The ultimate guide to Amazon’s advertising business, which is $21 billion and growing

amazon advertising executive 2x1

Amazon’s e-commerce dominance is quickly expanding to advertising.

The pandemic has drastically cut ad budgets as marketers reign back their spending, but e-commerce advertising is booming as people shop more from home – with Amazon leading the pack.

EMarketer said Amazon claimed 10.3% of the US digital ad market in 2020, up from 7.8% in 2019 – competing with Google and Facebook for ad budgets. That growth has attracted Walmart, Instacart, Walgreens and other retailers that have joined Amazon in vying for a slice of the pie.

Here’s the latest on what we know about Amazon’s moves to grow its advertising business.

How big is advertising for Amazon?

Amazon made about $21.5 billion from advertising in 2020, up from roughly $9.3 billion in the year-ago period.

While that amount is a tiny sliver of Amazon’s revenue from retail sales and Amazon Web Services, its cloud business, advertising is one of its fastest-growing areas. The tech giant continues to cut into advertisers’ search budgets that mostly go to Google.

The pandemic’s impact on Amazon

While advertisers have slashed TV and some digital budgets during the pandemic, Amazon’s advertising has grown as people do more of their shopping online. Amazon has also increased the advertising potential of Twitch, its live-streaming service whose viewership has grown during the pandemic.

Ad tech’s role in Amazon’s ad business

Advertisers and sellers often cite a lack of data and tools as challenges in advertising on Amazon, which has given rise to a cottage industry of firms that specialize in helping marketers navigate the site. Meanwhile, Amazon has pushed further into programmatic advertising with its OTT arm that sells ads in some Fire TV apps.

Ad measurement

Amazon has loads of data about how people shop and has offered advertisers more data to help buy and target ads. Still, advertisers say that Amazon’s data can be limited and continue to find new ways to measure ads.

Who runs Amazon’s ad business?

Amazon is notoriously secretive as a workplace. As Amazon’s advertising ambitions have grown, it’s cultivated a team of execs who pitch advertisers on its ad business.

They include several longtime Amazon employees, including Colleen Aubrey, who is part of Amazon’s executive suite. Amazon has also hired big names from ad agencies and brands over the past few years to build teams that work directly with advertisers.

How to get a job at Amazon

Amazon is consistently looking for advertising talent, but its heavy focus on culture makes it hard for outsiders to break into the company.

We talked to insiders about how to ace the interview process.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Loud commercials are infuriating Americans, and streaming TV is making them even worse

loud commercials 2x1
Loud commercials blowing out your eardrums lately? You’re not alone.

  • The CALM Act banned excessively loud television commercials, but it doesn’t apply to streaming TV.
  • Consumers lodge thousands of complaints annually about loud commercials, and they’re on the rise.
  • The FCC almost enforced the act twice in the past decade. Audio engineer experts are trying to fix it.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

On July 1, 1941, New York’s NBC station made history by airing the world’s first television commercial.

With about 4,000 televisions in the region at the time, audience-wise it was not all that different from paying a guy to yell about a product in Times Square. The ad for Bulova watches cost $9 and ran for 10 seconds. But the world changed forever.

A decade year later, in 1954, a similar moment occurred in the annals of television history. The Federal Communications Commission got its first consumer complaints about loud commercials on television.

Needless to say, it’s pretty much all gone downhill since.

The pandemic has forced people to spend more time in front of the television than they have in ages. Simple questions like “Is it just me or are the ads way louder than ‘Jeopardy!’ every night?” provoke evocative answers. Casually asking people if they’ve experienced loud commercials yields one of two general responses: “It’s so annoying!” and “It’s way worse on my streaming TV service.”

If you’re hearing things, you’re not alone: the four-month period from November 2020 to February 2021 saw FCC complaints of loud commercials up 140% compared to the same period a year ago, more than double the volume of complaints.

There is a law on the books – the CALM Act, passed in 2011 – that is supposed to rein in loud commercials. But the FCC hasn’t done any enforcement on it in the better part of a decade.

Most significantly of all, for the people angry about explosively loud ads on streaming, there’s absolutely nothing the FCC can do about that even if they were enforcing it. What’s more, it’s not entirely clear there’s any way to do anything about that even through Congress.

The CALM Act is supposed to regulate loud commercials but the FCC hasn’t enforced it

Anna Eshoo Sheldon Whitehouse loud tv commercials
Rep. Anna Eshoo and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse mark the implementation of the CALM Act, the federal law that requires TV ads be no louder than the programs that accompany them, on Dec. 13, 2012.

The story goes that Rep. Anna Eshoo wrote the CALM Act after a loud television commercial interrupted dinner, which may be the single best argument for being an elected member of Congress I have ever heard.

It cascaded through the legislature, passing the Senate unanimously and the House in a voice vote before then-President Barack Obama signed it. Eshoo remarked at the time it was the most popular piece of legislation she had ever introduced in Congress.

