Amazon Expects The Retail Market To Keep Struggling In 2023
Amazon expects the macroeconomic turmoil to continue into 2023. The company decided to borrow heavily to ensure smooth operations.
In anticipation of potential economic challenges, e-commerce giant Amazon has secured an $8 billion loan from financial institutions including DBS Bank and Mizuho Bank.
An Amazon spokesman said the loan is part of the company’s efforts to prepare for an uncertain economic climate by diversifying its financing options.
In recent months, Amazon has used various financing options to fund expenses, debt repayments and acquisitions.
Recently, Amazon has struggled with declining revenue as the economy has weakened and has had to suspend or postpone construction of more than a dozen fulfillment centers due to slower-than-expected e-commerce growth.
High energy prices have also impacted Amazon’s bottom line. The company’s total shipping costs rose to 10% in the second half of 2022.
To cut costs, Amazon plans significant layoffs in early 2023, affecting up to 10,000 employees, primarily in human resources, Alexa and retail divisions.
The company has also taken actions such as a hiring freeze for corporate functions in retail, closing all but one U.S. call center and scaling back its delivery robot project.
Can Amazon weather the storm and even emerge stronger in the end?
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Salesforce Is Cutting 10% Of The Workforce
Salesforce is another company that has been hit with significant layoffs. The company announced that it’ll lay off about 10% of its workforce.
The layoffs will affect about 7,000 employees who will lose their jobs. Marc Benioff, the CEO, cited the difficult environment as the main reason for the layoffs.
Salesforce, like other companies, over-hired during the pandemic e-commerce boom. As of February 2022, the company had 79,000 employees, a whopping 30% increase from 2020.
Marc Benioff wrote in a letter to employees.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about how we came to this moment. As our revenue accelerated through the pandemic, we hired too many people leading into this economic downturn we’re now facing, and I take responsibility for that.”
The company will provide a generous package for all employees who are to be laid off.
“For those who will be leaving Salesforce, our priority is to fully support them, including by offering a generous package. In the U.S., affected employees will receive a minimum of nearly five months of pay, health insurance, career resources, and other benefits to help with their transition. Those outside the U.S. will receive a similar level of support, and our local processes will align with employment laws in each country.”
Salesforece is currently valued at $134 billion, the same valuation as three years ago. The company reached a peak valuation of more than $300 billion at the end of 2021.
Microsoft To Integrate ChatGPT Into Bing
Currently, Google has a market share of over 91% among the world’s leading search engines. By comparison, Bing is at about 3%.
Microsoft is reportedly currently testing the accuracy of the ChatGPT AI engine before integrating it into Bing. Bing’s March 2023 release could be the time when Microsoft decides to go public with this news.
The integration isn’t surprising, as Microsoft has invested $1 billion in OpenAI in 2019. Microsoft has already announced that it’ll integrate DALL-E 2, the AI image generator, into the image creator inside Bing.
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This Startup Makes Food Containers From Food Waste
AlterPacks is a Singapore-based startup that turns food waste into takeout boxes and other containers.
The company’s main raw material is spent grains, a byproduct of food production that is typically used as animal feed or fertilizer or discarded. AlterPacks converts these grains into food containers that can be made into various shapes. The containers are microwave and freezer safe and can be composted at home.
AlterPacks was founded in 2019 to combat single-use plastic and is targeting markets in Asia, Australia and Europe. The company is also developing biopellets to replace petroleum-based resins used in manufacturing.
The company just closed a $1 million funding round to commercialize its food packaging solution.
You Can Now Restrict Videos To Adult Viewers Only On TikTok
TikTok is expanding the audience controls feature on its platform, giving creators the ability to limit their videos to adult viewers only.
This feature was previously only available for TikTok Live streams, but will now be made available for short videos as well.
The “Adults Only” setting isn’t intended to allow creators to show explicit content, as all content will still be subject to TikTok’s policies. Instead, the setting is intended to allow creators to protect minors from potentially inappropriate or uninteresting content.
This expansion is part of TikTok’s efforts to improve the app’s safety features, especially for younger users. The company is also rolling out an updated version of its borderline suggestive model, which automatically detects sexually explicit or suggestive content.
Several Thousand Autonomous Shuttles Coming To The U.S.
The shuttles are being developed in collaboration with AV software company Oxbotica. The Level 4 shuttles are designed to drive themselves in urban areas and mixed traffic. This is a big improvement over ZF’s previous model. The old models could only drive themselves on certain lanes.
All shuttles will be equipped with advanced AI technology that will allow them to communicate with surrounding infrastructure and the cloud. The AI will also provide advanced driver assistance systems.