Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021


Jassy, Jeff and the Fresh Prince

It's not the end of an era when someone transitions from being CEO to being Chairman, but it seems like a good time to take stock of Jeff Bezos's business legacy. The Bez.O.S. has had an impact, never more so than during the pandemic when Amazoning became a way of life. Amazon was founded as an online bookstore in 1994. The plan was always to become the everything store, and that has happened. The plan, at the time, did not expect retail to become, in many ways, the company's secondary business. But that happened as Amazon Web Services grew into a massive profit center that enabled the company to spend even more on online, and eventually, offline retail. That's why it makes sense that the CEO spot will got to Andy Jassy, the kingdom prince who's been running AWS for years. Bezos announcement that he will step down as CEO comes at a time when he's worth $194 billion, Amazon is worth $1.7 trillion, the company just had its biggest quarter with $126 billion in revenues, and is powered by 1.3 million employees (427,000 people have been hired during the pandemic), one of whom tossed a package addressed to my neighbor over my fence and into my backyard last week. Here's a look at Jeff Bezos' Amazon legacy by the numbers.

+ How Bezos and Amazon changed the world. (Kids today will find it hard to believe that garages were originally used to store cars, not cardboard.)

+ The second act of Jeff Bezos could be as big as his first.

+ Interestingly, Bezos' announcement did not lead to a big stock price drop. Big Tech is so big it doesn't need its founders anymore. (I long for the day when Big Newsletter can say the same...)

+ And here comes the new boss. But not the same challenges as the old boss. Andy Jassy will face these 3 big challenges as Amazon's CEO.

+ Prediction: Amazon will spin out AWS as a separate publicly traded company within three years.


Let’s Hear it For the ‘Band

"President Joe Biden's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) isn't wasting any time trying to get low-income families online. Under acting Chair Jessica Rosenworcel, the FCC is moving to expand a broadband services discount program to cover remote schooling." (This is one of the biggest stories in America right now. The digital divide is doing an incredible amount of damage with years of education being lost in some communities.)


Burma Road to Myanmar

Following the Myanmar coup, detained Aung San Suu Kyi faces charges. "The military sought to justify its action by alleging fraud in last November's elections, which Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) won decisively." (Yesterday, my daughter's 6th grade class learned that the Myanmar military staged a coup after citing electoral fraud without providing evidence to substantiate it. And half the class was like, "Oh, like what just happened in America's election!")

+ "In the Burmese language, 'Myanmar' is simply the more formal version of 'Burma.' The country's name was changed only in English." Explainer: Myanmar, Burma and why the different names matter.


Captain Underpants

"It turns out that dealing with a political opponent who has no access to television and no political party merely requires trying to kill him with a chemical weapon. So, of course, he's losing his mind over this. Because everyone was convinced that he's just a bureaucrat who was accidentally appointed to his position. He's never participated in any debates or campaigned in an election. Murder is the only way he knows how to fight. He'll go down in history as nothing but a poisoner. We all remember Alexander the Liberator [Alexander II] and Yaroslav the Wise [Yaroslav I]. Well, now we'll have Vladimir the Underpants Poisoner." Alexei Navalny, just sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison in Russia for surviving Putin's murder attempt, is not softening his message. Here's the Russian dissident's statement as he faced imprisonment.

+ "For once, the Kremlin's propaganda onslaught may be no match for the truth coming from the other side. More than a hundred and six million people have watched Navalny's movie about the palace; according to Volkov, sixty-two per cent of the views have been within Russia. Millions saw Navalny get arrested, on live TV, when he flew home to Moscow after undergoing treatment in Germany following the assassination attempt. Millions watched a speech that Navalny gave in court by video, from jail; in it, he enumerated the legal violations committed in the course of his arrest, and concluded, 'You can handcuff me, but this cannot last forever.'" Masha Gessen in The New Yorker: Across Russia, Pro-Navalny Demonstrations Continue to Build Momentum.


QAnon and On

"According to the survey, nearly a fifth of American adults, 17 percent, believe that 'a group of Satan-worshiping elites who run a child sex ring are trying to control our politics.' Almost a third 'believe that voter fraud helped Joe Biden win the 2020 election.' Even more, 39 percent, agree that "there is a deep state working to undermine President Trump.'" The NYT's Thomas B. Edsall with another must-read column in which he talks to the experts about conspiracy theories. The QAnon Delusion Has Not Loosened Its Grip.


Rock Records

"To truly appreciate the coming changes to our planet, we need to plumb the history of climate change. So let us take a trip back into deep time, a journey that will begin with the familiar climate of recorded history and end in the feverish, high-CO2 greenhouse of the early age of mammals, 50 million years ago. It is a sobering journey, one that warns of catastrophic surprises that may be in store." Peter Brannen in The Atlantic: The Terrifying Warning Lurking in the Earth's Ancient Rock Record.


Incite Scene

"Lying in honor is a final tribute reserved only for private citizens who've provided distinguished service to the U.S. President Biden and first lady Jill Biden joined congressional leaders, police and others in paying tribute to Sicknick at the Capitol Rotunda Tuesday night." Police officer Brian Sicknick lies in honor at U.S. Capitol.


Tall Tales

"One of the most common complaints in supertall buildings is noise, said Luke Leung, a director at the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. He has heard metal partitions between walls groan as buildings sway, and the ghostly whistle of rushing air in doorways and elevator shafts. Residents at 432 Park complained of creaking, banging and clicking noises in their apartments, and a trash chute 'that sounds like a bomb" when garbage is tossed.'" Stefanos Chen in the NYT: The Down Side to Life in a Supertall Tower: Leaks, Creaks, Breaks.


Home Movies

"Streaming services dominated nominations for the 78th Golden Globe Awards, signaling a power shift in Hollywood away from traditional movie studios and cable and broadcast television players towards digital upstarts. It's a move that's been accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic when much of the world has been stuck at home and theaters have remained closed." Netflix scored 42 Golden Globe nominations. Here's a look at all the noms, and the snubs and surprises.


Bottom of the News

Flight attendants are the face of the airline — and now, they're pleading with passengers to wear masks. Cabin Pressure: The Turbulent History of Flight Attendants.

+ "An American toddler, Luca Yupanqui, is gearing up to release her debut album, the world's first LP made from sounds inside the womb." (Hopefully this wasn't recorded during 2020, or it will just be muffled sounds of people swearing.)

+ Priyanka Chopra Said She And Nick Jonas Have To Schedule Time To See Each Other Every Three Weeks. (I suggested this model to my wife and she said, "How about six?")