The CALM act is actually fairly simple; it doesn’t say “commercials must be this loud” and it doesn’t get into the nitty gritty of how to measure that or enforce it or what consequences shall befall an operator who violates it. It’s fairly clever: all it actually says is that broadcasters and cable operators have to abide by the A/85 standard approved by the Advanced Television Systems Committee, and that the FCC has to enforce that.

A/85 is essentially an intricate, 72-page technical document that gets extremely specific about how things should sound. It’s not written for most of us to understand. But it does set acceptable bounds for the soundscape of television.

The experts wrote A/85, and Congress passed a law that said A/85 is mandatory, so Congress doesn’t have to learn about audio and the problem gets solved.

It’s a smart approach, because Congress is home to lawyers, doctors, activists, and people with all manner of expertise, but conspicuously no audio engineers, and the Advanced Television Systems Committee is understandably full of them. Congress took a standard that industry professionals had approved, and simply started requiring it.

A/85 required the average loudness of a commercial should be about as loud as the dialnorm, or the average dialogue level of a show. Because commercials can appear on your screen through a number of different ways from a number of different sources – such as being inserted by the local station or television provider, or embedded with the content itself – a standard for the whole system, top to bottom, at least formalizes the acceptable volume.

After an initial surge in complaints about loud commercials to the FCC following the Act’s passage and implementation, the bill largely had the desired impact, with complaints leveling off after a few years.

“FCC data I’ve seen shows consistent annual decreases in complaints since 2014,” Eshoo told Insider. “If that trend has changed, investigations are warranted.”

The past several months show complaints on the rise, according to an Insider analysis of the FCC database of complaints. Should the current rate hold, 2021 is poised to be the worst year since the initial rollout.

All that said, on a practical level, the CALM Act is not enforced.

There is no pipe exiting a cable company that says “out” and there is no meter on that imaginary pipe that says “too loud.” In reality, large stations and providers were supposed to spot-check once a year during the first two years of the rollout, doing 24 hours of monitoring over a seven-day period. If they found a problem, they were supposed to tell the FCC. You will be positively shocked to discover that only two small stations asked for a waiver while they fixed issues they found.

And since then? The FCC doesn’t audit stations. The agency will only investigate in the event that a pattern or trend emerges based on consumer-submitted complaints. From 2012 to 2019, consumers submitted 47,909 complaints to the FCC about loud commercials.

“In 2013, the Enforcement Bureau sent letters of inquiry to two separate companies addressing potential violations of the CALM Act and associated regulations,” an FCC spokesperson told Insider in an email, drawing from a 2020 letter from FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai responding to questions from Eshoo. “There were no violations found in either case and there are no public documents associated with these letters of inquiry. Since the 2013 letters of inquiry, the Enforcement Bureau analyses have not uncovered any pattern or trend of complaints supporting further inquiry.”

That is to say, the sum total of FCC enforcement on disproportionately loud commercials in the decade since the CALM Act has amounted to two letters – and no enforcement.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner Ajit Pai arrives at a FCC Net Neutrality hearing in Washington February 26, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Then-Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner Ajit Pai on February 26, 2015.

In 2014, the FCC did update their technical standards to address a clever workaround that some commercials had discovered. Basically, if the average volume of your commercial has to be on par with the average volume of the program, then you could hypothetically craft a 30-second advertisement that is 15 seconds of silence and 15 seconds at twice the volume of the program and technically not violate the standard, as you’ve technically maintained the average. The 2014 update discouraged this.

Despite thousands of complaints per year, the FCC has not discerned the kind of “pattern or trend of complaints” to support further inquiry.

The FCC declined to answer Insider’s questions regarding what precisely would qualify as a pattern or trend of complaints, whether the recent rise in complaints would qualify as a pattern or trend, or a question regarding the number of people working on CALM Act enforcement at a given time.

“If CALM Act-related complaints are increasing, the FCC should analyze the complaints to understand what is driving the shift,” Eshoo said. “If an analysis of the complaint data shows a pattern of legitimate complaints against specific companies, the FCC must investigate those companies. If the Commission finds violations through its investigations, it should bring enforcement actions.”

Increased enforcement could stymie the surge in complaints. However, as streaming television rises and cords are cut, more and more Americans are getting their television from services that are not covered by the CALM act, which applies to MVPDs, or multichannel video programming distributors, which is the official legal name for cable providers.

So, why not just pass a CALM Act for streaming?

The government can’t actually regulate streaming services

loud tv commercials
The loud commercials hurt his ears.

When Insider asked that question of experts in government, legislature, and the industry, the response was similar to asking “Why not legalize civil unions for leprechauns” or “When will the Federal Aviation Administration crack down on Pogo sticks,” in that it reveals a fundamental misunderstanding about what the FCC is.

“The FCC’s subject matter jurisdiction is communication by wire or radio,” said Gigi Sohn, a Distinguished Fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy. “The FCC doesn’t have jurisdiction over devices.”

The streaming landscape is vastly different from television. It may look like television, but it’s legally something else entirely, and while the offerings of a virtual over-the-top service may look nearly identical to the offerings of a traditional cable television service, legally it’s completely different, and not under the regulation of the FCC.

