Weekly Reads - November 14, 2022
Please read the Unison Asset Management Social Media Disclaimerhere
After days of speculation Amazon is preparing to layoff nearly 10,000 employees as soon as this week. CEO Andy Jassy conducted a review last week focused on scaling down the least profitable businesses under the Amazon umbrella. These layoffs will affect Amazon’s Alexa & devices business, retail, and human resources division. The Alexa and device division has reportedly generated losses up to $5 billion a year in recent years and was an early focus in Amazon’s cost cutting review. These layoffs are a result of Amazon’s recent quarterly struggles as retail sales growth has drastically come down post pandemic. During the pandemic Amazon invested significant amounts of capital building out its fulfillment network including hiring thousands of employees and building out numerous warehouses to prepare the company for future demand. These investments have flopped as consumers have returned back to their normal shopping habits post pandemic resulting in a lot of idle and inefficient facilities. Amazon is looking to scale down some of these warehouse investments alongside shuttering non-core loss leading services such as their primary health care service Amazon Care. In recent years Amazon has expanded past its core retail and cloud business entering new industry sectors that have dragged down margins and required an influx of capital to help scale these ventures without any guarantee of future success. With shares down 40% year-to-date Amazon is cutting down on some of their lofty ambitions and reshaping the company to focus more on profitability hoping to regain the support and trust of investors.
As the number of millionaire YouTubers rises many of us are left wondering how YouTube compensates its creators and how a once niche home video platform has spawned its own community of millionaire celebrities. YouTube, who reported over $7 billion in revenue last quarter, has continued to pay attractive rates to its creators even as global advertising spend continues to decline. Creators are reporting RPM rates (earnings per 1,000 views) that are steady or even higher than last year. Eight creators’ that business insider spoke with claimed RPM rates between $1.61 to $29.30 depending on the type of content that creator creates. If a YouTube video hits 1 million views a creator can expect to take in anywhere from $1,610 to $29,300. Extrapolate this over an entire year in which a creator can push out dozens of videos and it’s easy to see how the most popular creators are generating revenue in the millions. This number could be even higher if a creator joined YouTube’s Partner Program in which they can earn 55% of the revenue from Google-placed ads on their videos. This partner program is expanding toward YouTube shorts in 2023 with the idea of leveraging the popularity of established and upcoming creators to popularize YouTube’s short form video content to defend against the threat of TikTok. The addition of shorts alongside other revenue streams such as Patreon, merchandise, live-streaming, live-performances, and sponsorships are helping YouTubers find more ways to monetize their content making content creation an attractive full-time career. As social media platforms continue fighting for exclusive content the biggest winner could be the creators who will benefit from rising content acquisition costs and the expansion of these platforms toward new monetization channels.
The Musk era of Twitter has started on the wrong foot with widespread layoffs across the entire company and the debacle of Twitter Blue. Twitter Blue is a $8 a month subscription service for account verification or simply access to the Twitter blue checkmark. The idea behind Twitter Blue was allowing anybody on Twitter to become verified which Musk thought would help monetize users aside from selling advertising space. The initial reaction to Twitter Blue was extremely poor with notable celebrities such as Stephen King, Shonda Rimes, and Robert Kazinsky threatening to the leave the platform if Twitter Blue was implemented. After Twitter Blue’s implementation the entire platform saw waves of fake company accounts by individuals who purchased Twitter Blue under a replicated company account. These fake company accounts posted tweets under prominent companies such as Nintendo, Coca-Cola, Lockheed Martin, and Eli Lilly. These tweets ranged from harmless jokes to disparaging remarks with one of the most notable being a fake verified Eli Lilly account tweeting the company was making insulin free. After less than a day of Twitter Blue’s rollout the company pulled the service and was forced to ask recently laid-off engineers if they would be interested in coming back to work on the relaunch of Twitter Blue. The Twitter Blue disaster and Musk’s push for less content moderation on the platform has resulted in advertisers temporarily pulling ads all together putting into question the future of the platform. If Musk can’t figure how to balance monetization and moderation on Twitter the platform could see key influencers and advertisers leave the platform jeopardizing the long-term viability of the company.