Facebook News Feed Changes, Alexa Has A Mind Of Her Own, And SoftBank IPO

The Water Coolest

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THE HEADLINES

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Now you see me

And for his next trick Mark Zuckerberg will make $3.3B of his net worth disappear. On the heels of his new year’s resolution to “fix” Facebook, it appears that Zuck has done the complete opposite. Appealing to step-dads named Gary, Facebook will pivot away from publisher’s posts clogging your News Feed to status updates from friends and family (read: the posts that made Facebook, Facebook).

With one post the leader of the free world wide web changed the publishing game. But the coders in Facebook’s war room have been waging algorithmic battle for some time. Publisher’s percentage of online traffic from Facebook fell from 40% at the end of 2016 to 24% last month.

“Why, thank you”

That’s what Twitter and other social media outlets (we see you Google+) are saying to The Social Network. Publishers scrambling to reach eyeballs are looking for outlets to re-post stolen memes a la The Fat Jew. Twitter’s shares rose to their highest level since 2015, jumping 4.5% on the news.

Water Cooler Talking Point: “I hate to say I told you so … but “I told you so.” Publishers have been depending on social for free reach since MySpace Tom was your best internet friend. People seem to forget that Facebook is a private company and can do whatever they damn well please with their algorithms. Zuck doesn’t owe you sh*t.”

 

What do you think, Alexa?

Ever have one of those nights when you’re so indecisive about what to watch on TV that you just go to bed instead? Well, worry no more, Alexa has your back. Amazon has announced that its Alexa personal assistant will be able to give users its opinion on life’s important decisions (think: Seamless orders, Prime series), rather than just repeating answers like a well-versed parrot.

Using machine learning, Alexa will be able to make recommendations on things like TV shows and beer, based on the user’s history. The team at Amazon is improving Alexa’s abilities to work with fact and opinion based information in order to stay ahead of Google’s pesky, fast-growing assistant, Google Home.

Is there anything Amazon can’t do?

The answer is no. When Bezos and Co. aren’t busy dominating the voice-controlled personal assistant space, they’re changing the way we shop for groceries. Since Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, sales at Amazon Fresh have risen 35%, topping out at $135M. A few top selling items include baby spinach and organic riced cauliflower, so it’s clear that users are taking advantage of Whole Foods’ offering.

Water Cooler Talking Point: “I don’t think I’m ready to trust Alexa right off the bat. I’ve been hurt before. She’ll have herself a trial run of TV/movie selections but the minute she recommends that I keep up with the Kardashians, she’s getting unplugged.”

 

The tables have turned

Telecom company/tech investment fund, SoftBank has flipped the script and plans to raise funds as part of an IPO for their mobile phone business. The play is an effort to spin-off a full fledged Japanese telecom conglomerate while allowing SoftBank (the investment fund) to push forward with its spending spree without adding debt or diluting shares.

SoftBank has made a ton ($98B) of investments through it’s Vision Fund in companies throughout the technology space. Everything from Uber to competitor Ula, and even WeWork. The firm went on more dates than the guy from The Bachelor last year.

Cash rules everything around me

SoftBank plans to use the $18B from this IPO to continue to invest and build the (*raises pinky to mouth*) “world’s largest portfolio of investments in future technologies.” How do you say “move over Bezos,” in Japanese?

Water Cooler Talking Point: “Seems like now would be a good time to talk to my Scottrade broker about how to invest in the Nikkei.”

 


IN OTHER NEWS

 

  • Just days after announcing that they will be giving millions of employees raises (the good), Walmart announces approximately 1k corporate job cuts (the bad) and the reduction of 3.5k in-store co-manager roles (the ugly). HR has been busy at Wally World lately.
  • Ford plans to invest $11B in 40 new electric vehicles by 2022. I can’t wait to hear that electric Mustang purr … said no red-blooded, American muscle enthusiast ever.
  • JPMorgan traders took a $143M loss … on one client. The markdown is tied to Steinhoff, the South African conglomerate whose accounting irregularities are drawing comparisons to Enron.
  • T. Boone Pickens, the 89 year old, venerable oil man, is hanging it up as an energy trader to focus on his health. Has there ever been a more fitting name for an oil man than T. Boone Pickens?
  • Gamestop’s stock drops 11% on news that it expects a $400M impairment charge. The video game industry is booming but the troubles stem from their ownership of 1.4k AT&T retail stores. Customers holding onto their phones for longer hasn’t been good for business. This is what they get for offering me $1.50 to trade in a 2 week old copy of Madden ’18.
  • The men’s magazine, Penthouse, is filing for bankruptcy … for the third time. Who says sex sells?
  • US indices were up Friday (and are closed for MLK Day today):
    • DJIA: +0.89%
    • S&P 500: +0.67%
    • NASDAQ: +0.68%

 


TALKING SHOP

Professional motivation, tips, tricks, hacks & resources carefully-curated by yours truly. Something you’d like to see featured? Shoot me an email at team@thewatercoolest.com

 

It could be worse …

… you could be this guy. Short of letting a patient die on your watch as a doctor, what’s the worst possible mistake you could fathom in a workplace setting? That’s right, sending an island chain into a Cold War type panic by beaming out an “incoming ballistic missile” push notification.

I think it goes without saying, but you had one job, [INSERT YET-TO-BE-NAMED, SOON-TO-BE-FIRED EMPLOYEE]. So no matter how bad your week is looking, just remember that it could be worse, you could be hauled in front of Congress.

 

Walter White is cooking something up …

No tips, tricks or hacks here … just pure, unadulterated motivation. Think: that speech from ‘Miracle.’

Because I’m a firm believer that like ADHD medication, in small doses, strategically placed motivation can transform you into a workplace rock star. This week the soapbox is occupied by none other than Heisenberg himself, Mr. Bryan Cranston.

 

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