Happy Thanksgiving from Studio
Hello Studio Fam,
This week the Studio team is thankful for another opportunity to share with you the latest technology news and insights into digital trends. Amazon has joined the Great Tech Reset with a major reduction in its devices team, President Trump has been restored to Twitter but might not actually come back to the platform, and the FTX catastrophe continues to reveal remarkably shady behavior on the part of SBF. And TikTok is leaning into the Reset with an ambitious hiring plan that might lead to some major innovations in how Americans shop online.
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Amazon Loses $10 billion on Alexa…this year
Voice assistants are seemingly everywhere these days, whether they’re embedded in your phone, computer, or dedicated devices throughout your home. While the willingness of consumers to let Big Tech listen to literally everything might be surprising, it’s even more remarkable that these services don’t make any money. We’ve reported previously on the layoffs sweeping major tech employers and the latest cuts are focused around this fact. Amazon will be laying off upwards of 10,000 people, mostly on the device teams.
Why? Because attempts to monetize these devices have miserably failed: they’re sold at cost, and nobody has been able to figure out how to sell things through them. This is probably why Apple, arguably the only consumer company to make consistent profit selling hardware at scale, killed the HomePod in 2021. There’s just no there there.
Studio Byte Of The Week
A new default iPhone wallpaper is coming thanks to Tim Cook and Diplo (jk).
Trump is back on Twitter, but he might never Tweet again
After previously promising to subject controversial account reinstatements to a neutral advisory board, Elon Musk tweeted a poll asking his followers whether he should reinstate former President Trump. After 24 hours and over 15 million votes, the “Yes” voters were victorious and @realDonaldTrump was reactivated.
But he still hasn’t tweeted, and some pundits have suggested that he can’t for a very simple reason: he told investors in his own social media app, Truth Social, that he would not. If Trump were to resume tweeting, those investors could sue on the grounds that they were misled. Trump might also not be eager to drive traffic for Mr. Musk after saying some not-very-nice things about him earlier this year.
Short Bytes: The Craziest Things We’ve Learned About FTX
- The new CEO of FTX John Ray was chosen for his experience handling the bankruptcy of Enron.
- The old CEO of FTX Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) thinks “there is still a chance to save the company” which others have called delusional.
- SBF built a backdoor into FTX’s accounting system to unilaterally alter financial records.
- SBF personally loaned himself $1 billion of his customers’ money.
- SBF’s parents bought hundreds of millions of dollars worth of luxury real estate.
If you just left Twitter, TikTok would like to talk
Meta, Twitter, Amazon and many other tech firms are amidst historic staff reductions but one social media company is hiring aggressively: TikTok says it wants to hire 3,000 engineers, many in the US, to focus on “commercialization.” That’s the boring way of saying TikTok wants to convert their viewers into buyers.
One of the biggest differences between the US and Chinese versions of TikTok is the success of e-commerce integrations in China. Users of Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, more than tripled their purchases through the app’s video features this year. Replicating that success in the US market, where comparatively fewer ecommerce sales are driven by video, is definitely on the TikTok product roadmap.