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☁️ AWS is ruining Christmas

The Hustle

At Saudi Arabia’s popular King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, which is basically a beauty pageant for camels (with $66m in prize money), authorities disqualified 40+ camels for getting artificial cosmetic work done, including Botox. On camels.

P.S. Today is the final day to enter our $7k+ tech giveaway. Details down below.

Today’s rundown:

  • Amazon’s grinch: How AWS could ruin Christmas.
  • Project Guardian: Inside Twitter’s VIP treatment.
  • Timbiebs: Justin Bieber’s new donut is the latest fast-food/celebrity partnership.
  • Around the web: Giant jellyfish, a gallery dedicated to rusty objects, and more crazy internet finds.

Let’s do it.

The big idea
handshake gif

Amazon is proving there are pros and cons to being its own best customer

Amazon loves creating products, then being its own first and best customer. This holiday season is proving that strategy can be a gift and a curse.

Take 2 products where Amazon employs this strategy: Amazon Logistics and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Amazon Logistics has made the company indispensable for holiday shopping

While many retailers have been in crisis mode due to global supply chain issues, Amazon’s integrated logistics and delivery network has left the company relatively unscathed.

That’s due in part to the company’s transportation investments since 2013, which include growing its delivery fleet to:

  • 400k delivery drivers
  • 40k semis and 30k vans
  • 70+ planes

It also includes Amazon’s investments in freight forwarding, which means playing a middleman role in the trans-Pacific supply chain, such as buying guaranteed space on cargo ships years in advance.

These investments are paying huge dividends now — helping Amazon avoid chaos at the ports, and allowing the firm to offer 3rd-party merchants space at ⅓ the price of other freight forwarders.

On the other hand, there’s AWS…

… which suffered a widespread outage on Tuesday. The outage impacted everyone from individual consumers to tech’s biggest players (e.g., Netflix, Spotify, and Zoom). But the company hit the hardest? Amazon itself.

  • The outage impacted Amazon’s routing software, leaving delivery drivers unable to deliver packages for the day
  • It also caused Amazon’s ecommerce site to experience glitches and slow loading times during prime holiday shopping hours

The outage has since been resolved…

… but it likely won’t be the last. In the last 12 months, Amazon has experienced 27 outages across its services.

The biggest victims of the outage may be Amazon’s delivery drivers, who — already dealing with a 36-hour package backlog at fulfillment centers — now have to make up for lost time.

In other words, for Amazon Logistics to live up to its billing as a Christmas miracle, it may have to overcome its own version of the Grinch.

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SNIPPETS

Nike is breaking up with shoe retailer DSW as it moves toward selling via its own shops and platforms. Once DSW’s current supply is gone, that’s it. #ecommerce-retail

Red, white, and green?: President Biden signed an order for the federal government to reach net zero by 2050, which includes going all-electric with its vehicles. #clean-energy

VR woes: Meta is having trouble combatting harassment in VR as users say they’ve experienced racial slurs and sexism without a clear way to report it. #emerging-tech

Not so secure: Consumer Reports recently reviewed 16 VPNs, finding that many overpromise on security claims. #privacy

WhatsApp is testing crypto payments for select US users using Novi, Meta’s digital wallet, and Pax Dollars. #fintech-crypto

SpaceX wants to expand. But its neighbors on Earth — plus conservationists worried about the company’s impacts on birds — aren’t so keen on it. #big-tech

MFM: Youtuber MrBeast recreated “Squid Game,” attracting 130m viewers. How much did he make? Probably a lot. #mfm

Mean Tweets
Twitter app

How Twitter tries to protect those most likely to be abused

Twitter’s come under fire multiple times for the harassment many users face on the platform. But Twitter apparently has a way to quash abuse directed at some accounts.

Project Guardian is an internal anti-harassment program at Twitter, per Bloomberg.

It’s a list of public figures

… including politicians, athletes, journalists who report on controversial topics, and celebrities — the sort of people most likely to garner abuse on a regular basis.