Streamers such as Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Youtube TV, FuboTV, Sling TV, and Hulu with Live TV may look aesthetically similar to a cable package, but from the perspective of the FCC, you may as well ask them to regulate your toaster. The FCC simply lacks jurisdiction over streaming services.

One side effect of this lack of jurisdiction is that for loud commercials, the FCC can’t do a thing. And the agency can’t address any of the other anxieties of modern streaming, including local blackouts, delivery issues, billing, usage caps, content exclusivity, bans, or any of the other policies enacted by fiat by the largest media companies on the planet.

Toward the end of the Obama administration, niche virtual streaming services sought classification as MVPDs. The companies – Pluto TV and Sky Angel – wanted the FCC to expand the definition of MVPD to include streamers like them, arguing that they should be under the FCC’s direction. In 2014, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler supported the move and the FCC began considering the shift.

“They determined the benefits that accrue to them justified the FCC oversight,” said Sohn, who was working for Wheeler at the time.

fcc chairman tom wheeler
Former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler.

But the move to expand the definition was opposed both by legacy MVPDs, as well as larger streaming companies, such as Amazon, which did not want the FCC encroaching on their business, with the main fear being that any regulation would open the door to further regulation.

Proponents of the change needed three of the five commissioners of the FCC to approve it.

“We didn’t have the votes,” Sohn said. The move never went through.

Commissioner Ajit Pai, who opposed the move, shortly after became the FCC chair, functionally killing the proposal. Last year there was some movement from network affiliates to reconsider it, but for the foreseeable future the virtual streaming services are unregulatable, and part of that means they can run commercials however loud they please.

While there is nothing to stop the FCC from adapting a definition of multi-channel video provider that would include the virtual providers, or even streaming services, the result would likely be a massive lawsuit that they would probably lose very badly.

In order for the FCC to have any authority over streamers, Sohn said, Congress would have to pass a law.

“I think this is a huge fight that might happen some day,” she said. “It’ll be a battle royale. Streaming services don’t want to be regulated.”

However, the difficulties that Congress faces in regulating streaming television doesn’t mean erratic commercial volumes on streaming is going to be a problem forever.

The small committee you’ve never heard of that might actually end loud annoying streaming ads

watching tv snack
She just learned about the Audio Engineering Society and she’s pumped.

When Congress passed the CALM Act, they passed a law that essentially took an existing audio industry standard and instructed the FCC to take the necessary steps to enforce that standard.

Right this moment, the Audio Engineering Society is designing a new audio standard for streaming television.

David Bialik is a systems engineer and the co-chair of the Audio Engineering Society’s Technical Committee on Broadcast & Online Delivery. If you’ve never heard of them, you’ve definitely heard them. This is the group of audio engineers who design the standards for much of how America’s media diet sounds.

The reason you change the channel and one isn’t materially louder than another, or if you’ve gone to a concert and not seen drastically different sounds between sets – all of that is genuine scientific work agreed upon by pros and at times set as standards.

And those standards may be the ticket to a better experience on web-based streaming.

The process by which an idea becomes a standard is not entirely like the serpentine process by which a bill becomes law. Think of it as a version of the Schoolhouse Rock song “I’m Just A Bill,” but instead of a bill it’s an intricate technical document, instead of congressional committees it’s a technical committee of audio experts, and in lieu of congressional votes it’s approval by the broader audio committee.

The equivalent of the presidential signature that makes it “law” is a vote that elevates the technical document to an official Standard, a move that in A/85’s case was carried out by the Advanced Television Systems Committee, but other standards go different routes.

Right now, the Audio Engineering Society’s technical committee is working on a new technical document that would address loudness on streaming services. And if it works, the issues of variable volumes on digital television could be solved without Congress at all.

“My hope is to see this released within the next 4 to 5 months,” Bialik told Insider. The gist is that programming material will come with loudness controls within metadata, indicating precisely how loud programming should be. They’re now getting comments from the 90 members of the committee. “It is our hope that our work gets elevated to a standard.”

“This isn’t something we’re taking lightly,” he added. The bigger players have good reason to play ball, namely because a unified consumer sound experience is good for the field as a whole.

“You want your content to be the same level as everyone else’s, on a level playing field,” Bialik said. A user touching the volume knob is bad. “When you invite the audience to touch the volume knob, you invite them to touch other knobs, too.”

Despite the many issues, Congress has been mulling an update to the 1992 Cable Act, which was the last major overhaul of the cable system. Needless to say, in the intervening years the landscape of television has changed somewhat, and to that end Republican Rep. Steve Scalise and Democratic Rep. Eshoo jointly introduced the Modern Television Act of 2019.

There’s little consumers can do outside of sending in official FCC complaints, or even just complaining about it on social media. In fact, those techniques are genuinely effective.

“I periodically hear from constituents about the annoyance of loud ads on streaming services and that worries me. I’ve also seen complaints on social media,” Eshoo said.

