Amazon founder Jeff Bezos won the week, but at a big personal cost.
In his heated battle with American Media Inc. (AMI), the publisher of the National Enquirer, he exposed intimate details of his extramarital affair to defang what he says was an attempt by the company to coerce him. Bezos accused AMI of blackmail and revealed e-mails from AMI that he says threatened publication of revealing photos of him unless he agreed to their terms.
Other winners, and losers:
Podcasts. The burgeoning medium got a huge shot in the arm this when music streaming service Spotify said it would acquire Gimlet Media, the company that makes popular podcasts like Reply All and Startup, and Anchor, a tool to help people record and publish podcasts in a deal ReCode cited as worth $230 million. “What I didn’t know when we launched to consumers in 2008 was that audio – not just music – would be the future of Spotify,” said Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said in a blog post. (Speaking of podcasts, you can listen to the latest Talking Tech editions anytime right here.)
Twitter and Medium. Bezos used the Medium blogging website, to reveal the contents of the e-mails AMI sent to him, and Twitter, to send people to Medium. It was a huge shot in the arm for Medium, which has become a site of choice for tech-savvy individuals who want to get something off their chest without having to go to the bother of creating and feeding a full-fledged blog. And for Twitter, which reported earnings this week, it was a traffic builder that followed Twitter’s announcement that it had more daily active users in the quarter at 126 million, up from 115 million a year earlier.
Snapchat. Speaking of daily active users, the Snapchat app didn’t lose users over the last few months, so that would be considered a win. It reported this week 186 million users — the same as the previous quarter, but not as high as a year ago when it had 191 million daily active users.
GoPro. For the struggling action camera maker, let’s call it like we see it. A big win, after years of huge losses, layoffs and, of course, that ill-fated foray into a consumer drone, recalled after it started falling from the skies and then pulled off the market. The company says it has a hit in the latest iteration of the GoPro Hero 7 camera, with camera sales up 20 percent over the prior year holiday quarter, and that it eked out a profit in the quarter for the first time since the third quarter of 2017.
The Apple Store. After the sudden exit of Angela Ahrendts, who ran Apple’s retail division and who had been discussed as an heir apparent to CEO Tim Cook, many pundits this week took aim at the Store itself. One of the initial smash successes for Apple is now deemed as “too crowded” (9to5 Mac), in need of a new retail strategy (CNN) and having lost its “wow” factor (Washington Post). We have a simple request –love the Genius Bar, but it takes too long to see them. It should be hours, not days to get an appointment. The new retail chief Deidre O’Brien apparently has her work cut out for her.
InstaCart. In a blog post (on Medium, of course), the CEO of the food delivery service admitted a bad thing – tips weren’t always getting passed on to drivers. Apoorva Mehta urged shoppers to always keep tips separate, or as others have noted, just hand the driver a few green bucks. We give him credit for admitting the mistake, but this a bad flashlight on a burgeoning industry.
Amazon shareholders. Yes, it’s great that Bezos is using his position to fight back against the National Enquirer. But the question surfaces: How should Amazon investors feel about the man who popularized a speaker that has the potential to monitor your home conversations (Hello, Alexa), send texts and photos he would never want to see printed in a family newspaper?
And how was your week?
This week’s Talking Tech podcasts
Valley of the Boom: actor John Karna chats about portraying Marc Andreessen in the National Geographic Channel mini-series
Last weekend we had fun traipsing around Los Angeles, photographing local icons in the rain with smartphones. If you have a second, please enjoy video. We promise, you won’t get wet watching!
And that’s a wrap for this week’s Talking Tech newsletter. Please subscribe http://technewsletter.usatoday.com, listen to the daily Talking Tech podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to online audio, and follow me (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
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