All posts by admin

Amazon reports $1.3B in physical store sales, breaking out brick-and-mortar business for first time, still dwarfed by $26.4B online sales

Whole Foods
Amazon’s newly acquired Whole Foods Market in South Lake Union. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

A new section of Amazon’s quarterly earnings report reflects the company’s growing ambitions for physical retail.

RELATED: Amazon crushes profit expectations, sales rise 34% to $43.7B, stock up 7%

The Seattle-based company, which saw shares rise 7 percent after crushing profit expectations for the third quarter, now includes a “physical stores” break-out under its net sales financial data.

For the third quarter, Amazon reported $1.27 billion for physical store sales — still a small fraction of the company’s $26.4 billion in quarterly online sales, but the fact that Amazon is breaking this out is significant.

On an earnings call with reporters, Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky said that number is primarily made up of sales from Whole Foods between Aug. 28 — when Amazon completed its $13.7 billion acquisition of the grocery company — and the end of the quarter. Sales from Amazon’s physical bookstores are also included as part of this new section.

“It’s sales where customers are physically selecting items in a store, versus perhaps ordering online and picking up somewhere,” Olsavsky said of the ‘physical stores’ section. “For us, that is principally going to be Whole Foods and Amazon Books. And then as we develop other formats over time, we could see other items in that category.”

The highlighted “physical stores” section in Amazon’s financial reporting appeared for the first time on Thursday.

Olsavsky’s comments indicate Amazon’s continued interest in growing its physical retail footprint that now includes 465 Whole Foods stores and a dozen bookstores.

Amazon clearly sees opportunity to combine its massive digital presence and tech prowess with brick-and-mortar retail. For example, the company has already installed Amazon Locker package pickup hubs at Whole Foods locations, and plans to integrate its Prime membership program for customers shopping at the grocer.

Prime members also get discounted prices at the bookstores, which sell Amazon devices like the Echo voice assistant and Fire TV.

Amazon opened its first bookstore in November 2015 at Seattle’s University Village shopping center and now has additional locations across the U.S. It plans to add three additional bookstores in Walnut Creek, Calif.; Austin, Texas; and Washington D.C.

The new Amazon Books store in the Bellevue Square mall. (GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy)

The company is also testing other physical grocery concepts with two AmazonFresh Pickup sites and the experimental Amazon Go store in Seattle. It has also opened pop-up shops in malls around the country for the past several years and installed vending machines at airports.

In another example of the overlap between physical and digital, Amazon added hundreds of Whole Foods items to its AmazonFresh grocery delivery service after the acquisition. There’s now a Whole Foods online storefront on Amazon’s website.

A New York Times report from February noted that Amazon was exploring the possibility of new retail outlets in categories including furniture, home appliances and electronics.

Amazon’s growth in physical retail raises natural concerns among many of the same traditional retailers whose businesses have been undercut by the company’s online domination. In a special report on the company from this past March, The Economist cites the possibility of new regulatory scrutiny for the company in the future. “If Amazon does become a utility for commerce, the calls will grow for it to be regulated as one,” the magazine concludes. “Shareholders are right to believe in Amazon’s potential. But success will bring it into conflict with an even stronger beast: government.”

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson speaks at the 2017 GeekWire Summit in Seattle. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire)

Amazon isn’t the only retail company thinking about how to bring together digital and physical. Speaking at the 2017 GeekWire Summit, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson talked about how the coffee giant is both increasing its physical footprint while building out new digital technologies.

Johnson, a respected veteran tech executive who replaced Howard Schultz as CEO last year, said that there are now more brick-and-mortar retail stores in the U.S. that can be supported. He said this disruption highlights two things for retailers to consider.

“One, you must be focused on experiential retail that creates an experience in your store that becomes a destination for the customer,” Johnson explained. “And number two, you have to extend that experience from brick-and-mortar to a digital-mobile relationship. So our approach to this is investing in elevating the experience we create in our stores, and investing in the digital-mobile connection we have with our customers.”

Powered by WPeMatico

Alphabet stock on the rise as Google parent beats Wall Street expectations with $27.7B in revenue

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. (Flickr Photo / Maurizio Pesce)

Shares in Google parent company Alphabet are up after the company exceeded Wall Street expectations in the third quarter.

Alphabet posted earnings of $9.57 per share on $27.7 billion in revenue in the third quarter. Analyst surveyed in advance by Yahoo Finance expected Alphabet to make $8.33 per share on revenue of $27.2 billion.

“We had a terrific quarter, with revenues up 24% year on year, reflecting strength across Google and Other Bets,” Ruth Porat, CFO of Alphabet said in a statement. “Our momentum is a result of investments over many years in fantastic people, products and partnerships.”

