Technology, Inc. (AMZN)

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From: FUBHO10/3/2017 5:46:09 PM
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Couple conned Amazon out of $1.2M in tech goods — now they have to pay it back

Why it matters to you
Amazon may feel compelled to review its safeguards against such a crime following this extraordinary story.

Who doesn’t love free stuff? Erin Finan and wife Leah Finan were certainly partial to a freebie or two, the only problem being they were obtaining them via fraudulent means.

The Indianapolis couple this week formally admitted to stealing $1.2 million worth of items from online retail giant Amazon in a crime that could land them with lengthy spells in prison when they’re sentenced in November. Oh, and they have to pay back the money, too.

The Finans, both 37, were charged with the crime earlier this year after it was discovered they’d defrauded Amazon out of a huge range of goods that included GoPro cameras, Microsoft Xboxes, Samsung smartwatches, and Microsoft Surface tablets.

Court documents showed that the pair took possession of the delivered goods by falsely claiming they were damaged or not working. They would then request and sometimes receive a replacement at no charge, the United States attorney’s office in the Southern District of Indiana explained in a release.

“Amazon’s customer service policy allows, under certain circumstances, customers to receive a replacement before they return a broken item,” the release said, suggesting the originally received item was never returned. For Amazon, it’s sometimes more cost-effective to replace items following such claims, rather than investigate them. The company has safeguards in place to flag up potential violators of the system, but the Finans reportedly got around this by creating “hundreds” of false identities.

And the story doesn’t end there.

Receiving more goods than they knew what to do with, the couple passed some of the stolen items to an alleged accomplice in New York named Danijel Glumac, who earlier this year was charged with interstate transportation of stolen property and money laundering.

“The Finans allegedly sold the stolen electronics out of their van to Glumac at a price substantially below their retail value,” the release said. “Glumac then marked them up and sold and shipped them to the New York entity, which in turn sold them to the public. Glumac also allegedly advised the Finans on how to evade detection by Amazon,” the U.S. attorney’s office said.

It reported that in total, Glumac allegedly made more than $1.2 million via sales of the goods, paying around $725,000 to the Finans.

The couple recently pleaded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering in a U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, with sentencing hearings set for November 9.

Both charges carry a maximum jail time of 20 years. Under the terms of a plea agreement, the Finans will be ordered to pay Amazon the total value of the goods — $1,218,504 — making the “freebies” possibly the most expensive ever received.

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From: Sr K10/3/2017 10:19:02 PM
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Amazon Is Adding Even More Office Space in Seattle

By Hui-yong Yu

October 3, 2017, 2:50 PM EDT

> JPMorgan pension client main partner on $570 million project

> Rainier Square building to be the city’s second-tallest Inc. has leased all of the office space in a $570 million Seattle skyscraper scheduled to open in 2020 in the heart of downtown, continuing its local expansion as it looks for a second headquarters in North America.

The Seattle-based retailer and web-services behemoth agreed to rent 722,000 square feet (67,100 square meters) of the 1.17 million-square-foot Rainier Square building, developer Wright Runstad & Co. said Tuesday. Terms weren’t disclosed.

“They’re still growing in Seattle,” said Greg Johnson, president of Wright Runstad, noting the space can house more than 4,000 workers. Most of the equity for the project is being put up by a pension client of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s asset-management arm, which will own the property through a partnership with Wright Runstad.

The 58-story Rainier Square tower is set to be the city’s second-tallest, behind Columbia Center. Plans call for 200 luxury apartments on top of the offices, and retail space that will include an Equinox fitness club and organic food market. The project’s second phase will be a hotel, slated to begin construction late next year in a partnership with New York-based Related Cos.

The site used to be a low-rise retail complex that lost its luster as fashions changed and online shopping took hold. Demolition of the existing structures has begun. The land under the development is owned by the University of Washington, which granted Wright Runstad an 80-year ground lease in 2014.

