Incredible 18 months for Amazon, but the new phrase is “retail apocalypse”.
For all prior Amazon Updates, see 11/2016 Update
I believe that genomics just advanced …. headed to commercialization. Read on.
I received this as a gift, and just registered my saliva sample. “Geno 2.0”. As with ancestry.com, the “hook” is they promise a profile of your ancestry. Clever – does not over-promise.
Cost …. $149?
Took 10 minutes. Very cool box, like something from Apple. Inside was an equally cool, self-addressed, stamped box. Fancy test tube inside. Coded carefully – right on the sample tube. Protected for shipment … Nice. Netflix started with a kit like this.
This is only the beginning….like the Internet when AOL was the only game in town, and Amazon only sold books.
Helix seems to be a venture-backed company – Kleiner, Warburg Pincus, and Mayo are shown as investors.
The essence of their value proposition seems to be “products that will be offered by our partners in the future.” These products will obviously draw upon the database that is being accumulated.
Solid Scientific Advisory Board.
Duke shown as partner. National Geographic as well.
Genography.com seems to be another of their sites? Partner.
I began tracking Amazon in early 2014 with multiple posts, copied here.
I speculated in EARLY 2014 (see post below) that Amazon revenue in 2015 would exceed $100 billion.
They finished 2015 at $107 billion – up $11 billion vs 2014:
Revenue is up 21% for the first 9 months of 2016. So my bet is that 2016 will be about $130 billion. The old forecast that Amazon will exceed $250 billion in sales by 2020 is looking about right.
Cash for the latest 12 months is way up – they have $13 billion on hand in cash and cash equivalents.
Their stock price is at an all-time high: $767.
Reminders of earlier posts about moves by Amazon:
ECHO: The Echo is a stout, plain-looking cylinder, about the height of a toaster, that you can park just about anywhere you have Wi-Fi access, though it seems most useful in the kitchen. You can ask it anything, beginning with the word “ALEXA….”
TWITCH: video streaming …. has 40% of all internet video streaming bandwidth????
AMAZONFRESH: lets customers purchase groceries online, including perishable items like dairy, meat, and fish, which are delivered within a day.
They tested in Seattle for years, and then rolled out in 2014 to most of California, New Jersey, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington. They then took an 18 month expansion hiatus. They will expand to Boston and UK this year. This is slower than expected.
As for its progression into other markets, there are more hurdles associated with AmazonFresh than the site’s other services that have slowed it down—the company needs to open refrigerated warehouses, carry its own stock of perishable groceries, and hire additional delivery people in each new market.
Word is that it’s difficult to convince customers it’s worth the $299/year price tag. Amazon is trying to grab a larger share of the grocery market with this expansion. Delivery currently makes up less than 5% of all grocery sales.
Here is how their 2015 10K describes their business.
Amazon.com opened its virtual doors on the World Wide Web in July 1995. We seek to be Earth’s most customer-centric company. We are guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. In each of our segments, we serve our primary customer sets, consisting of consumers, sellers, developers, enterprises, and content creators. In addition, we provide services, such as advertising services and co-branded credit card agreements.
Beginning in the first quarter of 2015, we changed our reportable segments to North America, International, and Amazon Web Services (“AWS”). These segments reflect the way the Company evaluates its business performance and manages its operations. Additional information on our operating segments and product information is contained in Item 8 of Part II, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data—Note 11—Segment Information.” See Item 7 of Part II, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Results of Operations—Supplemental Information” for supplemental information about our net sales. Our company-sponsored research and development expense is set forth within “Technology and content” in Item 8 of Part II, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data—Consolidated Statements of Operations.”
We serve consumers through our retail websites and focus on selection, price, and convenience. We design our websites to enable millions of unique products to be sold by us and by third parties across dozens of product categories. Customers access our websites directly and through our mobile websites and apps. We also manufacture and sell electronic devices, including Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets, Fire TVs, and Echo. We strive to offer our customers the lowest prices possible through low everyday product pricing and shipping offers, and to improve our operating efficiencies so that we can continue to lower prices for our customers. We also provide easy-to-use functionality, fast and reliable fulfillment, and timely customer service. In addition, we offer Amazon Prime, an annual membership program that includes unlimited free shipping on millions of items, access to unlimited instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV episodes, and other benefits.
We fulfill customer orders in a number of ways, including through: North America and International fulfillment and delivery networks that we operate; co-sourced and outsourced arrangements in certain countries; and digital delivery. We operate customer service centers globally, which are supplemented by co-sourced arrangements. See Item 2 of Part I, “Properties.”
We offer programs that enable sellers to sell their products on our websites and their own branded websites and to fulfill orders through us. We are not the seller of record in these transactions, but instead earn fixed fees, a percentage of sales, per-unit activity fees, or some combination thereof.
Here are prior posts:
JUNE, 2015 POST on ECHO
See NYT article below on Amazon’s Echo (and note comparisons to other voice command systems, such as Siri, Google Now, and Cortana):
“If it moves nimbly, keeping ahead of Apple and Google, Amazon could transform the Echo into a something like a residential hub, the one device to control pretty much everything attached to your home.”
Functionality at the moment is:
– telling you the weather
– playing music you ask for
– adding stuff to your shopping list
– reordering items you frequently buy from Amazon
– giving you a heads-up about your nearing calendar appointments
– setting a kitchen timer
– answering the most basic of search queries
Amazon Echo, a.k.a. Alexa, Is a Personal Aide in Need of Schooling
By FARHAD MANJOOJUNE 24, 2015
The Amazon Echo, a wireless speaker and artificially intelligent personal assistant, can tell you the weather, play music and reorder items you frequently buy from Amazon, among other things.
THIS week, I asked a friend for help: “Alexa, can you write this review for me?”
“What’s your question?” Alexa responded.
“Can you write this review for me?”
“Review is spelled R-E-V-I-E-W.”
“Thanks,” I said. “That about sums it up.”
O.K., so Alexa isn’t perfect; far from it, in fact. If there is one glaring flaw in the Amazon Echo — the tiny wireless speaker and artificially intelligent personal assistant, a machine that one always addresses with the honorific “Alexa,” as if she’s some kind of digital monarch — it is that she is quite stupid.
If Alexa were a human assistant, you’d fire her, if not have her committed. “Sorry, I didn’t understand the question I heard” is her favorite response, though honestly she really doesn’t sound very sorry. She’ll resort to that line whether you ask her questions answered by a simple Google search (“How much does a cup of flour weigh?”) or something more complicated (“Alexa, what was that Martin Scorsese movie with Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro?”).
Other times, she is mind-numbingly literal. One night during the N.B.A. playoffs, I asked, “Alexa, what’s the score of the basketball game?” She proceeded to give me a two-minute, 18-part definition of the word “score” that included “a seduction culminating in sexual intercourse.” Not exactly what I was going for.
And yet, after spending three weeks testing the Echo, I really kind of love Alexa. She is just smart enough to be useful. And she keeps getting smarter. This week, after a long invitation-only preview period, Amazon began selling the Echo to the public. At $179.99, Alexa is more expensive than I’d like. (Subscribers to Amazon’s $99-a-year Prime subscription service could buy the Echo for only $100 during the preview.) But if you’re the type who enjoys taking chances on early, halfway useful tech novelties, the Echo is a fun thing to try.
And if you’re anything like me, after a week with the Echo, you may feel the device begin to change how you think about home tech. It will not seem far-fetched to expect that one day soon, you’ll have an all-knowing, all-seeing talking assistant to control your lights, thermostat, entertainment system and just about anything else at home. In Alexa, Amazon has created the perfect interface to control your home; if it adds some more intelligence, it would be quite handy.
The Echo is a stout, plain-looking cylinder, about the height of a toaster, that you can park just about anywhere you have Wi-Fi access, though it seems most useful in the kitchen. It comes with a remote control that you don’t really need, because after a quick initial setup using your smartphone, you can control pretty much everything the Echo does with your voice. (The remote does have a microphone that allows you to speak to the Echo from far away.) From there, the Echo is terrifically easy to use — say “Alexa” and ask your question.
At the moment, there are only a handful of uses for the Echo. She’s great at telling you the weather, adding stuff to your shopping list, reordering items you frequently buy from Amazon, giving you a heads-up about your nearing calendar appointments, and answering the most basic of search queries.
She is pretty good at playing music, though her main source is Amazon Prime Music, a streaming service that is included with a Prime membership. Prime Music’s selection is dreadfully limited, though, and at the moment, the Echo can’t connect to many other streaming services. Thankfully, with a few quick voice commands, Alexa can connect to your phone like any other Bluetooth speaker. That way, she can take control of music you play from most apps, including streaming apps like Spotify. You can’t call out for specific songs this way, but you can say “Alexa, pause” or “Alexa, next” and she’ll control the tunes playing from your phone.
The Echo is also a very good kitchen timer. Put your cookies in the oven; yell out, “Alexa, set timer for 12 minutes”; and she’s off. It’s far easier than fumbling with buttons on the microwave, especially when you have your hands full.
But wait a minute — can’t you do pretty much all this on your phone, your smartwatch or many other devices? Yes, you can, but Alexa is right there. She’s always plugged in. She’s always listening, and she’s fast. It’s surprising how much of a difference a few milliseconds make in maintaining the illusion of intelligence in our machines. Because Alexa is far quicker to spring into action than Siri, Apple’s digital personal assistant, especially Siri on the Apple Watch, I found her to be much more pleasant to use, even if she is frequently wrong.
Amazon says that it plans to constantly improve the Echo. During the preview period, it added a host of new features, including the ability to control some smart-home devices, built-in integration with the Pandora streaming service, and traffic information for your morning commute. I’m hoping Amazon creates an open system — what developers call an API — for the Echo, which will allow a wide variety of online services and apps to connect to the device. If it moves nimbly, keeping ahead of Apple and Google, Amazon could transform the Echo into a something like a residential hub, the one device to control pretty much everything attached to your home.
At the moment, that dream is far off. But dumb as she sometimes sounds, Alexa may be just smart enough to make it happen.
This entry was posted in Personalization, Systems, Technology and tagged Amazon, Echo, Technology, voice recognition on June 29, 2015.
========= MAY 2015 POST ============
The Amazon Crush continues:
Just look at cash:
CASH AND CASH EQUIVALENTS, END OF PERIOD
Amazon has published its 10Q for Q1 2015
Note that free cash flow has doubled:
“Free cash flow, a non-GAAP financial measure, was $3.2 billion for the trailing twelve months ended March 31, 2015, compared to $1.5 billion for the trailing twelve months ended March 31, 2014.”
Note also that international revenue is down.
They also have published their annual report:
Net sales are continuing sharp growth – to $89 billion.
Sales increased 20%, 22%, and 27% in 2014, 2013, and 2012
, compared to the comparable prior year periods. Changes in foreign currency exchange rates impacted net sales by $(636) million, $(1.3) billion, and $(854) million for 2014, 2013, and 2012. For a discussion of the effect on sales growth of foreign exchange rates, see “Effect of Foreign Exchange Rates” below.
North America sales increased 25%, 28%, and 30% in 2014, 2013, and 2012
, compared to the comparable prior year periods. The sales growth in each year primarily reflects increased unit sales, including sales by marketplace sellers, and AWS, which was partially offset by AWS pricing changes. Increased unit sales were driven largely by our continued efforts to reduce prices for our customers, including from our shipping offers, by sales in faster growing categories such as electronics and other general merchandise, by increased in-stock inventory availability, and by increased selection of product offerings.
nternational sales increased 12%, 14%, and 23% in 2014, 2013, and 2012
, compared to the comparable prior year periods. The sales growth in each year primarily reflects increased unit sales, including sales by marketplace sellers. Increased unit sales were driven largely by our continued efforts to reduce prices for our customers, including from our shipping offers, by sales in faster growing categories such as electronics and other general merchandise, by increased in-stock inventory availability, and by increased selection of product offerings. Additionally, changes in foreign currency exchange rates impacted International net sales by $(580) million, $(1.3) billion, and $(853) million in 2014, 2013, and 2012. “
In their annual report, they state the key to their cash flow business model:
“Because of our model we are able to turn our inventory quickly and have a cash-generating operating cycle3. On average, our high inventory velocity means we generally collect from consumers before our payments to suppliers come due.”
====================== Posted 20140820: Amazon Crush – Update =====
Amazon Crush – Update
Thanks to Oliver Wyman, Fast Company and many others for this update on last post on Amazon…..my sense from reading all:
– Twitch is Amazing! Driving 40% of all internet bandwidth???? Is that even possible? With 55 million users spending an average of 100+ minutes per day??? That is enormous! Bezos obviously intrigued and willing to take a risk to get this three-year old start-up in its fold? But why exactly? Don’t know
– FRESH is moving out. Per plan, and announcement to stockholders and also per rumor, Amazon Fresh is in a soft launch mode. The big news was the launch in LA (after 7 years in Seattle tweaking), and then it was small news that they rounded out most of the the rest of California markets – that is a HUGE expansion in less than a year. Moreover, Amazon green trucks are riding through Manhattan, and a roll there is imminent. No word yet, but I really think Chicago might be next – rumors say I am right.
– Manufacturers think this isn’t their fight. Most of them are just glad they are not retailers. But the truth is that Amazon will cause a massive reduction in retailer margin, as well as many of the brand-building activities at retail that manufacturers are used to …. horrible merchandising will replace great merchandising, forget about cold beverage sales, forget about impulse sales, etc.
– the truth is that retail is not at risk – just the marginally profitable ones.
Here are the articles:
AMAZONFRESH IN THE U.S.
After years of anticipation, AmazonFresh has now expanded its U.S. home grocery delivery service beyond its home market of Seattle.
In June 2013, it launched in Los Angeles, with more markets expected to follow. From conversations with supermarket retailers all over the U.S. and globally, it is clear that online and multi-channel competitors have come into focus as a key competitive threat, and AmazonFresh is by far the most dangerous of the new breed. What is striking is the similarity between what we hear from food retailers today and what leaders of category killers were saying back in 2009 – and we know that the category killers’ fears of Amazon proved to be well-founded.
WHAT IS AMAZON FRESH?
AmazonFresh, operating in pilot mode in Seattle since 2007, allows shopping online and on mobile apps. The assortment is surprisingly broad and deep, with between 10,000 and 30,000 items, depending on the market, including (for example) 400+ produce items, 500+ meat and seafood items, 1,300+ beverage items and 4,000+ health and beauty items. Unlike the traditional Amazon model, AmazonFresh prices on consumables are currently higher than those found in local supermarkets, as promotions are mostly absent – the current customer proposition focus is on convenience.
The differences between the Seattle and LA models (different membership and delivery pricing models and different assortment depth, to name a few) seem to indicate that Amazon is still trialling many elements of the business, but the rollout to additional markets suggests underlying confidence in the economics.
When Amazon decides to move from pilot to rollout, history indicates they will move very rapidly. The company has reportedly told vendors it could roll out to 40 U.S. markets by the end of 2014!
The direct impact that Amazon had on many category killers by winning market share is obvious, as is the impact on consumers’ price expectations, but one under-reported aspect of what is happening to category killers is the channel conflict competition Amazon provokes. Not only does Amazon take share, they also force category killers to shift transactions to their own websites. But those sites are not the basket-building machines that stores are. For one major category killer, the average online transaction has only a quarter of the number of items that the average in-store transaction has. So the incumbents face a conundrum – they must grow online sales, but doing so dramatically worsens their economics.
However, Amazon will never take as much share away from food retailers as it has taken from category killers. Food retailers’ natural defenses – low gross margins, focus on fresh product, “need it now” consumption patterns, the emotional aspect of personally selecting food to feed one’s family – mean the supermarket channel as a whole will not suffer the fate of Borders or even Best Buy.
The threat is not that stores will become obsolete; such notions are alarmist and naïve. But AmazonFresh can force dramatic change in the shape of the food retail industry with even modest market share. It doesn’t take complicated analysis to prove this. The industry overall runs with about a 2% bottom line and a 20% volume variable margin. This means
a 10% sales loss would wipe out the entire industry’s profit. Any experienced food retail executive knows that most chains have a “mushy middle” of stores that generate reasonable operating income with current sales volumes, but would quickly tip into negative store profit with a modest reduction in volume. We don’t know what Amazon’s ultimate ambitions in the food space are, but if they achieve even a 5% volume share it would force significant changes. Current players would have to either raise prices – kicking off the vicious cycle of volume loss, causing deleveraged fixed costs, leading to even more price rises – or close stores to bring costs into line. A 5% volume loss to AmazonFresh would result in 10-20% reduction in store count, because not all the volume from closed stores will be clawed back by surviving stores: as supermarkets become relatively less convenient, some of the volume would go to specialists (clubs, hard discounters, premium players) and online channels. It’s too early to know the full extent of the impact, but a good guess is that around one in eight supermarkets would have to close to maintain current profitability without raising prices.
Supermarkets should not count on their ability to weather this disruption the way they weathered the last major disruption: the Walmart supercenter tsunami, in the case of the U.S. Then, the best grocers got better, slashed cost out of their networks, improved their capabilities, and prospered at the expense of weaker competitors who couldn’t adapt fast enough. They had time to pull this off because Walmart couldn’t open a thousand supercenters overnight. But this time, the starting point is much, much more efficient – there will be a lot less “fat” to cut to preserve profitability in the face of falling volume – and the weaker players that were the victims last time are already gone. Most significantly, the rate of change in the competitive landscape will not be constrained by the process of opening new stores. Amazon only has to set up distribution centers and networks. It already has a strong consumer brand. This disruption could happen much faster than anything the industry has seen before.
WHAT SHOULD FOOD RETAILERS BE DOING? AT LEAST THREE THINGS:
Build a multi-channel offering. Of course, grocers must develop their own answer to online and mobile shopping. And it is better to cannibalize one’s own in-store sales than to surrender them to the competition. That said, it is very tricky to make the economics of these models work, so great care must be taken to manage the bottom line as online and mobile sales ramp up.
