Why Amazon Is Giving Employees $10,000 to Quit


The so-called last mile of delivery—getting an order to the customer’s door—has long been an obsession for ecommerce companies. To make the journey as efficient as they can, some have engaged in extreme experiments. Take Walmart: Two years ago, it tried asking its employees to deliver online orders before and after work, in their own cars. That idea was later abandoned, but the problem of the last mile remains, even for the biggest retailers. Now, Amazon is offering to pay its employees thousands of dollars to deliver packages—they just have to quit their current jobs first.

Last June, Amazon created the Delivery Service Partner program to allow entrepreneurs to create their own businesses delivering packages for Amazon. The idea was to get orders moving fast, without the need to rely on UPS or FedEx. On Monday, Amazon said it would begin offering employees up to $10,000 in startup costs to leave their current positions to join the program, as well as three months of gross pay. The initiative arrives as Amazon is pushing to deliver Prime orders within one day instead of two, making the last mile all the more important.

Not just anyone can sign up to be an Amazon Delivery Service Partner. You need to invest at least $10,000, and have liquid assets of at least $30,000 (the latter requirement is being lowered for employees). Those stringent rules may be one of the reasons Amazon is now turning to its own workforce for help. The company says more than 200 delivery partners have sprung up in the last year, but the US labor market remains extremely tight, and it’s not clear how many more people are in a position to join the program. What’s more, Amazon appears to prefer contracting with smaller delivery companies. On its website, it says partners typically have fewer than 100 workers and 40 vans. There may be only so much growth left for Amazon’s current partners, while its delivery needs seem to have no limit in sight.

Delivery partners are considered outside contractors—the drivers who work for them aren’t Amazon employees. While they can technically do work for any company, Amazon provides partners with access to branded vehicles that can only be used for hauling Amazon packages. That employment set-up helps Amazon to compete with companies like FedEx, which also has third-party drivers at the wheel of its branded vans and trucks. And it saves Amazon the responsibility of providing drivers with benefits like health insurance.

That doesn’t mean Amazon has avoided using individual delivery drivers entirely. Since 2015, it has relied on them through its Uber-like Flex platform, where contracted drivers can sign up for shifts couriering Amazon packages for between $18 to $25 an hour before expenses. The program is likely cumbersome to run, says Cathy Morrow Roberson, the founder of the research and consulting firm Logistics Trends & Insights. She says companies shouldn’t depend on crowdsourcing for their entire last mile strategy, since it’s hard to plan around such a precarious workforce.

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Amazon Flex has also proven to be a public relations nightmare. A series of media investigations and first-person accounts have documented the grueling work that can come with delivering for Amazon, and how drivers must subject to the use of facial recognition.

Delivery partners, by contrast, can manage their drivers however they choose. That freedom may prove attractive to many current Amazon employees interested in starting their own company. Becoming a delivery partner could also be a smart business decision, especially since self-driving delivery services are still years away. While Amazon is quickly automating other parts of its supply chain, it will continue to need drivers ensuring that packages make it the last mile.

In the meantime, Amazon’s rivals are catching up: Walmart just announced it’s going to provide next-day delivery too.

Have a tip about Amazon? Contact the author at louise_matsakis@wired.com or via Signal at 347-966-3806.

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May 14, 2019 at 09:48AM

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Meet the ‘Oyster Wench’—a single mom fighting pollution with the power of clams and kelp


“Women could be the architects of the blue economy.”

Catherine Puckett drives a pink boat to her ocean farm, where she harvests food that’s restoring the environment.

via Popular Science – New Technology, Science News, The Future Now http://bit.ly/2k2uJQn

May 14, 2019 at 07:25AM

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Coffee Served With A Cotton Candy Cloud That Rains Sugar Into Your Drink


These are two videos (one from Singapore, one from Beijing) of cafes that serve coffee with a cloud of cotton candy hanging above the cup so it slowly rains sugar into your drink (coming soon to a froufrou coffee shop near you). Granted it’s not the most efficient way to sweeten your coffee, but it’s certainly one of the most whimsical. Me? I don’t have time for a cotton candy sugar shower when I need a caffeine fix. For me, coffee is rarely an experience, it’s a necessity for not falling asleep at work before noon. Unless we’re talking about butt-chugging, in which case not only is it an experience, but a real eye-opening one. For both of us. "Wait, what?" Now hold this funnel over my head and don’t spill any.
Keep going for the videos.

Thanks to MSA, who agrees the best cup of coffee is the one you smell when you’re still in bed and your lover is already up and in the kitchen brewing it for you.

via Geekologie – Gadgets, Gizmos, and Awesome https://geekologie.com/

May 14, 2019 at 09:50AM

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The Morning After: Lenovo’s foldable-screen laptop


Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.

This morning, we’re checking out the latest update in Walmart vs. Amazon, and Lenovo’s bright new idea for a laptop is going to feel very familiar.

Aren’t all laptops foldable?Lenovo is working on a ThinkPad with a foldable display

Now that we (almost) have folding smartphones, Lenovo’s new prototype tries the technology on a larger scale. It has a 13.3-inch OLED display, which closes in upon itself with a Galaxy Fold-like magnetic latch. Laid flat, the flexible seam disappears, and when it’s propped open, a keyboard appears on the lower half of the screen. We’ll have to wait until at least next year to see this available as a real product, but it could be a way to have a large screen in a device the size of a paper notebook.