“Right now, I’m examining how large of a problem it is. If there is a real problem that we see beyond anecdotal reports, I will certainly consider legislation to address it.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Amazon drivers say peeing in bottles is an ‘inhumane’ yet common part of the job, despite the company denying it happens

Amazon Truck Drivers 2x1 FINAL
  • Amazon says workers don’t pee in bottles, but its drivers and piles of evidence indicate otherwise.
  • “There were times when I would personally find a pee bottle in my van,” one former driver said.
  • Insider reported in 2018 accounts of drivers urinating in bottles.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Amazon says workers don’t pee in bottles. Interviews with delivery drivers and mountains of evidence indicate otherwise.

On Wednesday, Amazon tweeted at Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan: “You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us.”

The e-commerce giant was responding to Pocan’s tweet: “Paying workers $15/hr doesn’t make you a ‘progressive workplace’ when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles,” he wrote.

While Amazon denied “the peeing in bottles thing,” five current and former Amazon drivers told Insider that urinating in bottles was part of the job.

“They didn’t really force you to pee in the bottles,” Savannah, who stopped working as a driver for one of Amazon’s third-party delivery-service providers in February, told Insider. “You just didn’t really have time to go to the bathroom.”

Savannah added: “Honestly, I would try to hold it as much as I can. But … there were times when I would personally find a pee bottle in my van because people were lazy and didn’t want to throw it away.”

Savannah and some other drivers who talked to Insider spoke on the condition of anonymity or requested that only their first names be used in order to speak frankly about the situation. Their identities and the fact they worked as Amazon drivers have been confirmed by Insider.

Amazon is known for imposing strict time constraints on drivers and warehouse workers, which some say can have negative consequences. While the company has factored in break times – a 30-minute lunch and two 15-minute breaks – some drivers say they either can’t or don’t want to take them.

“They keep track of your movements – how many times you stop, how fast you drive,” Enrique Sanchez, who worked as a driver for eight months in 2020, said. “Using the restroom in the van is the only option sometimes.”

“It’s a very aggressive company that has generated so much revenue, profits over the last years, decades – but it’s all been at the expense of workers being mistreated,” Sanchez added.

A spokesperson for Amazon was not immediately available to comment.

Reports of bottles of urine have plagued Amazon for years

Insider’s Hayley Peterson reported in 2018 that drivers urinating in bottles was a common practice throughout the system of drivers employed by Amazon and third-party courier companies that work out of Amazon facilities and deliver the bulk of the company’s packages.

“The work is brutal,” a manager of a courier company in New Jersey told Insider at the time. “Drivers have to pee in bottles in their vans all the time.”

Three years later, drivers say not much has changed.

A driver in Oklahoma who works for a third-party delivery service that transports packages on behalf of Amazon told Insider it was common to get into a delivery van at the start of a shift and find a bottle full of pee.

“I’m not saying that Amazon is encouraging it,” the driver said. “But I almost guarantee any driver that’s been working there long enough has got in a van and saw a translucent bottle filled with something that definitely isn’t apple juice. It’s happened. It happens.”

The driver said he had never faced pressure from his company not to take breaks but that he often skipped them to keep his momentum going throughout the day. He typically finds a gas station when he has to use the restroom, he said, but has peed into bottles during his shift when it would have taken upward of 30 minutes to get to a restroom.

“If people saw the bottle, unless they opened it, they wouldn’t even know because I drink Soylent … and the bottles are not translucent,” he said.

Amazon delivery trucks

A delivery driver in the Detroit area told Insider that rather than pee inside the vans, she used to hold it to the point of bladder infections. She said she recently decided to purchase a female urinal system, which she brings to work along with a bottle, hand sanitizer, and wipes.

She described getting her period at work as “a nightmare” and said she had had several female colleagues call her crying because they leaked through their clothing while working.

“I was forced, because I didn’t have anywhere to stop, to change my pad in the back of the van,” she said. “I didn’t have time to stop somewhere to change it, so I didn’t have anywhere to stop to throw it away either. You kind of have to carry that stuff with you.”

She added: “It’s inhumane, to say the least.”

Even Amazon drivers who have primarily positive things to say about the company said peeing in bottles was a common practice.

Art Velasquez, a former driver, said he thought Amazon was generally a great company. But during the pandemic, “it’s rare to find any open public bathrooms, and most places denied us access to restrooms,” Velasquez added.

“Can’t really complain much besides that they’re denying these allegations,” Velasquez said.

The Oklahoma delivery driver said he was happy with his job and liked the company. But he said Amazon’s system was set up to shift responsibility onto the third-party courier companies, which can sometimes pressure workers to move faster and skip breaks.

“There’s a lot of problems with the system, but it comes back to the system being set up for Amazon to push off as much responsibility or liability for anything that goes wrong onto somebody else, whether it’s the DSP owners or the drivers themselves,” he said.

There is extensive evidence of Amazon drivers peeing in bottles

Amazon’s tweet on Wednesday set off a wave of backlash, in part, because the bottles of urine have been so widely reported.

On Thursday, Vice published an article with the headline: “Amazon Denies Workers Pee in Bottles. Here Are the Pee Bottles.”

