Walmart Acquires VR Startup With Eye on Future of Shopping

Walmart’s tech incubator, Store No. 8 recently purchased Spatialand, a small virtual reality startup that specializes in software tools designed for transforming existing media content into immersive experiences. The acquisition is part of Walmart’s plans to create future shopping experiences for store locations and websites. Spatialand founder Kim Cooper and 10 employees will join Walmart; Store No. 8 principal Katie Finnegan will serve as interim CEO. Financial terms were not revealed. Continue reading Walmart Acquires VR Startup With Eye on Future of Shopping

Amazon to Debut New Delivery Service in 37 Cities Next Month

Amazon is introducing Amazon Key, a service that, via a smart lock and a security camera, allows its couriers to unlock the consumer’s front door and drop a package inside. Similarly, Latch, a startup that makes smart locks, inked a deal this summer with Walmart online shopping site Jet.com to pay for its locks to be installed in 1,000 New York City apartment buildings. Amazon Key, which starts at $250, is a kit that includes an Amazon Cloud Cam (available separately for $120) and a Yale or Kwikset smart door lock. Continue reading Amazon to Debut New Delivery Service in 37 Cities Next Month

Walmart Elevates Profile With Anticipated Lord & Taylor Deal

Walmart, to build a more powerful online shopping destination that can better compete with Amazon, is on the verge of adding Lord & Taylor to its website. Walmart’s idea is to transform its site from a destination for discount goods to an online mall that would feature such higher-end brands as Lord & Taylor. For Lord & Taylor, the online traffic would be welcomed at a time that fewer consumers are visiting department stores. Jet.com and men’s clothing company Bonobos, both owned by Walmart, could also join the site. Continue reading Walmart Elevates Profile With Anticipated Lord & Taylor Deal

Mary Meeker Delivers Her Annual State of the Internet Report

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker delivered her annual Internet trends report at last week’s Code Conference in California. This year’s presentation featured 355 slides and a new section on healthcare. Among the key takeaways: global Internet users reached 3.4 billion in 2016 (46 percent of the world’s population, more than double the number from 2009); digital advertising jumped 22 percent to $73 billion; worldwide smartphone growth is slowing; China is the new leading market for interactive gaming; Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook are collectively worth $2.4 trillion, while seven of the next 16 top tech firms are Chinese companies such as Alibaba and Tencent. Continue reading Mary Meeker Delivers Her Annual State of the Internet Report

E-Commerce: Walmart Reports Major Growth in Online Sales

Walmart gained momentum in its fight against Amazon, with its online sales growing at its fastest clip in at least five years. Walmart reported a 69 percent increase in its e-commerce business in the first quarter of 2017. The growth seems to reflect concerted investment in online expertise and acquisitions. “All of a sudden, Walmart is the primary competitor to Amazon, as opposed to a fragmented cluster of people,” said Greg Portell, a partner at consulting firm A.T. Kearney. Continue reading E-Commerce: Walmart Reports Major Growth in Online Sales

Microsoft’s New Cloud Service With AI Tools Targets IoT Use

Microsoft’s Build 2017 conference in Seattle showcased Azure cloud services for the Internet of Things, using multiple sensors and small computing devices to track data analyzed by Microsoft’s combo of cloud and AI tools. The new Azure IoT Edge speeds up the process because computing can now take place on-site. The first use cases will be industrial applications. Among its 29 AI services, Microsoft also now has automatic language translation for PowerPoint and video indexing by sight or tag when a word or phrase is spoken. Continue reading Microsoft’s New Cloud Service With AI Tools Targets IoT Use

Walmart Pushes into E-Commerce, Now Offers 40M Products

In August, Walmart purchased Jet.com for $3.3 billion in cash and stock, a vote of confidence that the e-commerce startup’s founder/chief executive Marc Lore understood the way that Walmart could successfully compete with Amazon. Lore believes that Walmart should focus on product areas that are newly popular online, including clothing, fresh food and everyday essentials found in the drugstore. Shortly after acquisition, Lore and his management team took over Walmart’s domestic e-commerce operations, including 15,000 employees. Continue reading Walmart Pushes into E-Commerce, Now Offers 40M Products

Slack Faces Off Against Bigger Competitors, Tweaks Software

Slack came to life three years ago, out of a failed video game, and, as messaging software, combines rich data on how people use a product with information on how people feel about using it. When it debuted in 2014, word of mouth catapulted Slack to a value of $4 billion. Now, the private company has attracted competition from Microsoft, which last fall unveiled Teams, free to 85 million users of Office 365, and Facebook with its free collaboration tool Workplace. A smaller company, Atlassian, has also had success. Continue reading Slack Faces Off Against Bigger Competitors, Tweaks Software