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From: JakeStraw10/4/2017 8:40:10 AM
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Amazon has acquired 3D body model startup, Body Labs, for $50M-$70M

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From: FUBHO10/4/2017 2:32:46 PM
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From: Sr K10/5/2017 9:09:18 AM
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Amazon Is Testing Its Own Delivery Service to Rival FedEx and UPS

By Spencer Soper

October 5, 2017, 5:00 AM EDT Updated on October 5, 2017, 8:05 AM EDT


AMZN is +4.50 premarket to >$970.00

excerpt: Inc. is experimenting with a new delivery service intended to make more products available for free two-day delivery and relieve overcrowding in its warehouses, according to two people familiar with the plan, which will push the online retailer deeper into functions handled by longtime partners United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp.

The service began two years ago in India, and Amazon has been slowly marketing it to U.S. merchants in preparation for a national expansion, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the U.S. pilot project is confidential. Amazon is calling the project Seller Flex, one person said. The service began on a trial basis this year in West Coast states with a broader rollout planned in 2018, the people said. Amazon declined to comment.

Amazon will oversee pickup of packages from warehouses of third-party merchants selling goods on and their delivery to customers’ homes, the people said -- work that is now often handled by UPS and FedEx. Amazon could still use these couriers for delivery, but the company will decide how a package is sent instead of leaving it up to the seller.

Handling more deliveries itself would give Amazon greater flexibility and control over the last mile to shoppers’ doorsteps, let it save money through volume discounts, and help avoid congestion in its own warehouses by keeping merchandise in the outside sellers’ own facilities.

FedEx shares fell 2.4 percent to $216 in early trading Thursday, while UPS dropped 2.2 percent to $116.4. FedEx didn’t immediately comment, and UPS didn’t immediately return calls and an email seeking comment.

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From: Sr K10/5/2017 5:18:52 PM
2 Recommendations   of 163359
5:11 PM ET


amazon web services says general electric has selected aws as its preferred cloud provider

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From: Sr K10/6/2017 8:43:32 PM
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NFL Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime, NE vs. TB, was better this week, and they have game Highlights in 3 minutes.

It was on CBS, NFL Network, and Prime, with X-Ray and CC.

The sound was better than on CBS.

I saw one Amazon-specific ad yesterday, for Audible.

There was premarket news today on Audible, for signing David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson for something "after" the X-Files.

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From: Glenn Petersen10/7/2017 10:09:50 AM
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Amazon is on the brink of deciding if it will make a big move into selling drugs online
  • Amazon's push into pharmacy is very much an "if" and not a "when," sources say.
  • The company spends years researching opportunities before it telegraphs its intentions.
  • The drug supply chain is particularly complex, with regulatory hurdles and entrenched competition.
Christina Farr | @chrissyfarr
October 6, 2017

Amazon is on the brink of deciding if it will make a big move into selling drugs online

Amazon is in the final stages of figuring out its strategy to get into the multibillion-dollar prescription drug market.

The company will decide before Thanksgiving whether to move into selling prescription drugs online, according to an email from Amazon viewed by CNBC and a source familiar with the situation. If it decides to make that move, it will start expanding its senior team with drug supply chain experts.

Amazon typically spends years researching opportunities before it telegraphs its intentions. The opportunity to sell drugs online is alluring given its market size -- analysts have estimated the U.S. prescription drug market at $560 billion per year. Amazon is well aware of the complexities, say sources familiar with the company's thinking.

Amazon declined to comment.

In the past year, Amazon has ramped up its hiring and consulted with dozens of people about a potential move into the pharmacy market. The consumables team, which includes groceries, kicked off the research, with the division's vice president, Eric French, taking the lead.

It brought on Mark Lyons from Premera Blue Cross to build an internal pharmacy benefits manager for its own employees, say multiple people familiar. According to one of the people, it's possible that the push into the broader drug supply chain hinges on its success with this effort.

In May, the company kicked off its search for a general manager to lead its pharmacy push, externally dubbed "healthcare."

Analyst firm Leerink has separately reported that Amazon will get into the pharmacy management space and expects an announcement within the next year or two.

Goldman Sachs published a report on the topic in August of this year, speculating that Amazon will ultimately look to improve price transparency for consumers and reduce out-of-pocket costs.

