.“ Is it failing? “Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer?” This infantile question was posed by President Trump on Twitter in December 2017. While it’s not clear what exactly prompted Trump’s criticism,  the tweet...

Walmart reportedly in talks to acquire prescription delivery service PillPack

Walmart is in discussions to acquire medication delivery service PillPack for “under $1 billion,” reports CNBC. CNBC’s sources said the deal isn’t final yet, but talks have been going on for months and Amazon was also a potential suitor for the startup, which delivers medications to tens of thousands of customers in the United States. Launched in 2013, PillPack has raised $118 million in funding from investors including Accel Partners, Atlas Venture and CRV. PillPack doesn’t just fill prescriptions: it also helps patients manage their medications by sorting pills into packets for individual doses, automatically delivering refills to homes and providing 24/7 customer service, all major selling points for seniors and people with multiple conditions. Last year, PillPack also unveiled prescrip...

Alexa gets a DVR recording skill

Slowly but surely, Alexa’s becoming a more competent catchall video assistant. Back in January, Amazon launched its Video Skill API designed to offer more control over apps from cable and satellite companies. An update this week brings the ever-important ability to use the smart assistant to start recoding. The skill joins a number of functions already available from top providers, including Dish, TiVo, and DIRECTV and Verizon — each of whom will likely be updating their Alexa skill set to reflect the new feature. The whole thing works pretty much as you’d expect. Say, “Alexa, record the A’s game,” and the associated service will do just that. Or, you know, any baseball team, really.  Also new in this update is the ability to jump directly into frequently used navigation options, like DVR ...

Every time Trump has gone off on Amazon

Tax cuts might be the name of the game for the Trump administration, but the president has no intention of letting Amazon’s Jeff Bezos off easy. With a tweet early Thursday following an Axios report that the president is “obsessed” with the company, Trump’s anti-Amazon sentiment bubbled up once more. I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2018 Trump’s Amazon ire is nothing new, but seeing it surface through tweets means that going after the company might again be at the top of his mind. Still, historic...

Wondery wants to become Hollywood’s podcast dream factory

When Hernan Lopez, the former chief executive of Fox International, started the podcast network Wondery roughly two years ago with a seed investment from his former bosses at Fox Networks Group, podcasting was still emerging as a media platform. Now, with voice ascendant, and podcasting proving to be a breeding ground for new narratives that other storytelling mediums can latch onto — the move into the reinvention of radio for the 21st century seems prescient. It’s not just Fox that is now backing the podcast business, new investors led by storied venture capital and private equity investor Alan Patricof’s Greycroft Partners are coming aboard with a $5 million commitment to expand the scope of Wondery’s wonder factory. Additional investors include Lerer Hippeau Ventures and Advancit Capita...

TuneIn launches a discounted audio subscription for Alexa owners and Prime members

TuneIn, the free radio service that allows you to stream news, sports, music and podcasts, is today rolling out a new subscription offering for Alexa customers in the U.S. TuneIn Live, as the premium live audio subscription is called, will offer play-by-play calls from thousands of live sporting events, plus access to premium news stations, talk shows and other content. This is the first time that TuneIn premium content has been made available over a voice platform, like Alexa, the company notes. It’s also available at a discount for Alexa owners and Prime members. The subscription content comes from TuneIn partners like MLB, NBA, NHL, and the NFL, as well as news stations like CNBC, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, Newsy, and others. The broader TuneIn service also pulls in content from over 120,000 ow...

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