An Amazon driver sent the Vice reporter Lauren Kaori Gurley a photo of two bottles filled with urine. As Gurley noted, these “piss bottles” make frequent appearances on a subreddit dedicated to Amazon delivery drivers.

Documents obtained by The Intercept showed Amazon was aware that drivers were urinating and defecating in public on the job and listed the practices as recurring infractions in a January document.

“The practice, these documents show, was known to management, which identified it as a recurring infraction but did nothing to ease the pressure that caused it,” The Intercept’s Ken Klippenstein reported on Thursday. “In some cases, employees even defecated in bags.”

Celine McNicholas, the director of government affairs at the Economic Policy Institute, said Amazon was denying the “pee bottle thing” as part of a public-relations push to be seen as a progressive employer, while it attempts to shut down a union drive in Alabama.

“I think it is probably the only play that they have – to say this is not the reality,” McNicholas said. “Because the reality is shameful and disgusting.”

There are also reports of Amazon warehouse workers urinating in bottles

There have also been reports of Amazon warehouse workers peeing in bottles.

In 2018, a survey of 241 Amazon warehouse employees in England found that 74% said they avoided going to the bathroom at work. Employees said they were scared of being fired or missing their target if they used the toilet.

About the same time, James Bloodworth, an undercover reporter, said employees had a “toilet bottle” system in place at the warehouse where he worked in the UK.

“For those of us who worked on the top floor, the closest toilets were down four flights of stairs,” Bloodworth told The Sun. “People just peed in bottles because they lived in fear of being ¬≠disciplined over ‘idle time’ and ¬≠losing their jobs just because they needed the loo.”

While Amazon said “nobody” would work for the company if people had to pee in bottles, the problem appears to be a common one. A November 2019 blog post on the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, “Many workers in a wide range of industries and occupations say they cannot take the bathroom breaks they need.” It cited surveys of teachers, poultry-processing workers, nurses, bus drivers, and taxi drivers.

Savannah said Amazon did not understand what drivers and other workers go through on the job.

“They don’t see how hard it is – the weather we deal with, these bathroom situations, lunch breaks,” she said.

Efforts to unionize an Alabama warehouse offer Savannah some hope that things can change for Amazon workers. She said she hoped unionizing would make the company understand what warehouse workers’ and drivers’ jobs require.

“That way, Amazon can see what we really go through,” Savannah said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The ultimate guide to Amazon’s advertising business, which is $13 billion and growing

amazon advertising executive 2x1

Amazon’s e-commerce dominance is quickly expanding to advertising.

The pandemic has drastically cut ad budgets as marketers reign back their spending, but e-commerce advertising is booming as people shop more from home – with Amazon leading the pack.

EMarketer forecast that e-commerce advertising would rise 39% to $17.4 billion in the US in 2020, to represent 12% of digital ad spend. That growth has attracted Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens and other retailers that have joined Amazon in vying for a slice of the pie.

Here’s the latest on what we know about Amazon’s moves to grow its advertising business.

How big is advertising for Amazon?

Amazon made about $13.5 billion from advertising in the first three quarters of 2020, up from roughly $9.3 billion in the year-ago period.

While that amount is a tiny sliver of Amazon’s revenue from retail sales and Amazon Web Services, its cloud business, advertising is one of its fastest-growing areas. The tech giant continues to cut into advertisers’ search budgets that mostly go to Google.

The pandemic’s impact on Amazon

While advertisers have slashed TV and some digital budgets during the pandemic, Amazon’s advertising has grown as people do more of their shopping online. Amazon has also increased the advertising potential of Twitch, its live-streaming service whose viewership has grown during the pandemic.

Ad tech’s role in Amazon’s ad business

Advertisers and sellers often cite a lack of data and tools as challenges in advertising on Amazon, which has given rise to a cottage industry of firms that specialize in helping marketers navigate the site. Meanwhile, Amazon has pushed further into programmatic advertising with its OTT arm that sells ads in some Fire TV apps.

Ad measurement

Amazon has loads of data about how people shop and has offered advertisers more data to help buy and target ads. Still, advertisers say that Amazon’s data can be limited and continue to find new ways to measure ads.

Who runs Amazon’s ad business?

Amazon is notoriously secretive as a workplace. As Amazon’s advertising ambitions have grown, it’s cultivated a team of execs who pitch advertisers on its ad business.

They include several longtime Amazon employees, including Colleen Aubrey, who is part of Amazon’s executive suite. Amazon has also hired big names from ad agencies and brands over the past few years to build teams that work directly with advertisers.

How to get a job at Amazon

Amazon is consistently looking for advertising talent, but its heavy focus on culture makes it hard for outsiders to break into the company.