The rules are the same for them as for any of Twitter’s 200m daily users. You can’t harass Britney, who has 55.7m+ followers, nor some random dude with 10.

But when someone reports abusive content concerning accounts on the list, Twitter’s moderation system reviews it faster.

This is to prevent abusive content from spreading further, which is more likely when it involves someone with a lot of followers.

It makes sense for Twitter, too, considering it’s already lost popular accounts over harassment. Both Star Wars: The Last Jedi star Kelly Marie Tran and “Stranger Things” star Millie Bobby Brown ditched Twitter in 2018.

But it’s not just famous people

As the meme goes, Twitter has a new “main character” every day.

They’re often ordinary people who’ve gone viral and attracted a lot of attention, like Bean Dad, the father who told his 9-year-old she had to learn to use a can opener if she wanted baked beans.

Twitter can temporarily add main characters to Project Guardian until the heat cools off.

BTW: Here are some tips to avoid harassment on Twitter, other than just deleting your account.

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Fast Cash
Timbiebs donut holes

All Canadian (Source: NYT / Tim Hortons)

Fast-food celebrity collaborations, explained

Canadians — like me (Trung) — rejoice.

The country’s top coffee chain (Tim Hortons) collaborated with one of its top pop artists (Justin Bieber) on a product.

It’s a donut hole, called Timbiebs.

This isn’t the only celebrity collab…

… you’ll be seeing this winter. According to The New York Times, fast-food chains are falling over themselves to score the fame halo:

  • McDonald’s partnered with Mariah Carey on “12 days of Christmas deals,” including Big Macs and cookies
  • Dunkin’ teamed up with TikTok megastar Charli D’Amelio on her favorite cold brew
  • Popeyes launched a “hottie” hot sauce with hip-hop artist Meg Thee Stallion

Celebs have lended corporate endorsements for ages…

… but there’s a modern twist

One of the key outcomes of fast-food collabs is to drive app downloads. Since teaming up with celebs on meal campaigns in September 2020 — including BTS and Travis Scott — McDonald’s has brought in 10m+ app users.

Apps double as loyalty programs and are — very obviously — popular among the younger generation. Unsurprisingly, the collaborations often end up as viral hits on Gen-Z hangouts like Instagram and TikTok.

Critics say that celebs are using their fame to push unhealthy foods. While it’s a valid charge, the almond-crusted bnmn m n `jm chocolate Timbieb I’m eating right now is pretty good.

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AROUND THE WEB

🍿 On this day: In 2009, James Cameron’s Avatar premiered in London to critics’ delight. At the time, it was 1 of the world’s most expensive movies, with production and marketing costs of ~$400m. It has since grossed $2.8B+.

🌱 Useful: Stay hydrated with Plant Nanny. It’s an app that reminds you to drink water. And when you do, you’ll also nourish little cartoon plants.

👀 Wow: The giant phantom jelly is a deep-sea creature rarely spotted by humans, but researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute recently got a lucky glimpse.

🧹 How to: Tidying champ Marie Kondo shares hacks for reducing waste, like using linen covers instead of plastic wrap or keeping your fridge 30% empty.

☠️ Art: A gallery in England is all about rusty objects, especially those so rusted you can hardly recognize what they were.

🎵 Cure boredom: Type a random sentence. Get a Spotify playlist based on that sentence.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

(A roundup of our best reads from the last couple weeks…)

Visual explainer: The insane resurgence of vinyl records

🗺️ Some findings on the world’s priciest spots

🏗️ The virtual land boom, explained

🤓 Are Apple AR glasses coming?

😂 Who invented the “face with tears of joy” emoji?

Shower Thoughts
  1. “There is a certain size [at] which a cup becomes a bucket.”
  2. “As most people use cards, cleaning your couch thoroughly doesn’t come with surprise cash rewards anymore.”
  3. “Spotify Year in Review is a cool way of the company saying we’re tracking everything you do.”
  4. “Somebody’s mom has probably used you as a bad example to their kid.”
  5. “Most of your ancestors aren’t even human.”
via Reddit

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