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Can Jet Beat Amazon?

by @ 4:18 pm
Filed under: business,web — Tags: ,

jet amazonThe idea behind Jet, a new online marketplace site, is simple. Borrowing from Costco's concept, Jet charges its clients an annual fee and in return ships products to customers with no mark-ups and in many cases with substantial savings over other shops, including Amazon.

Being a Costco fan, I like Jet's model. Add to that a good dash of dislike for Amazon and I may actually try Jet at some point. Seems like Jet is having some success getting its name out.

Jet's founder, Marc Lore, was the man behind diapers.com, a once successful ecommerce company who got crushed under the weight of Amazon and finally what was left of it was assimilated by Amazon. Now Lore is back to take on Amazon again, only this time he's going after the entire retail side of the company. Amazon's CEO, Bezos, can't be too happy about this, but is he worried?

I doubt Bezos is losing much sleep and here's why. Amazon may be known for perfecting the online marketplace and for being uber-competitive but Amazon has become adept at thriving while swimming in failure. Which company can lose money for over 20 years and be handsomely rewarded for it? For the last quarter it reported a measly $90 million in profit and saw its market cap rocket up by $50 billion when stocks opened last Friday.

The point is that competing with Amazon is like competing with a bottom-less pit for the bottom. Amazon crushes its competition by spending nearly infinite amount of money knowing that the stake holders expect nothing but losses every year. When you are rewarded for losing money, it's not difficult to spend all the money in the world, and that's what Amazon does to stifle competition.

Of course Jet realizes this fact and it has dug in, preparing itself and its investors for years of losses as its competition with Amazon heats up. Will it find the same love and admiration from its backers and future shareholders? Doubtful, but I actually hope so. Not just because I dislike Amazon, but also because some day I'd like to start my own thriving business that is successful at losing money forever.

The Dawn of AWS Zombies

by @ 9:34 am
Filed under: hacking,internet — Tags: ,

awsOne of the less enviable tasks in a techie's life is identifying bogus robot traffic on their networks. Robots suck up bandwidth without giving anything in return and in most cases try to brute-force their way into systems and steal information and then assimilate their target hosts into new recruits in their army of zombie robots.

Identifying and neutralizing robots is hard enough, specially those hunting in packs causing DDoS headaches most of the time, but in past there used to be time, resources and funding barriers which moderated these attacks. With cloud services those barriers seem to have all but vanished and based on what I can see, AWS (Amazon Web Services) is one of the ugliest actors on the market. So how are AWS zombies created?

  • Hacker uses a stolen credit card to set up an account on AWS or hacks an existing AWS account.
  • Hacker spins up multiple virtual machines under this account. Or hacker breaks into a legitimate AWS virtual machine.
  • Hacker installs robot apps on one or more virtual machines and launches attacks.
  • Successful attacks bring more power to the hacker.
  • At some point AWS or the legitimate account holders notice high usages in processing, storage, and bandwidth and shut down the operation but by then the damage is done.

Could AWS be complicit in this type of activity? Perhaps not actively, but there is a passive element here as well. I'm sure they won't admit to it, but if a legit account is broken into and its cloud services are stolen, would AWS even care? They just blame the user for being careless and charge him for the usage. AWS may exercise more care in terms of blocking accounts with stolen credit cards because they may not be able to squeeze money out of those cases.

But even then, Amazon is so big with such vast resources that these cases may not even register as a blip on their radar. So the cycle of spawning AWS zombies will never cease and Amazon continues wasting our time, resources and bandwidth with impunity.

It may be an overkill to completely block AWS, but if partial blocking becomes necessary, a list of their public IP address ranges is published here and in json format here.

Amazon's Windfall of ID Theft and Tax Fraud

by @ 12:08 pm
Filed under: financial — Tags: ,

Amazon.comSeems unbelievable but I never knew some states actually issue tax refunds in the form of Amazon gift cards. Read article.

With a long list of companies benefiting from tax refunds including Amazon, debit card issuers, tax software companies and financial institutions that collect transaction fees, one wonders if there is a real concerted effort from all sides to stem ID and tax fraud.

With the states squeezed from the scammers on one side and the greedy corporations on the other, most likely the ID theft and tax fraud problems will continue unabated.

The real losers, as usual, are and continue to be the taxpayers.

Amazon Diapers To The Rescue

by @ 7:55 pm
Filed under: business,internet — Tags: ,

amazon diaperWhen I opened my inbox last friday, an email from Amazon greeted me with the title: "Announcing Price Reductions for AWS Data Transfer and Amazon CloudFront"

I wondered how Amazon was going to make up the difference in the face of stiff competition from other cloud vendors. Then I saw Amazon diapers in the news and all my concerns were laid to rest, genius.

Could this have been the starter line for the executive meeting at the Amazon's headquarters? "We have a revolutionary idea to counter the AWS shrinking margins and the Fire phone losses. Please bring your attention to the baby on the PowerPoint slide ..."

Revolutionary indeed 🙂

 

Amazon and Walmart

by @ 10:33 am
Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: ,

amazonI don't know what the traders were really expecting when Amazon reported losses two weeks ago. It's the same broken record for the past 20 years. Trust us, we are investing in the future. The future is an awesome alibi because it's always in the, well, future. It'll never come.