Get seriously good at fresh. The fresh categories represent a cushion around the rest of the customer offer. If customers believe they can’t get the same quality, freshness and selection online as they would in a store, it will be a formidable barrier to switching to on-line purchasing. So far AmazonFresh’s fresh product offering is highly variable (see Exhibit 1) but it stands to reason that they will get better with experience. And they have a built-in freshness advantage – as do all online grocers – because product take less time to go from the distribution center to the customer’s home. Most U.S. retailers are nowhere near where they could be, and the same is true in many other geographies. Getting good enough at fresh to fend off online competition means re-thinking the supply chain, store practices and merchandising standards. It means breaking the usual trade-off between availability and shrink, shifting the efficient frontier through better capabilities and greater accountability.
Prepare for a world with fewer stores. Possibly a lot fewer. Even an excellent multichannel platform and a rejuvenated fresh offer will not be nearly enough. We believe food retailers should be planning now for a world with far fewer stores. If, say, 15% of the square footage is going to have to close down, survival will depend on making sure the competition bears more than their fair share of the pain. So grocers’ competitive strategy should be focused on ensuring they get to keep more of their stores than the competition does, and being prepared to pounce when weakened competitors begin to wobble. This means understanding how to win store-by-store battles and drive maximum profit out of every square foot. To be clear, we are bullish on the supermarket industry. While the industry’s transformation will be painful for all and fatal for a few, the survivors will be better placed. Surviving stores will do much higher volume and, with higher fixed cost leverage, they could be massively more profitable. Stronger competition will force grocers to become even better operators and even more responsive to customer needs. Retailers who act fast can not only survive, but adapt their businesses to thrive in the new world.
Exhibit 1: PRELIMINARY CUSTOMER RESEARCH BY OLIVER WYMAN SHOWS a wide range of customer perceptions of the quality of AmazonFresh products
“The apples were the kind I would have hunted for and maybe not found. They looked great and the taste was fresh and sweet, the texture crisp which is exactly what I like. They were delicious.”
“The sell by date on the frozen beef says July 2013 [delivered in September 2013]. Granted it was frozen, this makes me believe it’s not fresh beef and I’m a little disappointed by that.”
“Some of the berries were very soft and leaking all over the box.”
ABOUT OLIVER WYMAN
Oliver Wyman is a global leader in management consulting that combines deep industry knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk management, and organization transformation.
Copyright © 2014 Oliver Wyman. All rights reserved.
FastCompany: AmazonFresh a “Trojan horse;” 20 more markets expected
Aug 11 2013, 18:15 ET
In a cover story on Jeff Bezos and Amazon (AMZN), FastCompany’s J.J. McCorvey observes the company’s new AmazonFresh grocery service (offered via its $299/year Prime Fresh free shipping plan) is a “Trojan horse” meant to give Amazon’s broader same-day delivery efforts needed scale.
Amazon is also hoping its same-day infrastructure (replete with Amazon trucks) will increase its appeal to 3rd-party sellers (now responsible for 40% of unit sales) by lowering delivery times. Merchants already cite access to Prime as a reason for outsourcing fulfillment to Amazon (and giving a ~20% cut).
EBAY could prove a formidable same-day rival. Instead of building its own soup-to-nuts infrastructure, eBay is relying on dozens of offline retailers (inc. major national chains) to help handle fulfillment. Google is also dipping its toes into same-day.
Currently available in L.A. and Seattle, AmazonFresh is expected to expand to 20 more markets, including some international ones. SunTrust recently predicted an NYC launch will happen in 2014.
Also mentioned by McCorvey: Amazon is now able to ship items less than 2.5 hours after an order is placed; and wants to further lower than number; Prime now covers 15M+ items (up from 1M in ’05); and Amazon is still “evaluating” how to use Kiva’s robots.
Amazon buying Twitch for $970M in cash
AMAZONFRESH IS JEFF BEZOS’ LAST MILE QUEST FOR TOTAL RETAIL DOMINATION
AMAZON UPENDED RETAIL, BUT CEO JEFF BEZOS — WHO JUST BOUGHT THE WASHINGTON POST FOR $250 MILLION — INSISTS IT’S STILL “DAY ONE.” WHAT COMES NEXT? A RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF CHEAPER GOODS AND FASTER SHIPPING. THE COMPETITION IS ALREADY GASPING FOR BREATH.
BY J.J. MCCORVEY
The first thing you notice about Jeff Bezos is how he strides into a room.
A surprisingly diminutive figure, clad in blue jeans and a blue pinstripe button-down, Bezos flings open the door with an audible whoosh and instantly commands the space with his explosive voice, boisterous manner, and a look of total confidence. “How are you?” he booms, in a way that makes it sound like both a question and a high-decibel announcement.
MORE ON AMAZON
• Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Agrees To Buy The Washington Post For $250 Million
• Need A Job? Amazon Is Hiring 5,000 People
• Think Your Office Is Soulless? Check Out This Amazon Fulfillment Center
Each of the dozen buildings on Amazon’s Seattle campus is named for a milestone in the company’s history–Wainwright, for instance, honors its first customer. Bezos and I meet in a six-floor structure known as Day One North. The name means far more than the fact that Amazon, like every company in the universe, opened on a certain date (in this case, it’s July 16, 1995). No, Day One is a central motivating idea for Bezos, who has been reminding the public since his first letter to shareholders in 1997 that we are only at Day One in the development of both the Internet and his ambitious retail enterprise. In one recent update for shareholders he went so far as to assert, with typical I-know-something-you-don’t flair, that “the alarm clock hasn’t even gone off yet.” So I ask Bezos: “What exactly does the rest of day one look like?” He pauses to think, then exclaims, “We’re still asleep at that!”
He’s a liar.
Amazon is a company that is anything but asleep. Amazon, in fact, is an eyes-wide-open army fighting–and winning–a battle that no one can map as well as its general. Yes, it is still the ruthless king of books–especially after Apple’s recent loss in a book price-fixing suit. But nearly two decades after its real day one, the e-commerce giant has evolved light-years from being just a book peddler. More than 209 million active customers rely on Amazon for everything from flat-panel TVs to dog food. Over the past five years, the retailer has snatched up its most sophisticated competition–shoe seller Zappos and Quidsi, parent of such sites as Diapers.com, Soap.com, Wag.com, and BeautyBar.com. It has purchased the robot maker Kiva Systems, because robots accelerate the speed at which Amazon can assemble customer orders, sometimes getting it down to 20 minutes from click to ship. Annual sales have quadrupled over the same period to a whopping $61 billion. Along the way, incidentally, Amazon also became the world’s most trusted company. Consumers voted it so in a recent Harris Poll, usurping the spot formerly held by Apple.
• Retail’s Game Of Thrones: Citizens of these kingdoms know the stakes–you innovate or you die.
Amazon has done a lot more than become a stellar retailer. It has reinvented, disrupted, redefined, and renovated the global marketplace. Last year, e-commerce sales around the world surpassed $1 trillion for the first time; Amazon accounted for more than 5% of that volume. This seemingly inevitable shift has claimed plenty of victims, with more to come. Big-box retailers like Circuit City and Best Buy bore the brunt of Amazon’s digital assault, while shopping-mall mainstays such as Sears and JCPenney have also seen sales tank. Malls in general, which once seemed to offer some shelter from the online pummeling, have been hollowed out. By Green Street Advisors’ estimate, 10% of the country’s large malls will close in the next decade. It has become painfully clear that the chance to sift through bins of sweaters simply isn’t enough of a draw for shoppers anymore. “It has been this way in retail forever,” says Kevin Sterneckert, a research VP at Gartner who focuses on shopping trends, and who lays out a strategy that should blow nobody’s mind: “If you don’t innovate and address who your customers are, you become irrelevant.” And now that means fending off threats from every phone, tablet, and laptop on the planet.
Amazon’s increasing dominance is now less about what it sells than how it sells. And that portends a second wave of change that will further devastate competitors and transform retail again. It’s not just “1-Click Ordering” on Amazon’s mobile app, which is tailor-made for impulse buying. It’s not just the company’s “Subscribe & Save” feature, which lets customers schedule regular replenishments of essentials like toilet paper and deodorant. It’s not just Amazon’s “Lockers” program, in which huge metal cabinets are installed at 7-Elevens and Staples in select cities, letting customers securely pick up packages at their convenience instead of risking missed (or stolen) deliveries.
“AMAZONFRESH IS REALLY A TROJAN HORSE. IT’S NOT ABOUT WINNING IN GROCERY SERVICES. IT’S ABOUT DOMINATING THE MARKET IN SAME-DAY DELIVERIES. ”
No, it’s all this, plus something more primal: speed. Bezos has turned Amazon into an unprecedented speed demon that can give you anything you want. Right. Now. To best understand Amazon’s aggressive game plan–and its true ambitions–you need to begin with Amazon Prime, the company’s $79-per-year, second-day delivery program. “I think Amazon Prime is the best bargain in the history of shopping,” Bezos tells me, noting that the service now includes free shipping on more than 15 million items, up from the 1 million it launched with in 2005. Prime members also gain access to more than 40,000 streaming Instant Video programs and 300,000 free books in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. As annoying as this might be to Netflix, it is not intended primarily as an assault on that business. Rather, Bezos is willing to lose money on shipping and services in exchange for loyalty. Those 10 million Prime members (up from 5 million two years ago, according to Morningstar) are practically addicted to using Amazon. The average Prime member spends an astounding $1,224 a year on Amazon, which is $700 more than a regular user. Members’ purchases and membership fees make up more than a third of Amazon’s U.S. profit. And memberships are projected to rise 150%, to 25 million, by 2017.
Nadia Shouraboura of Hointer, a new store that represents how retail must adapt in the Age of Amazon
Robbie Schwietzer, VP of Prime, is more candid than his boss when explaining Prime’s true purpose: “Once you become a Prime member, your human nature takes over. You want to leverage your $79 as much as possible,” he says. “Not only do you buy more, but you buy in a broader set of categories. You discover all the selections we have that you otherwise wouldn’t have thought to look to Amazon for.” And what you buy at Amazon you won’t buy from your local retailer.
Prime is phase one in a three-tiered scheme that also involves expanding Amazon’s local fulfillment capabilities and a nascent program called AmazonFresh. Together, these pillars will remake consumers’ expectations about retail. Bezos seems to relish the coming changes. “In the old world, you could make a living by hoping that your customer didn’t know whether your price was actually competitive. That’s a very”–Bezos pauses for a second to rummage for the least insulting word–“tenuous strategy in the new world. [Now] you can’t convince people you have the low price; you actually have to have the low price. You can’t persuade people that your delivery speeds are fast; you actually have to have fast delivery speeds!” With that last challenge, he erupts in a thunderous laugh, throwing his cleanly depilated head so far back that you can see the dark fillings on his upper molars. He really does seem to know something the rest of us don’t. We’re still asleep, he says? The alarm clock at Amazon went off hours ago. Whether the rest of the retail world has woken up yet is another question.
Amazon’s 1-million-square-foot Phoenix fulfillment center produces a steady and syncopated rhythm. It is the turn of mechanical conveyor belts, the thud of boxes hitting metal, the beeping of forklifts moving to and fro, and the hum of more than 100 industrial-size air conditioners whirring away. This is the sound of speed–a sonic representation of what it takes to serve millions of customers scattered across the globe.
In centers like this one, of which there are 89 globally (with more to come), Amazon has built the complex machinery to make sure a product will ship out in less than 2.5 hours from the time a customer clicks place your order.
From that click, a set of algorithms calculates the customer’s location, desired shipping speed, and product availability; it then dispatches the purchase request to “pickers” on duty at the nearest fulfillment center. The system directs the new order to the picker who is closest on the floor to that product, popping up with a bleep on the picker’s handheld scanner gun. These men and women roam the sea of product shelves with carts, guided by Amazon’s steady hand to the precise location of the product on the color-coded shelves. The picker gathers the item and puts it into a bin with other customer orders. And from there, the item zooms off on a conveyor belt to a boxing station, where a computer instructs a worker on what size box to grab and what items belong in that box. After the packer completes an order, the word success lights up in big green letters on a nearby computer screen. Then the package goes back on a conveyor, where the fastest delivery method is calculated by scanning the box, which is then kicked down a winding chute to the appropriate truck.
How one store merges digital and physical
If anyone can design a brick-and-mortar store for an e-commerce world, it should be Nadia Shouraboura. She used to be Amazon’s VP of global supply chain and fulfillment technology and has since created Hointer, a fully automated store run on software algorithms and machinery. She calls it a “microwarehouse” that marries digital’s instant gratification with in-store benefits. “In apparel, this will win,” she predicts. It works like this:
STEP 1. SEARCH
A customer enters the spare store, where there’s only one of every product in view. She pulls up the Hointer app, scans the QR code on a pair of jeans she likes, and enters her size.
STEP 2. DELIVER
Within 30 seconds of scanning the code, a pair of jeans in her size travels through a chute and lands in her dressing room. She can scan as many items as she likes.
STEP 3. REFINE
Inside the dressing room, she tries on the jeans, but they’re too baggy. So she chucks them down another chute and selects a smaller size from the app.
STEP 4. PURCHASE
The jeans fit! She pays on her phone or swipes her card at a kiosk, and leaves the store with her purchase. No sales clerk necessary.
The process is efficient, but still lower tech than it could be. Although Amazon shelled out $775 million last year for those orange Kiva robots, it says it’s still “evaluating” how to deploy the bots, and they’re nowhere to be seen here. “Fulfillment by Amazon” is still a very human endeavor–and the company’s creativity thrives within that limitation. A team at the Phoenix center is constantly thinking of ways to chip away at the 2.5-hour processing time. For instance, when products arrive from Amazon’s vendors and the 2 million third-party merchants who sell their goods on the site, workers now scan them into Amazon’s inventory system (again, with a handheld gun) instead of entering the details manually. Also, products have been stowed on shelves in what otherwise might appear to be a random way–for example, a single stuffed teddy bear might be next to a college biology book–because it reduces the potential distance a worker must trek between popular products that might be ordered together. Small tweaks like these have an impact: In the past two years, Amazon has reduced the time it took to move a product by a quarter. During the past holiday season, the company processed 306 items per second worldwide.
These centers aren’t just about warehouse speed, though: They’re also about proximity. Over the past several years, Bezos has poured billions into building them in areas closer and closer to customers. The Phoenix warehouse, one of four in the region, serves a metro area of nearly 4 million. Robbinsville, New Jersey, is roughly one hour from 8 million New Yorkers. Patterson, California, is an hour and a half from 7 million people living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Three locations in Texas–Coppell, Haslet, and Schertz–will serve not only the nearly 9 million citizens of the Dallas and San Antonio metro areas but also the other 17 million or so customers in the state (and possibly neighboring states too) who live only a few hundred miles away.
“What you see happening,” Bezos explains, “is that we can have inventory geographically near major urban populations. If we can be smart enough–and when I say ‘smart enough,’ I mean have the right technology, the right software systems, machine-learning tools–to position inventory in all the right places, over time, your items never get on an airplane. It’s lower cost, less fuel burned, and faster delivery.”
The holy grail of shipping–same-day delivery–is tantalizingly within reach. Amazon already offers that service in select cities, what it calls “local express” delivery, but the big trick is to do it nationally. And the crucial element of this ambitious plan is revealed by something wonkier than a bunch of buildings. It is something only an accountant could see coming: a cunning shift in tax strategy.
“”IN THE NEW DIGITAL WORLD,” SAYS BEZOS, “YOU CAN’T CONVINCE PEOPLE YOU HAVE THE LOW PRICE; YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO HAVE THE LOW PRICE.””
If you were a competitor who knew what to listen for, you’d practically hear the Jaws theme every time Bezos said the word taxes. For years, Amazon fervently avoided establishing what is called a “tax nexus”–that is, a large-enough physical presence–in states that could potentially force it to collect sales tax from its customers, something brick-and-mortar and mom-and-pop stores had long argued would finally remove Amazon’s unfair pricing advantage. In states that dared to challenge Amazon, the company would quickly yank operations. The scrutiny even extended to its sale of products by other merchants. “We had to be very careful, even with the third-party business, about not incurring tax-nexus stuff,” recalls John Rossman, a former Amazon executive and current managing director at Alvarez and Marsal, a Seattle-based consulting firm.
But Amazon has since changed its mind. It determined that the benefits of more fulfillment centers–and all the speed they’ll provide–will outweigh the tax cost they’ll incur. So it began negotiating with states for tax incentives. South Carolina agreed to let the company slide without collecting sales tax until 2016, in exchange for bringing 2,000 jobs to the state. In California, Amazon was given a year to start collecting taxes in exchange for building three new warehouses. And at the end of 2011, Amazon even threw its support behind a federal bill that would mandate all online retailers with sales of more than $1 million to collect tax in states in which they sold to customers. In 2012 alone, Amazon spent $2.5 million lobbying for issues that included what’s known as the Marketplace Fairness Act–the same law, essentially, it had once moved heaven and earth to eradicate. The bill recently cleared the U.S. Senate and awaits passage in the House.
“The general perception is companies thinking, Oh, great, finally a level playing field,” Rossman says. “But other retailers are going to regret the day. Sales tax was one of the few things impeding Amazon from expanding. Now it’s like wherever Amazon wants to be, whatever Amazon wants to do, they are going to do it.”
There’s yet another weapon in Amazon’s offensive, and it’s ready for rollout. It’s called AmazonFresh, a grocery delivery service that has long been available only in Seattle. The site has a selection of 100,000 items, and from my hotel room in that city on a recent Saturday at 11 a.m., I gave it a try. I clicked on chips, bananas, apples, yogurt, and a case of bottled water–along with a DVD of Silver Linings Playbook and a Moleskine reporter’s notebook. After checking out and paying the $10 delivery fee, I requested my goods to arrive during the 7 p.m. to 8 p.m window. At 7:15 that evening, De, my AmazonFresh delivery woman, showed up in the lobby. She helped carry my bags up the elevator and to my hotel room, and tried several times to refuse a $5 tip for the trouble I put her through in the name of research. It was simple, easy–and for Amazon competitors, very threatening.
De and the Kiva robots are central to what Amazon sees as the future of shopping: whatever you want, whenever you want it, wherever you want it, as fast as you demand it. AmazonFresh is expected to expand soon to 20 more urban markets–including some outside America. Los Angeles became the second AmazonFresh market, this past June, and customers there were offered something the folks in Seattle must wish they got: a free trial of Prime Fresh, the upgrade version of Amazon Prime, which provides free shipping of products and free delivery of groceries for orders over $35. Subscribers will pay an annual fee of $299. Considering that grocery delivery otherwise costs between $8 and $10 each time (depending on order size), the subscription covers itself after about 30 deliveries–which busy families will quickly exceed.