Alphabet shares are up 3 percent in after-hours trading, pushing the stock above $1,000.

The Google business (search, ads, maps, apps, cloud, Play, YouTube, Android, virtual reality, etc.) was responsible for operating profits of $8.7 billion, up from $6.7 billion last year, on $27.5 billion in revenue, up from $22.2 billion a year ago. Advertising continues to be a cash cow for Alphabet, with $24 billion in revenue, up from $19.8 billion at this time last year.

Google’s “Other Bets” division, which includes some of the company’s riskier projects, took a $812 million loss on $302 million in revenue. Those figures are an improvement on last year, when Other Bets took a loss of $861 million on $197 million in revenue.

It’s been a busy quarter for Google. In September, the company announced it signed a $1.1 billion “cooperation agreement” with HTC, the Taiwan-based consumer electronics company, as it looks to amp up its smartphone business. The deal sends “certain” HTC employees to work at Google and gives the search giant a non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property. Google described the transaction as “continuing our big bet on hardware.”

The company also announced a new slate of smart speakers powered by the Google Assistant, as well as the next generation of its Pixel smartphone. Google this week released the $49 Google Home Mini, the company’s answer to the Amazon Echo Dot, and in December the $399 Google Home Max will hit the streets.

Powered by WPeMatico

Soviet Week: One Hundred Years of Insanity

The centennial we are observing this month—the solemn anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution—is the anniversary of a logical absurdity and its consequences. The Bolshevik takeover of Russia came about as a matter of chance; and was interpreted as a matter of destiny. The event was predicted by no one at all; and rested its prestige on a reputation for having fulfilled the well-known predictions of Karl Marx. The absurdity of those contradictions constituted the Bolshevik mystique. And, in the greatest absurdity of all, the appeal of that mystique turned out to be spectacularly vast.

The revolution that overthrew the czar earlier in the year, in February 1917, was entirely different. In Russia, everyone except the czar himself and his courtiers and the circles of black reaction knew that czarism, the social system, was shaky in the extreme, and was bound to collapse. Everyone recognized the strength and popularity of the main opposition parties, the Social Democrats (or Mensheviks) and the peasant Social Revolutionaries. Everyone, the czar and his circle excepted, therefore predicted the February Revolution. It duly occurred, and no one was astonished. The czar abdicated. The big opposition parties assumed power. The opposition parties began the process that, in the expectation of a great many participants and observers, was going to bring Russia in a Western European direction, secular, parliamentary, and vaguely liberal. And no one anticipated that a tiny dictatorial faction of the revolutionary left was going to overthrow the democratic parties and institute an exceptionally terrible despotism of a sort that had never existed in the past—something truly novel. Lenin himself did not expect such a development. Until the spring of 1917, Lenin never imagined that a Bolshevik seizure of power would be possible. Nor did he think it was advisable, nor did any of his comrades.

Continue reading “Soviet Week: One Hundred Years of Insanity” at…

Powered by WPeMatico

Today on Jewcy: Nazi-hunting video game protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz is officially an M.O.T.

Like a vaguely exotic Golden Age film star, rumors have been circulating for years if William Joseph “B.J.” Blazkowicz is secretly Jewish. Of course, Blazkowicz isn’t an actor, or even a real person; he’s the Nazi-fighting star of the hit video game franchise Wolfenstein, first appearing on screen twenty five years ago. And now, we finally have our answer.

Click here to read the full post on Jewcy.

Continue reading “Today on Jewcy: Nazi-hunting video game protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz is officially an M.O.T.” at…

Powered by WPeMatico

An Israeli Won Gold in Judo in Abu Dhabi. They Refused to Play His National Anthem—So He Sang It Himself.

Today, Israeli Tal Flicker won Gold in Judo at the Grand Slam competition in Abu Dhabi. In contravention of the rules and explicit directives of the International Judo Federation, Flicker and all other Israeli athletes in the tournament were forbidden to compete under the Israeli flag. Thus, when Flicker ascended the winners podium, not only was his flag not displayed, but the organizers refused to play the Israeli national anthem, substituting instead the anthem of the International Judo Federation.

And so Flicker quietly sang the Israeli anthem, HaTikvah, himself.

Continue reading “An Israeli Won Gold in Judo in Abu Dhabi. They Refused to Play His National Anthem—So He Sang It Himself.” at…

Powered by WPeMatico

In New Book, Rutgers Professor Accuses Israel of Maiming Palestinians for Profit

Next month, Duke University Press will publish The Right to Maim, a new book from Rutgers University professor Jasbir K. Puar. A passionate advocate of BDS who had previously accused Israel of harvesting the organs of Palestinians and who threatened to sue anyone who published her talk at Vassar earlier this year, Puar, to say the least, is a controversial figure. But books, even ones written by academics, deserve to be taken on their own merit. And, on its own merit, Puar’s book is an intellectual and moral hoax, a bit of sizzling sophistry designed to stir the faithful into a frenzy of outrage divorced of any and all observable reality.

