Washington Post owner and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made a rare appearance at the paper Thursday, meeting with executive editor Sally Buzbee and publisher Fred Ryan.
The New York Times reports:
As [Bezos] left, a Post employee wearing a red shirt emblazoned with the insignia of The Post’s guild stopped him and asked why the company was laying people off without offering buyouts first, according to the three people with knowledge of the meeting. Mr. Bezos responded that he was at The Post to listen, not answer questions, and underscored his commitment to The Post’s journalism.
The Post was on track to end 2022 in the red after years of profitability, The New York Times reported in August. The Post has struggled to grow its subscription business, with fewer paying subscribers last year than the three million it had in 2020, a presidential election year.
Post employees could be forgiven for thinking the timing feels ~a little weird~. Bezos — not Amazon — is the owner of the Post, but his visit took place a day after Amazon commenced “what’s poised to be the largest round of layoffs in the company’s history.” The company’s HR and stores departments appear to be most affected, but there were also a significant cuts at ComiXology, the digital comics platform Amazon bought in 2014. One ComiXology employee who was laid off said he believes that “at least 50% of the staff have been let go,” though Amazon has not confirmed that number. (According to LinkedIn, ComiXology had around 100 employees.) Artist, writer, and illustrator Jonathan H. Gray tweeted:
Still thinking about Comixology & how Amazon bought a thing that worked, gutted it, shat in its bed, and then threw it away because they didn’t want to play with it any more.
Jobs lost, livelihoods upended, & a fresh digital horizon that was opened up is now gone on a whim.
Amazon is also shuttering AmazonSmile, the charity program that allowed me to donate countless cents to my children’s school. And to throw a little more bad news on the pile, Microsoft said Wednesday that it will lay off around 10,000 employees — about 5% of its global work force.
It is very depressing, but surely some bright spots can be found over in the creator economy? Well…maybe not. From a new Financial Times piece:
Patreon, which secured a $4 billion valuation in 2021, told the Financial Times it was abandoning plans to introduce cryptocurrency payments and had delayed previous ambitions of an initial public offering.
Substack, the much-hyped newsletter service valued at $650 million in March 2021, told the FT it had given up on near-term plans to raise further capital to support the business.
Twitch, the Amazon-owned video gaming streaming service, has announced plans to take a larger cut from subscription payments for some of its biggest streamers next year.
A third of people who use a paid-for media subscription, including for payments to creators, plan to cut back in the next six months, according to market research company Mintel.
The FT, citing data from data provider Dealroom, says investment in the creator economy sector rose from $1.4 billion in 2020 to $3.3 billion in 2021 — before crashing back to $801 million last year “as investors became increasingly nervous about frothy valuations in private tech companies.”