Bezos, in his cagey, friendly way, seems more excited about my Fresh experience than he is about describing Fresh’s future. He seems almost surprised that the service worked so well at a hotel, given that it was designed for home delivery. “Thank you!” he shouts. After peppering me with questions on how, precisely, the delivery went down, he finally gets around to addressing the service’s business purpose.
“WE WON’T INVEST IN A COMPANY UNLESS THEY CAN TELL US WHY THEY WON’T GET STEAMROLLED BY AMAZON.”
“We’d been doing a very efficient job with our current distribution model for a wide variety of things,” Bezos says. “Diapers? Fine, no problem. Even Cheerios. But there are a bunch of products that you can’t just wrap up in a cardboard box and ship ’em. It doesn’t work for milk. It doesn’t work for hamburger.” So he developed a service that would work–not because he suddenly wanted to become your full-service grocer but because of how often people buy food.
AmazonFresh is actually a Trojan horse, a service designed for a much greater purpose. “It was articulated [in the initial, internal pitch to Bezos] that this would work with the broader rollout of same-day delivery,” says Tom Furphy, a former Amazon executive who launched Fresh in 2007 and ran it until 2009. Creating a same-day delivery service poses tremendous logistical and economic hurdles. It’s the so-called last-mile problem–you can ship trucks’ worth of packages from a warehouse easily enough, but getting an individual package to wind its way through a single neighborhood and arrive at a single consumer’s door isn’t easy. The volume of freight and frequency of delivery must outweigh the costs of fuel and time, or else this last mile is wildly expensive. You can’t hire a battalion of Des unless they earn their keep. So by expanding grocery delivery, Amazon hopes to transform monthly customers to weekly–or even thrice-weekly–customers. And that, in turn, will produce the kind of order volume that makes same-day delivery worth investing in. “Think of the synergy between Prime, same-day delivery, and Fresh,” says Furphy. “When all of those things start working in concert, it can be a very beautiful thing.”
AmazonFresh is arguably the last link in Bezos’s big plan: to make Amazon the dominant servicer–not just seller–of the entire retail experience. The difference is crucial. Third-party sellers, retailers large and small, now account for 40% of Amazon’s product sales. Amazon generally gets up to a 20% slice of each transaction. Those sellers are also highly incentivized to use Fulfillment by Amazon (known as FBA). Rather than shipping their products themselves after a sale is made on the Amazon site, these retailers let Amazon do the heavy lifting, picking and packing at places like the Phoenix center. For the sellers, an FBA agreement grants them access to Prime shipping speeds, which can help them win new customers and can allow them to sell at slightly higher prices. For Amazon, FBA increases sales, profits, and the likelihood that any shopper can find any item on its website.
“NOW YOU HAVE SMART BRICK-AND-MORTAR STORES SAYING, ‘WHY ISN’T OUR EXPERIENCE MORE INTUITIVE, AS IT IS ON THE WEB?’”
The burgeoning AmazonFresh transportation network will help expand these numbers. In Los Angeles and Seattle, a fleet of Fresh trucks delivers everything from full-course meals to chocolate from local merchants. The bright green branded trucks–with polite drivers in branded uniforms–let Amazon personify its brand, giving it the same kind of trustworthy familiarity that fueled the rise of UPS in the 1930s. “If you have all kinds of fly-by-night operations coming to your door, people don’t like that,” says Yossi Sheffi, professor and director of the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics. “It’s different with someone in a U.S. Postal Service or FedEx uniform. Those brands inspire confidence.”
As Amazon evolves into a same-day delivery service, its active transportation fleet could become yet another competitive advantage. By supplementing its long-term relationships with UPS and FedEx with its own Fresh trucks, Amazon may well be able to deliver faster than retailers that depend entirely on outside services. “Pretty soon, if you’re a retailer with your online business, you’re going to be faced with a choice,” says Brian Walker, a former analyst at Forrester Research who is now with Hybris, a provider of e-commerce software. “You’re not going to be able to match Amazon, so you’re going to have to consider partnering with them and leveraging their network.”
This shift could even turn Amazon into a competitor to UPS and FedEx, the long-standing duopoly of next-day U.S. shipping. “If Amazon could do it at enough scale, they could offer shipping at a great value and still eke out some margin,” says Walker. “In classic Amazon fashion, they could leverage the infrastructure they’ve built for themselves, take a disruptive approach to the pricing, and run it as an efficiency play.”
Amazon has been down this road before. Its Web Services began as an efficient, reliable back end to handle its own web operations–then became so adept that it now provides digital services for an enormous range of customers, including Netflix and, reportedly, Apple. It’s not impossible to imagine Amazon doing the same with shipping. Last year, the company cut its shipping costs as a percentage of sales from 5.4% to 4.5%. As it builds more distribution centers, installs more lockers, and builds out its fleet, Amazon is likely to drive those efficiency costs down even further.
So is Amazon Freight Services Bezos’s next mission? When I ask, the laugh lines vanish from his face as if someone flipped a switch on his back. He contends that same-day delivery is too expensive outside of urban markets and that it only makes sense for Amazon to deliver its own products within the Fresh program. In China, he explains, Amazon does in fact deliver products via many couriers and bicycle messengers. “But in a country like the United States,” he says, “we have such a sophisticated last-mile delivery system that it makes more sense for Amazon to use that system to reach its customers in a rapid and accurate way.” When I ask whether he would consider, say, buying UPS, with its 90,000 trucks–or even more radically, purchasing the foundering USPS, with its 213,000 vehicles running daily through America’s cities and towns–Bezos scoffs. But he won’t precisely say no.
• Condoms, iPads, And Toilet Paper: A Day In The Life Of An Ebay Now Deliveryman
Rivals aren’t waiting for an answer. EBay has launched eBay Now, a $5 service that uses its own branded couriers in New York, San Francisco, and San Jose, to fetch products from local retail stores like Best Buy and Toys “R” Us and deliver them to customers within an hour. Google, fully aware that Amazon’s market share in product search is substantial (now 30% to Google’s 13%), has launched a pilot service called Google Shopping Express, which partners with courier companies. Walmart–which has booted all Kindles from its stores–started testing same-day delivery in select cities during the last holiday season, shipping items directly from its stores. (Joel Anderson, chief executive of Walmart.com, even suggested paying in-store shoppers to deliver online orders to other customers the same day. Come for a handsaw, leave with a job!)
These are the sort of ideas that retailers–both e-commerce and physical, large and small–will have to consider as Amazon expands. Guys like Jeff Jordan, partner at well-known venture firm Andreessen Horowitz, will make sure of it. His firm follows and invests in direct-to-consumer businesses. “We won’t invest in a company,” he says, “unless they can tell us why they won’t get steamrolled by Amazon.”
Given the astounding growth of Amazon, and the seemingly infinite ways it has defied the critics, Bezos may have proved himself the best CEO in the world at taking the long view. But he doesn’t like talking about it. “Did you bring the crystal ball? I left mine at home today,” he quips. He does, however, like discussing what the future might bring for his customers. In fact, he likes talking about his customer so much that the word can seem like a conversational tic; he used it 40 times, by my count, in just one interview. “It’s impossible to imagine that 10 years from now, I could interview an Amazon customer and they would tell me, ‘Yeah, I really love Amazon. I just wish your prices were a little higher,’” he says. “Or, ‘I just wish you’d deliver a little more slowly.’” In Bezos’s world, the goal of the coming decade is a lot like the goal of the past two: Be cheap. Be fast. That’s how you win.
There is, naturally, no guarantee that Bezos will simply win and win and win. The bigger Amazon gets, the greater the number and variety of stakeholders required to make the Amazon machine hum. Many seem to be getting increasingly frustrated. Consider Amazon’s third-party sellers–that group making up 40% of the company’s product sales. Earlier this year, Amazon issued a series of fee hikes for use of its fulfillment services, ranging from as low as 5 cents per smallish unit to as much as $100 for heavier or awkwardly shaped items (like a whiteboard, say, or roll-away bed). Many sellers took to Amazon’s forums to complain, and others threatened to go to eBay, which mostly leaves fulfillment to its sellers. “I think Amazon is a necessary evil,” says Louisa Eyler, distributor for Lock Laces, a shoelace product that sells as many as 3,000 units per week on Amazon. After the price hike, Eyler says her total fees for the $7.99 item went from $2.37 to $3.62. She says Amazon now makes more per unit than she does.
Or consider the frustrations of Amazon employees, who are striking at two of its eight German facilities in an effort to wrest higher wages and overtime pay. At the height of the conflict, on June 17, 1,300 workers walked off the job. (It is one of Amazon’s largest walk-offs in its biggest foreign market, and could result in shipping delays.) Meanwhile, Amazon workers in the U.S. have filed a lawsuit claiming that they’ve been subject to excessive security checks–to search for pilfered items–at warehouses. The suit alleges their wait could last as long as 25 minutes, an inconvenience Amazon would never subject its customers to. “It means there’s a broken process somewhere,” says Annette Gleneicki, an executive at Confirmit, a software company that helps businesses capture customer and employee feedback. “[Bezos] clearly inspires passion in his employees, but that’s only sustainable for so long.”
The company could be vulnerable on other fronts as well. Target and Walgreens have “geo-fenced” their stores so their mobile apps can guide customers directly to the products they desire. Walmart and Macy’s have begun making their stores do double-duty, both as a place to shop and a warehouse from which to ship products. (The strategy seems to be paying off for Macy’s, which recently reported a jump in first-quarter profit and is now fulfilling 10% of its online purchases from its stores.) They’re proving that retail won’t go away–it’ll learn and adapt. “Now you have smart brick-and-mortar stores saying, Why isn’t our experience more intuitive, as it is on the web?” says Doug Stephens, author of The Retail Revival: Re-Imagining Business for the New Age of Consumerism. “We should know a consumer when they walk in, and what they bought before, in the same way as Amazon’s recommendation engine.”
Bezos won’t admit to any deep concern. While Amazon’s paper-thin profits continue to perplex observers (the company netted only $82 million in the first quarter of 2013), the three primary weapons in its retail takeover–fulfillment centers, Amazon Prime, and now AmazonFresh–are coming to maturity. If the next year tells us anything about Amazon’s future, it should reveal whether Bezos’s decision to plow billions back into these operations will give the company an end-to-end service advantage that might be nearly impossible for its competitors to overcome.
The sun seems to be setting on Bezos’s big Day One. Before we part ways in Seattle, I ask him what we can expect to see on Day Two. “Day Two will be when the rate of change slows,” he replies. “But there’s still so much you can do with technology to improve the customer experience. And that’s the sense in which I believe it’s still Day One, and that it’s early in the day. If anything, the rate of change is accelerating.”
Of course, Bezos is the accelerator.
Amazon Buys Twitch For $970 Million In Cash
AUG. 25, 2014, 4:03 PM 13,994 21
Patrick T. Fallon/Getty Images
Twitch CEO Emmett Shear.
Amazon said on Monday it would pay $970 million in cash for Twitch, a live video-game-streaming site with more than 55 million users that’s like YouTube for video games.
As of July, Twitch had over 15 billion minutes of content, and users were spending more than 100 minutes a day on the site, on average. Twitch users can host live streams of their gaming sessions and broadcast them to the world. They can also chop up their sessions into segments for streaming later.
It’s also a resource for gamers who like to show off their unique skills. For example, there’s an entire community on Twitch dedicated to doing weird stuff like beating Zelda games in under 20 minutes or playing massively collaborative games of Pokemon.
A Twitch streaming session.
Twitch is a huge part of the internet, and it accounts for nearly 2% of all traffic in the U.S. during peak hours, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. Only Netflix, Google, and Apple account for more traffic. In that respect, Twitch even streams more video than Hulu.
Twitch also accounts for 40% of all live-streamed internet content, according to Business Insider Intelligence:
What’s really impressive is that Twitch was able to become so big after just three years.
You can see Amazon’s purchase of Twitch as a play to take over the future of TV. More and more content is being streamed online, and more and more hours of video watching are being done on sites like YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu. Amazon has its own streaming video service called Amazon Instant that comes with Amazon Prime memberships. Amazon Instant includes thousands of streaming movies and TV shows, including original shows like “Alpha House.”
Alpha House is an original Amazon show.
Earlier Monday, multiple reports indicated Amazon was in late-stage talks to acquire Twitch. The news came as a big surprise because just last month it was reported that Google had agreed to acquire Twitch for about $1 billion. That deal, however, was never officially confirmed.
The Google-Twitch deal felt like a natural fit, since it would’ve been a good way for YouTube to expand its video offerings. Yahoo also tried to buy Twitch for $970 million, but Amazon swooped in and got it instead.
It’s unclear what had caused the Google-Twitch deal to fall through, but one possible reason is over antitrust issues. Since Google already owns YouTube, the world’s largest video streaming site, acquiring another massive video streaming site like Twitch could raise antitrust issues. According to Forbes, the two sides couldn’t agree on the potential break up fee.
Here’s the official announcement from Amazon:
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) today announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire Twitch Interactive, Inc., the leading live video platform for gamers. In July, more than 55 million unique visitors viewed more than 15 billion minutes of content on Twitch produced by more than 1 million broadcasters, including individual gamers, pro players, publishers, developers, media outlets, conventions and stadium-filling esports organizations.
“Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon and Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of minutes of games each month – from The International, to breaking the world record for Mario, to gaming conferences like E3. And, amazingly, Twitch is only three years old,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com. “Like Twitch, we obsess over customers and like to think differently, and we look forward to learning from them and helping them move even faster to build new services for the gaming community.”
“Amazon and Twitch optimize for our customers first and are both believers in the future of gaming,” said Twitch CEO Emmett Shear. “Being part of Amazon will let us do even more for our community. We will be able to create tools and services faster than we could have independently. This change will mean great things for our community, and will let us bring Twitch to even more people around the world.”
Twitch launched in June 2011 to focus exclusively on live video for gamers. Under the terms of the agreement, which has been approved by Twitch’s shareholders, Amazon will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Twitch for approximately $970 million in cash, as adjusted for the assumption of options and other items. Subject to customary closing conditions, the acquisition is expected to close in the second half of 2014.
Here’s a letter from Twitch’s CEO:
Dear Twitch Community,
It’s almost unbelievable that slightly more than 3 years ago, Twitch didn’t exist. The moment we launched, we knew we had stumbled across something special. But what followed surprised us as much as anyone else, and the impact it’s had on both the community and us has been truly profound. Your talent, your passion, your dedication to gaming, your memes, your brilliance – these have made Twitch what it is today. Every day, we strive to live up to the standard set by you, the community. We want to create the very best place to share your gaming and life online, and that mission continues to guide us. Together with you, we’ve found new ways of connecting developers and publishers with their fans. We’ve created a whole new kind of career that lets people make a living sharing their love of games. We’ve brought billions of hours of entertainment, laughter, joy and the occasional ragequit. I think we can all call that a pretty good start. Today, I’m pleased to announce we’ve been acquired by Amazon. We chose Amazon because they believe in our community, they share our values and long-term vision, and they want to help us get there faster. We’re keeping most everything the same: our office, our employees, our brand, and most importantly our independence. But with Amazon’s support we’ll have the resources to bring you an even better Twitch. I personally want to thank you, each and every member of the Twitch community, for what you’ve created. Thank you for putting your faith in us. Thank you for sticking with us through growing pains and stumbles. Thank you for bringing your very best to us and sharing it with the world. Thank you, from a group of gamers who never dreamed they’d get to help shape the face of the industry that we love so much. It’s dangerous to go alone. On behalf of myself and everyone else at Twitch, thank you for coming with us. Emmett Shear, CEO
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
SEE ALSO: Here’s Why Amazon Just Paid Nearly $1 Billion For A Site Where You Can Watch People Play Video Games
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-buys-twitch-2014-8#ixzz3BSBNYa53
Amazon Is Turning Into Google
AUG. 25, 2014, 7:15 PM 1,038 3
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
Tell me which company this sounds like:
A company that…
• Has its own mobile operating system for tablets and smartphones.
• Has its own app store.
• Sells digital music, books, movies, and TV shows.
• Will soon have an online ad network.
• Created a way to accept payments with a smartphone.
• Owns the servers that act as the backbone for several major apps and startups and even parts of the CIA.
• Is experimenting with drones.
It’s not Google. It’s Amazon.
But just like Google has expanded beyond search into everything from finding ways to cheat death to making cars that can drive themselves, Amazon has been increasingly expanding beyond its core e-commerce business.
And in recent months, that only seems to be speeding up.
Amazon’s $970 million purchase of Twitch, a site that lets you watch people play video games via a live stream, is its latest push into original video content and a move to transform itself into part media company. It’s a longer-term bet that the trend of watching stuff online versus cable will continue.
Add that on top of the stuff listed above, and Amazon suddenly sounds less like an online store for buying books and gifts and more like a company trying to insert itself into everything you do online. It sounds very Google-y.
There’s experimentation with same-day delivery, grocery delivery, and point of sale systems for brick-and-mortar retailers. Those are all things Google is working on or has at least experimented with.
The only difference, of course, is that Google is wildly profitable while Amazon continues to post losses each quarter. (Next quarter could be a doozy. Amazon said to expect at least a $410 million operating loss.)
But it’s also a changing company, one that’s no longly simply “the everything store,” but an entity creeping its way into everything we do from shop to play games to run our small businesses.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
SEE ALSO: 9 impressive stats about Twitch
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-is-google-2014-8#ixzz3BSE4Hglt
AmazonFresh Expansion Plans
, Says Drones Are for Real
April 10, 2014, 9:15 AM PDT
By Jason Del Rey
Grocery delivery fans outside of Seattle and California, rejoice: Amazon plans to expand its AmazonFresh offering beyond its current three markets, CEO Jeff Bezos confirmed in his 2013 letter to shareholders published today.
“We’ll continue our methodical approach — measuring and refining AmazonFresh — with the goal of bringing this incredible service to more cities over time,” he said in the letter.
For five years, Fresh was only available in Seattle, before the company launched the program last year in Los Angeles and, six months later, San Francisco. Several reports over the past year have said Amazon plans to expand the delivery service into 10 to 20 more new markets this year, but this may be the first time Bezos has publicly acknowledged the expansion plans.