We talked to insiders about how to ace the interview process.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Young Wall Street at breaking point – Ex-Goldman exec is Epstein mansion mystery buyer – Tiger Global’s secret sauce

Hello readers,

Happy Saturday, and welcome to Insider Finance. Here’s a rundown of the must-know stories from the past week:

  • The WFH life plus insane deal flow is taking a toll on young Wall Street. Here’s what’s going on at Apollo and Goldman Sachs.
  • We revealed the mystery buyer of Jeffrey Epstein’s NYC mansion – and it’s a former Goldman exec
  • Chase Coleman did a deep dive on 20 years of blowout performance at Tiger Global
  • PE associate recruiting is being totally rewritten – here’s what the 2021 timeline looks like now
  • David Breach has emerged as a clear No. 2 to billionaire CEO Robert Smith at Vista Equity Partners

If this email was forwarded to you, sign up here to get your daily dose of the stories dominating banking, business, and big deals.


A former Goldman Sachs trading exec is the mystery buyer of Jeffrey Epstein’s $51 million NYC mansion after raking in big bitcoin gains

jeffrey epstein new york manhattan townhouse mansion

Goldman Sachs veteran Michael Daffey is buying Jeffrey Epstein’s NYC home, Insider was first to report this week. Daffey left Goldman Sachs in March after 28 years and most recently chaired its markets division. Get all the details here.


Wall Street is hitting a wall

wall street burnout young talent junior analyst 2x1

A fast-paced market for deals has kept young Wall Street plenty busy. But while crazy hours and lack of sleep are nothing new on Wall Street, doing it all from home has been another story.

As one former Apollo associate put it: “Having 10 people in the room with you at 3 a.m. is better than being in a room by yourself at 3 a.m.” And over at Goldman, analysts are asking the firm to limit workweeks to 80 hours and make sure that client meetings are always scheduled one week in advance.

More updates on young Wall Street:


The timeline for private-equity associate hiring is being totally rewritten

headhunters and recruiters sourcing talent for wall street 2x1

This year’s private-equity recruiting timeline for associates is once again moving later. Here’s how things are shaping up for 2021.


David Breach has emerged as a clear No. 2 at Vista Equity Partners

david breach profile vista equity partners 2x1

David Breach started at Vista Equity Partners in 2014 as its chief administrative officer. Now he’s playing a more public role. Insiders described his savvy rise from admin chief to billionaire whisperer –read more here.


Chase Coleman did a deep dive on 20 years of blowout performance at Tiger Global and shared his strategies for getting in early on the next Amazon

Chase Coleman Tiger Global

Tiger Global was one of 2020’s top-performing hedge funds. Founder Chase Coleman reflected on the wins and losses over the past 20 years in an investor letter. See the full rundown here.


Other Wall Street stories readers loved this week

  • SPAC mania is kicking into overdrive. 5 charts show who’s winning the blank-check gold rush.
  • Blackstone struck a secret deal to lock in a $100 million-a-year client, an unsealed lawsuit claims
  • Citadel’s summer internship will be in-person, while other hedge funds like Millennium, DE Shaw, and Bridgewater are staying virtual. Here’s what we know so far.
  • 2 top Barclays bankers that helped raise $23 billion in crucial funding for America’s biggest airlines share what’s next for an industry hopeful of recovery
  • How the vaccine rollout and private-equity cash are fueling the wealth management talent war
Read the original article on Business Insider

Tech is revolutionizing the old-school legal industry. Here are the startups to watch, and how they plan to tackle growth.

legal tech law gavel 2x1

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated virtually every industry’s path to digitize, and the notoriously old-school world of law is no exception.

Legal firms are demanding more innovation in a bid to improve efficiency and as clients seek lower costs. VCs are seeing promise in the space, opening their wallets to fund legal tech startups.

Insider has been tracking the latest in legal tech, from startups looking to disrupt the complex and paper-dependent industry, to how legacy companies are adopting new digital tools. See the latest below.

Legal tech startup news

From contracts to e-discovery, buzzy legal tech startups are snapping up investments and making big plans for growth. Ironclad, a major player in the contract space, recently raked in a blockbuster $100 million in its Series D, and plans to use the fresh capital to double down on its in-house product development.

In January, e-discovery company Reveal announced both an acquisition and a $200 million investment from the private equity firm K1 Investment Management, signaling growth as it seeks to take on the e-discovery giant, Relativity.

Read more:

M&A and VC investments in legal tech

Venture capitalists’ interest in legal tech has been surging as more companies seek to digitize aspects of their businesses and shed costs. As some of these startups move beyond the early stage, big-league players like Clio and DocuSign are also making strategic investments and acquisitions in the space, while others, like the Big Four accounting firms, may also be poised to get in on the action in the future.

Read more:

Legal tech pitch decks

Pitch decks are often instrumental to a startup’s ability to attract investors’ attention, offering insight into the company’s mission, tech, and visions for growth. CEOs and founders of some of the hottest legal-tech companies walked Insider through their decks.

Read more:

Law firms warm up to tech

Though lawyers have long been described as risk- and, by extension, tech-averse, more firms are embracing tech solutions to streamline workflow and boost productivity. Some have launched their own innovation arms, or are partnering with legal-tech companies to give themselves a competitive edge. There’s also a business case for tech adoption: Innovative firms tend to perform better, make more revenue, and maintain better client relations than their older-school counterparts.

Read more:

Read the original article on Business Insider

Wall Street headhunter intel – Roblox’s big debut – Inside Truist’s digital transformation

Hello, readers!

