Roku Earnings Outperform Street Estimates Despite Headwinds

Roku grew streaming households to 81.6 million globally in Q1, a 14 percent gain year-over-year, according to the company. Revenue was up 19 percent to $881.5 million. Streaming hours were up 23 percent to 30.8 billion, but guidance that rival ad-supported streaming platforms could hinder further growth this year dinged the strong quarterly results, sending shares down 3 percent in after hour trading last week. Claiming a position as “the No. 1 selling TV OS in the U.S. and Mexico,” Roku said the Roku Channel was No. 3 on the platform “by both reach and engagement.” Continue reading Roku Earnings Outperform Street Estimates Despite Headwinds

Roku Rolls Out New Ad Products and Contextual AI Insertions

Roku introduced new ad products this week at the IAB NewFronts, touting opportunities to advertise on Roku’s home screen and within original content. That also includes its screensaver — dubbed Roku City — which McDonald’s is taking over for a summer promo. Roku also said it will be using contextual AI to automatically insert ads at appropriate moments in Roku Channel programming. In a twist on programmatic, Roku will train artificial intelligence on its advertisers’ marketing campaigns and messaging goals then have it scour the library for “iconic plot moments” that offer a good fit, inserting ads in real time. Continue reading Roku Rolls Out New Ad Products and Contextual AI Insertions

Roku Adds 1.6M Streaming Accounts but Revenue Sluggish

Roku managed a 1 percent increase in Q1 revenue on sales of $741 million. While sales in is platform segment were down 1 percent, to $635 million, the company had a positive performance on the streaming side, with 1.6 million active accounts added to take it past 70 million. Streaming service distribution, including FAST channels, is part of Roku’s platform services, along with ad sales, media and entertainment promotions and Roku Pay. In Q1, the Roku operating system was again the top-selling smart TV OS, with a record-high 43 percent of TV unit share in the United States. Continue reading Roku Adds 1.6M Streaming Accounts but Revenue Sluggish

OpenAI Adds Browser, Plug-In and API Support for ChatGPT

OpenAI is adding plug-in support for ChatGPT, a major upgrade that lets the chatbot incorporate current web data, as opposed to being limited to training data ending in 2021. Initially, the company is allowing 12 external plug-ins, including those from Expedia, Instacart, OpenTable, Shopify, Slack and Zapier. The group has been invited through a waitlist. “We’re starting with a small set of users and are planning to gradually roll out larger-scale access as we learn more,” explained OpenAI, which is also introducing two plug-ins of its own: a web browser and code interpreter. Continue reading OpenAI Adds Browser, Plug-In and API Support for ChatGPT

Microsoft Believes Azure Platform Is Unlocking ‘AI Revolution’

The demand for artificial intelligence by enterprise as well as consumers is putting tremendous pressure on cloud service providers to meet the vast data center resources required to train the models and deploy the resulting apps. Microsoft recently opened up about the pivotal role it played in getting OpenAI’s ChatGPT to the release phase via its Azure cloud computing platform, linking “tens of thousands” of Nvidia A100 GPUs to train the model. Microsoft is already upgrading Azure with Nvidia’s new H100 chips and latest InfiniBand networking to accommodate the next generation of AI supercomputers. Continue reading Microsoft Believes Azure Platform Is Unlocking ‘AI Revolution’

More Brands Are Participating in In-App Test for TikTok Shop

Although TikTok’s U.S. shopping rollout has gone slower than planned, the company continues to add features, with invited brands fielding an in-app checkout test. Clothing firms PacSun, Revolve and Willow Boutique as well as beauty line KimChi Chic are reportedly participating in the test for TikTok Shop. The brands have a small shopping bag icon on their profiles, which users can click to explore products through images, video and text. The TikTok cart can accept items from different stores, providing a centralized shopping experience. The move comes as Gen Z increasingly uses TikTok as a search engine. Continue reading More Brands Are Participating in In-App Test for TikTok Shop

Amazon Hires, Builds and Grows During the COVID Pandemic

In August and September, Amazon revealed plans to hire 20,000 more employees in seven cities in the U.S. and the UK. The massive e-commerce company has seen tremendous growth during the coronavirus pandemic as have other retailers including Walmart, Target and Instacart. Amazon, which continues to allow employees who can work from home to do so until January 8, is continually recruiting hourly positions at warehouses. Although it pays a minimum of $15 an hour, Amazon no longer provides incentive pay or stock for hourly workers. Continue reading Amazon Hires, Builds and Grows During the COVID Pandemic