Through Fresh, shoppers can order deliveries of groceries and hundreds of thousands of other items, from TVs to toys, that arrive either that same day or the following morning. Industry observers believe that part of Amazon’s reason for delivering groceries is that it will create enough sales volume and delivery demand to justify delivering all other Amazon merchandise within one day.
Another highlight from the letter: Drones.
“The Prime Air team is already flight testing our 5th and 6th generation aerial vehicles,” Bezos wrote, “and we are in the design phase on generations 7 and 8.”
Is it possible that drone delivery is still a marketing stunt? Sure. If so, Bezos is sticking to the script.
More from this story
Headed your way: AmazonFresh widens range of grocery deliveries
Doorstep delivery: Our reporter gives AmazonFresh grocery service a whirl
BY NANCY LUNA / STAFF WRITER
Published: June 20, 2014 Updated: June 23, 2014 11:44 a.m.
STEVEN GEORGES, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
VONS VS. AMAZONFRESH
Here are a few price comparisons based on items found online this week:
1 gallon of Alta Dena fat-free milk: $5.49 Vons vs. $4.99 AmazonFresh
59-ounce jug of Simply Lemonade: $2.50 Vons vs. $2 AmazonFresh
5 ounces organic baby romaine: $3.90 O private-label Vons brand vs. $3.39 Earthbound brand at AmazonFresh
24-pack of Aquafina 16.9-ounce bottled water: $5.49 Vons vs. $4.29 AmazonFresh
Tide Free and Gentle (100 ounces): $11.99 Vons vs. $11.97 AmazonFresh
20-pack Coke Zero: $8.29 Vons vs. $6.99 AmazonFresh
Winder Farms: A Utah-based delivery service in California, Utah and Nevada. Delivers roughly 300 farm fresh items. Delivery in Orange County and parts of Los Angeles County. winderfarms.com
Good Eggs: Delivery of locally grown, sustainable goods from stores or farmers’ markets. Los Angeles County only. goodeggs.com/about/mission
Vons: Traditional market with home delivery in Orange County. shop.safeway.com
Instacart: Delivers from local stores like Whole Foods, Ralphs and Bristol Farms. Limited to a few ZIP codes in Los Angeles County. instacart.com/store/whole-foods
Deliveer: Personal shoppers deliver groceries from Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s, Vons and Costco in Pasadena, San Marino, South Pasadena and Altadena. Expansion to other parts of Los Angeles County coming soon. deliveer.com
As Amazon’s fledgling grocery service in Southern California widens its reach, some boutique food suppliers say the experiment has proven to be a boon for business.
Huntington Meats saw sales go from single-digit growth to double digits after the first month of partnering with AmazonFresh, a doorstep food service that launched last summer in Los Angeles.
The 30-year-old butcher shop, known for its top-grade meats and wild game, partnered with AmazonFresh last summer. Co-owner Jim Cascone said his meat market sells the “whole store,” or 175 items, through the online site, from free-range chickens to ground elk.
Demand for his specialty goods continues to soar and was boosted in recent weeks when the company expanded its service to most of Orange County.
“We’re very pleased,” said Cascone. “We’re definitely getting a lot of business out of it.”
For other Amazon partners, the impact has been much less dramatic. Greg Daniels, executive chef-partner at Haven Collective, has been working with AmazonFresh the last six months. The company’s Provisions Market bottle and cheese shop in Old Towne Orange offers Amazon shoppers specialty cheeses, cured meats, chocolate and a wide selection of craft beer.
“Cheese is popular, and beer not too much yet,” said Daniels. “It’s definitely brand exposure more than money.”
Amazon’s doorstep service initially was limited to Los Angeles, four cities in Orange County and parts of Long Beach. Shoppers choose from a wide selection – some 500,000 items – of merchandise, groceries and specialty foods.
In recent weeks, AmazonFresh has expanded to Orange, Tustin, Garden Grove, Aliso Viejo, Santa Ana, Laguna Niguel and Mission Viejo in addition to Irvine, Anaheim, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach. All of Long Beach is also eligible for delivery, a company spokesperson said.
The expansion comes as Amazon sees positive results in the greater Los Angeles area.
“While I can’t share specific numbers, we are very pleased with the response from our customers so far,” AmazonFresh said in a statement.
AmazonFresh’s grocery delivery expansion comes as doorstep food services experience a resurgence after failing years ago.
In 2013, revenue from online grocery sales reached $6.5 billion, according to market research firm IBIS World. By 2018, sales are projected to reach $10.1 billion as time-strapped consumers seek convenient ways to shop through mobiles devices and home computers, IBIS said.
AmazonFresh entered Los Angeles last summer after testing its grocery service near its home turf in Seattle. The service is also available in San Francisco and Berkeley.
Other food delivery options in the region include Winder Farms, Good Eggs, Deliveer, Instacart and Vons.
AmazonFresh rolls into San Diego
By Katherine P. Harvey2:08 P.M.JULY 29, 2014Updated5:36 P.M.
This entry was posted in Business Models, E-Commerce and tagged Amazon on August 20, 2014. Edit
==============AMAZING AMAZON POST AUGUST, 2014 ========
Continually updated notes as I try to keep up with Jeff Bezos (impossible)
As of 10/23/2013
JCR was working with a partner at a major consulting firm on CGF business. In a casual moment, they got talking about e-commerce, and the subject of Amazon came up. The partner shared that they had just completed a major piece about Amazon, using entirely public sources, for a retailer client. He graciously offered to share the work, and did not label the work confidential. JCR reviewed it and thought that the sources and insights were outstanding – but he thought it best not to quote or share the document directly. So these facts are largely from that analysis and that analysis’ public sources (shown at the end of this paper). They are extended by other facts and articles discovered by JCR.
The purpose of this working paper is to lay out a case that Amazon deserves high-priority consideration by virtually all Fortune 1000 companies operating in a retail or manufacturer environment.
From 2015-2018, there is a high likelihood that:
1. E-commercewillbemainstream.Itwillbecomethepreferredmethodofshoppingformany consumers, and it will enjoy ubiquity and mainstream use by the global middle class like cell phones do today;
2. Amazon will lead e-commerce. Amazon will be – far and away – the leader in the e-commerce retailing space;
4. Amazon will aggressively enter food and beverage retail globally. They will establish themselves
in key markets as one of the top 10 customers of most manufacturers;
5. Amazon will “perfect” home delivery. They will crack the “last mile” of retail. They will “perfect” delivering direct to the home or to a designated agent of the home, thereby making obsolete traditional retailers who cannot do this;
6. Amazon will “perfect” their business model. Amazon will dominate best practice in logistics, fulfillment, and customer satisfaction over this planning period, in a manner so effective that others who fail to keep up will be left behind by 2016;
7. Amazon will disrupt most business models. Amazon can potentially disrupt fundamental assumptions bout store delivery, merchandising, and the viability of home delivery
Experts project that:
– E-Commerce will exceed $1,400 billion revenue by 2020
– It will be ubiquitous, accepted by virtually all (like cell phones today)
– It will be primary source of purchasing by consumers, who will be intensively engaged
– It will extend from its current 33 retail categories into all retail categories
1. E-Commerce Will Be Mainstream
2. Amazon Will Lead E-Commerce
Amazon will be – far and away – the leader in the e-commerce retailing space. Amazon revenue will continue to grow fast: in 2013 it was $75 billion, up from $61, $48, $34, $25, and $19 billion in 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008 respectively. Analysts predict revenue will reach $90 billion in 2014. By 2015, Amazon is highly likely to have revenues exceeding $100 billion annually. Conservatively, Amazon revenue is likely to grow 20% per year from 2015 to 2020, reaching at least $250 billion in 2020 (one third of e-commerce and more than half the size of Wal-Mart today).
Exhibit 2: Projected Amazon Revenue Growth (2008-2024)
Note: 2008-2012 are actual revenues !
Amazon will begin to directly threaten Walmart over this 2015-2020 planning cycle
Today, Amazon revenue ($61 billion) is small compared to brick & mortar Wal-Mart, who closed 2012 with revenue of $444 billion. But, it nonetheless is remarkable for an online retailer. In 2000, the entire universe
of e-commerce was predicted to be less than $20B by Forrester and yet today, Amazon alone sells $61 MM and is closing in on $100 MM.
In contrast, it appears that Wal-Mart online sales will be less than $10 million. $61 million versus $10 million: it seems reasonably clear who is going to win in e-commerce. Although recent reports make it very clear that Wal-Mart has woken up to the threat and is responding so no one can know for sure what the outcome of this battle will be.
Not bad for a company that opened for business as a bookseller less than 20 years ago – in 1995.
3. E-Commerce Will Impact Food And Beverage
Food & Beverages to Grow as a Proportion of Total E-Commerce Sales
Amazon will emerge as a force in food and beverage retail. Some have concluded that grocery was approximately $36M in 2011 and would nearly double by 2015 to $57M and nearly triple from 2011 to $101B in 2020. Furthermore, it is predicted that beverages would grow from $6B in 2011, to $8B in 2015, and to $17B by 2020 (see Exhibit 1).
Amazon will establish itself in key markets as one of our top 10 customers. The food and beverage category will grow in importance online and Amazon is expected to own 30% of that market.
Amazon will crack the “last mile” of retail. They will “perfect” delivering direct to the home or to a designated agent of the home, thereby marginalizing traditional retailers who cannot do this. Amazon is currently testing and honing their approach through AmazonFresh.
AmazonFresh is a new service that is currently available in Seattle and Los Angeles in select zip codes. The service offers same-day and early morning delivery on orders of over $35 of more than 500,000 Amazon items, including fresh grocery and local products. The annual “membership” costs $299 with unlimited free delivery and is offered as an additional level of Amazon Prime.
4. Amazon Will Aggressively Enter Food and Beverage Retail Globally
5. Amazon Will “Perfect” Home Delivery
Exhibit 3: AmazonFresh Sortable Shopping
6. Amazon Will “Perfect” Their Business Model
Amazon will dominate best practice in logistics, fulfillment, and customer satisfaction over this planning period, in a manner so effective that others who fail to keep up will be left behind by 2016. One example of their current testing in fulfillment, logistics, and delivery is the launch of
Now Amazon has taken a small step toward eliminating the UPS wait with a service inspired less by the internet and more by the Port Authority. Amazon Locker allows you to have your packages sent to the equivalent of single-use P.O. boxes housed in 24-hour convenience stores, grocery stores and drug stores. Amazon sends you an email with a pickup code, which you enter on a touchscreen to open the door of the locker containing your package. You have three days from the delivery date to pick it up.
Additionally, Amazon has started sharing warehouse space with some of its key suppliers. Amazon has been sharing warehouse space with P&G for 3 years and is now in at least 7 P&G distribution centers. Amazon also has arrangements in place or is working out deals with companies such as Kimberly-Clark, Seventh Generation, and Georgia-Pacific.
7. Amazon Will Disrupt Many Business Models
Amazon can potentially disrupt fundamental assumptions about direct store delivery, merchandising, bottlers, OBPPC, and the viability of home delivery.
================ 2013 AMAZON FACT SHEET ========
Amazon Fact Sheet
Last Updated in Late 2013
Corporate mission: We seek to be Earth’s most customer-centric company for four primary customer sets: consumers, sellers, enterprises, and content creators
Headquarters: Seattle, WA
When Founded: The company was incorporated in 1994 as Cadabra and went online as Amazon.com in 1995
CEO: Jeffrey Bezos
Number of Employees: 97,000
Number of Retail Categories: 33 categories
Customers: 200 million active customers; 132 million unique visitors each month Fulfillment Centers: 89 worldwide, 54 million square feet of total space
Amazon has 89 fulfillment centers worldwide
Fulfillment centers are located in 8 countries including USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, China, Japan, and the UK
Amazon has separate retail sites for USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, China, Japan, and UK plus Brazil, India, Mexico, and Spain
The US fulfillment centers are located in: Arizona, California, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington 1995: 400 square foot 2010: 50 fulfillment centers 26M square feet
Revenue was $61, $48, $34, $25, and $19B in 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008 respectively o Annual revenue in 2011 was 27% more than Google’s
Revenue to reach $74.6B in 2013 (though $0 net income), 24.6% CAGR from 2011 Amazon’s market share represents one third of U.S. e-commerce sales
Amazon on pace to reach over $125B globally by 2016; 4.5% CAGR from 2010
North America: $65.4B by 2016; 23.2% CAGR from 2010
International: $61.3B by 2016; 26.3% CAGR from 2010 Amazon has had one of the fastest growths in the internet’s history
After 5 years eBay reached $0.4B, Google reached $1.5B, and Amazon reached $2.8B
Amazon Revenue vs. Net Income ($M)
$ $ $ $
70,000 52,500 35,000 17,500
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
CEO and founder Jeffery Bezos and an eight-member board of directors
CEO oversees the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), the Chief Technology Officer and the following 8 departments:
o Business Development o E-Commerce Platform o International Retail
o North America Retail o Web Services
o Digital Media
o Legal & Secretary o Kindle
CFO oversees the Real Estate and Control department
International Retail oversees three separate departments: China, Europe and India
North America Retail oversees the following five departments: Seller Services, Operations, Toys, Sports & Home Improvement, Amazon Publishing and Music & Video
Web Services department oversees Amazon S3 and Database Services
Other departments include Product Development & Studios, Europe Operations, Global Advertising Sales, Computing Services, and Global Customer Fulfillment
1998: PlanetAll, Junglee, Bookpages.co.uk
1999: Internet Movie Database (IMDb), Alexa Internet, Accept.com, Exchange.com, Pets.com, Home
Grocer, Back-to-Basics Toys, drugstore.com
2005: BookSurge, Mobipocket.com, CreateSpace.com
2007: DPRreview.com, Brilliance Audio
2008: Audible.com, Fabric.com, Box Office Mojo, AbeBooks, Shelfari, Reflexive Entertainment 2009: Zappos, Lexcycle. SnapTell, Stanza
2010: Touchco, Woot, Quidsi, BuyVIP, Amie Street
2011: LoveFilm, The Book Depository, Pushbutton, Yap
2012: Kiva Systems, Teachstreet, Evi
2013: IVONA Software, GoodReads, Liquavista
Corporate Timeline (1995-2013)
o Began selling books online
o Two small fulfillment centers – Seattle and Delaware 1999
o Acquired Pets.com for $58 million
o Acquired Home Grocer for $42.5 million
o Acquired Back-to-Basics toys for $135 million
o Acquired drugstore.com for $44 million
o (Since then have acquired hardware, car, electronics, sporting goods, luxury, wine, etc.)
o Became the online engine behind Borders.com o Broadened beyond books to CD’s and DVD’s
o Launched Amazon Prime 2007
o Launched Kindle (developed by Lab126, their internal appliance R&D shop)
o Launched Amazon Fresh in Seattle 2008
o $19 billion revenue 2009
o $24.5 billion revenue (+28%)
o $.6 billion net income
o Acquired Zappos for $920 million
o Acquired Quidsi for $500 million (owns Diapers.com) 2011
o $48 billion revenue (+41%) 2012
o 164 million active customers
o $61 billion revenue (+27%)
o $.6 billion net income
o Launched AmazonSupply (with 500,000 products, in 14 categories, B2B target)
• • •
o (Instant new major competitor for Blockbuster and Netflix)
o $75 billion revenue PROJECTED (+22%)
o $0 net income
o 200 million active customers
!o (132 million every month, compared to EBAY 60MM; Wal-Mart 63 MM; Apple 18MM)
In 15 years, Amazon went from one category (books) to 33 (cloud services, clothing, baby products, sports, electronics, music, video games, books, film, audio, beauty products, tools & home improvement, office products etc.)
!• Has introduced two new product categories every year for almost a decade !Strategies
Build, buy, partner
o Build: new categories (e.g., MYHABIT)
o Buy: well-established competitors (E.g., Quidsi)
o Partner: offers tech service / e-commerce expertize to third parties (e.g., cobranded website
with Toys “R” Us Customer-first solutions
o Bottom-up approach: customer needs drive everything
o Frugality: Amazon continually seeking to do things cost-efficiently o Innovation: Amazon always seeing simpler solutions
Data & human driven customer service
o Every employee, even the CEO, spends two days every two years on the service desk to answer
calls and help customers
o 90% of customer service by email rather than by telephone
o Amazon has developed its own software to manage email centers
o 1-click ordering
o Amazon Prime – $79 / year, instant streaming of movies & TV shows, instant access to thousands
of Kindle Books, free-two day shipping
o Amazon Locker – lockers installed in grocery, convenience and drugstore outlets that can accept
packages for customers for a later pick-up o Moving towards same-day delivery
▪ Building warehouses close to city center – risky because Amazon will pay states taxes it did not pay before, but it will get closer to same-day deliver
▪ Warehouses currently being built in California, Indiana, New Jersey, Tennessee, South Carolina, Virginia
o Amazon Supply – free two-day shipping for orders over $50 Low price
o Amazon significantly cheaper than competitors Digital optimization of supply chain
Amazon automatically chooses the cheapest origin for the customer’s order in real-time It re-optimizes it based on the customers’ orders
Fast moving items are stored in all the fulfillment centers
Hard-to-find items are kept in small quantities in one or two fulfillment centers
Easily movable items (e.g. media) are stored in highly automated facilities
Extensive use of tracing
Drop shipping: when applicable, Amazon provides packages and asks the supplier to ship the product himself
Third-party sellers follow the same principle, which increases margins
Selling at a loss – costs around $210 to produce, sold at $199
But over the first 6 months of use, Amazon makes $136 of margin on average on every Kindle Fire by selling digital content
Amazon is developing international partnerships with retailers (e.g., Darty in France) to sell more Kindles
Wal-Mart had 62.5M unique visitors in August 2013, compared with Amazon’s 133M Wal-Mart copycatting some of Amazon’s most successful tactics
o Trying out lockers, allowing shoppers to order items online and pick them up in stores o Dabbling in same-day delivery (testing in four cities) and even going a step further than
Amazon by attempting to crowd-source package drop-off among customers
o Investing in web technology to improve both their site’s appearance and ease of navigation
Comparisons to Wal-Mart
Contrary to Wal-Mart, which failed to enter the German and South Korean markets, Amazon’s international expansion has been successful
Amazon to reach $74.6B in 2013, 24.6% CAGR from 2011
o Wal-Mart’s revenue will be $500B in 2013, but its revenue in e-commerce by 2014 will reach just $10B
E-commerce is growing at 11% a year, but sales for consumer packaged goods online – food, groceries, everyday items – are growing at closer to 20% this is the area Wal-Mart will go after
o Amazon already one step ahead with Amazon Fresh !!