Amazon already has a business selling medical supplies online, such as gauze and thermometers. It also has a health team called 1492, which is focused on both hardware and software projects, like developing health applications for the Echo and Dash Wand. Its cloud service, Amazon Web Services, continues to dominate the health and life sciences market.

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From: Glenn Petersen10/9/2017 8:32:16 PM
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How Amazon is readying its blitz on the ad industry

by Shareen Pathak
October 5, 2017

Amazon continues to make serious inroads into the advertising business. Its latest move: a new office in Manhattan that it says will bring 2,000 jobs, mostly in advertising, to the city — and closer to Madison Avenue. Multiple media agency executives in New York said they’ve been hearing more from Amazon reps who are trying to sell them and their clients on Amazon advertising. Another executive said he’s hearing from Amazon more, and Amazon has hired programmatic specialists from his agency in New York.

Amazon’s sales team for advertising is growing fast: It’s different from other platforms in that its team works cross-functionally across advertising and retail. For larger brands, Amazon has dedicated teams. The company has had a team in New York for many years but also has big ad presences in other places including Tokyo and Paris — “anywhere there are ad agencies in place,” said Saurabh Sharma, director of programmatic at Amazon.

Amazon is increasingly trying to pitch to what the company dubs “non-endemic” advertisers — brands that don’t sell on Amazon. Asked what he considers a challenge, Sharma mentioned that push, adding that it’s not really a challenge, but an opportunity. Non-endemic advertisers would cover, for example, brands in categories like cable, wireless, airlines or restaurants. “There are opportunities to bring that value,” said Sharma.

Amazon’s ad buckets cover everything from search (the sponsored products that appear when people search for things on, to more traditional display in the form of banner advertising, to newer video advertising or device-based advertising on Kindle, or through its new streaming service for entertainment. There’s also what is known as “custom” advertising, which could include anything from a full homepage takeover of on Black Friday to using Amazon boxes themselves as ad inventory.

Sharma said more advertising offerings are coming. The company is doing more with other pieces of “inventory” such as Amazon Lockers, self-service kiosks that let customers pick up Amazon packages, as well as starting to offer TV-like advertising for its new streaming service on Prime Vide, which includes “Thursday Night Football.” (The kickoff Bears-Packers matchup had 1.6 million viewers initiating the stream in late September.)

“To really go after the Google and Facebook duopoly, [Amazon needs] to think outside of just product advertising,” said one agency buyer who works with Amazon. “Retail is just one piece of online business overall.”

Geico, a non-endemic advertiser, advertises within Amazon’s “Thursday Night Football,” for example, said Sharma. Another example is Hyundai, a non-endemic brand that did a custom test-drive campaign called “Prime Now. Drive Now.”

That push for non-endemic brands is most of what the “education” piece for agencies is around. “We’ve been hearing from them more,” said Nicholas Pappas, CEO at indie media shop SwellShark, who works with brands including Applegate, Virgin Atlantic, Spike and Dos Equis. “We’ve been discussing ways to bring more non-endemic partners onto Amazon advertising, and we’re excited.”

Sharma said Amazon’s big competitive advantage as a platform is that it is about the intersection of e-commerce and advertising. “It’s not only about being able to place ads in the right place and right time; it’s also the right relevance,” he said. At a high level, Amazon offers measurement metrics from impressions and clicks to deeper data on sales information, full shopping journeys and things like a customer’s worth over a lifetime. E-commerce and marketing at Amazon go hand in hand — the platform does plenty of consulting with brands and agencies on what it calls “retail readiness.”

“We can tell you how a campaign does, but in order to do something about it, you have to do something beyond advertising,” said Sharma. So agencies and brands have to be trained on things like creating the right product page, making sure inventory is in stock and policing reviews, according to agency execs.

But the key with non-endemic brands is that you can’t necessarily sell them on straight display or search advertising. So along with training programs for items sold on Amazon, agencies are also hearing more about how to do advertising for brands not sold on Amazon. “[Amazon] has to educate planners on how to use data,” said one exec. For example, a non-endemic brand can examine what else its customers buy to create a fuller picture of who their customer is. One agency, for instance, is working with a real estate company and looking for data on people shopping on for moving boxes.

