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Amazon’s Twitter war with Democrats incited by Jeff Bezos: report

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Amazon is firing back against Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren over their criticisms of the company’s labor and business practices — at the behest of none other than Jeff Bezos. 

The CEO expressed anger in recent weeks that Amazon officials weren’t more aggressive in pushing back against flak that the company that he and other top brass deem inaccurate or misleading, according to Recode.

Bezos directed the firm to fight back, and last week the e-commerce giant went after both senators on Twitter in an unusual, snarky attack for a large, buttoned-up corporation.

Central to the dustup is the largest union election in Amazon’s history at its Bessemer, Ala. warehouse. Election results will be tallied earlier this week.

Amazon officials are on edge because if a majority of the workers vote to unionize, it could ignite a chain reaction at other facilities, with the potential to force the e-commerce giant to overhaul how it manages its hundreds of thousands of front-line US workers. 

Amazon workers and allies protest in front of the Jeff Bezos' Manhattan residence.
Amazon workers and allies protest in front of the Jeff Bezos’ Manhattan residence.
KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

When news broke last week that Sanders was planning to visit Alabama in the final days of voting, top Amazon executive Dave Clark fired off a Twitter thread that started with the following post.

Amid a vote of whether or not Amazon workers would unionize, Sen. Bernie Sanders announced plans to visit the company's Bessemer, Alabama location.
Amid a vote of whether or not Amazon workers would unionize, Sen. Bernie Sanders announced plans to visit the company’s Bessemer, Alabama location.
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“I welcome @SenSanders to Birmingham and appreciate his push for a progressive workplace,” Clark’s account posted on Wednesday. “I often say we are the Bernie Sanders of employers, but that’s not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace,” Clark tweeted.

A few hours later, the official Amazon News media relations Twitter account, with more than 170,000 followers, hit back against Rep. Mark Pocan, who had questioned Clark’s “progressive workplace” assertion by alluding to stories of Amazon’s pace of work being so demanding that workers have to “urinate in water bottles.”

Amazon News tweeted in response: “You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us. The truth is that we have over a million incredible employees around the world who are proud of what they do, and have great wages and health care from day one.”

Users on Twitter responded with news accounts of Amazon workers complaining about inhumane working conditions, with New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also weighing in.

Members of the Workers Assembly Against Racism gathered across from Jeff Bezos-owned Whole Foods Market in Union Square South, New York.
Members of the Workers Assembly Against Racism gathered across from Jeff Bezos-owned Whole Foods Market in Union Square South, New York.
Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

The House freshman tweeted a screenshot of an email in which an Amazon manager complained about “bottles of urine” left inside delivery vans. 

Soon after, a back-and-forth with Warren ensued after the Democrat criticized the company’s tax payments.

The same Amazon account “quote-tweeted” Warren with this message: “This is extraordinary and revealing. One of the most powerful politicians in the United States just said she’s going to break up an American company so that they can’t criticize her anymore.”

Amazon did not respond to requests seeking comment.



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Glasses retailer Warby Parker eyeing IPO as soon as this year

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Hipster glasses retailer Warby Parker is eyeing an initial public offering.

The 11-year-old business, which started out as an e-tailer before rolling out some 130 stores across the US, is considering an IPO as early as this year, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

The New York-based company has amassed a huge customer following by offering less expensive prescription glasses. Warby Parker raised $120 million in its most recent funding round giving it a $3 billion valuation, according to the report.

“We’ve always explored various financing opportunities in both the debt and equity markets,” the company said in a statement. “To date, we have successfully and deliberately raised money within the private market on favorable terms and have plenty of cash on our balance sheet. We’ll continue to make strategic decisions in line with our commitment to sustainable growth.”

Founded by college buddies Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal, who met at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Warby Parker has attracted some large investors including the mutual fund company, T. Rowe Price.

It turned it first profit in 2018, Gilboa told The New York Times at the time.

Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal
Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal
Brian Ach/Getty Images

Customers can get prescriptions through their apps on their smartphones and use cameras to pick out frames. The company also has an optical lab in Sloatsburg, NY where it produces lenses.

