In this week’s edition of Five on Friday, Amazon is down 99,000 employees between the first and second quarter, and Twitter tests a tweet counting feature. Also, NACHA announces additional ACH payment deliveries in mid-September, Forbes is for sale, and AWS announces individual and team subscriptions for cloud skills training.
Amazon down 99K employees between Q1 and Q2
Amazon staffed up during the early days of COVID-19 to keep up with the growing demand for home delivery of groceries and other household essentials. Now the company has seen a significant reduction in staffing in its warehouses. Between the first and second quarter of 2022, Amazon’s headcount dropped by 99,000 employees to 1.52 million employees worldwide, according to GeekWire.
The shift is mostly due to attrition in Amazon’s fulfillment centers and distribution network, said Brian Olsavsky, Amazon chief financial officer, following the company’s second-quarter earnings report, during which the company reported a $2.0 billion loss.
“We’re pretty transparent about the fact that we had hired a lot of people in Q1 for the coverage of the omicron variant. Luckily, that variant subsided, and we were left with a higher headcount position. That has come down through adjusting our hiring levels and normal attrition, and was pretty much resolved by the end of April or early part of May. So that is dominating the quarter-over-quarter reduction in head count,” Olsavsky said on the earnings call.
The CFO also said that Amazon will be more conservative with its hiring practices, consistent with what we’ve heard from other tech companies this year.
“I think it’s right for people to step back and question their hiring plans,” Olsavsky said to reporters after the call. “We’re doing that, as well. I don’t think you’ll see us hiring at the same pace we did over the last year, or the last few years.”
Olsavsky also said that, despite the downward trend this year, the company’s headcount is still up 188,000 year-over-year, a 14% increase, and nearly double the employee total at the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020.
Twitter is testing a ‘tweets per month’ counting feature
Do you know how many times you tweet per month without counting your feed? You may soon find out. Reverse engineers spotted a feature currently being tested by Twitter – tweet count per month – reports TechCrunch. Is this too much information, or can it be useful? The data can be gathered manually by counting tweets in a feed whether it is yours or someone else’s or estimated by scrolling through a Twitter user’s timeline. It could potentially be helpful if you only want to follow active accounts or it could prevent you from following someone who might clog up your feed.
“This is part of an ongoing experiment in which we want to learn how providing more context about the frequency of an account’s Tweets can help people make more informed decisions about the accounts they choose to engage with,” a Twitter spokesperson said.
Visiting Twitter’s timeline, you can randomly select the profiles of accounts you follow to see whose tweets are being counted and displayed. The information appears below the profile, just under the Tweets | Tweets & Replies | Media | Likes menu bar.
I was surprised to discover that I am among the accounts being tested. I don’t tweet very often; I’m more of a stalker. I visited several high-profile accounts including The New York Times, Microsoft and Elon Musk and none of them are currently being counted.
If I were to consider following someone new, I might look at this information. For me personally, seeing that information made me think I needed to be more active. It did not add value to my experience or change whether or not I would follow an account I found it interesting. How about?
Additional late night ACH deliveries start mid-September
New changes are coming to automated clearing house (ACH) payments in mid-September that will expedite the processing of those payments. NACHA says that the Federal Reserve and the Clearing House will implement additional late-night deliveries of ACH files to all Receiving Depository Financial Institutions (RDFIs). Additional processing by RDFIs is optional.
“This service enhancement is being implemented in response to ACH industry participant requests. This enhancement will accelerate the delivery of some volume of ACH payments to RDFIs,” said NACHA in a July 26, 2022 announcement.
Starting Monday, September 12, the Federal Reserve will provide a new file delivery Monday through Friday nights by 11:30 p.m. ET. Starting Friday, September 16, the Clearing House will provide a new file delivery on Friday nights by 11:30 p.m. and supplement existing late-night EPN distributions Sunday through Thursday nights.
