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I hope you own lots of Amazon

Amazon last night reported fourth quarter sales up 38% to $60.5 billion. Operating income increased 69% to $2.1 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with operating income of $1.3 billion in fourth quarter 2016.

These are incredible growth numbers for a large company.

Amazon started as a book seller — the lowest margin business in the entire world. Now look at it. It’s makes sophisticated electronics on which outsiders are develop. It runs AWS, Amazon Web services, the largest computing cloud. And it sells and ships everything from bluetooth ear buds to tennis racquets, from frying pans to Norelco hair nose trimmers — all of which I’ve bought just this week alone.

“Our 2017 projections for Alexa were very optimistic, and we far exceeded them. We don’t see positive surprises of this magnitude very often — expect us to double down,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “We’ve reached an important point where other companies and developers are accelerating adoption of Alexa. There are now over 30,000 skills from outside developers, customers can control more than 4,000 smart home devices from 1,200 unique brands with Alexa, and we’re seeing strong response to our new far-field voice kit for manufacturers.”

There’s a section in last night’s quarterly report labeled Highlights. Some samples:

+ In 2017, more than five billion items shipped with Prime worldwide.

+ More new paid members joined Prime in 2017 than any previous year — both worldwide and in the U.S.

+ Fire TV Stick and Echo Dot were the best-selling products in 2017 across all of Amazon. Customers purchased tens of millions of Echo devices last year.

+ The Alexa Skills store now offers more than 30,000 skills, including new developer tools for Alexa Gadgets and gaming experiences, such as Activision’s new Ghost skill for console game Destiny 2. Other new categories of skills include daily beauty podcasts from Hearst, All-Star game voting from the NBA, and more. Customers can also now use Alexa to control more than 4,000 smart home devices from 1,200 unique brands.

+ Amazon hired nearly 130,000 employees globally in 2017, excluding acquisitions. Additionally, Amazon now employs more than 17,500 veterans and military spouses across the U.S., and plans to hire over 10,000 more by 2021.

+ Amazon launched two furniture brands: Rivet, offering affordable and versatile mid-century modern furniture ideal for smaller spaces; and Stone & Beam, offering durable and stylish furniture for the modern household.

+ Amazon Go, a new kind of store with no checkout required, is now open to the public in Seattle. The checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, machine learning, and sensor fusion.

+ AWS announced AWS Media Services, a family of five integrated broadcast-quality media services that make it easy for video providers of all kinds to create reliable, flexible, and scalable video offerings in the cloud. These five services enable customers to build end-to-end workflows for both live and on-demand video with the professional features, image quality, and reliability needed to deliver premium video experiences to viewers across a multitude of devices. By combining the proven video solutions from AWS Elemental with the security, durability, availability, and scalability of AWS, video providers can focus on innovating and making great content instead of spending time building and maintaining on-premises video infrastructure.

Amazon is going after Apple, Google, IBM, YouTube, movie theaters, and every retail store in the universe, and succeeding. And now the health care biz. It’s beautiful to watch.

There’s oodles more. Do yourself a favor and read last night’s full release. Click here. 

Here’s Amazon over the past ten years. The chart is a thing of beauty. It will be up big today.

AMZN10years

The Big Ripoff.

Open a a savings account at three big banks and be paid per year…wait for this:

Citi pays 0.04%, Bank of America 0.03%, Chase Bank 0.01%.

It’s not all miserable:

DollarSavingsDirect, UFB Direct, and PurePointFinancial pay 1.60% — sixteen times as much as Citi, Bank of America and Chase.

CIT Bank and the Incredible Bank (yes, it’s called that) pay 1.50%.

And — drum roll — Goldman Sachs Bank USA pays 1.50%.

The amazing thing is there’s absolutely no difference between any of the banks. They’re all insured by the FDIC. …Oops there is a difference. Some are all Internet banks and some staff their phones 24/7. Some of the big banks are heavy on paperwork. Excessively so.

The best place to find all sorts of banking rates is from Bankrate.com. That’s where I got all this information from.

The Bankrate web site has rates for everything from mortgages, to loans, to credit cards, etc.

Stupidity is having your short-term cash in a big bank. Real stupidity is not having your long-term cash in the stockmarket.

All that said…

The latest web site craze is offering you and I consumers a “free”service locating and ranking
hotels (e.g. TripAdvisor), airlines, credit cards, home repair contractors, and of course, banking information (see above).

Be aware all “free” services aren’t. These sites have to get paid somehow. And that typically means it’s from the companies they’re so nicely rating for you and me. Which means you may not see your favorite hotel, or it may be ranked low.  In short, be wary. Ranking works often by payback and commission.

My friend owns a Tesla. Think Creative Destruction. Now read the story.

Tesla

He loves his Tesla. He says it has only 22 moving parts. They’re all sealed.

The car never needs service. And he never services it.

I just took Susan’s 2013 Mercedes Hybrid in for a service. It was $160. Our local Mercedes dealer wanted $500, but they’d give us a free tank of gas and an Exxon/Mobil $50 gift card.

