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Author Archive for Carter Breazeale – Page 2

Amazon Abandons the Pharma Market

It’s no stretch to say that Amazon runs the retail world. Its direct-to-consumer online order model has revolutionized the way that people purchase merchandise and goods, making it one of the biggest companies on the globe. But it was reported yesterday that Amazon will not be dominating the medical space, as Jeff Bezos’s corporation is scrapping plans for a foray into pharmaceutical sales.

It was reported late last year that Amazon was primed to enter into the online pharmaceutical sales arena, a move that would expand the company’s dominance into yet another industry. Already a purveyor of medical supplies, Amazon was to begin shipping bulk medicines to drug stores and hospitals.

Well, pharmaceuticals seemed a bit more of a complicated area than even Bezos anticipated, and it was announced yesterday that Amazon has abandoned that idea for the foreseeable future.

Pharma sales obviously present unique challenges, especially in the realm of regulation. It’s not like selling Breaking Bad boxsets or 55-gallon barrels of lube. It requires very specific supply-chain organization, temperature controls, and obvious liability issues that don’t exist with many of the other retail spaces they occupy.

Frankly, the potential move seemed a bit too ambitious.

But don’t count Bezos out. Amazon has not ruled out the possibility of formally entering the pharmaceutical market in the future, and you can bet that once they do it will once again revolutionize the marketplace.

Spotify Hits the Stock Market

Amid the tech market chaos currently roiling the stock market, another tech company makes its debut today. Spotify, the industry leader in music streaming, will follow the lead of other social-tech corporations like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, and will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Spotify currently corners the streaming music market, boasting a global user base of 157 million—nearly half of whom pay a monthly subscription fee. So far they have managed to fight off challenges by Apple Music, Tidal, and Pandora, remaining the industry standard for people abandoning tangible music mediums and full downloads in favor of online streaming.

With its foray into the stock market, analysts think the company could command a valuation of over $20 billion.

That’s a boatload of money—especially for a company that currently isn’t profitable.

In the last five years, Spotify has accrued losses near $3 billion. For that reason alone, entering the market with its tech peers carries immense risk. We’ve seen what has taken place at Twitter since its IPO, as the company has struggled to find unique footholds to churn gains for investors. While Spotify is the go-to platform for streaming, going public injects new pressure to post profits.

We’ll keep an eye on the market today and the weeks ahead to see what Spotify’s listing may mean for the corporation going forward.

Today’s Lesson: Protect Your Data

If you’ve been following the news over the past week, it’s no surprise that Facebook is in a world of trouble. Trust among users and stockholders is at an all-time low in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, one which saw over 50 million Facebook users’ data illegally gathered and ostensibly weaponized in the 2016 election.

Thanks to former Cambridge Analytica employee and whistleblower Christopher Wylie, we now know that the data firm utilized third-party apps—namely personality tests—to create psychographic profiles of individual users and customize content aimed to affect them politically. Third-party profiles gaining access to your data is no new thing—you essentially sign-off on it when you play certain games or take online quizzes via Facebook.

The problem with Cambridge Analytica is that it also harvested the data of all those users’ friends who had provided access.

The result is the biggest data breach in the Age of Social Media. Upon the news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook’s stock went into a freefall and has yet to recover. The outrage has been compounded with the revelations that Cambridge Analytica had been heavily involved in blackmail tactics to influence political campaigns, Facebook logging smartphone data, and the clumsy and detached response from Facebook’s top executives.

The social media giant initially responded with boilerplate crisis PR jargon, when it was glaringly apparent that a large portion of its user base was understandably freaking out. Mark Zuckerberg has been on a bit of an apology tour in recent days, but with people deleting their Facebooks en masse and tumbling market valuation, it appears too little, too late.

So what do we learn from this? Protect your accounts, and remove third-party apps from accessing them. Here’s a helpful guide to delete the litany of applications that you may not know are currently collecting your data.

Death by Self-Driving Uber Car

If you’ve followed this blog for any short period of time, you’ve probably picked up on my innate fear of robots. It’s somewhat unrelenting in its irrationality, but yet, things keep occurring to reinforce it.

Well, it happened again.

Self-driving cars have been a thing for a bit, yet I’m thankful that I’ve yet to encounter one in person. I would probably run. But for all of the media coverage of them as a bit of a technological bridge too far, they’ve had a fairly solid safety record—for a car that drives itself, of course. So solid, that Uber has dipped its toe into the self-driving car space, which (you would imagine) would eventually save them millions and millions of dollars in lieu of paying breathing, DNA-comprised drivers.

That experiment has been halted indefinitely with yesterday’s news of a self-driving Uber car hitting and killing a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. Initial reports say the woman was struck while walking her bike in the road, and the vehicle did not seem to slow down prior to impact—even with an emergency driver in the car.

Very, very scary stuff.

It’s the first case of a pedestrian being injured or killed as the result of a self-driving car, and it will predictably set back the burgeoning technology that ordinary people, businesses, and government regulators are still trying to understand. No mention of how this will affect the nascent self-flying helicopter taxi industry.

Tech innovations are moving so fast these days that it almost appears like industries are in a robotic arms race to one-up each other. The tragic news out of Tempe might be a sign that we should just slow down a bit.

The PR/PR Roadshow Continues

As much as it hurts to say farewell (for now, we hope), the final Lady & The Champs in Las Vegas was a smashing success. Any opportunity to spend time with our clients, past and current, and have conversations with speakers looking to boost their brand is time well-spent, and each and every year Lady & The Champs has provided it.

We want to thank Patricia Fripp, Darren LaCroix, Ed Tate, Ford Saeks, Mark Brown and Kevin Burke for their hospitality year-in and year-out, and for putting on such a wonderful event.

As for us? The PR/PR Roadshow continues. Russell is heading over to our client Henry DeVries’s event this week in La Jolla, California. While the Indie Family and Friends Forum is a closed meeting, please reach out if you’re in the area and would like to talk publicity!

Russell will be heading back to the office early next week, but please feel free to reach out to me directly in his absence.