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Inside Amazon (Feb 12th, 2018)

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Amazon reportedly is laying off hundreds of corporate workers. The cuts are focused on its Seattle headquarters, and appear. to be aimed at underperformers on the management staff, the Seattle Times reported. Amazon put a hiring freeze in place in 2017.  "As part of our annual planning process, we are making head count adjustments across the company — small reductions in a couple of places and aggressive hiring in many others," an Amazon spokesman said. The move comes as Amazon continues its search for a second headquarters, or HQ2, which it has said will bring 50,000 jobs to the host city. — CNBC

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Amazon is now designing its own AI chips for anything powered by Alexa. The chips would allow the virtual assistant to respond faster and add speech recognition, and eliminate the brief pause before Alexa answers a question. More complex questions would still be relayed to the cloud and take a second before an answer is provided. The development comes after Amazon acquired chip designer Annapurna Labs in 2015. — ENGADGET

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Amazon has hired former NBC Entertainment executive Jennifer Salke to lead Amazon Studios. Amazon is trying to elevate its movie and television division to the level of Netflix and Hulu. Although it has had some success with “Transparent” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” it has failed to spin off other popular shows. Amazon began searching for a new studio president after Roy Price was ousted amid a sexual harassment allegation in 2017. — NY TIMES

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Instacart has raised $200 million to challenge Amazon in the grocery delivery market. The round was led by investment firms Coatue Management and Glade Brook Capital Partners. Amazon recently announced free two-hour delivery of Whole Foods groceries to Prime customers in four U.S. cities. Instacart plans alliances with grocery stores to compete with Amazon. The company already has deals with Albertsons Cos. and Costco Wholesale Corp. — BLOOMBERG

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