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⏱️ Bezosism, defined

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September 15, 2021

SpaceX’s Inspiration 4 mission is set to launch later tonight. The crew includes 4 non-astronauts (hence the “Inspiration 4”). There are also 66 pounds of hops on board that Sam Adams will use to brew beer when it returns to earth. Why? Why not.

Today’s rundown:

  • Bezosism: Amazon’s operating philosophy, explained.
  • Mammoths making a comeback: One company raised $15m to “resurrect” them.
  • Apple’s latest drop: iPhone updates and a security fix.

Let’s do it.

The big idea

Jeff Bezos just got something money can’t buy: His own management philosophy

Business students have been trying to get into Jeff Bezos’ head for years.

On Amazon — the platform he created — there are dozens of books on his business practices: The Everything Store, Amazon Unbound, Invent & Wander, The Bezos Letters, Bezosnomics

Books are one thing. But you know you’ve really made it when you have your own management philosophy.

‘Bezosism’ is the philosophy powering Amazon’s warehouses

Coined by The Wall Street Journal’s Christopher Mims, Bezosism is rooted in the idea of warehouse workers “making rate.” Here’s how it works:

  1. Amazon’s fulfillment centers are filled with a combination of sensors and software that track each worker’s activity.
  2. This data allows Amazon to compile a rate of work that is essentially an average of the aggregate performance of all workers in the facility.
  3. If workers can’t keep up, they’ll get an algorithmically triggered warning. Too many warnings can result in termination.
  4. To stop warnings before they happen, warehouse managers hold standing meetings 2x per day where they inform each worker how they’re stacking up.

Amazon argues that a floating average = a reasonable workload…

… but the practice has led to a toxic environment for some warehouse employees.

  • Some workers say the constant focus on making rate leads to unproductive inter-team competition
  • This leads to workers cutting corners to work faster, sometimes at the expense of safety

This may be responsible for Amazon’s injury rate, which came in at 5.6 injuries per 100 workers in 2019, compared to 4.8 per 100 for the average US warehouse.

Bezosism may be facing regulation soon…

… thanks to a new bill introduced in California taking aim at warehouse quotas.

Currently, a standard 10-hour shift includes a 30-minute lunch break and 2 15-minute breaks for rest. The bill could force Amazon to lower quotas to give employees more time for breaks.

The issue extends beyond the warehouse, with some Amazon delivery drivers forced to find creative ways to relieve themselves (read: bottles and bags).

Next time you wonder how your latest impulse buy got to your door so fast, thank Bezosism — for better or worse.

SNIPPETS

Holiday spike: Deloitte forecasted that holiday sales could increase by 9% this year, resulting in $1.3T in sales. #ecommerce-retail

Zoom’s features bonanza: Zoom announced plans to add translation services, expand its whiteboard feature, and integrate with Facebook’s VR meeting space. #emerging-tech

Big hire: President Biden nominated Alvaro Bedoya to the FTC to help rein in Big Tech. Bedoya previously found Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology. #privacy

Mobile is massive: GSMA’s state of the industry report found that there are 1.2B mobile money accounts globally. #fintech-cryptocurrency

Big incentives: Amazon raised its average hourly wage to $18 in an effort to attract 125k new logistics workers. #big-tech

Life Finds a Way

A company just raised $15m to ‘resurrect’ woolly mammoths

Most woolly mammoths died ~10k+ years ago, while a small group remained trapped on an island until ~3.7k years ago. Are they ready for a comeback?

Colossal, founded by Harvard geneticist George Church and tech entrepreneur Ben Lamm, has raised $15m to bring the woolly mammoth back from the dead, per The Guardian.

To do it, they’d:

  • Edit skin cells from Asian elephants with mammoth DNA taken from frozen specimens
  • Gestate a lab-created egg in a surrogate elephant or artificial womb, a 22-month process

The end result would be a “cold-resistant elephant” that looks and behaves like a mammoth, Church said. If all goes well, Colossal hopes to welcome its 1st calves in 6 years.

Colossal has 2 primary goals

  1. Conserve Asian elephants — which are endangered — by helping them survive in the Arctic
  2. Protect the Arctic by introducing animals that will knock down trees and restore grasslands

Other scientists aren’t so hot on the idea, arguing that mammoths take a long time to mature (30 years) and that some Arctic regions need trees. Some also question our ability to care for the new species.

Fun fact: Funding was led by Thomas Tull, ex-CEO of Legendary Entertainment, the company that produced “Jurassic World.”

Podcast

Let’s talk about unicorns

Investing early in one $1B+ private startup could be fluke.

Not 7, though.

Solo capitalist Brianne Kimmel (co-host of HubSpot’s The Shake Up) takes Sam and Shaan to VC school in episode 206.

Don’t miss this mashup.

My first shake up →
Apple Updates

Apple’s latest drop: Upgrades across 3 flagship products, and a big security fix

Apple’s devices raked in a whopping $64B in revenue last quarter, with massive numbers across each of its 4 hardware categories:

  • iPhone: $39.6B
  • Wearables: $8.8B
  • Mac: $8.2B
  • iPad: $7.4B

Yesterday, Apple held its 3rd product event of the year and released new models in 3 of those 4 product lines:

iPhone 13

Tim Cook called this “the most pro iPhone ever.” We’re not sure what that means, but the new model offers:

  • Brighter screens for better reading outside
  • Faster screens for better scrolling
  • Longer batteries (1.5-2.5 more hours per charge than last year’s models)

Apple Watch Series 7

Marques Brownlee described the watch upgrades as “pretty minor,” but updates include:

  • 20% more screen area than last year’s models
  • 33% faster charging
  • Dust resistance

iPad and iPad Mini

Apple’s biggest iPad upgrade came to its smallest model, the iPad Mini, which now includes:

  • Touch ID built into the power button
  • 5G compatibility
  • Upgraded selfies with Centerstage

Most importantly, and unrelated to the event, Apple released an urgent security update to fix a vulnerability that allowed Israel’s NSO group to access users’ devices.

If you’re reading this on an Apple device — we’ll understand if you take a break to download that update.

AROUND THE WEB

🤩 On this day: In 1954, the iconic photo of Marilyn Monroe holding down her white dress while standing over a subway vent was taken. The star was filming The Seven Year Itch at the time.

🤯 Whoa: Tattoo artist Phil Berge completed 76 different tattoos and photographed each. Together, they re-create a scene from this “Betty Boop” animation.

🏝️ That’s interesting: A team of Swiss and Danish scientists accidentally discovered the northernmost island in the world.
🛌 Useful: Wait, how often are we supposed to wash our sheets and comforters? Experts weigh in.

🍂 Cure boredom: The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows makes up words for specific feelings. Like “austice,” a wistful omen of the 1st sign of fall, or “kenopsia,” the forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling but is now abandoned.

​​🦏 Wild story: It turns out rhinos are best transported hung upside down, or so the winners of the Ig Nobel prize learned.

Meme of the day

When inspiration strikes (Source: Twitter / @KylePlantEmoji)

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