Plus, Amazon’s other Jeff talks Trump threats and robots, Intel is shutting down its smart glasses division, and a super-stony 420-song Spotify playlist.
Jeff Bezos’s surprise unveiling of Amazon’s Prime membership number — 100 million-plus paying members worldwide — was a long, long time coming. What that milestone doesn’t reveal is Amazon’s battle to keep growing in the country where Prime is the most popular and the biggest moneymaker: The United States. Meanwhile, business leaders say that Bezos’s annual letter to shareholders, which has been published every year since Amazon went public in 1997, is a must-read for its insights into his management principles and long-term thinking. And here’s how Amazon’s subscriber tally compares to other subscription services like HBO, Netflix and Tinder. [Jason Del Rey / Recode]
Here’s an interview with Amazon’s other Jeff: Jeff Wilke, head of Amazon’s worldwide consumer division, who has been Bezos’s right-hand man for 18 years, talks about the customer-driven company’s AI ambitions, Trump threats, robots and new markets. [Brad Stone and Spencer Soper / Bloomberg]
MoviePass’s finances show that it might be too good to be true. The parent company of upstart movie-theater subscription service, Helios and Matheson Analytics, is bleeding money, and shares plummeted more than 40 percent yesterday after it announced the pricing of a $30 million public share offering. Earlier this week, an independent auditor raised “substantial doubt” about MoviePass’s ability to continue operating as “a going concern.” [Todd Spangler / Variety]
Google has made yet another new messaging service for Android, designed to replace all the other Android messaging services. It’s called Chat, which is a good name. [Dieter Bohn / The Verge]
Wells Fargo is expected to be fined $1 billion by federal regulators for a variety of alleged misdeeds, including forcing customers to buy auto insurance policies they didn’t need, improperly charging mortgage customers and failing to maintain adequate risk management and compliance practices. The penalty is likely the largest ever levied by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and would be the toughest action the Trump administration has taken against a major bank, even as the president has advocated a rollback of regulations on the banking and other industries. [Emily Flitter and Glenn Thrush / The New York Times]
Peter Thiel’s data-mining company Palantir is using War on Terror tools to track American citizens. The company’s software combs through data sources like financial documents, airline reservations, cellphone records and social media postings and searches for connections that human analysts might miss. [Peter Waldman, Lizette Chapman and Jordan Robertson / Bloomberg]
Make sure to read the fine print behind an eye-opening website called Terms of Service; Didn’t Read, which crowdsources, summarizes and rates ToS agreements and privacy policies from various companies, including Facebook, YouTube and Netflix. Just last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was asked by senators whether Facebook users could understand what they’re agreeing to; Zuckerberg said, “I would imagine probably most people do not read the whole thing. But everyone has the opportunity and consents to it.” [Ariel Pardes / Wired]
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This is cool
California is ready for an especially stony 4/20 — the first since marijuana was legalized in the state. Listen to this cannabis-infused 420-song Spotify playlist while reading about the surprisingly well-documented origins of the global weed holiday.
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