So the stock has been sliding since the earnings (or lack thereof) release. Still Amazon's valuation is sky-high with no discernible timeline on when investors will finally see at least an evidence of an earnings turnaround. One must wonder where Amazon gets its money to fund its operations and fill the financial holes quarter after quarter. Perhaps that comes from selling bonds, a cheap way to raise money these days and it does have its own cash reserves.

Now comes the news of Walmart renovating its web site to better compete with Amazon. Walmart is going to have a tough fight on its hands. They can personalize and optimize and modernize their site all they want, but how can one defeat a behemoth that doesn't care about how much money it loses quarter after quarter, year after year?

If only Walmart could convince its investors that losing money is sound business. It's a skill Amazon has polished and perfected since its inception. No doubt Amazon will lose more money in the next quarter and investors will flock back to the stock, bowing and worshiping.

Amazon FireTV

by @ 6:10 pm
Filed under: internet,technology — Tags: ,

amazon-live-tvSo we have wireless-ready TVs, wireless-ready DVD players, Roku, Chromecast, game consoles, and who knows how many other devices attached to our TVs.

Now here comes Amazon with its amazingly innovative Fire TV that does incredible things such as, wait a second, stream videos to your TV just like any other device.

Why again do we need this device? Must be the cool logo 🙂

Amazon, The Emperor

by @ 4:20 pm
Filed under: business — Tags:

amazonTake the usual quarterly loss, the upcoming Prime price-hike, and the UBS downgrade and you have the catalyst for a drop in amazon.com's shares in the past couple of days.

Today however the stock is up over 2% and chances are it'll be back where it started and then some. Amazon is just one of those stocks. Much like bitcoin, it has little intrinsic value but it's kept front and center so everyone's too afraid not to buy in, lest they miss the party.

What exactly does amazon do again? Sells discounted stuff online like a thousand other websites, takes its excess network capacity, repackages it as dozens of different services under the cloud umbrella and leases them to users (like thousands of other hosting companies), and oh yes, they are working on the drone express.

When you have a winning formula why mess with it? For two decades Amazon has been pushing the investing-for-future angle. Meanwhile there are no earnings, no dividends, and no share buybacks. Just a bunch of vapor and promises. The good thing about the future is that it's always in the future. We may wait until there's a red giant where the Sun used to be, but the future will still be in the offing.

The amazon emperor has no clothes on, but no worries, he'll get his clothes in the future.

Amazon's Miss, Does it Matter?

by @ 1:03 pm
Filed under: business,financial,web — Tags:

Last week Amazon reported an $0.18/share earnings on a lower than expected revenues for its past quarter. The shares seesawed after hours and finally ended down some $20 on Friday. The earnings were almost twice what the street had expected, but think about this, The street was expecting this company to earn a measly $40 million. This is a 17 year-old established company with a market capitalization of $130 billion, it should be expected to do much better.

The thing with Amazon is that investors seem to be so emotionally entangled with company that they have no logic when it comes to its share price. Since its inception, Amazon has played the "long-term" card and it continues today, as in the earnings don't matter because the company is investing in the future.

When this glorified future will materialize for Amazon is anyone's guess. Perhaps in another 17 years or more? Whatever the case, for those who may believe that the latest pullback may signal a return to sanity for this stock, don't believe it. Going by history, it won't be long before Amazon's shares will wipe out all losses and march on to set new 52-week records. It's just that kind of a company.

Amazon Paying for Positive Coverage on Business Insider?

by @ 2:53 pm
Filed under: business,web — Tags:

It was barely 10 days ago when the news broke of Amazon's Bezos investing $5 million is Blodget's web site, Business Insider. Most saw it as Bezos' genius investing in the up and coming web site. I just saw it as one pal taking care of another, as Blodget has been a vociferous support for Amazon almost from its inception.

Now Blodget has returned the favor by publishing an article lauding Amazon effusively as an example for other companies to follow.

Is this what has happened to journalism? It has become so contaminated by conflict of interest that people no longer even hide their incestuous relationships. Can anyone honestly read this so-called article and believe it's even close to being impartial?

Bezos is indeed a genius by the way he has pumped up Amazon's shares and by fooling a flock of sheep to believe his company is special and deserves its outrageous valuation. As for the rest of us, there's no need to read the Business Insider article. Surely it is filled with much praise and positivity for a company whose greatest asset is its gullible investors.

Amazon’s .book domain grab

by @ 7:00 pm
Filed under: internet,law,technology — Tags: ,

I'm not sure why anyone would see any reason behind Amazon's move to hoard a bunch of gTLDs (global top level domains), other than pure greed.

In a recent open letter (PDF) to ICANN, Association of American Publishers rightfully opposed granting Amazon the control of the .book gTLD. It states:

In short, Amazon makes clear that it seeks exclusive control of the “.book” string solely for its own business purposes, notwithstanding the broad range of other companies, organizations and individuals that have diverse interests in the use of  this gTLD or its second-level domains by others or themselves.

Well stated, but does ICANN or anyone else really need a protest  letter to recognize Amazon's true motives in hogging as many domains as it can?

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