Box that.Walmart takes on Amazon Prime with free, next-day deliveries

The retail giant’s NextDay delivery offering is rolling out in Phoenix and Las Vegas today, May 14th, and will be available for online customers in Southern California over the next few days. Unlike Prime, there’s no membership fee required; however, it only applies to some of Walmart’s items, and orders have to meet a $35 minimum.

Moving forward.Supreme Court rules against Apple in App Store price-fixing case

The Supreme Court has ruled against Apple in a long-standing case over price fixing in the App Store, in a decision that allows iPhone owners to proceed with a lawsuit against the company. The court agreed with the plaintiffs’ assertion that people who buy apps from the App Store are doing so directly from Apple, and as such they aren’t prohibited "from suing Apple under the antitrust laws." Now the lawsuit can go to trial, unless the parties settle. In a statement, Apple said, "We’re confident we will prevail when the facts are presented and that the App Store is not a monopoly by any metric."

Now in testing at PDX.Lyft and Uber’s latest ride-sharing invention: the airport taxi line

Instead of wasting time hunting for their Uber or Lyft, passengers landing at Portland International Airport can just hop in an available car and share a six-digit code with the driver. If successful, they could expand the PIN feature to airports across the country.

Prices TBA.Lenovo’s new ThinkBook laptop line is built to be slim and secure

This new ThinkBook series promises "business-grade" features and security in a fairly sleek package. The laptops have thin bezels and are less than .65-inches thick, even with dedicated Skype keys, Radeon 540X GPUs, TPM 2.0 security chips, fingerprint readers and webcam privacy shutters. If you need more power, however, the new 15-inch ThinkPad X1 Extreme can be had with a 4K OLED display, GTX 1650 Max-Q graphics and a 9th-gen Core i9 CPU.

It’s all about services.Apple’s redesigned TV app arrives

The company is now rolling out the updated application to iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and compatible Samsung smart TVs, complete with a fresh look, the new Channels feature and curated sections such as For You and Kids. Apple says there are now more than 100,000 films and TV series on iTunes, including a large collection of 4K HDR content that you can rent or buy. Now you can get to all of that without having to leave its TV app. Plus, with Channels, users can subscribe to premium networks without leaving the app and download videos for offline viewing even from services that don’t normally offer the feature, like HBO Go.

They custom fit a box to the package instead of working the other way around.Amazon might start using robots to box your orders

Sources told Reuters that Amazon is considering the CartonWrap machines from CMC Srl, which can build boxes around custom orders and add seals and labels. The machines can reportedly build 600 to 700 boxes per hour, which is four to five times faster than a human.

But wait, there’s more…

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via Engadget http://www.engadget.com

May 14, 2019 at 06:36AM

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Disney takes full control of Hulu in deal with Comcast


When AT&T sold its shares of Hulu last month, Disney and Comcast were left as the company’s sole owners. Today, Comcast relinquished its control, leaving Disney in charge of the streaming platform. This means, since its acquisition of Fox’s 30 percent stake in 2017, Disney has slowly chipped away at its fellow Hulu owners.

As part of a put/call agreement, Comcast handed the reins over to Disney. In exchange, Comcast can require Disney to buy NBCUniversal’s 33 percent ownership interest in Hulu, as early as January 2024. At that future time, Disney can require NBCUniversal to sell its interest in Hulu for fair market value. Hulu’s fair market value will be assessed at the time of that future sale, but Disney guaranteed a minimum sale price of $27.5 billion.

While Disney now has full operational control, the agreement states that Comcast’s ownership in Hulu will never be less than 21 percent. Comcast also agreed to extend the Hulu license of NBCUniversal content until late 2024, and the company will still distribute Hulu on its Xfinity X1 platform. However, NBCUniversal can terminate most of its content license agreements after that three-year period.

It’s hard to say what will happen to NBCUniversal content, as well as other Hulu programming, after that. Disney is still working on Disney+, which means the company will have two streaming platforms. Though, it has hinted at bundling services like Hulu and ESPN+.

Source: Comcast

via Engadget http://www.engadget.com

May 14, 2019 at 09:06AM

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Because of You Someone’s Entire Life Can Change: A Wonderful Anti-Bullying Campaign


Because of You is an anti-bullying campaign by the Ad Council that encourages teenagers to use compassion, self-reflection, and mindfulness when interacting with people. They get the message across by using various videos of teens sharing their experiences, from those who get bullied, to the ones that help them.

[Via LS]

The post Because of You Someone’s Entire Life Can Change: A Wonderful Anti-Bullying Campaign appeared first on Geeks are Sexy Technology News.

via [Geeks Are Sexy] Technology News http://bit.ly/23BIq6h

May 14, 2019 at 07:55AM

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California Jury Awards $2 Billion To Couple In Roundup Weed Killer Cancer Trial


Containers of Roundup are displayed on a store shelf in San Francisco. A third California jury has awarded a multimillion-dollar court judgment against the herbicide.

The verdict represents the third time a California jury has decided in favor of consumers who claimed their cancer was caused by the glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer.

(Image credit: Haven Daley/AP)

via NPR Topics: News https://n.pr/2m0CM10

May 13, 2019 at 09:13PM

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