How Amazon Controls Ecommerce (Slides)
Today’s NYT has a long story on the HuffPost, it’s acquisition by AOL, then Verizon; its toxic culture; its success why’s; and Ariana’s “third metric”: detoxing electronics, sleep, and reflection.
One morning in March, a dozen Huffington Post staff members gathered around a glass table in Arianna Huffington’s office. They had been summoned to deliver a progress report to Huffington, the site’s president, editor in chief and co-founder, on a new initiative, What’s Working. It was created to help the site cover solutions, rather than focusing only on the world’s problems — or as Huffington explained in an internal memo in January, to ‘‘start a positive contagion by relentlessly telling the stories of people and communities doing amazing things, overcoming great odds and facing real challenges with perseverance, creativity and grace.’’
Huffington, who is 64, was getting over a cold, and coughed hoarsely now and then. She sipped a soy cappuccino through a straw as she asked for updates in her purring, singsongy Greek accent. One by one, staff members went through their story lists: corporations with innovative plans to reduce water use, a nonprofit putting former gang members to work, Muslims confronting radicalism. Huffington kept the pace brisk; she sounded like a person in a hurry trying hard to not sound like one. When an editor hashed out ways to present a new, recurring feature called the What’s Working Media Honor Roll — a roundup of similarly positive journalism from other publications — she suggested that he launch first and tinker later.
‘‘I think let’s start iterating,’’ she said. ‘‘Let’s not wait for the perfect product.’’
What’s Working might sound like a significant departure for a site that, like most media outlets, thrives on tales of conflict and wrongdoing. But in a sense What’s Working is not a departure at all. The Huffington Post has always been guided by the question: What works? Namely, what draws traffic? The answer has changed constantly. When Huffington co-founded the site in 2005, Facebook was still just a network for college students. Today, roughly half her mobile traffic comes from social media, Facebook above all. Arguably, this shift in browsing habits, as much as Huffington’s distaste for the media’s built-in bias toward negativity, helped inspire What’s Working. The initiative is in part an effort to get readers to share more Huffington Post stories on Facebook.
‘‘The numbers are amazing,’’ Huffington said as staff members filed out. ‘‘You’re not as likely to share a story of a beheading. Right? I mean, you’ll read it.’’
Within The Huffington Post, and away from the glass table, some staff members have fretted that What’s Working could result in a steady drip of pallid, upbeat stories (e.g., ‘‘How Hugh Jackman’s Coffee Brand Is Changing Lives’’). But it’s hard to argue with Huffington’s intuitions when it comes to generating traffic. Her site has more than 200 million unique visitors each month, according to comScore, and it is one of the country’s top online destinations for news.
Nevertheless, in May, Huffington’s tenure as editor in chief was briefly in question. The site’s corporate parent, AOL, was sold to Verizon for $4.4 billion, and Huffington was forced to spend a few weeks negotiating the terms of the site’s future with her new overlords. During that process, AOL revealed that two suitors, earlier in the year, tried to buy The Huffington Post for $1 billion, or roughly four times what Jeff Bezos paid for The Washington Post two years ago. Plainly, to certain investors, digital media companies are valuable because they deliver enormous audiences. Any difficulty turning a profit — The Huffington Post broke even last year on $146 million in revenue, according to someone familiar with the site’s finances — is considered a temporary problem that will eventually be fixed by the sheer size of the readership.
This singular focus on audience development expresses itself in different ways at different publications. At The Huffington Post, it takes the shape of an editorial mandate that, much like the universe itself, is unfathomably broad and constantly expanding. At least in theory, nothing gets past its editors and writers. They cover, in most cases through aggregation, everything from Federal Reserve policy to celebrity antics, from Islamic State atrocities to parenting tips, supplemented with a steady stream of uncategorizable click bait (‘‘Can Cannibalism Fight Brain Disease? Only Sort Of’’).
To work at The Huffington Post is to run a race without a finish line, at a clip that is forever quickening. The pace is stressful for many employees, who describe a newsroom with plenty of turnover. One former staff member I spoke with, who developed an ulcer while working there, called The Huffington Post ‘‘a jury-rigged, discombobulated chaos machine.’’
Huffington may be the Internet’s most improbable media pioneer. This is her first job as an editor or publisher, and few would describe her as a techie. But as one of the first major media properties born in the full light of the digital age, The Huffington Post has always been a skunk works for the sorts of experiments that have come to define the news business in the Internet era.
In its early days, when most visits came through Google searches, the site mastered search-engine optimization (S.E.O.), the art of writing stories based on topics trending on Google and larding headlines with keywords. The site’s annual ‘‘What Time Is the Super Bowl?’’ post has become such a famous example of S.E.O.-driven non-news that other media outlets have written half-disgusted, half-admiring posts dissecting its history.
When most sites were merely guessing about what would resonate with readers, The Huffington Post brought a radical data-driven methodology to its home page, automatically moving popular stories to more prominent spaces and A-B testing its headlines. The site’s editorial director, Danny Shea, demonstrated to me how this works a few months ago, opening an online dashboard and pulling up an article about General Motors. One headline was ‘‘How GM Silenced a Whistleblower.’’ Another read ‘‘How GM Bullied a Whistleblower.’’ The site had automatically shown different headlines to different readers and found that ‘‘Silence’’ was outperforming ‘‘Bully.’’ So ‘‘Silence’’ it would be. It’s this sort of obsessive data analysis that has helped web-headline writing become so viscerally effective.
Above all, from its founding in an era dominated by ‘‘web magazines’’ like Slate, The Huffington Post has demonstrated the value of quantity. Early in its history, the site increased its breadth on the cheap by hiring young writers to quickly summarize stories that had been reported by other publications, marking the birth of industrial aggregation.
Today, The Huffington Post employs an armada of young editors, writers and video producers: 850 in all, many toiling at an exhausting pace. It publishes 13 editions across the globe, including sites in India, Germany and Brazil. Its properties collectively push out about 1,900 posts per day. In 2013, Digiday estimated that BuzzFeed, by contrast, was putting out 373 posts per day, The Times 350 per day and Slate 60 per day. (At the time, The Huffington Post was publishing 1,200 posts per day.) Four more editions are in the works — The Huffington Post China among them — and a franchising model will soon take the brand to small and midsize markets, according to an internal memo Huffington sent in late May.
Throughout its history, the site’s scale has also depended on free labor. One of Huffington’s most important insights early on was that if you provide bloggers with a big enough stage, you don’t have to pay them. This audience-for-content trade has been imitated successfully by outlets like Thought Catalog and Bleacher Report, a sports-news website that Turner Broadcasting bought in 2012 for somewhere between $150 million and $200 million.
Throughout its history, the site’s scale has also depended on free labor. One of Huffington’s most important insights
As this more-is-better ethos has come to define the industry, shifts in online advertising have begun to favor publications that already attract large audiences. Display advertising — wherein advertisers pay each time an ad is shown to a reader — still dominates the market. But native advertising, designed to match the look and feel of the editorial content it runs alongside, has been on the rise for years. BuzzFeed, the media company started in 2006 by Jonah Peretti, a co-founder of The Huffington Post, was built to rely entirely on native advertising. The Huffington Post offers to make its advertisers custom quizzes, listicles, slide shows, videos, infographics, feature articles and blog posts. Prices start at $130,000 for three pieces of content. This is where size matters; top-tier sites can fetch premium rates because advertisers know their messages could be seen by millions. There have been concerns that readers might be deceived by native ads if they are not properly identified — The Huffington Post always clearly labels its sponsored content — but the ethical debate in the media world is over. Socintel360, a research firm, predicts that spending on native advertising in the United States will more than double in the next four years to $18.4 billion.
Kenneth Lerer, another Huffington Post co-founder, believes that news start-ups today are like cable-television networks in the early ’80s: small, pioneering companies that will be handsomely rewarded for figuring out how to monetize your attention through a new medium. If this is so, the size of The Huffington Post’s audience could one day justify that $1 billion valuation. But at least in cable, the ratings-driven mania of sweeps week comes only four times a year.
Even as she oversees an international news operation, Huffington spends most of her days and nights in a globe-spanning run of lectures, parties, talk shows, conferences and meetings, a never-ending tour that she chronicles in a dizzying Instagram feed. Her stamina is a source of awe to members of what she calls her A-Team — the A is for Arianna — a group of 9 or so Huffington Post staff members who, in addition to their editorial duties, help keep her in perpetual motion. Within the organization, A-Team jobs are known to be all-consuming — but also, for those who last, a ticket to promotion later on. While some stick around for years, many A-Teamers endure only about 12 months before calling it quits or asking to be transferred.
The first time I saw Huffington’s unremitting style up close was in New Haven last year, at the start of a tour to promote her self-help book, ‘‘Thrive.’’ In all of our interviews, she was warm and entertaining. She has a politician’s gift for seeming sincerely interested, having learned that nothing is so disarming as asking personal questions and then listening. She also has a comic’s timing. At a Barnes & Noble onstage chat in Manhattan, shortly before the trip to New Haven, the moderator, Katie Couric, asked her who was to blame for the merciless pace of life in corporate America. Huffington paused for a moment. Then she turned to the audience.
‘‘Men,’’ she deadpanned.
In her talk, she described her own transformation from fast-lane addict to evangelist for reflection, sleep and ‘‘digital detoxing’’ — basically, turning off your smartphone whenever possible. This is a catechism she has branded the ‘‘third metric’’ of success, with money and power being the first two. Her conversion narrative begins on the morning of April 6, 2007, when she collapsed from exhaustion. She fell to the floor in her home office, hitting her face on her desk and breaking her cheekbone. Medical tests found nothing that could explain the episode. Huffington realized that her lifestyle, which at the time was filled with 18-hour workdays, seven days a week, was wrecking her health.
‘‘By any sane definition of success,’’ she told the crowd that day in New Haven, ‘‘if you are lying in your office in a pool of blood, you are not a success.’’
The speech, which I caught a few times, is always a hit. Huffington presents herself as a redemption story, someone who overdosed on her mobile phone and survived to warn others. She looks the part, too: a Dolce & Gabbana-ed woman of a certain age, perfectly at ease, regularly brushing back a forelock of honey-blond hair with her fingers. After the speech in New Haven, people lined up to have their copies of ‘‘Thrive’’ signed. One by one, they offered Huffington variations of, ‘‘You are an inspiration.’’ Some shared their own success stories.
One woman told her: ‘‘In the horse world, I do holistic care, and I’m embarking on a barn that’s cutting-edge. It’s all about positive reinforcement.’’
‘‘We’d love you to write about it!’’ Huffington exclaimed.
Five years ago, in 2010, the site was successful, attracting nearly 25 million unique visitors a month, but it lacked the money Huffington felt it needed to expand. So it seemed fortunate when, later that year, she met Tim Armstrong, chief executive of AOL, at a media conference in New York.
‘‘He asked to meet with me privately, and he said: ‘What do you want to do with The Huffington Post?’ ’’ Huffington recalled. ‘‘And I said, ‘I want to be a global company, I want us to be everywhere in the world.’ ’’
Armstrong offered $315 million, and on Feb. 7, 2011, AOL announced the acquisition. Huffington was made the head of the Huffington Post Media Group, an entity that would control AOL’s empire of content — an odd mixture of offerings including Moviefone, TechCrunch, Engadget, MapQuest, Autoblog, AOL Music and the collection of hundreds of hyperlocal websites called Patch. In a stroke, Huffington found herself overseeing a diverse portfolio with 117 million unique visitors per month in the United States and 270 million around the world. She also managed several thousand editors, writers, bloggers and business staff members.
Initially, Armstrong and Huffington seemed like a natural match. Each is a fan of big ideas that can be executed quickly; each prizes boldness and energy. At one AOL meeting with brand managers, Armstrong ribbed his underlings by recounting how Huffington called him on a Sunday to tell him what was wrong with AOL’s home page. Why had no one else done that?
Integrating a group of such varied websites and personnel would have posed a challenge to any manager. For one who admits to having little interest in organization and planning, it was impossible. Huffington preferred to improvise, and she did so aggressively — ‘‘like a hockey player,’’ as one former AOL executive put it, with some admiration.
A clash of cultures, however, was soon evident. Many of AOL’s sites did little more than promote their sponsors; AOL Real Estate, for instance, was mainly a home for Bank of America ads, next to stories about the joys of mortgage refinancing. In an attempt to restore some semblance of editorial integrity, Huffington fired the freelancers who worked for the site and replaced them with young staff members. Many were recent graduates of Yale — her feeder of choice — whose chief qualification, aside from the obvious, was a willingness to work for a pittance. But the hiring spree was rushed and filled the sites with fledglings. Page views plunged, irking corporate sponsors.
At first, many on Armstrong’s team had been awed by her energy and range, but they quickly grasped that these didn’t always translate into results. ‘‘No one else could give a commencement speech at Smith one day, meet the prime minister of Japan on Tuesday and debate the Middle East on MSNBC on Wednesday,’’ one former executive said. ‘‘But that doesn’t mean she knows the ins and outs of running Moviefone.’’ It didn’t help that AOL stock, following the acquisition, had fallen to less than $12 by August from just above $20 at the time of the purchase half a year earlier. At some point, Huffington stopped going to meetings of AOL executives, and in April 2012, an organizational reshuffling quietly moved every AOL site except The Huffington Post out of Huffington’s portfolio. Her tenure as AOL content czar was over.
By then, Huffington was having a serious case of seller’s remorse. During a tech conference, she was overheard at a bar in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., talking to the venture capitalist Scott Stanford, then a Goldman Sachs banker. Speaking in a voice loud enough for many to hear, she posed questions like, ‘‘Who would buy The Huffington Post?’’ and ‘‘How much would it fetch?’’ Around that time, Huffington Post employees recall, she went on trips with very rich people and returned with news that the site was about to be purchased again, this time for $1 billion.
But The Huffington Post was no longer Huffington’s to sell, and AOL seemed uninterested in parting with it. By October 2012, discontent with Huffington was widespread enough that top executives at AOL were quietly strategizing about ways to ease her into a kind of ceremonial role — one in which she would only promote the site rather than running its day-to-day operations. (A source said the effort was given a one-word shorthand: ‘‘Popemobile.’’ Like the Pope in his bulletproof bubble, Huffington would glide through the world and wave.) The idea never caught on, mostly because it was clear Huffington would never agree to it, and by May of this year, when Verizon announced its acquisition of AOL, it had long been abandoned.
Verizon went after AOL principally for its ad-buying technologies, but in mid-June, Verizon’s C.E.O. and chairman, Lowell McAdam, said he was committed to keeping The Huffington Post, as incidental as its acquisition may have been. Huffington, whose contract with AOL expired earlier in the year, wanted guarantees that Verizon would finance the site’s growth and keep its hands off articles with which it may have a difference of opinion — those on net neutrality, for instance.
Soon after the Verizon-AOL deal was announced, Huffington began to negotiate her future and the future of The Huffington Post. According to two sources, Armstrong suggested closing the acquisition first and prodding Verizon to make promises about The Huffington Post later. Huffington refused, and she held out until mid-June, when Verizon pledged more than $100 million a year for ongoing operations and vowed to give the site editorial autonomy. (Others with knowledge of the talks say that no financial commitments have been made yet.) The money will allow The Huffington Post to broaden its video offerings, supporting a 24-hour online network and what Huffington called, in an internal memo, a ‘‘rapid-response satire unit.’’ Assurances in hand, Huffington signed a new four-year contract that will keep her in situ as editor in chief.
None of this necessarily means that The Huffington Post will remain in Verizon’s permanent portfolio. In fact, if Verizon’s real goal is to offload the site, it has done exactly what it should to burnish the asset for eventual sale. Were suitors to come courting again, they would surely offer less for a Huffington-less Huffington Post.
That is not to say that Huffington is inexpensive to keep around. She flies all around the planet, occasionally with members of the A-Team in tow. A-Team duties include tending to Huffington’s Twitter account, her Instagram feed and her Facebook posts; running her errands; organizing her day; planning her travel; and prepping her speeches, which, if they aren’t pro bono, cost at least $100,000. One former A-Teamer recalled loading The Huffington Post on Huffington’s computer when she showed up at the office.
‘‘Arianna doesn’t surf the web,’’ the former A-Teamer explained. ‘‘She reads stories that people send on her iPhone, and she sends and receives emails on her BlackBerry. But I’ve never seen her on a computer, surfing the web.’’ Huffington said that this is not true, and stated that she ditched her BlackBerry nearly two years ago. But more than a dozen former and current Huffington Post staff members said they had never seen her so much as open a web browser.
Some former employees file this in the category, Things at Odds With Arianna’s Public Image. Also in this category is the vibe at The Huffington Post’s downtown Manhattan office. Despite its nap rooms, meditation rooms and breathing classes, which were introduced as Huffington entered her ‘‘Thrive’’ phase, it is described as a surpassingly difficult place to work.
Much of this difficulty is inherent to life at an Internet news site, where victory means beating the competition by a matter of seconds with a post that might yield gobs of traffic. This is why so many editors and writers at The Huffington Post remain at their desks during lunch and keep an eye on the web at all times. If, while you’re offline, three new Instagram filters are announced and you’re late to post the news, that’s a problem. ‘‘Just about everyone works continuously, whether you’re at the office or not,’’ one former employee said. ‘‘That little green light that says you’re available on Gchat is what matters.’’
Low pay worsens the strain. One former employee said that some staff members take second jobs to cover their expenses. Some tutor; others wait on tables; others babysit. (A representative for The Huffington Post said the company was unaware of any moonlighting.) Many staff members rely on what has been called ‘‘HuffPost lunch’’ — Luna Bars, carrots, hummus, apples, bananas and sometimes string cheese, all served gratis in a kitchen area of the office.
Inevitably, there is burnout. At the New York office, nearly two dozen employees have left since the start of this year, either because they were laid off or found more enticing and less hectic jobs. A Gawker post in early June, written by an anonymous former staff member, said the recent departures were hardly a surprise because the place has long been ‘‘so brutal and toxic it would meet with approval from committed sociopaths.’’