That’s what you call desperation — when your customers (the local dealer sold us the car) don’t come back for service.

There’s more here.

Think of the time in the not too distant future when all of us are driving electric cars and there are no more cars to service. I repeat: No more cars to service.

That’s called creative destruction.

Think of what Netflix did to Blockbuster. This is much worse — if you own an auto dealership. But much better if you own an electric car.

What technology does Andrew Ross Sorkin love?

His “single best device” is Apple’s $159 AirPods.

aoirpods

I got excited by his logic and bought my self a $27.59 SoundPEATS Bluetooth Headphones:

SoundPeats

They seem to do the same thing as the Apple Air Pods. We’ll see. I received them last night — one day delivery from Amazon for $5! Buy yours here.

You can read about Andrew Ross Sorkin’s favorite tech gadgets here.

Give thanks you don’t live in Venezuela

If you’ve ever wondered how misguided socialism can destroy a country, look no further than Venezuela. My dear friend, Antonio Mora, has writtten a brilliant place detailing exactly what’s happened there. The headline is  Venezuela: Making the Great Depression look like a mild recession. Click here. And feel happy you don’t live here.

New York’s only tramway

It connects Manhattan with Roosevelt Island in the middle of the East River.

The Island now sports Cornell’s new 12-acre engineering/technology campus. It’s still under construction and will ultimately look like this.

CornellUniversity

But what’s finished — quite a bit — is truly spectacular. The cafeteria is open to the public. I had breakfast there on Wednesday. The views were wonderful.

I went to the Island on the tramway — New York’s only one — and enjoyed these stunning early morning views. It was 7:10 AM. I love the sun’s reflection off the building

Tram2

Tram1

That’s the 59th Street bridge of Simon and Garfunkel fame. Listen to their 59th Street Bridge Song here. Lyrics include Slow down, you move too fast. 

Slow down. Enjoy my iPhone photos.

Another Super Bowl story for this weekend

At the Super Bowl a man sat unhappily in his Super Bowl seat, in the highest row behind the end zone.

Way below he spots an empty seat on the 50-yard line.

He descends all the way down to it and asks the man sitting next to the empty spot why such a good Super Bowl seat remains unoccupied.

The man says, “It’s mine. I was supposed to come with my wife, but she died. This is the first Super Bowl since 1967 we have not attended together.”

The first man says: “But couldn’t you find a friend or relative to come with you today?”

The man replies: “Nope, they’re all at the funeral.”

HarryNewton
Harry Newton, who’s having a truly wonderful week. Michael, son, is in town. This morning we’re off to play tennis at Roosevelt Island Racquet Club, the best place to play tennis in the City. The club is under a gigantic, heated bubble. Total bliss.

  • Karch_Buttreau

    How long do the battery packs on a Tesla last, and how much does it cost to replace them? Then, what is the cost per mile.

    If you don’t know the answers to these questions, then you drank the Kool-Aid on the Tesla.

    • Lucky

      Probably anyone who can afford to buy a Tesla does not care about batteries or cost per mile.

    • Omer Acikel

      I own a Leaf, I call it poor man’s Tesla. Your questions only looking one side of the coin. Yes, buying an electric car comes with eventual replacement -by all means they are getting cheaper-. However, any electric car has some major advantages to ICE (Internal Combustion Engine): You will never need an oil change, any transmission work, any any break work on your car. In California where I live, I also skip smog test every ICE goes for every other year. A fun bonus, fast speed up at traffic lights. I love to see BMW and AUDI and alike owner’s face when they left behind 🙂 And depending on car manufacturer, you will still get about $8,000 price break and in CA $2,500 tax credit plus single driver can use HOV lanes. Special to my case: I also have solar which will produce free electricity in 8 years (my loan will be paid up which my payment is about the same as my electric bill would have been-) which I have 25 years of part and labor warranty. Changed your mind yet 🙂

    • Omer Acikel

      I forgot add cost per mile. My leaf, 4 years old now, has 24KWh battery pack which can get between 70-90miles depending on road (hills etc.) and your speed (I drive around 65mph). in CA first tier electric pays about 19cents/KWh (in CA if you use more than 1st tier threshold, there are rate plans for EV owners which get the same 19cets/KWh but charging times are midnight the early morning). So I pay about 0.19*24=$4.56 for 80 miles (average) or 5.7cents/mile.

  • Lucky

    My friend bought a NEW/used Tesla direct from Tesla who had factory refurbished a 3 year old Tesla and sold it to him with a new car warranty. The 12 volt battery that supports the lights, etc. gave out and Tesla delivered and installed a new replacement to his home in Payson…for free. Cost for the NEW/used Tesla $50,000.
    Great car…when he presses down on the accelerator at 40mph the “G” force nearly throws you into the back seat. The back seat, by the way, is not all that comfortable, front seats are luxurious. The display screen is gigantic.