While Warby Parker is not the least expensive option, it beats Costco in a recent comparison with Costco charging as little a $126 for a pair of prescription glasses compared with Warby Parker’s least expensive pair at $95.

“As consumer walk into a LensCrafters or Sunglass Hut, they see 50 different brands of glasses but don’t realize that all those brands are owned by the same company that owns the store that they’re standing in, that probably owns the vision insurance plan they’r using to pay for those glasses,” Gilboa said in a recent CNBC interview.

“And so, it’s no surprise that a lot of those glasses are marked up 10 to 20 times what they cost to manufacture,” he said.

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Dogecoin hits new high boosted by DogeDay hashtags

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Dogecoin prices hit an all-time high on Tuesday, with a market capitalization above $50 billion, after social media fans used hashtags to fuel a rally in the meme-based cryptocurrency.

An 8,000 percent price surge this year has seen Dogecoin, which was launched as a satirical critique of 2013′s cryptocurrency frenzy, overtake more widely-used cryptocurrencies like Tether to become the fifth-largest coin.

While Dogecoin, whose logo features a Shiba Inu dog at the center of the meme, a represents only a fraction of bitcoin’s $1 trillion value, it can be traded on crypto exchanges and more popular mainstream trading apps.

“The Doge rally represents an interesting convergence,” said Diana Biggs, CEO of crypto start-up Valour, after Dogecoin’s price soared by more than five-fold in the last week to a record 42 cents, according to CoinMarketCap.

“A meme coin created as a joke for early crypto adopters whose community found that kind of thing to be fun, with now a new generation of retail investors for whom memes are a native language,” Biggs added.

Dogecoin fans used the hashtags #DogeDay and #DogeDay420 to post memes, messages and videos on Twitter, Reddit and TikTok, referring to the informal April 20 holiday to celebrate cannabis which is marked by smoke-ins and street parties.

“GIMME THAT DOGECOIN LAMBO!!! #DogeDay” one tweeted, referring to the Lamborghini car popular in crypto culture.

Dogecoin’s rise has come amid a surge in online trading of stocks and crypto by retail investors, stuck at home with extra cash because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has not coincided with a growth in usage of the coin for payments or in commerce.

The same trend has spurred a boom in usage of online trading apps like Robinhood, and also fueled the social-media driven rally in GameStop stock that pitted retail investors against hedge funds earlier this year.

“It’s an extension of the same phenomenon that has led Tesla stock to be valued well beyond fundamentals and more recently to the GME (GameStop) short squeeze,” said Ajit Tripathi, head of institutional business at decentralised finance startup Aave.

Like other cryptocurrencies, Dogecoin’s price is heavily influenced by social media users including Tesla chief Elon Musk, whose tweets on the cryptocurrency in February sent its price soaring over 60 percent.

“If this goes as planned and everybody including Mr. Musk go ahead and just pour money into Doge on April 20th all at once Doge will reach prices that originally were not even conceptual,” a TikTok user said in a video promoting the coin.



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Amazon is opening a beauty salon in London

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Amazon is opening a hair salon in London — its latest odd lurch into new businesses as the pandemic continues to fuel the e-commerce giant’s torrid growth.

The Amazon Salon, unveiled in a Tuesday blog post, will occupy a two-story, 1,500-square-foot space in Spitalfields, a trendy neighborhood in East London that is also home to Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.

Indeed, the new salon, which will be open seven days a week, initially will only cater to Amazon workers. Members of the public will be able to make bookings in “the coming weeks” by calling, emailing or visiting the salon, the company says.

“This will be an experiential venue where we showcase new products and technology,” Amazon said in a blog post on Tuesday, adding that there are no plans to open other salons.

That will include making Amazon’s Fire tablets available at each station, allowing customers to use augmented reality technology to see what they look like as a platinum blonde, brunette or with highlights, the company said.

The salon is located at Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.
The salon is located at Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.
Amazon

The salon will also test new “point-and-learn” technology, where customers can point at a product they are interested in on a display shelf and the relevant information, including brand videos and educational content, will appear on a display screen.

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