A former editor told me about a period in 2013 when a series of departures left a cluster of empty desks along a wall that Huffington walks past on the way to her office. ‘‘Someone told my manager, ‘Arianna is really stressed out about the number of people leaving, so we need a bunch of people to sit at those desks in the path from the elevator to her office, to make her feel better,’ ’’ the former editor said. ‘‘So we sat there, waiting to say: ‘Hello! Greetings!’ as she walked by. It was supposed to be for two hours, but she got there at about 3 in the afternoon instead of 11 in the morning. It was absurd. I had to interrupt my workday because this woman was stressed out, because so many people had left, because they were stressed out.’’ (A Huffington Post representative denied this story, saying it was ‘‘clearly made up by someone with an ax to grind.’’)
Staff members in Huffington’s inner circle must also contend with her superhuman endurance. Her oft-repeated claim to sleep eight hours a night notwithstanding, she rarely seems to be idle. Emails from her cease, several ex-employees told me, only between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
There are staff members who have stuck it out for years and speak highly of the site as a place to work. They say they form lasting bonds with co-workers and relish the sense that they are writing for millions of readers. Some, like Daniel Koh, a former A-Teamer, speak with a reverence and fondness for Huffington herself. Koh described her as a perfectionist of exceptional intellectual wattage, a leader who never raises her voice and never holds a grudge. ‘‘Was it intense, and long hours, and did she teach me to maximize my workday?’’ he said. ‘‘Absolutely.’’
But others who have worked closely with Huffington have found it a bruising experience, saying that she is perpetually on the lookout for signs of disloyalty, to a degree that bespeaks paranoia or, at the very least, pettiness. Employees cycle in and out of her favor, hailed as the site’s savior one moment, ignored the next. (The Gawker post called the office ‘‘essentially Soviet in its functioning.’’) ‘‘Everyone’s stock is shooting up or falling at any given moment, so everyone is rattled with uncertainty and insecurity,’’ one former employee said. ‘‘I’ve never seen anything like it.’’
When I asked Huffington about criticisms of the newsroom, she was unmoved. She pointed to the nap rooms and breathing classes as evidence that she took employee well-being seriously. Only the voices of current employees were worth listening to, she cautioned, because the opinions of people who were laid off or left were likely to skew negative. I noted that she seemed unwilling to accept any responsibility for what a lot of former employees said was a vexing atmosphere.
‘‘I’m definitely a work in progress,’’ she acknowledged. ‘‘I’m not by any means saying I’m perfect. But I feel very good about our culture here, because a lot of our top leaders have embraced it.’’
The Huffington Post is hardly the only web media company with a reputation as an arduous place to work. Nor is Huffington the only editor in chief considered capricious and exasperating by employees. But she is surely the first described in those terms to install hammocks in a newsroom. Only someone with her unique combination of drive and outward placidity could run a tremendously popular, hugely productive website and then begin a second career chastening us for our addiction to the Internet. Somehow she has pulled it off. In her site’s parenting section, some of the most successful posts target moms who are checking their Facebook feeds late at night, apparently yearning to be told that they shouldn’t be on Facebook at that hour. ‘‘You know, posts about, ‘Stop procrastinating and go sleep,’ ‘Disconnect your devices,’ ’’ said Ethan Fedida, the site’s senior social media editor. ‘‘They go crazy for it.’’
It’s as though Huffington is spreading an illness while simultaneously peddling the cure. Call it hypocrisy, but it testifies to her savvy. The business of web media is figuring out what people want — and if what we want is contradictory, why shouldn’t Huffington profit from that contradiction?
Huffington may be engaged in a bit of wishful projection when she presents herself as an apostle of serenity. But it is a veneer she never drops, at least in public. At the Barnes & Noble event for ‘‘Thrive’’ last year, the one moderated by Katie Couric, a young woman rose during the question-and-answer session.
‘‘What do you say to employers who are now seeking people specifically to work in social media?’’ she asked. ‘‘Our job is to be connected 24-7, where we have to manage your Facebook, your Instagram, your Twitter, your Pinterest. How do we detox when we’re told we have to be in the social-media revolution in order to earn our living?’’
After thinking for a moment, Huffington suggested that she tell her employer that tweets can be scheduled in advance, so she doesn’t have to be awake at all hours. Remind your boss that people are paid for their judgment, Huffington added, not their endurance. Couric then asked the young woman, ‘‘You think your boss would be receptive to that?’’
‘‘No,’’ she said, flatly.
All eyes turned back to Huffington. Some bosses are toxic, she offered, so start looking for a new job. With a smile, she added: ‘‘We’re hiring.’’
Notes on Gawker
This aggregation of blog sites like gawker.com and lifehacker.com has a few underlying themes:
Examples are: gawker.com and lifehacker.com
Nick Denton is the founder (2002, after selling First Tuesday, a networking site for technologists). He is well known as an early proselytizer of Facebook. He is an Oxford graduate son of a Professor of Economics and a psychotherapist.
He started out as a “sweat shop for free lance bloggers” and now is a bit more civilized.
Reputation is one of being relentlessly transparent, and ruining many lives in the process.
They are mega controversial – they posted a video of Hulk Hogan havingg sex with a good friend’s wife, for example.
a ton of their traffic (approx 25%) comes from Facebook
Has a bunch of cool writers like Tom Scocca and Neetzam Zimmerman (viral internet guru)
NYT describes Gawker as having “an unwavering commitment to truth telling” or, less generously, “a relentless cynicism”
Article in Sunday NYT, June 14, 2015
Gawker Media is an online media company and blog network, founded and owned by Nick Denton and based in New York City. It is considered to be one of the most visible and successful blog-oriented media companies. Incorporated in the Cayman Islands As of March 2012, it is the parent company for eight different weblogs: Gawker.com, Deadspin, Lifehacker, Gizmodo, io9, Kotaku, Jalopnik, and Jezebel. All Gawker articles are licensed on a Creative Commons attribution-NonCommercial license. 
1 Revenue and traffic
2.1 Sourcecode breach
2.2 2011 redesign and traffic loss
2.3 Leaked script
2.4 Collective action
3 List of Gawker Media weblogs
3.2 Licensed Australian weblogs
3.3 Weblogs formerly owned by Gawker
4 See also
6 External links
Revenue and traffic
While Denton does not go into detail over Gawker Media’s finances, he has downplayed the profit potential of blogs, declaring that “[b]logs are likely to be better for readers than for capitalists. While I love the medium, I’ve always been skeptical about the value of blogs as businesses”, on his personal site.
In an article in the February 20, 2006 issue of New York Magazine, Jossip founder David Hauslaib estimated Gawker.com’s annual advertising revenue to be at least $1 million, and possibly over $2 million a year. Combined with low operating costs—mostly web hosting fees and writer salaries—Denton was believed to be turning a healthy profit by 2006. In 2009, the corporation was estimated to be worth $300 million, with $60 million in advertising revenues and more than $30 million in operating profit.
Gawker Media was originally incorporated in Budapest, Hungary, where a small company facility is still maintained. The company was headquartered at Nick Denton’s personal residence in the New York neighborhood of SoHo, and it remained there until 2008. That year he created a new base of operations in Nolita in Manhattan.
On April 14, 2008, Gawker.com announced that Gawker Media had sold three sites: Idolator, Gridskipper, and Wonkette.
In a fall 2008 memo, Denton announced the layoff of “19 of our 133 editorial positions” at Valleywag, Consumerist, Fleshbot and other sites, and the hiring of 10 new employees for the most commercially successful sites—Gizmodo, Kotaku, Lifehacker, and Gawker—and others which were deemed to promise similar commercial success (Jezebel, io9, Deadspin, and Jalopnik). Denton also announced the suspension of a bonus payment scheme based on pageviews, by which Gawker had paid $50,000 a month on the average to its staff, citing a need to generate advertising revenue as opposed to increasing traffic. He explained these decisions by referring to the 2008 credit crisis, but stated that the company was still profitable. In September 2008, Gawker reported 274 million pageviews.
On November 12, 2008, Gawker announced that Valleywag would fold into Gawker.com. The Consumerist was sold to Consumers Union, who took over the site on January 1, 2009. 
On February 22, 2009, Gawker announced that Defamer.com would fold into Gawker.com.
In October 2009, Gawker Media websites were infected with malware in the form of fake Suzuki advertisements. The exploits infected unprotected users with spyware and crashed infected computer’s browsers. The network apologized by stating “Sorry About That. Our ad sales team fell for a malware scam. Sorry if it crashed your computer”. Gawker shared the correspondence between the scammers and Gawker via Business Insider.
On February 15, 2010, Gawker announced it had acquired CityFile, an online directory of celebrities and media personalities. Gawker’s Editor-in-Chief Gabriel Snyder announced that he was being replaced by CityFile editor Remy Stern.
On December 11, 2010, the Gawker group’s 1.3 million commenter accounts and their entire website source code was released by a hacker group named Gnosis. Gawker issued an advisory notice stating: “Our user databases appear to have been compromised. The passwords were encrypted. But simple ones may be vulnerable to a brute-force attack. You should change your Gawker password and on any other sites on which you’ve used the same passwords”. Gawker was found to be using DES-based crypt(3) password hashes with 12 bits of salt. Security researchers found that password-cracking software “John the Ripper” was able to quickly crack over 50% of the passwords from those records with crackable password hashes. Followers of Twitter accounts set up with the same email and password were spammed with advertisements. The Gnosis group notes that with the source code to the Gawker content management system they obtained, it will be easier to develop new exploits.
2011 redesign and traffic loss
As part of a planned overhaul of all Gawker Media sites, on 1 February, 2011, some Gawker sites underwent a major design change as part of the larger roll-out. Most notable was the absence of heretofore present Twitter and StumbleUpon sharing buttons. Nick Denton explained that Facebook had been by far the biggest contributor to the sites’ traffic and that the other buttons cluttered the interface. This decision lasted three weeks, after which the buttons were reinstated, and more added.
On 7 February, 2011, the redesign was rolled out to the remainder of the Gawker sites. The launch was troubled due to server issues. Kotaku.com and io9.com failed to load, displaying links but no main content, and opening different posts in different tabs didn’t work, either.  The new look emphasised images and de-emphasised the reverse chronological ordering of posts that was typical of blogs. The biggest change was the two-panel layout, consisting of one big story, and a list of headlines on the right. This was seen as an effort to increase the engagement of site visitors, by making the user experience more like that of television. The site redesign also allowed for users to create their own discussion pages, on Gawker’s Kinja. Many commenters largely disliked the new design, which was in part attributed to lack of familiarity.
Rex Sorgatz, designer of Mediaite and CMO of Vyou, issued a bet that the redesigns would fail to bring in traffic, and Nick Denton took him up on it. The measure was the number of page views by October recorded on Quantcast. Pageviews after the redesign declined significantly—Gawker’s sites saw an 80% decrease in overall traffic immediately after the change and a 50% decrease over two weeks—with many users either leaving the site or viewing international versions of the site, which hadn’t switched to the new layout. On 28 February, 2011, faced with declining traffic, Gawker sites allowed for visitors to choose between the new design and the old design for viewing the sites. Sorgatz was eventually determined to be the winner of the bet, as at the end of September, 2011, Gawker had only 500 million monthly views, not the 510 million it had had prior to the redesign. However, on 5 October, 2011, site traffic returned to its pre-redesign numbers, and as of February 2012, site traffic had increased by 10 million over the previous year, according to Quantcast. As of March 23, 2012, commenting on any Gawker site required signing in with a Twitter, Facebook, or Google account.
In January 2014, Quentin Tarantino filed a copyright lawsuit against Gawker Media for distribution of his 146-page script for The Hateful Eight. He claimed to have given the script to one of six few trusted colleagues, including Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, and Michael Madsen. Due to the spreading of his script, Tarantino told the media that he wouldn’t continue with the movie. “Gawker Media has made a business of predatory journalism, violating people’s rights to make a buck,” Tarantino said in his lawsuit. “This time they went too far. Rather than merely publishing a news story reporting that Plaintiff’s screenplay may have been circulating in Hollywood without his permission, Gawker Media crossed the journalistic line by promoting itself to the public as the first source to read the entire Screenplay illegally.”
On 22 June, 2013, unpaid interns brought a Fair Labor Standards Act action against Gawker Media and founder Nick Denton. As plaintiffs, the interns claimed that their work at sites io9.com, Kotaku.com, Lifehacker.com and Gawker.TV was “central to Gawker’s business model as an Internet publisher,” and that Gawker’s failure to pay them minimum wage for their work therefore violated the FLSA and state labor laws. Although some interns had been paid, the court granted conditional certification of the collective action.
In October 2014, a federal judge ruled that notices could be sent to unpaid interns throughout the company who could potentially want to join the lawsuit.
List of Gawker Media weblogs[
• Cink – Hungarian
• Deadspin – Sports
• The Concourse – Music, food, sports-related pop culture
• Screamer – Deadspin’s soccer hub
• The Stacks
• Adequate Man
• Gawker.com – New York City media and gossip, tabloid
• Valleywag – San Francisco, Silicon Valley and tech gossip
• Morning After
• Gawker Review of Books
• True Stories
• The Vane
• Fortress America
• Black Bag
• Gizmodo – Gadget and technology lifestyle
• Sploid – News, futuristic ideas and tech
• Indefinitely Wild – Adventure Travel in the Outdoors with Wiley
• Field Guide
• White Noise
• io9 – Science/Science Fiction
• Observation Deck
• True Crime
• Jalopnik – Cars and automotive culture
• Buyer’s Guide
• Opposite Lock
• Foxtrot Alpha
• Truck Yeah – Trucks and truck culture
• Car Buying
• Code 3
• Black Flag
• Jezebel – Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for women
• Thats What She Said
• The Muse
• The Powder Room
• I Thee Dread
• Kotaku – Video games and East Asian pop culture
• The Bests
• Talk Amongst Yourselves
• Pocket Monster
• Lifehacker – Productivity tips
• After Hours
• Two Cents
• Shop Talk
Licensed Australian weblogs
• Gizmodo Australia – Gadgets and technology
• Kotaku Australia – Games and gaming industry coverage
• Lifehacker Australia – Tips, tricks, tutorials, hacks, downloads and guides
Weblogs formerly owned by Gawker
• Consumerist – Consumer advocate: Now owned by Consumer Reports
• Fleshbot – Pornography: Now owned by editor Lux Alptraum
• Gawker Artists – Contemporary/Rising Art Registry 
• Gawker.TV – Television and online video
• Gridskipper – Travel: Now owned by Curbed Network
• Idolator – Music: Now owned by BuzzMedia
• Oddjack – Gambling
• Screenhead – Online video: Now unrelated film site
• Wonkette – Washington D.C. gossip and politics: Now independent
• Weblogs, Inc.
1 ^ Gawker Media. Using Gawker Media Content
2 ^ Penenberg, Adam L. “Can Bloggers Strike It Rich?” Wired. September 22, 2005.
3 ^ Denton, Nick. “Nano Wars” March 8, 2005.[dead link]
4 ^ Thompson, Clive. “Blogs to Riches – The Haves and Have-Nots of the Blogging Boom” New York Magazine. February 20, 2006.
5 ^ Carr, David. “A Blog Mogul Turns Bearish on Blogs”, New York Times, July 3, 2006
6 ^ Pareene, Alex. “Memo: Gawker Sells Three Sites” April 14, 2008.
1 Jump up ^ Gawker Media is the Goldman Sachs of the Internet, The Awl, July 27, 2009
2 Jump up ^ Gardner, Eric (February 19, 2014) “Gawker to Quentin Tarantino: We’re Safely Based in the Cayman Islands”, Hollywood Reporter. (Retrieved 3-5-2014.)
3 Jump up ^ McIntyre, Douglas A. (2009-11-10). “The Twenty-Five Most Valuable Blogs In America”. 24/7 Wall St. Retrieved 2009-11-10.
4 Jump up ^ McGrath, Ben (18 October 2010). “Search and Destroy: Nick Denton’s blog empire”. The New Yorker (Condé Nast): 50–61. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
5 ^ Jump up to: a b c Owen Thomas: Valleywag cuts 60 percent of staff Valleywag, 3 October 2008
6 Jump up ^ “Defamer Folds Into Gawker; Editors to Pursue Careers in Bearded Hip-Hop”. gawker.com. 2009-02-22. Retrieved 2009-03-23. |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
7 Jump up ^ Popken, Ben (2009-10-27). “Gawker Duped By Malware Gang, Serves Up Infected Suzuki Ads”. The Consumerist. Retrieved 2010-04-27.
8 Jump up ^ Blodget, Henry (2009-10-26). “Gawker Scammed By Malware Crew Pretending To Be Suzuki”. Business Insider. Retrieved 2010-04-27.
9 Jump up ^ Techshrimp
10 Jump up ^ “Gawker website Hacked by Gnosis ; Gnosis says they are not 4chan or Anonymous”. TechShrimp. 2010-12-12. Retrieved 2010-12-12.
11 Jump up ^ “Commenting Accounts Compromised — Change Your Passwords”. Lifehacker. 2010-11-12. Retrieved 2010-12-12.
12 ^ Jump up to: a b “Brief Analysis of the Gawker Password Dump”. Duo Security. 2010-12-13. Retrieved 2010-12-18.