“Advertising for us is another big area … in terms of tech,” said Sharma. “Like Amazon Web Services can provide tech solutions for other developers, for people building on our cloud, within ad tech we can bring the same value to agencies — as a tech leader.”

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From: Glenn Petersen10/9/2017 9:58:06 PM
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New Amazon Drones Will Charge Your Car While You Drive

When everything else is on demand, why not have the charger come to you?

by Emma Foehringer Merchant
Greentech Media
October 09, 2017

Photo Credit: Detail from Amazon patent

The U.S. Patent Office recently granted Amazon a patent for roving drones that can latch onto electric vehicles and extend their range with an infusion of energy. The online powerhouse already sells home charging stations, Tesla touch-up paint and biographies of Elon Musk. But this patent makes its link to the electric-vehicle market much more tangible. And it has the potential to solve several persistent problems in the electric vehicle market: charging infrastructure and range anxiety.

Charging infrastructure has been growing in dense urban areas, particularly in places like California, but vast swaths of the country still have limited resources. A mobile, mid-drive recharge offers a tantalizingly easy way around the quandary of searching for a charger while road tripping through remote stretches of landscape.

Even in city driving, it's possible to worry about getting stuck in traffic with a battery running low. Not so if a swarm of helpful battery bots can zip out of the sky and top you off.

A 2016 GTM Research report notes that electric-vehicle charging has already experienced tumult with company bankruptcies and cost barriers to implementation. The report lists companies such as Tesla, Siemens and General Electric as major players in the charging game.

Since that report was released, oil and gas major Royal Dutch Shell announced it will invest in smart charging stations, and cities and states have published a copious number of reports on how to improve charging infrastructure to encourage electric-vehicle use.

But few, if any, of these corporations and governments have direct and daily interaction with the public on the level of Amazon, a company which quite literally touches all aspects of many people’s lives (especially the wealthy, young urbanites who are more likely to have the funds and interest necessary to be early adopters of electric vehicles). That penetration is part of Amazon’s strategy -- and its success.

“We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with,” founder Jeff Bezos has said. “They’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.”

The patent describes a process where Amazon’s drones can communicate with electric vehicles out on the road through servers that monitor energy usage and need.

Servers relay energy requests to drones, which would then be dispatched to meet vehicles on the road. The drones would authenticate the connection, attach to a vehicle connector on the roof or door and start fueling -- even if the car is in motion.

Run out of charge while looking at a diminutive tree? Amazon has you covered. (Detail from Amazon patent)

The whole process sounds technologically thrilling, as it is with the aircraft that pull off in-air refueling to stay aloft on a mission. In Amazon's version, there would be no human pilot handling the maneuver.

A similar process could also deliver traditional fuels, the patent notes. But the technology has more opportunity to disrupt electric-vehicle charging and dwarf the nearly 45,000 public chargers now installed in the United States.

The commercialization of this process is still a ways off. Would it come as part of an Amazon Prime subscription? How do you order one while driving? What's the range on the drones themselves?

However it goes, this wouldn't be Amazon's first foray into the advanced car space.

The patent comes a year after the announcement that Amazon’s virtual personal assistant, Alexa, would be featured in the models of three Ford electric cars. Maybe that answers the practical question of ordering a refill: "Alexa, send me your nearest drone battery."

And just months ago, Amazon bought into hydrogen fuel-cell forklift company Plug Power. Electric car pioneer Elon Musk, for one, has long derided hydrogen fuel cells, but their charge time is much shorter than that of currently available batteries.

In recent years, lithium-ion battery costs have fallen precipitously, while hydrogen remains quite an expensive alternative. The new patent may demonstrate that Amazon hopes to stake out a piece of the traditional battery market, as well.

Amazon's true intentions, though, are hard to surmise because of its tight-lipped culture. “Jeff Bezos’ e-commerce and cloud-storage giant is opaque,” Farhad Manjoo wrote in August of last year for The New York Times. “It values surprise.”

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