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Inside Amazon

Inside Amazon (Jan 16th, 2020)

1. Amazon ranked as the number one "most evil" tech company in a new list compiled by Slate magazine. To create the ranking, the online magazine said it sent out "ballots to a wide range of journalists, scholars, advocates, and others who have been thinking critically about technology for years." Amazon, of course, came in first, followed by Facebook, Alphabet, and Palantir Technologies. Slate outlined a lot of reasons why Amazon is apparently evil, including its creation of AmazonBasics knockoffs, and burnout, injuries, and even deaths among its warehouse workers, who it says get treated "like robots who sometimes get bathroom breaks." Respondents pointed to many other issues, such as the death of local stores, the support of police surveillance via Ring, its large carbon footprint, and failure to moderate counterfeit items. Some Twitter users have chimed in, with @Dcoronata saying that Amazon's business model to buy in high volume with low overhead and subsidized shipping "was quite extraordinary" until it "morphed into something more evil." Still, that person acknowledged that "Amazon's profitability is encouraging other companies to enter e-commerce, increasing competition." - SLATE

Do you think Amazon deserves the title of "most evil tech company"? Hit reply and let us know!

2. During his three-day trip to India this week, Amazon CEO met with Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan and other prominent stars and leaders. Photos of the two together began appearing on Twitter Thursday, as fans of the actor gushed over their recent fireside chat and exchange. "Khan knows how to make someone smile and laugh and get pleasure in the moment," wrote Twitter user @RoxannaKahn, noting that the apparently warm response from Bezos toward Khan "speaks loudly." The actor reportedly told Bezos, "We have the same accent." It wasn't all fun, though, as Bezos' tour includes meetings with company and small business heads and government officials to discuss regulatory issues. On Wednesday, during his appearance at Amazon’s Smbhav event in New Delhi, Bezos announced plans for Amazon to invest $1 billion in the next five years to bring more than 10 million small- and medium-sized Indian businesses online. - @SRKFEELING

3. Starting in 2017, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his "S-Team" team of senior executives sought a reported $1 billion in economic incentives for real-estate projects. This was on top of the billions in incentives it expected to receive for its second headquarters, The Wall Street Journal reports. The executives wanted the $1 billion to pursue various real-estate projects because of high capital investment costs that year, a source told The Journal. It later ditched the plans after it couldn't secure the incentives. That same year, Amazon kicked off its nationwide search for an HQ2, which ultimately went to northern Virginia. It withdrew from plans for another HQ2 in New York City after critics expressed concerns about the $3 billion in incentives and $800 million in tax credits and grants that were affiliated with the project. - WALL STREET JOURNAL

4. A new report from Coresight Research has confirmed what many Amazon shoppers already know: the online retailer's site is dominated by inexpensive and unbranded apparel. The research and advisory firm analyzed close to one million clothing items on Amazon and found that so-called "generic brands" are the most listed items. In fact, the number of listings of these brands grew by more than 900 percent in the year from September 2018 to 2019, the researchers found. The "generic" apparel label covers more than 65,000 products on Amazon Fashion. This comes amid news that Amazon wants to launch a luxury fashion platform that would operate like department stores' concession models allowing brands to lease space or pay a sales percentage to operate "mini-shops" within the store. - BUSINESS INSIDER

5. Amazon on Thursday opened its latest corporate office in the U.K., which will house as many as 600 employees. The will positions range from solutions architects, to applied scientists, software developers, and brand and business development specialists, the company said. The office in Manchester's historic Hanover Building is six stories high and spans 90,000-square-feet. The news comes a little over a year after Amazon chose Manchester rather than London for the corporate office. It has other, small offices - mostly R&D and distribution centers - in Cambridge, Swansea, Edinburgh, and Coventry. - BUSINESS INSIDER

6. Amazon says it won't move forward with the pilot of "The Dark Tower," a TV adaptation of Stephen King’s novel. Deadline's Nellie Andreeva said she heard executives thought the pilot did not match "the level of other large-scope elevated genre series the streamer has in production/pre-production, like 'Wheel Of Time' and 'The Lord Of the Rings.'" Sources told Andreeva that production company MRC is shopping the two pilot scripts. - DEADLINE

7. If Amazon hadn't worked out, CEO Jeff Bezos said he "would be an extremely happy software programmer somewhere." The billionaire made the comment during a chat in India on Wednesday. Since the company's founding in 1994, what happened has been "way beyond my expectations,” Bezos said, adding that “I was hoping to build a company, but not a company like what you see today.” - CNBC

Written and curated by Beth Duckett, a former reporter for The Arizona Republic who wrote a book about the solar industry and frequently covers hobby and commercial drones. You can follow her tweets here.

Edited by Sheena Vasani, Inside Dev editor.

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