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Why Are Amazon Warehouse Workers On Food Stamps?

Also: The email you don't want to see from Jeff Bezos.

When Rosie Comes Home To Roost

Prime Cut: “The Jetsons” made the futuristic concept of home robots commonplace through the guise of the mechanical maid Rosie. Now, if a report on Amazon’s top-secret “Vestra” project pans out, Bezos & Co. may be embracing that vision for the near term.

TWICE Take: According to Bloomberg, Amazon is busy developing what is essentially an Alexa on wheels that will use advanced cameras and computer-vision software to wind its way through your house. Said to be under wraps at Amazon’s Lab126 skunkworks unit, the homebot could be trialed by employees later this year and sold to consumers as soon as 2019.

See the full story at Bloomberg.

Amazon By The Numbers

Prime Cut: Way back in 2001, when TWICE sat down with Jeff Bezos to discuss Amazon’s emerging consumer electronics business, the company was beset by losses, layoffs, a plummeting stock price, charges of insider trading and whispers of an imminent bankruptcy. My, how the worm has turned.

TWICE Take: According to a recent assessment by eMarketer Retail, only 61 percent of Amazon’s $60.5 billion in Q4 revenue was derived from e-commerce, with the rest coming from the company’s Cloud services business and other sources like digital advertising, which is expected to generate $3.4 billion worldwide this year. But its fastest growing segment is mobile, which will grow 122 percent to $1.1 billion by December. That’s no surprise given Amazon’s estimated 90 million Prime Video viewers, representing over 45 percent of the OTT streaming market.

See the full story at eMarketer Retail.

Why Are So Many Amazon Warehouse Workers On Food Stamps?

Prime Cut: As Amazon distribution centers sprout up around the country, they bring with them the promise of low-skill jobs at competitive wages, plus a plethora of benefits for full-time employees that include medical insurance, bonuses and even paid technical school tuition.

TWICE Take: But a report by The Intercept shows that Amazon’s warehouse workers are disproportionately dependent on the federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps. In Arizona, for example, where Amazon is the 28th-largest employer, the company ranks 5th for employees enrolled in SNAP. Why? A 2013 CNN study showed that the take-home pay of the average Amazon warehouse worker barely exceeded the federal poverty line for a family of four — meaning, in a twisted irony, that we’re all subsidizing the nation’s largest e-commerce grocer through our taxes.

See the full story at The Intercept.

How Jeff Bezos Handles His Customer-First Code

Prime Cut: It ain’t easy working for Jeff Bezos, if media reports are to be believed. Three years after a blistering New York Times story painted Amazon headquarters as a crucible of competitive pressure and cruelty comes two separate tales underscoring his “unrelenting customer obsession” and companywide expectation of same.

TWICE Take: The first account comes direct from the founder, who still maintains his [email protected] email address for customers and reads most of their messages himself. User complaints provide front-line insights, he told a crowd at the George Bush Presidential Center last week, and are forwarded with a question mark to the appropriate executive, who passes it to the manager in charge, who then spends nights and weekends of frenzied research to get an answer back to his or her bosses.

The other anecdote, from Brad Stone’s new book “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon,” recounts a boardroom meeting in which former global customer service VP Bill Price assured Bezos that holiday wait times were less than a minute for help-line support. Bezos put it to the test by dialing Amazon’s 800 number on the speakerphone, and all 30 executives squirmed anxiously as on-hold music played for the next four-and-a-half excruciating minutes. Price was gone within a year.

See the full story at Yahoo! Finance and Business Insider.

Strange Bedfellows

Prime Cut: Perhaps the oddest get-together of the year was not between CIA Director Mike Pompeo and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, but last week’s press briefing in the back room of a Bellevue, Wash., Best Buy store led by CEO Hubert Joly and Amazon head Jeff Bezos.

TWICE Take: The two used the occasion to announce the exclusive launch of a new line of Fire TV Edition televisions at Best Buy stores and through the chain’s new online Amazon shop. Though fierce competitors for the country’s CE dollars — Amazon nearly helped put the kibosh on the once ailing retailer — the two have long collaborated on dedicated in-store displays, and Best Buy even sells select products via Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. But given their tightening bonds, the consolidating CE market and Amazon’s penchant for buying brick-and-mortar retailers, this might be more than just the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

See the full story at TWICE.

Amazon Quote Of The Week

“Really? Let’s see.” — An incredulous Jeff Bezos, who dialed Amazon’s 800 number himself after being assured that customer-assistance wait times were less than a minute. (They weren’t.)