13 Jump up ^ “Acai Berry spam attack connected with Gawker password hack, says Twitter | Naked Security”. Nakedsecurity.sophos.com. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
14 Jump up ^ “Gnosis on Gawker Hack, Web Security”. Geekosystem. 2010-12-13. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
15 Jump up ^ Salmon, Felix (2010-12-1). “The new Gawker Media”. Retrieved 2014-10-21. Check date values in: |date= (help)
16 Jump up ^ Peterson, Latoya (2011-02-08). “How Gawker’s redesign subverts the scannable culture of the Internet it helped create”. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
17 Jump up ^ McCarthy, Caroline (2011-02-01). “Twitter buttons disappear from Gawker redesign”. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
18 Jump up ^ Jeffries, Adrianne (2011-02-25). “gawker redesign Gawker’s Ban on ‘Shiny Bauble’ Share Buttons Lasted One Week”. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
19 ^ Jump up to: a b Covert, James (2011-02-08). “Gawker Web redesign met with Bronx cheers”. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
20 ^ Jump up to: a b Romenesko, Jim (2014-02-28). “Denton: Gawker’s redesign more bruising than it needed to be”. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
21 Jump up ^ LaCapria, Kim (2011-02-07). “Are you digging on the Gawker Media extreme makeover?”.
22 Jump up ^ Mims, Christopher (2011-02-11). “Gawker.com’s Redesign is the Future of Gawker–Period”. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
23 Jump up ^ Ellis, Justin (2011-02-12). “Jalopnik redesign shows how Gawker Media plans to open up blogging to its readers”. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
24 Jump up ^ Leach, Anna (2011-03-29). “Rage against the redesign”. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
25 Jump up ^ Garber, Megan (2011-02-07). ““It just feels inevitable”: Nick Denton on Gawker Media sites’ long-in-the-works new layout”. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
26 Jump up ^ Observer Staff (2011-02-07). “Nick Denton Bets Cash Gawker Redesign Boosts Pageviews”. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
27 Jump up ^ “Gawker’s Traffic Numbers Are Worse Than Anyone Anticipated – Nicholas Jackson”. The Atlantic. 2012-11-06. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
28 Jump up ^ Schonfeld, Erick (2011-02-17). “Gawker’s Gulp Moment: Big Redesign Is Driving People Away”. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
29 Jump up ^ De Rosa, Anthony (2011-03-03). “The rise and fall of Gawker media”. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
30 Jump up ^ “Gawker.com Site Info”. Alexa.com. 2011-11-01. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
31 Jump up ^ Stableford, Dylan (2014-02-28). “Gawker Admits Redesign Mistakes, Rolls Out Fixes”. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
32 Jump up ^ Alvarez, Alex (2011-03-01). “Nick Denton Admits Gawker’s Redesign Wasn’t All They’d Hoped It Be”. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
33 Jump up ^ Davis, Noah (2011-10-05). “Nick Denton Loses Bet That The Gawker Redesign Wouldn’t Hurt Traffic”. Retrieved 2014-10-23.
34 Jump up ^ Olanoff, Drew (2012-02-02). “Remember that Gawker redesign? A year’s worth of data says it worked”. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
35 Jump up ^ “Transitioning Your Commenting Account: The FAQ”. Lifehacker.com. 2012-03-23. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
36 Jump up ^ Quentin Tarantino sues Gawker over Hateful Eight script leak – Arts & Entertainment – CBC News
37 Jump up ^ Gettell, Oliver (January 22, 2014). “Quentin Tarnatino mothballs ‘Hateful Eight’ after script leak”. Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
38 Jump up ^ Gardner, Eriq (27 January 2014). “Quentin Tarantino Suing Gawker Over Leaked ‘Hateful Eight’ Script (Exclusive)”. Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
39 Jump up ^ Shotwell, James (27 January 2014). “QUENTIN TARANTINO SUING GAWKER FOR SHARING LEAKED ‘HATEFUL EIGHT’ SCRIPT”. Under the Gun Review. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
40 Jump up ^ O’Connell, Sean (27 January 2014). “Quentin Tarantino Sues Gawker Over The Hateful Eight Script Leak”. Cinema Blend. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
41 Jump up ^ Smythe, Christie (2013-06-22). “Gawker’s Unpaid Interns Sue After Fox Searchlight Ruling”. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
42 Jump up ^ Gardner, Eriq. “Gawker Hit With Class Action Lawsuit by Former Interns”. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
43 Jump up ^ Smith, Allen (2014-08-20). “Gawker Faces Collective Action by Unpaid Interns”. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
44 Jump up ^ The HR Specialist: New York Employment Law (2014-10-19). “Gawker is latest target of unpaid intern class action”. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
• Gawker Media
• Tom Zeller, Jr.. “A Blog Revolution? Get a Grip”, New York Times, May 8, 2005 (registration required)
• Vanessa Grigoriadis, “Everybody Sucks: Gawker and the rage of the creative underclass, New York magazine, October 22, 2007
• v t e
• Gawker.com Gizmodo Kotaku Jalopnik Lifehacker Deadspin Jezebel io9 Valleywag
Nick Denton sites
Sold by Gawker
• Fleshbot Idolator Wonkette Consumerist
• Charlie Jane Anders Ana Marie Cox Brian Crecente Nick Denton George Dvorsky Emily Gould Maura Johnston Brian Lam David Lat Will Leitch Annalee Newitz Alex Pareene Max Read Tim Rogers Peter Rojas Elizabeth Spiers Owen Thomas Gina Trapani Ray Wert Neetzan Zimmerman
From Business Insider
Apple’s plan to take over your entire home will start in these two categories
EUGENE KIM JUN. 2, 2015, 3:31 PM 202
The first batch of products built on top of Apple’s HomeKit — a framework that helps develop iPhone-controlled home appliances — are finally out. The products range from a lighting dimmer and an air quality monitor to an energy consumption tracker and a door locks controller.
The first HomeKit-based products show which categories will lead the way for the broader shift to a connected-home: home-energy equipment and home safety and security systems. According to BI Intelligence, most of the connected-home devices will first be built in these two areas, as they are fairly cheap and easy to install – making them more accessible for average homeowners.
Smart home-energy devices, such as the Nest thermostat, are expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 74% between 2014 and 2019, while home safety and security systems, led by companies like Dropcam, are set to see a 77% compound annual growth rate by 2019. And with the number of households with broadband internet connections expected to reach 1.2 billion globally, connected-home devices will only continue to grow.
e-sports is taking off!
Electronic sports (also known as eSports, e-sports or competitive gaming) is a term for organized multiplayer video game competitions. The most common video game genres associated with electronic sports are real-time strategy, fighting, first-person shooter, and multiplayer online battle arena. Tournaments such as the League of Legends World Championship, The International Dota 2 Championships, the Battle.net World Championship Series, the Evolution Championship Series, the Intel Extreme Masters, and the Call Of Duty World Championship, provide both live broadcasts of the competition, and cash prizes to competitors.
Although e-sports have long been a part of video game culture, competitions have seen a large surge in popularity from the late 2000s and early 2010s. While competitions around 2000 were largely between amateurs, the proliferation of professional competitions and growing viewership now supports a significant number of professional players and teams, and many video game developers now build features into their games designed to facilitate such competition.
The increasing availability of online video streaming platforms, particularly Twitch.tv, has become central to current eSports competitions. In 2014, sports broadcaster ESPN broadcast the The International 4 pre-show for the finals, marking the first time an eSports event had been simultaneously broadcast on a mainstream channel.
Historically, fighting games and arcade fighters have been popular in amateur tournaments, although the fighting game community has often distanced themselves from the eSports label. In 2012, the most popular titles featured in professional competition were real time strategy and multiplayer online battle arena games Dota 2, League of Legends, and StarCraft II. Shooting games like Counter Strike and Call of Duty have enjoyed some success as eSports, although their viewer numbers have remained below those of their competitors.
Geographically, eSports competitions have their roots in developed countries.[original research?] South Korea has the best established eSports organizations, officially licensing pro-gamers since the year 2000. Official recognition of eSports competitions outside South Korea has come somewhat slower. In 2013, Canadian League of Legends player Danny “Shiphtur” Le became the first pro-gamer to receive a United States P-1A visa, a category designated for “Internationally Recognized Athletes”.[undue weight? – discuss] Along with South Korea, most competitions take place in Europe, North America, Australia and China.
Despite its large video game market, eSports in Japan is relatively underdeveloped, which has been attributed largely to its broad anti-gambling laws. In 2014, the largest independent eSports brand, ESL, partnered with the local eSports brand Japan Competitive Gaming to try and grow eSports in the country.
In 2013, it was estimated that approximately 71,500,000 people watched competitive gaming. JCR NOTE: 143 million shown below. Demographically, Major League Gaming has reported viewership that is approximately 85% male and 15% female, with 60% of viewers between the ages of 18 and 34. Related this appreciable male majority, female gamers within the industry are subject to significant sexism and negative stereotypes. Despite this, some women within eSports are hopeful about the general progress in overcoming these problems.
The “e” version of ESPN is here (they call it the e-sports community hub). They call it ESN. Here is what they say about themselves:
eSportsNation is the world’s leading source for competitive gaming content, coverage and multimedia services. We aim to inform you, and preferably, sometimes, entertain you along the way. Our mission is to help build memorable and fruitful experiences around the competitive gaming fanbase and their passions. The eSportsNation online community hub provides a centralised network to connect with content, coverage and services instantly.
ESN is about three things: high quality and speedy reporting, competitive gaming culture, and building a real connection that bridges fans to professionals in this space.We hope that you enjoy the content that our dedicated and talented team brings you on a wide variety of professionally played titles and the surrounding community, and industry.
Welcome to the next generation of eSports.:
Super Data Research completed a global report on esports and reports the following:
Key findings of the report include:
• Korea and China continue to dominate $612M global eSports market. The ongoing investment in N. America and Europe by digital-only publishers drives overall growth and audience expansion.
• The global eSports audience is 134 million strong and growing. Investment in innovative business models, platforms and derivative businesses further spurs growth in competitive gaming.
• Competitive gaming is a marketing strategy, not a revenue driver. In addition to traditional marketing efforts, organizing events and streaming content improves awareness and retention.
• Thirteen percent (13%) of live-stream viewers watch eSports. Almost half of eSports viewers in the U.S. use Twitch.tv, the world’s largest live streaming site for game content. Roughly half of eSports viewers participate in some type of competitive gaming, mostly online through platforms.
• Corporate sponsorships total $111 million in North America (2015E). Brand owners and advertisers are expected to adapt to emergent forms of entertainment, which will grow sponsorship deals across the segment.
• Age of Empires Call of Duty Counter-Strike CrossFire Defense of the Ancients Dota 2 FIFA Halo Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Heroes of Newerth iRacing League of Legends Painkiller Quake Smite StarCraft Street Fighter Super Smash Bros. Warcraft III (List) World of Warcraft World of Tanks
• Apex Battle.net World Championship Series BlizzCon Capcom Cup DreamHack Electronic Sports World Cup ESEA League European Gaming League Evolution Championship Series Garena Premier League Global StarCraft II League Global StarCraft II Team League IeSF World Championships Intel Extreme Masters League of Legends Championship Series League of Legends Pro League League of Legends World Championship Major All Stars Major League Gaming NASCAR iRacing.com Series Nintendo World Championships The International
• Championship Gaming Series ClanBase EuroCup Cyberathlete Professional League MBCgame Starleague Ongamenet Starleague Tougeki – Super Battle Opera World Cyber Games World e-Sports Games World League eSport Bundesliga XLEAGUE.TV
• Twin Galaxies Cyberathlete Amateur League TeamWarfare League World Series of Video Games
• International e-Sports Federation (IeSF) Korean e-Sports Association (KeSPA)
Wired magazine discusses some of the strategic issues related to the replacement of cable services by streaming services
This wikipedia article on the Internet Protocol points out some of the problems that e-orts faces when it sits on the Internet platform:
The design of the Internet protocols is based on the end-to-end principle. The network infrastructure is considered inherently unreliable at any single network element or transmission medium and assumes that it is dynamic in terms of availability of links and nodes. No central monitoring or performance measurement facility exists that tracks or maintains the state of the network. For the benefit of reducing network complexity, the intelligence in the network is purposely mostly located in the end nodes of data transmission. Routers in the transmission path forward packets to the next known, directly reachable gateway matching the routing prefix for the destination address.
As a consequence of this design, the Internet Protocol only provides best effort delivery and its service is characterized as unreliable.
ABC News segment on esports
Part of NYT Series on eSports:
New York Times 1
Part of NYT Series on eSports:
New York Times 2
Interview Regarding Coke’s Involvement in eSports:
Coke’s Involvement in Esports
Venture Beat Article
Two high profile startups. Plenty of good articles on these online…
https://www.vulcun.com – esports fantasy league
https://unikrn.com – esports betting
Founded by Rahul Sood and Karl Flores, Unikrn is a gaming and entertainment company with a focus on eSports. We own a network of gaming communities that reach millions of gamers in over 100 countries worldwide. We created a safe, legal, and a fun arena for anyone to gather, game, and bet on eSports. Some of our partners include Razer, HP, Logitech, and Tabcorp.
CEO & Co Founder
Rahul created the first incubation fund for startups at Microsoft and eventually became the global head of Microsoft Ventures. A serial entrepreneur, he founded the company that created the first gaming PC, Voodoo, which was acquired by Hewlett-Packard. Rahul enjoys water sports, cycling, racing cars, and spending time with his family. You’ll find him in Summoner’s Rift somewhere in the jungle.
COO & Co Founder
From high school drop-out to bartender, Karl is living proof that a strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit can replace a formal education. After founding and exiting a successful enterprise SaaS company, Karl created a game based company called Pinion, where he received investment from Microsoft under Rahul Sood. When he is not hitting the gym, you will find him ruling bottom lane with Riot Graves – beware!
GM of Digital Media
From a young age some might say Arthur was obsessed with all things digital. He learned to build his own PC before learning to ride a bike. The trend continued, as he grew older. Today you will find him at the Unikrn office being a keyboard warrior by day and armature e-ninja by night.
Daniel dove into the tech industry the day he was old enough to sign a contract. He co-founded a company along-side Rahul and a few other friends in 2008. He lives in Berlin and for the past decade has been busy applying his skills to help enable startups with bold visions and ambitious goals to be successful. When he is not at a computer, he is busy playing father and husband.
Couple of other articles about esports
27 million watched this video game tournament — matching NCAA final audience http://www.marketwatch.com/story/a-new-sports-industry-is-blossoming-online-and-its-already-worth-billions-2015-05-29
Second US College Now Offering eSports Scholarship http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2015/01/08/second-us-college-now-offering-league-of-legends-scholarship/
Another great idea from Clay Johnson: let’s create the first “Fab Lab” in Atlanta – at Serenbe.
“Fab” is short for “fabrication” – and a Fab Lab is part of a global network of Fab Labs, initiated by the MIT Center of Bits and Atoms to encourage fabrication by lay people.
The idea is that making things with tools, particular things that are a part of the emerging digital economy, is much easier and much more fun than people think. Participants can learn a lot, and create a lot.
Serenbe needs a Fab Lab!
A very rough guess was made to answer the question: what would it cost to make this happen? Clay’s best guess is $100K.
Where would the Fab Lab be housed? Not clear at this time, but surely we can find a great place.
The section below of the WWW.Fabfoundation.org website makes it clear that there are four criteria, all of which we can meet:
1. Must be open to the public
2. Must subscribe to the FabLab charter
3. Must have a common set of tools and processes*
4. Must participate in the global network (there is a Fab Lab academy, and annual global summit, etc)
* a laser cutter for 2D/3D design and fabrication, a high precision milling machine for making circuits and molds for casting, a vinyl cutter for making flexible circuits and crafts, and a fairly sophisticated electronics workbench for prototyping circuits and programming micro controllers. Optional: large wood routing machine for furniture and housing applications and 3D printers.
From the Website
Who/What qualifies as a Fab Lab?
The four qualities and requirements listed below altogether create an enabling environment that we call a Fab Lab. If your lab effort meets all these criteria, “Welcome!” If you feel you are in synchrony with the Fab Lab form and spirit, please use our logo in your fundraising efforts, and keep us informed of your progress. Please register your lab effort or new fab lab on the world map here. Here are the criteria we currently use for defining a Fab Lab:
First and foremost, public access to the Fab Lab is essential. A Fab Lab is about democratizing access to the tools for personal expression and invention. So a Fab Lab must be open to the public for free or in-kind service/barter at least part of the time each week, that’s essential.
Fab Labs support and subscribe to the Fab Lab charter: http://fab.cba.mit.edu/about/charter/
Fab Labs have to share a common set of tools and processes. A prototyping facility is not the equivalent of a Fab Lab. A 3D printer is not a Fab Lab. The idea is that all the labs can share knowledge, designs, and collaborate across international borders. If I make something here in Boston and send you the files and documentation, you should be able to reproduce it there, fairly painlessly. If I walk into a Fab Lab in Russia, I should be able to do the same things that I can do in Nairobi, Cape Town, Delhi, Amsterdam or Boston Fab Labs. The critical machines and materials are identified in this list: http://fab.cba.mit.edu/about/fab/inv.html and there’s a list of open source software and freeware that we use online as well (embedded in Fab Academy modules here: http://academy.cba.mit.edu/classes/ ) But essentially it’s the processes and the codes and the capabilities that are important. So you want a laser cutter for 2D/3D design and fabrication, a high precision milling machine for making circuits and molds for casting, a vinyl cutter for making flexible circuits and crafts, a fairly sophisticated electronics workbench for prototyping circuits and programming microcontrollers, and if you can possibly find the funds, you’ll want the large wood routing machine for furniture and housing applications. We are also testing fairly inexpensive, but robust and with fair resolution 3D printers—the most current favorite is listed in the inventory.
Fab Labs must participate in the larger, global Fab Lab network, that is, you can’t isolate yourself. This is about being part of a global, knowledge-sharing community. The public videoconference is one way to do connect. Attending the annual Fab Lab meeting is another. FAB10 is in Barcelona this year, July 2-8. Collaborating and partnering with other labs in the network on workshops, challenges or projects is another way. Participating in Fab Academy is yet another way.
Eckert and Mauchley develop UNIVAC, the first commercially marketed computer. It is used to compile the results of the U.S. census, marking the first time this census is handled by a programmable computer.
In his paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” Alan Turing presents the Turing Test, a means for determining whether a machine is intelligent.
Commercial color television is first broadcast in the United States, and transcontinental black-and-white television is available within the next year.
Claude Elwood Shannon writes “Programming a Computer for Playing Chess,” published in Philosophical Magazine.
Eckert and Mauchley build EDVAC, which is the first computer to use the stored-program concept. The work takes place at the Moore School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Paris is the host to a Cybernetics Congress.
UNIVAC, used by the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) television network, successfully predicts the election of Dwight D. Eisenhower as president of the United States.
Pocket-sized transistor radios are introduced.
Nathaniel Rochester designs the 701, IBM’s first production-line electronic digital computer. It is marketed for scientific use.
The chemical structure of the DNA molecule is discovered by James D. Watson and Francis H. C. Crick.