The section of the book that deals with Israel makes the following claim: The Jewish state’s efforts to refrain from killing innocent Palestinians—everything from the IDF’s cautious open-fire protocols to the “roof knock” policy of warning civilians prior to bombing attacks—are actually a devious scheme to strengthen the stranglehold Israel’s colonialist regime has on its Palestinian subjects.

Continue reading “In New Book, Rutgers Professor Accuses Israel of Maiming Palestinians for Profit” at…

Powered by WPeMatico

H. Alan Scott Grew Up Gay and Mormon in the Midwest. Now He’s About to Become Bar Mitzvah, and He Needs Your Help.

As Jews, we’re obligated to love all other Jews. There’s no rule, however, about loving some Jews more than others. And as far as lovable Jews go, the Scroll pledges its undying affection to H. Alan Scott.

If you listen to our podcast, Unorthodox (and really, why wouldn’t you?), you’re already a fan of H. Alan’s. If not, you’ll soon be: Growing up Mormon and gay in the Midwest, he was the consummate outsider. He moved to Los Angeles, became a comedian and a writer and the host of the world’s greatest Golden Girls podcast, but something was amiss. A bout with cancer led him on a long spiritual journey. And that journey led him to the faith he always felt was his: Judaism.

Continue reading “H. Alan Scott Grew Up Gay and Mormon in the Midwest. Now He’s About to Become Bar Mitzvah, and He Needs Your Help.” at…

Powered by WPeMatico

Even while the world suffers, investing in science is non-negotiable (Synopsis)

“I am looking at the future with concern, but with good hope.” –Albert Schweitzer

Every so often, the argument comes up that science is expendable. That we’re simply investing too much of our resources — too much public money — into an endeavor with no short-term benefits. Meanwhile, there’s suffering of all kinds, from poverty to disease to war to natural disasters, plaguing humanity all across the country and our world. Yet even while there is suffering in the world, investing in our long-term future is indispensable. This story is nothing new.

To invest in any one thing means to not invest in something else, but both science/space exploration and humanitarian relief are worthy of the investment of human resources. Image credit: NASA and WFP / Q. Sakamaki.

Back in 1970, shortly after the first Moon landing, a nun working to alleviate poverty in Africa, Sister Mary Jucunda, wrote to NASA, and begged them to stop this frivolous waste of resources, and instead to use their funding for the benefit of humanity. The letter made it all the way to Ernst Stuhlinger, then the Associate Director of Science at NASA. Stuhlinger’s response was all at once compassionate and convincing, and helped convince Jucunda — as well as skeptics everywhere — of the value that science has to offer.

The first view with human eyes of the Earth rising over the limb of the Moon. This was perhaps the greatest moment in education / public outreach for NASA until the first moon landing, and it was the picture that Stuhlinger sent to Sister Jucunda with the above letter. Image credit: NASA / Apollo 8.

Come see the full story, and read Stuhlinger’s complete, original letter, on the non-negotiable value of science to our world!

Powered by WPeMatico

Off to the Vet, Simon’s Cat Pays an Unwilling Visit to the Doctor in His Very First 12 Minute Color Film

Simon's Cat Off to the Vet

In 2014, we wrote about Simon Toland and his fundraising efforts to make an 12-minute color animation entitled “Off to the Vet“, which comically tells the story about getting an unwilling Simon’s Cat in to see the doctor. After three years of production and winning awards at film festivals, the finished video is now available to watch on YouTube. Toland has also put the story into a full-color book available for purchase.

After an unfortunate encounter in the garden, Simon’s Cat goes to great lengths to avoid an imminent visit to the vet. As always, the question remains – will his long-suffering owner Simon step up to the challenge? …‘Simon’s Cat: Off to the Vet’ has screened at multiple film festivals around the world and was awarded The McLaren Award for Best British Animation at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2016.

Simon's Cat During Vet

Simons Cat After the Vet

Powered by WPeMatico

A Fantastic Whiteboard Animation Diagramming How Time Travel Has Been Portrayed in Fiction

MinutePhysics host Henry Reich has created an absolutely fantastic whiteboard animation documenting and diagramming the different forms of time travel employed in various films, books, television shows and video games and the challenging ethical questions each presents.

For ages I’ve been thinking about doing a video analyzing time travel in fiction and doing a comparison of different fictional time travels – some do use wormholes, some relativistic/faster than light travel with time dilation, some closed timelike curves, some have essentially “magic” or no consistent rules that make any sense, or TARDIS’s, or whatever.

Powered by WPeMatico