Pandemic Shutdown Leading to Major Shifts in E-Commerce

When the U.S. shut down in March, people went online to shop. Adobe’s Digital Economy Index reported that U.S. e-commerce skyrocketed 49 percent in April, compared to the baseline period in early March. Some e-commerce companies have become stronger during the shutdown. But buying patterns have been volatile, with the latest uptick sparked by government stimulus checks that were sent out April 11. Many experts believe that consumer habits are changing in ways that will continue beyond the threat of the coronavirus. Continue reading Pandemic Shutdown Leading to Major Shifts in E-Commerce

Robots and Drones Make More Deliveries During Pandemic

All around the globe, from China to Israel to the U.S., robots and drones are delivering everything from groceries to medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic without the threat of transmitting COVID-19. In Sacramento, for example, startup Nuro’s R2 robots are delivering personal protective equipment, clean linens and food from a supply depot to a field hospital. But, as many businesses and governments are eager to use robots, the startups that make them are challenged to ramp up production to meet demand. Continue reading Robots and Drones Make More Deliveries During Pandemic

Amazon Scales Up to Address Demand During the Pandemic

After prioritizing essential products, such as cleaning and healthcare items, Amazon is again allowing third-party sellers to ship non-essential products. Its refusal to accept shipments of such products frustrated its third-party sellers that form 58 percent of Amazon’s overall sales. Amazon, which will limit quantities of non-essential products, is hiring 75,000 more employees to keep up with demand. The company also asked new Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market delivery/pickup customers to join a waitlist. Continue reading Amazon Scales Up to Address Demand During the Pandemic

Kickstarter Becomes First Major Tech Company to Unionize

In a narrow vote, Kickstarter employees decided to unionize, joining the Office and Professional Employees International Union and becoming the first time a well-known technology company has done so. Although there has been a growing movement among white-collar tech workers at such companies for unionization, this organizing has also been a source of tension and conflict. In general, tech workers have also become more vocal over issues from fulfilling government contracts and climate change to sexual harassment. Continue reading Kickstarter Becomes First Major Tech Company to Unionize

Amazon, Target, Walmart Ramp Up Their Delivery Services

Walmart launched Delivery Unlimited, which offers consumers a subscription grocery delivery service for $98 per year or $12.95 per month, with a 15-day trial period. Per-order fees run $9.95 or less. The new subscription service is priced competitively, with Shipt and Instacart charging $99 per year. Prime Now costs $119 per year, but touts all of the benefits of Amazon Prime, including fast shipping and streaming media content. Target, which bought Shipt, now offers shoppers same-day delivery and a first-time $9.99 per order fee.

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Amazon’s Vision: Whole Foods as Urban Distribution Centers

After acquiring Whole Foods in 2017 for $13.7 billion, Amazon.com Inc. has been working to more deeply integrate its new physical grocery stores into its online retail business. Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, has a vision that ties together the physical and the digital. Currently, the company is searching for larger Whole Foods locations to serve as grocery stores that double as urban distribution centers to enhance the efficiency of online order deliveries, according to a source close to the project.

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Amazon Prime Now Begins Delivery of Whole Foods Products

Amazon is introducing home delivery of Whole Foods products through the company’s one- and two-hour Prime Now delivery service. Initially, the program will launch for neighborhoods in select Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas and Virginia Beach areas, but Amazon plans expansion throughout the year. While the company has not offered details on the expanded rollout, it’s worth noting that it took less than three years for Prime Now to reach more than 50 global markets. However, the company’s own grocery delivery arm AmazonFresh scaled back delivery in some areas last year. Continue reading Amazon Prime Now Begins Delivery of Whole Foods Products

Walmart, Target to Compete with Amazon’s Grocery Delivery

Now that Amazon has entered the U.S. grocery market, offering home delivery, other companies selling food are stepping up their operations. Walmart is doing so by experimenting with delivery and, more importantly, launching curbside pickup. Target just acquired startup Shipt, which delivers groceries on the same day an order is placed. Traditional supermarkets are also battling startups such as meal-kit company Blue Apron and organic vendor Thrive Market. Amazon, however, remains the giant to beat. Continue reading Walmart, Target to Compete with Amazon’s Grocery Delivery