Philosophical Investigations by Ludwig Wittgenstein and Waiting for Godot, a play by Samuel Beckett, are published. Both documents are considered of major importance to modern existentialism.
Marvin Minsky and John McCarthy get summer jobs at Bell Laboratories.
William Shockley’s Semiconductor Laboratory is founded, thereby starting Silicon Valley.
The Remington Rand Corporation and Sperry Gyroscope join forces and become the Sperry-Rand Corporation. For a time, it presents serious competition to IBM.
IBM introduces its first transistor calculator. It uses 2,200 transistors instead of the 1,200 vacuum tubes that would otherwise be required for equivalent computing power.
A U.S. company develops the first design for a robotlike machine to be used in industry.
IPL-II, the first artificial intelligence language, is created by Allen Newell, J. C. Shaw, and Herbert Simon.
The new space program and the U.S. military recognize the importance of having computers with enough power to launch rockets to the moon and missiles through the stratosphere. Both organizations supply major funding for research.
The Logic Theorist, which uses recursive search techniques to solve mathematical problems, is developed by Allen Newell, J. C. Shaw, and Herbert Simon.
John Backus and a team at IBM invent FORTRAN, the first scientific computer-programming language.
Stanislaw Ulam develops MANIAC I, the first computer program to beat a human being in a chess game.
The first commercial watch to run on electric batteries is presented by the Lip company of France.
The term Artificial Intelligence is coined at a computer conference at Dartmouth College.
Kenneth H. Olsen founds Digital Equipment Corporation.
The General Problem Solver, which uses recursive search to solve problems, is developed by Allen Newell, J. C. Shaw, and Herbert Simon.
Noam Chomsky writes Syntactic Structures, in which he seriously considers the computation required for natural-language understanding. This is the first of the many important works that will earn him the title Father of Modern Linguistics.
An integrated circuit is created by Texas Instruments’ Jack St. Clair Kilby.
The Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is founded by John McCarthy and Marvin Minsky.
Allen Newell and Herbert Simon make the prediction that a digital computer will be the world’s chess champion within ten years.
LISP, an early AI language, is developed by John McCarthy.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which will fund important computer-science research for years in the future, is established.
Seymour Cray builds the Control Data Corporation 1604, the first fully transistorized supercomputer.
Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce each develop the computer chip independently. The computer chip leads to the development of much cheaper and smaller computers.
Arthur Samuel completes his study in machine learning. The project, a checkers-playing program, performs as well as some of the best players of the time.
Electronic document preparation increases the consumption of paper in the United States. This year, the nation will consume 7 million tons of paper. In 1986, 22 million tons will be used. American businesses alone will use 850 billion pages in 1981, 2.5 trillion pages in 1986, and 4 trillion in 1990.
COBOL, a computer language designed for business use, is developed by Grace Murray Hopper, who was also one of the first programmers of the Mark I.
Xerox introduces the first commercial copier.
Theodore Harold Maimen develops the first laser. It uses a ruby cylinder.
The recently established Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency substantially increases its funding for computer research.
There are now about six thousand computers in operation in the United States.
Neural-net machines are quite simple and incorporate a small number of neurons organized in only one or two layers. These models are shown to be limited in their capabilities.
The first time-sharing computer is developed at MIT.
President John F. Kennedy provides the support for space project Apollo and inspiration for important research in computer science when he addresses a joint session of Congress, saying, “I believe we should go to the moon.”
The world’s first industrial robots are marketed by a U.S. company.
Frank Rosenblatt defines the Perceptron in his Principles of Neurodynamics. Rosenblatt first introduced the Perceptron, a simple processing element for neural networks, at a conference in 1959.
The Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at Stanford University is founded by John McCarthy.
The influential Steps Toward Artificial Intelligence by Marvin Minsky is published.
Digital Equipment Corporation announces the PDP-8, which is the first successful minicomputer.
IBM introduces its 360 series, thereby further strengthening its leadership in the computer industry.
Thomas E. Kurtz and John G. Kenny of Dartmouth College invent BASIC (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code).
Daniel Bobrow completes his doctoral work on Student, a natural-language program that can solve high-school-level word problems in algebra.
Gordon Moore’s prediction, made this year, says integrated circuits will double in complexity each year. This will become known as Moore’s Law and prove true (with later revisions) for decades to come.
Marshall McLuhan, via his Understanding Media, foresees the potential for electronic media, especially television, to create a “global village” in which “the medium is the message.”
The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, which will become a leading research center for AI, is founded by Raj Reddy.
Hubert Dreyfus presents a set of philosophical arguments against the possibility of artificial intelligence in a RAND corporate memo entitled “Alchemy and Artificial Intelligence.”
Herbert Simon predicts that by 1985 “machines will be capable of doing any work a man can do.”
The Amateur Computer Society, possibly the first personal computer club, is founded by Stephen B. Gray. The Amateur Computer Society Newsletter is one of the first magazines about computers.
The first internal pacemaker is developed by Medtronics. It uses integrated circuits.
Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce found Intel (Integrated Electronics) Corporation.
The idea of a computer that can see, speak, hear, and think sparks imaginations when HAL is presented in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick.
Marvin Minsky and Seymour Papert present the limitation of single-layer neural nets in their book Perceptrons. The book’s pivotal theorem shows that a Perceptron is unable to determine if a line drawing is fully connected. The book essentially halts funding for neural-net research.
The GNP, on a per capita basis and in constant 1958 dollars, is $3,500, or more than six times as much as a century before.
The floppy disc is introduced for storing data in computers.
Researchers at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) develop the first personal computer, called Alto. PARC’s Alto pioneers the use of bit-mapped graphics, windows, icons, and mouse pointing devices.
Terry Winograd completes his landmark thesis on SHRDLU, a natural-language system that exhibits diverse intelligent behavior in the small world of children’s blocks. SHRDLU is criticized, however, for its lack of generality.
The Intel 4004, the first microprocessor, is introduced by Intel.
The first pocket calculator is introduced. It can add, subtract, multiply, and divide.
Continuing his criticism of the capabilities of AI, Hubert Dreyfus publishes What Computers Can’t Do, in which he argues that symbol manipulation cannot be the basis of human intelligence.
Stanley H. Cohen and Herbert W. Boyer show that DNA strands can be cut, joined, and then reproduced by inserting them into the bacterium Escherichia coli. This work creates the foundation for genetic engineering.
Creative Computing starts publication. It is the first magazine for home computer hobbyists.
The 8-bit 8080, which is the first general-purpose microprocessor, is announced by Intel.
Sales of microcomputers in the United States reach more than five thousand, and the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, is introduced. It has 256 bytes of memory.
BYTE, the first widely distributed computer magazine, is published.
Gordon Moore revises his observation on the doubling rate of transistors on an integrated circuit from twelve months to twenty-four months.
Kurzweil Computer Products introduces the Kurzweil Reading Machine (KRM), the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind. Based on the first omni-font (any font) optical character recognition (OCR) technology, the KRM scans and reads aloud any printed materials (books, magazines, typed documents).
Stephen G. Wozniak and Steven P. Jobs found Apple Computer Corporation.
The concept of true-to-life robots with convincing human emotions is imaginatively portrayed in the film Star Wars.
For the first time, a telephone company conducts large-scale experiments with fiber optics in a telephone system.
The Apple II, the first personal computer to be sold in assembled form and the first with color graphics capability, is introduced and successfully marketed. (JCR buys first Apple II at KO in 1978
Speak & Spell, a computerized learning aid for young children, is introduced by Texas Instruments. This is the first product that electronically duplicates the human vocal tract on a chip.
In a landmark study by nine researchers published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the performance of the computer program MYCIN is compared with that of doctors in diagnosing ten test cases of meningitis. MYCIN does at least as well as the medical experts. The potential of expert systems in medicine becomes widely recognized.
Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston establish the personal computer as a serious business tool when they develop VisiCalc, the first electronic spreadsheet.
AI industry revenue is a few million dollars this year.
As neuron models are becoming potentially more sophisticated, the neural network paradigm begins to make a comeback, and networks with multiple layers are commonly used.
Xerox introduces the Star Computer, thus launching the concept of Desktop Publishing. Apple’s Laserwriter, available in 1985, will further increase the viability of this inexpensive and efficient way for writers and artists to create their own finished documents.
IBM introduces its Personal Computer (PC).
The prototype of the Bubble Jet printer is presented by Canon.
Compact disc players are marketed for the first time.
Mitch Kapor presents Lotus 1-2-3, an enormously popular spreadsheet program.
Fax machines are fast becoming a necessity in the business world.
The Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) is presented in Los Angeles at the first North American Music Manufacturers show.
Six million personal computers are sold in the United States.
The Apple Macintosh introduces the “desktop metaphor,” pioneered at Xerox, including bit-mapped graphics, icons, and the mouse.
William Gibson uses the term cyberspace in his book Neuromancer.
The Kurzweil 250 (K250) synthesizer, considered to be the first electronic instrument to successfully emulate the sounds of acoustic instruments, is introduced to the market.
Marvin Minsky publishes The Society of Mind, in which he presents a theory of the mind where intelligence is seen to be the result of proper organization of a hierarchy of minds with simple mechanisms at the lowest level of the hierarchy.
MIT’s Media Laboratory is founded by Jerome Weisner and Nicholas Negroponte. The lab is dedicated to researching possible applications and interactions of computer science, sociology, and artificial intelligence in the context of media technology.
There are 116 million jobs in the United States, compared to 12 million in 1870. In the same period, the number of those employed has grown from 31 percent to 48 percent, and the per capita GNP in constant dollars has increased by 600 percent. These trends show no signs of abating.
Electronic keyboards account for 55.2 percent of the American musical keyboard market, up from 9.5 percent in 1980.
Life expectancy is about 74 years in the United States. Only 3 percent of the American workforce is involved in the production of food. Fully 76 percent of American adults have high-school diplomas, and 7.3 million U.S. students are enrolled in college.
NYSE stocks have their greatest single-day loss due, in part, to computerized trading.
Current speech systems can provide any one of the following: a large vocabulary, continuous speech recognition, or speaker independence.
Robotic-vision systems are now a $300 million industry and will grow to $800 million by 1990.
Computer memory today costs only one hundred millionth of what it did in 1950.
Marvin Minsky and Seymour Papert publish a revised edition of Perceptrons in which they discuss recent developments in neural network machinery for intelligence.
In the United States, 4,700,000 microcomputers, 120,000 minicomputers, and 11,500 mainframes are sold this year.
W. Daniel Hillis’s Connection Machine is capable of 65,536 computations at the same time.
Notebook computers are replacing the bigger laptops in popularity.
Intel introduces the 16-megahertz (MHz) 80386SX, 2.5 MIPS microprocessor.
Nautilus, the first CD-ROM magazine, is published.
The development of HypterText Markup Language by researcher Tim Berners-Lee and its release by CERN, the high-energy physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, leads to the conception of the World Wide Web.
Cell phones and e-mail are increasing in popularity as business and personal communication tools.
The first double-speed CD-ROM drive becomes available from NEC.
The first personal digital assistant (PDA), a hand-held computer, is introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago. The developer is Apple Computer.
The Pentium 32-bit microprocessor is launched by Intel. This chip has 3.1 million transistors.
The World Wide Web emerges.
America Online now has more than 1 million subscribers.
Scanners and CD-ROMs are becoming widely used.
Digital Equipment Corporation introduces a 300-MHz version of the Alpha AXP processor that executes 1 billion instructions per second.
Compaq Computer and NEC Computer Systems ship hand-held computers running Windows CE.
NEC Electronics ships the R4101 processor for personal digital assistants. It includes a touch-screen interface.
Deep Blue defeats Gary Kasparov, the world chess champion, in a regulation tournament.
Dragon Systems introduces Naturally Speaking, the first continuous-speech dictation software product.
Video phones are being used in business settings.
Face-recognition systems are beginning to be used in payroll check-cashing machines.
The Dictation Division of Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products (formerly Kurzweil Applied Intelligence) introduces Voice Xpress Plus, the first continuous-speech-recognition program with the ability to understand natural-language commands.
Routine business transactions over the phone are beginning to be conducted between a human customer and an automated system that engages in a verbal dialogue with the customer (e.g., United Airlines reservations).
Investment funds are emerging that use evolutionary algorithms and neural nets to make investment decisions (e.g., Advanced Investment Technologies).
The World Wide Web is ubiquitous. It is routine for high-school students and local grocery stores to have web sites.
Automated personalities, which appear as animated faces that speak with realistic mouth movements and facial expressions, are working in laboratories. These personalities respond to the spoken statements and facial expressions of their human users. They are being developed to be used in future user interfaces for products and services, as personalized research and business assistants, and to conduct transactions.
Microvision’s Virtual Retina Display (VRD) projects images directly onto the user’s retinas. Although expensive, consumer versions are projected for 1999.
“Bluetooth” technology is being developed for “body” local area networks (LANs) and for wireless communication between personal computers and associated peripherals. Wireless communication is being developed for high-bandwidth connection to the Web.
Ray Kurzweil’s The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence is published, available at your local bookstore!
A $1,000 personal computer can perform about a trillion calculations per second.
Personal computers with high-resolution visual displays come in a range of sizes, from those small enough to be embedded in clothing and jewelry up to the size of a thin book.
Cables are disappearing. Communication between components uses short-distance wireless technology. High-speed wireless communication provides access to the Web.
The majority of text is created using continuous speech recognition. Also ubiquitous are language user interfaces (LUIs).
Most routine business transactions (purchases, travel, reservations) take place between a human and a virtual personality. Often, the virtual personality includes an animated visual presence that looks like a human face.
Although traditional classroom organization is still common, intelligent courseware has emerged as a common means of learning.
Pocket-sized reading machines for the blind and visually impaired, “listening machines” (speech- to- text conversion) for the deaf, and computer- controlled orthotic devices for paraplegic individuals result in a growing perception that primary disabilities do not necessarily impart handicaps.
Translating telephones (speech-to-speech language translation) are commonly used for many language pairs.< Accelerating returns from the advance of computer technology have resulted in continued economic expansion. Price deflation, which had been a reality in the computer field during the twentieth century, is now occurring outside the computer field. The reason for this is that virtually all economic sectors are deeply affected by the accelerating improvement in the price performance of computing. Human musicians routinely jam with cybernetic musicians. Bioengineered treatments for cancer and heart disease have greatly reduced the mortality from these diseases. The neo-Luddite movement is growing. 2019 A $1,000 computing device (in 1999 dollars) is now approximately equal to the computational ability of the human brain. Computers are now largely invisible and are embedded everywhere -- in walls, tables, chairs, desks, clothing, jewelry, and bodies. Three-dimensional virtual reality displays, embedded in glasses and contact lenses, as well as auditory "lenses," are used routinely as primary interfaces for communication with other persons, computers, the Web, and virtual reality. Most interaction with computing is through gestures and two-way natural-language spoken communication. Nanoengineered machines are beginning to be applied to manufacturing and process-control applications. High-resolution, three-dimensional visual and auditory virtual reality and realistic all-encompassing tactile environments enable people to do virtually anything with anybody, regardless of physical proximity. Paper books or documents are rarely used and most learning is conducted through intelligent, simulated software-based teachers. Blind persons routinely use eyeglass-mounted reading-navigation systems. Deaf persons read what other people are saying through their lens displays. Paraplegic and some quadriplegic persons routinely walk and climb stairs through a combination of computer-controlled nerve stimulation and exoskeletal robotic devices. The vast majority of transactions include a simulated person. Automated driving systems are now installed in most roads. People are beginning to have relationships with automated personalities and use them as companions, teachers, caretakers, and lovers. Virtual artists, with their own reputations, are emerging in all of the arts. There are widespread reports of computers passing the Turing Test, although these tests do not meet the criteria established by knowledgeable observers. 2029 A $1,000 (in 1999 dollars) unit of computation has the computing capacity of approximately 1,000 human brains. Permanent or removable implants (similar to contact lenses) for the eyes as well as cochlear implants are now used to provide input and output between the human user and the worldwide computing network. Direct neural pathways have been perfected for high-bandwidth connection to the human brain. A range of neural implants is becoming available to enhance visual and auditory perception and interpretation, memory, and reasoning. Automated agents are now learning on their own, and significant knowledge is being created by machines with little or no human intervention. Computers have read all available human- and machine-generated literature and multimedia material. There is widespread use of all-encompassing visual, auditory, and tactile communication using direct neural connections, allowing virtual reality to take place without having to be in a "total touch enclosure." The majority of communication does not involve a human. The majority of communication involving a human is between a human and a machine. There is almost no human employment in production, agriculture, or transportation. Basic life needs are available for the vast majority of the human race. There is a growing discussion about the legal rights of computers and what constitutes being "human." Although computers routinely pass apparently valid forms of the Turing Test, controversy persists about whether or not machine intelligence equals human intelligence in all of its diversity. Machines claim to be conscious. These claims are largely accepted. 2049 The common use of nanoproduced food, which has the correct nutritional composition and the same taste and texture of organically produced food, means that the availability of food is no longer affected by limited resources, bad crop weather, or spoilage.< Nanobot swarm projections are used to create visual-auditory-tactile projections of people and objects in real reality. 2072 Picoengineering (developing technology at the scale of picometers or trillionths of a meter) becomes practical.1 By the year 2099 There is a strong trend toward a merger of human thinking with the world of machine intelligence that the human species initially created. There is no longer any clear distinction between humans and computers. Most conscious entities do not have a permanent physical presence. Machine-based intelligences derived from extended models of human intelligence claim to be human, although their brains are not based on carbon-based cellular processes, but rather electronic and photonic equivalents. Most of these intelligences are not tied to a specific computational processing unit. The number of software-based humans vastly exceeds those still using native neuron-cell-based computation. Even among those human intelligences still using carbon-based neurons, there is ubiquitous use of neural-implant technology, which provides enormous augmentation of human perceptual and cognitive abilities. Humans who do not utilize such implants are unable to meaningfully participate in dialogues with those who do. Because most information is published using standard assimilated knowledge protocols, information can be instantly understood. The goal of education, and of intelligent beings, is discovering new knowledge to learn. Femtoengineering (engineering at the scale of femtometers or one thousandth of a trillionth of a meter) proposals are controversial.2 Life expectancy is no longer a viable term in relation to intelligent beings. Some many millenniums hence . . . Intelligent beings consider the fate of the Universe.