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This Week In Amazon: Which Industry Shall We Disrupt Next?

Even Amazon’s corporate crew isn’t immune to the dreaded pink slip.

Layoffs Come To La-La Land

Prime Cut: Despite posting record fourth-quarter earnings, even Amazon’s corporate crew isn’t immune to the dreaded pink slip. According to the hometown Seattle Times, hundreds of headquarters employees are getting the axe, along with hundreds more possibly offshore.

TWICE Take: Most of the layoffs are reportedly within the company’s consumer retail unit, suggesting a consolidation of those businesses. Workers told the Times that Amazon’s rapid growth – which saw its headcount grow from 5,000 to 40,000 since 2010 – left some teams over-staffed and over budget. Amazon responded to the Times, acknowledging in a statement that it’s conducting “small reductions in a couple of places and aggressive hiring in many others.”

See the full story at The Seattle Times.

Amazon’s Doing WHAT? (Part I)

Prime Cut: Founder/CEO Jeff Bezos said he christened his company Amazon because it would wend its way through new businesses and categories the way its namesake river cuts through thousands of miles of jungle. Well, you can now add two more sectors to the e-tailer’s ledger.

TWICE Take: Amazon is reportedly following Apple, Google and Samsung into the chip-making business. Looking to improve Alexa’s Cloud-based response time, the company is said to be developing its own dedicated, onboard AI chip for Echo devices, giving suppliers like Intel and Nvidia a run for their money. Lending credence to the report is Amazon’s recent $90 million purchase of smart-home startup Blink – whose parent company Immedia Semiconductor designs energy-efficient chips that could help unplug Echo from its wall-outlet tether.

See the full story at Reuters and The Information.

Amazon’s Doing WHAT? (Part II)

Prime Cut: This next one should come as no surprise: After developing its own fleets of trucks, planes and even cargo ships, Amazon is now preparing to take on FedEx and UPS directly. Its new B-to-B delivery service, called Shipping With Amazon (SWA), will cut out the middlemen by picking up parcels from third-party sellers and carting them directly to customers.

TWICE Take: Sources tell The Wall Street Journal that Amazon will begin piloting the new service within the next few weeks in Los Angeles, where a test project was trialed over a year ago. (A similar test was previously conducted and launched in London). While SWA will initially serve marketplace partners, the service may eventually be expanded to other businesses, at rates below those of traditional carriers.

See the full story at The Wall Street Journal.

Two-Hour Prime Now Service Ain’t All That

Prime Cut: Before Amazon gets busy in the delivery business (see above), it better get its own house in order. According to Business Insider reporter Dennis Green, the company’s much-ballyhooed one- and two-hour Prime Now delivery service, which has begun adding Whole Foods to its roster, still leaves much to be desired.

TWICE Take: Green put the program to the test by ordering candy and a Lightning cable for delivery to Business Insider’s Lower Manhattan offices. Frustrations included a three-hour wait for a two-hour delivery window and the automatic addition of a delivery fee, tax and tip, which nearly doubled the initial price of the order. While Green confirmed Prime Now’s convenience, “Prime Now delivery took longer and was much more expensive than I expected,” he said.

See the full story at Business Insider.

Amazon Video: Meet The New Boss

Prime Cut: Same as the old boss? Not this time. To further distance itself from the taint of Amazon Studio founder Roy Price, who was booted last fall for allegedly harassing a female movie producer, the pool of possible successors to head the studio was heavily weighted toward women.

TWICE Take: All bets were on Nancy Dubuc, president/CEO of A+E Networks. But the frontrunner bowed out at the last minute, supposedly due to the combination of a long and exhausting hiring process; the less-than-Hollywood-level perks and pay; and her ultimate reluctance to leave A+E and New York. On Friday the job finally went to another female exec, Jennifer Salke, president of NBC Entertainment, who helped shepherd such TV hits as “This Is Us,” “Chicago,” “Glee” and “Modern Family.”

“It’s an exciting time to be a content creator,” Salke said.

See the full story at Broadcasting & Cable.

Amazon Quote Of The Week

“I’m not sure under which circumstances I’d order it again.” — Business Insider reporter Dennis Green, on his experience with Prime Now