Happy Saturday, and welcome to Insider Finance. Here’s a rundown of the must-know stories from the past week:

  • Moving season is in full swing on Wall Street. Here’s what 8 headhunters are seeing.
  • Roblox CEO Dave Baszucki told us why he found a direct listing the most “authentic” way to go public.
  • Goldman Sachs tells summer interns it’s hoping to provide some in-office experiences this year.
  • Truist execs map out the bank’s hybrid-cloud approach and new roboadvisor.

If this email was forwarded to you, sign up here to get your daily dose of the stories dominating banking, business, and big deals.


Goldman Sachs is telling interns they may be coming into the office this summer

200 West Street the Goldman Sachs building in New York
People enter and exit 200 West Street the Goldman Sachs building in New York

Goldman Sachs is telling 2021 summer interns it hopes provide them some in-office experiences. It’s also partnering with online-learning company NovoEd to enable incoming interns to connect with one another virtually starting in early March.

Previously, Goldman CEO David Solomon emphasized his desire to train interns in person if possible. Read more here.


Roblox CEO Dave Baszucki told us why he doesn’t consider himself an IPO ‘rebel’

Roblox CEO David Baszucki
David Baszucki, founder and CEO of Roblox, presents at the Roblox Developer Conference on August 10, 2019 in Burlingame, California.

Video-game maker Roblox finally went public via a direct listing this week. Leading up to the debut, Roblox made a switch from its original plans to go public via a traditional IPO. In an interview with Insider, Roblox CEO Dave Baszucki said the pivot felt like “a natural way to do it.”

“We don’t feel like we’re a rebel at all,” Baszucki said. Read more here.


Here’s which Wall Street jobs are in the highest demand

rise in financial advisor hiring 2x1
Once the bonus season dust settles and cash hits the bank accounts, Wall Street laces up its running shoes. Now, everyone from up-and-comers to full-fledged rockstars is racing to assess their opportunities.

At the center of it all are Wall Street headhunters, who are working feverishly to supply the talent for new buildouts and initiatives their clients are prioritizing for 2021, as well as filling the vacancies elsewhere as stars are poached away.

We asked eight recruiters about the hottest sectors and trends they’re seeing. Here’s what they said.


Inside Truist’s tech transformation, from a hybrid-cloud approach to a new roboadvisor

pjimage
Dont√° Wilson, Truist’s head of digital client experience, and Scott Case, Truist’s CIO

The 2019 merger of BB&T and SunTrust marked the largest bank deal since the financial crisis. Now the sixth-largest US bank, Truist has the size to go about a wholesale upgrade of its digital banking offerings through both internal development and external partnerships. Keep reading.


Other stories readers loved this week

  • Private-equity giant Vista is out fundraising as founder Robert Smith looks to move past his tax-evasion agreement
  • Fintech Acorns just nabbed Harvest as consolidation among personal-finance apps heats up
  • HSBC just tapped Google Cloud to roll out a chatbot that helps employees with their regulatory questions
  • American Airlines’ $10 bln lifeline is a strategy that could be replicated by industries like retail and hospitality
  • M1 Finance‘s CEO explains the fintech’s push to digitize the private bank experience
  • BlackRock just held a town hall to roll out its diversity and inclusion strategy. Here are all the details.
  • Carlson Capital has lost nearly $3 bln in assets and dozens of staffers over the last 2 years
Read the original article on Business Insider

What to know about the business of sneaker bots: the controversial tech that helps resellers flip hundreds of hyped pairs of Jordans, Dunks, and Yeezys

sneaker bots resellers 2x1
  • In the sneaker resale world, a “bot” refers to a software application that expedites the online checkout process.
  • Though certainly a controversial aspect of sneaker culture, bots are essential for purchasing latest releases at retail prices.
  • Here’s everything you need to know about the business of bots and their role in buying sneakers.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

There are a few of reasons people will regularly miss out on hyped sneakers drops. But odds are, it’s because of a bot.

In the sneaker resale world, a “bot” refers to a software application that expedites the online checkout process and helps resellers nab hyped pairs in seconds – including limited-edition drops and collabs.

When sneakers are released in limited quantities, it’s often a race to see which sneakerheads can input their credit card information on a website or app the fastest in order to checkout before the product sells out. Bots are specifically designed to make this process instantaneous, offering users a leg-up over other buyers looking to complete transactions manually.

Though bots are notoriously difficult to set up and run, to many resellers they are a necessary evil for buying sneakers at retail price. The software also gets around “one pair per customer” quantity limits placed on each buyer on release day.

As the sneaker resale market continues to thrive, Business Insider is covering all aspects of how to scale a business in the booming industry. And bots are a major part of that. From how to acquire and use the technology to the people behind the most popular bots in the market today, here’s everything you need to know about the controversial software.

Acquiring a bot

Bots, like sneakers, can be difficult to purchase. Most bot makers release their products online via a Twitter announcement. There are only a limited number of copies available for purchase at retail. And once sold out, bots often resell for thousands of dollars.