NACHA said the files will contain all ACH payments received by the Federal Reserve and the Clearing House since the previous transmission deadline. These include:
- 1-day ACH debits and credits, scheduled to settle at 8:30 am ET on the next banking day (e.g., Friday night file delivery for Monday morning settlement)
- 2-day ACH credits, scheduled to settle at 8:30 am ET on the designated banking day (e.g., Friday night file delivery for Tuesday morning settlement)
- U.S. Treasury payments may also be included in this distribution
Same Day ACH payments are not included because they have already been completed by the time these late-night files are generated, NACHA said.
“This enhancement also improves processing efficiency for ACH Operators through faster clearing of ACH files rather than holding files for the next banking day, including over a weekend,” said NACHA.
Forbes Is for Sale
If you’re in the market for a media company, Forbes is for sale. In May, Forbes called off its SPAC deal with Magnum Opus Acquisition, which valued the media company at $630 million when it was announced last August. Now Forbes is shopping for a new buyer, reports The New York Times, doing outreach to media companies including Yahoo. Forbes is looking for another $630 million deal, but it is not known whether the media company can garner that kind of price tag.
In December, another investment firm, GSV Asset Management, was considering purchasing Forbes with a $620 million valuation before the SPAC deal closed. If Forbes had accepted that offer, the company would remain a private company and avoid the lackluster response investors are giving SPACs.
In August 2021, Forbes Global Media Holdings, Inc., which includes the well-known, 104-year-old Forbes magazine, announced it would combine their company with SPAC Magnum Opus Acquisition Limited. The transaction, which was to close late in the fourth quarter of 2021 or early in the first quarter of 2022, was expected to raise approximately $600 million including $200 million in cash from Magnum Opus and $400 million in additional capital through a private placement of ordinary shares of the company priced at $10.00 per share. With this deal, Forbes shareholders would have owned approximately 22% of the combined company upon closing, and Forbes would be capitalized with up to $145 million in cash.
“Leveraging our iconic global brand, Forbes has been executing a data-led platform strategy and is fast becoming the gateway for businesses, entrepreneurs and customers to join the conversations and participate in the trends that are shaping the world today,” said Mike Federle, Forbes CEO, in the original announcement.
“With this transition into a publicly traded company, Forbes will have the capital to accelerate growth by executing its differentiated content and platform strategy and fully realize the potential of our iconic brand,” Federle added.
The Magnum Opus and GSV Asset Management deals are no longer on the table. Who will bite next?
AWS launches Skill Builder subscription for online training
Earlier this week, AWS announced individual and team subscriptions for Skill Builder, online, on-demand training classes to help people learn and develop their cloud skills. More than 500 classes are available online for free, and the subscriptions give individuals and teams access to additional, exclusive content. The content includes four new learning experiences: AWS Builder Labs, AWS Jam, AWS Cloud Quest and AWS Certification Official Practice Exams.
AWS Building Labs: hands-on guided exercises to help employees develop practice skills for common cloud scenarios, including everything from simple tasks to complex ones. There are more than 100 labs available for DIY learning.
AWS Jam: Exclusive to the Team subscription, AWS Jam gives users clues to guide them in solving real-world, open-ended problems. This module includes more than 140 challenges across different domains.
AWS Cloud Quest: This is a role-playing game in which the user helps the citizens of a virtual city by learning and building cloud solutions to address challenges. As they move around the virtual city, the complete tasks and get rewards which can be used to transform the city.
AWS Certification Official Practice Exams: full-length practice exams to help users determine how ready they are to take and pass the exam. There are free test questions available, but the subscription includes additional practice materials and full-length practice exams.
Individual subscribers can sign up for $29 a month or $299 a year to save a few bucks. Team subscriptions are available annually for $449 per seat. The more seats used, the cheaper the subscription becomes. See AWS.Amazon.com for pricing details.
“I am excited to see a new generation of IT professionals acquiring AWS Cloud skills. I can’t wait to discover the new use cases, applications, or innovations you will bring to the world when armed with these new skills,” said Sebastien Stormacq in an August 2 announcement.