Amazon and Walmart’s Race to the Bottom Rattles Suppliers

Walmart just told its suppliers that it wants to have the lowest prices on 80 percent of its sales. That means that suppliers will have to cut their prices by at least 15 percent — in some cases, losing money on the deal. For those who comply, Walmart will offer better distribution and other kinds of help. Those who don’t will see Walmart limit distribution of their products. Walmart regularly tells suppliers to lower prices, but this time is different: the company is in an all-out price war with Amazon. Continue reading Amazon and Walmart’s Race to the Bottom Rattles Suppliers

Walmart Plans Job Cuts and Continues its E-Commerce Push

Walmart is expected to cut about 1,000 jobs by the end of January, before the close of its fiscal year. “The plans mark one of Walmart’s largest rounds of corporate job cuts as it works to preserve profits while making the company more efficient and responsive to fast-changing consumer behaviors,” reports The Wall Street Journal. According to CEO Doug McMillon, the company’s chief information officer, Karenann Terrell, will step down in February. Other retailers have been making similar moves; Macy’s recently announced it would close stores and cut 10,000 jobs. Walmart is working to fend off Amazon and smaller discounters. The retail giant purchased Jet.com in September, and its founder, Marc Lore, took over the e-commerce business. Continue reading Walmart Plans Job Cuts and Continues its E-Commerce Push

Established Companies Look to Startups for New Tech Growth

Major U.S. corporations are beginning to see acquisitions of startups as a way to purchase rather than develop new technologies, a major turnaround from many decades of avoiding Silicon Valley. Until recently, established manufacturers preferred to build their own new products or buy other deep-rooted companies. Then, in 2015, Ford Motor Company bought Chariot, a crowd-sourced commuter-shuttle startup for $65 million, signaling a change in strategy, not just among auto-manufacturers, on how to move into future technologies. Continue reading Established Companies Look to Startups for New Tech Growth

Walmart to Ramp Up Online Operation, Google Opens Pop-Up

Walmart told its investors that it was opening fewer brick-and-mortar stores in favor of investing in online operations, a strategy that was initiated when Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon paid about $3.3 billion for e-commerce startup Jet.com. That company’s founder, Marc Lore, will lead the initiative. The company predicts online sales will grow 20 percent to 30 percent in the next three years. Still, it’s a risky gambit since Amazon is increasing its dominance in the U.S. consumer space. Continue reading Walmart to Ramp Up Online Operation, Google Opens Pop-Up

Walmart to Purchase Jet.com in Bid to Compete with Amazon

In its biggest bid yet to compete more directly with Amazon, Arkansas-based Walmart is acquiring e-commerce startup Jet.com for $3.3 billion ($3 billion in cash and $300 million in shares to be paid over time). Walmart has been busy expanding its online operation, and the Jet.com deal provides it with a shopping site that is adding 400,000 consumers monthly and has already reached a $1 billion gross merchandise run rate. Store-based businesses such as Costco, Target and Walmart have been looking for effective ways to contend with Amazon’s successful online model. Continue reading Walmart to Purchase Jet.com in Bid to Compete with Amazon

Online Marketplace Jet.com, Valued at $300M, Opens to Public

After months of anticipation, Jet.com, the online marketplace that hopes to challenge Amazon and eBay, has opened to the public. The members-only site offers tremendous discounts to its customers, under-cutting both retail and Amazon prices. Since a trial run began in March, however, the company has seen nothing but red ink. But the clamor hasn’t died down, and more investors are eager to add more capital to the Hoboken, New Jersey-based company, and its valuation climbs even as its revenues dip below the black line. Continue reading Online Marketplace Jet.com, Valued at $300M, Opens to Public

Is a Price War Brewing Between Amazon.com and Jet.com?

Recently, Amazon has been offering discounts on sneakers and video games to its Prime members, prompting some industry watchers to predict an impending price war with discount shopping site Jet.com. Operating in private beta, the members-only Jet offers cheaper prices by lowering order fulfillment and shipping costs. The belief in the possibility of a price war is rooted in recent history: Jet was founded by former Amazon employee Marc Lore, whose previous company Diapers.com was the focus of a heated price war that ended with Amazon’s 2010 acquisition. Continue reading Is a Price War Brewing Between Amazon.com and Jet.com?