Some private groups specialize in helping its paying members nab bots when they drop. These bot-nabbing groups use software extensions – basically other bots – to get their hands on the coveted technology that typically costs a few hundred dollars at release.

Once the software is purchased, members decide if they want to keep or “flip” the bots to make a profit on the resale market. Here’s how one bot nabbing and reselling group, Restock Flippers, keeps its 600 paying members on top of the bot market.

How to properly use bots

While bots are relatively widespread among the sneaker reselling community, they are not simple to use by any means. Insider spoke to teen reseller Leon Chen who has purchased four bots. He outlined the basics of using bots to grow a reselling business.

Most bots require a proxy, or an intermediate server that disguises itself as a different browser on the internet. This allows resellers to purchase multiple pairs from one website at a time and subvert cart limits. Each of those proxies are designed to make it seem as though the user is coming from different sources.

For example, “data center”proxies make it appear as though the user is accessing the website from a large company or corporation while a “residential proxy” is traced back to an alternate home address. Whichever type you use, proxies are an important part of setting up a bot.¬† In some cases, like when a website has very strong anti-botting software, it is better not to even use a bot at all.

The anti-bot faction

While most resellers see bots as a necessary evil in the sneaker world, some sneakerheads are openly working to curb the threat. SoleSavy is an exclusive group that uses bots to beat resellers at their own game, while also preventing members from exploiting the system themselves. The platform, which recently raised $2 million in seed funding, aims to foster a community of sneaker enthusiasts who are not interested in reselling. 

We spoke to one of the group’s founders to hear about how members are taking on the botting community.¬†

The people behind the technology

In many cases, bots are built by former sneakerheads and self-taught developers who make a killing from their products. Insider has spoken to three different developers who have created popular sneaker bots in the market, all without formal coding experience.

Splashforce, a bot that services nearly 4,000 customers, was created by an 18-year-old who had previously described himself as “dirt poor.” The teen founder and co-owner of Adept, another major sneaker bot, initially earned money via a paper route. Meanwhile, the maker of Hayha Bot, also a teen, notably describes the bot making industry as “a gold rush.”

Each of these self-taught bot makers have sold over $380,000 worth of bots since their businesses launched, according to screenshots of payment dashboards viewed by Insider.

Read the original article on Business Insider

JOIN US TODAY FOR A FREE EVENT: How small businesses can master their taxes in 2021

insider events small businesses taxes 2021 2x1

Filing taxes might be a bit different for small business owners this year. Many businesses were greatly impacted by months of mandatory closures, lost essential revenue, civil unrest, government loans and grants, and layoffs. 

To find out what all these things mean for your taxes, please join our small business reporter Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins and tax expert panelists. We’ll cover how the pandemic, PPP loans, and revenue losses could impact your filings.¬†

The hour-long chat is slated for March 2 at 1 pm ET/10 am PST, and we want your questions. 

Meet our panelists: 

Robbin Caruso is a partner in the tax department and the co-leader of the National Tax Controversy group of Prager Metis.

Nicole Davis is the founder and principal of Butler-Davis, a tax and accounting firm located outside of Atlanta, GA. 

Rick Lazio is the senior vice president of alliantgroup and a former US representative.

Topics to be discussed include: 

  • What’s changed from last year’s tax forms and rules
  • How to claim a PPP loan or EIDL advance on your taxes
  • What businesses can do if they had a significant amount of revenue loss or layoffs
  • How to claim the Employee Retention Credit (ERC)
  • What documents you’ll need to file
  • How to get tax credits and incentives

If you’d like to submit a question to be answered, please fill out this brief form. The experts will also be taking reader questions live.¬†

You can sign up here.

Read the original article on Business Insider

JOIN US ON TUESDAY FOR A FREE EVENT: How small businesses can master their taxes in 2021

insider events small businesses taxes 2021 2x1

Filing taxes might be a bit different for small business owners this year. Many businesses were greatly impacted by months of mandatory closures, lost essential revenue, civil unrest, government loans and grants, and layoffs. 

To find out what all these things mean for your taxes, please join our small business reporter Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins and tax expert panelists. We’ll cover how the pandemic, PPP loans, and revenue losses could impact your filings.¬†

The hour-long chat is slated for March 2 at 1 pm ET/10 am PST, and we want your questions. 

Meet our panelists: 

Robbin Caruso is a partner in the tax department and the co-leader of the National Tax Controversy group of Prager Metis.

Nicole Davis is the founder and principal of Butler-Davis, a tax and accounting firm located outside of Atlanta, GA. 

Rick Lazio is the senior vice president of alliantgroup and a former US representative.

Topics to be discussed include: 

  • What’s changed from last year’s tax forms and rules
  • How to claim a PPP loan or EIDL advance on your taxes
  • What businesses can do if they had a significant amount of revenue loss or layoffs
  • How to claim the Employee Retention Credit (ERC)
  • What documents you’ll need to file
  • How to get tax credits and incentives

If you’d like to submit a question to be answered, please fill out this brief form. The experts will also be taking reader questions live.¬†

You can sign up here.

Read the original article on Business Insider