The predictions are in: Amazon could be the first trillion-dollar company

Exciting news for Jeff Bezos.
Image: chip somodelivva/Getty Images

What’s cooler than a few billion dollars? A trillion dollars.

And for Amazon, that milestone is in sight. The tech giant will eventually be worth $1 trillion, the financial services firm Barclays predicted.

“AMZN is likely to be one of the first trillion-dollar market cap companies; it’s just a question of when, not if, in our view,” analyst Ross Sandler wrote in a note to Barclays’ clients.

The prediction came about because Barclays advised its investors to buy more of Amazon stock. In the near term, the firm predicted that Amazon would earn more than expected this year.

Amazon’s insane growth isn’t due to people ordering books and diapers online. Prime has been a huge boost for Amazon, but quieter offerings like Amazon Web Services are key to Amazon’s money-making potential.

In the long term, that means trillions. Amazon could be “one of the first” companies to reach the trillion-dollar milestone maybe even beating Apple, Alphabet and Facebook.

That’s good news for the world’s second richest person, who happens to be Amazon’s CEO.

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Snapchat to brands: Make great stuff and we might let you get on Discover

Social media influencer Jen Levinson anchors the first episode of Marriott's Snapchat series.

Hotel chains aren’t really cool. They have cool stuff to offer, like free wi-fi and swimming pools, but if you’re a young traveler on a budget, you might be looking more to services like Airbnb.

Marriott isn’t ready to concede that, so they’re going after millennials on their own turf: Snapchat. The goal is to convince these travelers via Snapchat that Marriott Rewards is a program worthy of their fickle love.

Marriott on Thursday released the first of four “snapisodes,” the term they’re using to describe advertisements they have created for Snapchat. This isn’t just your typical Snap ad, which is more often a 10-second video clip or a swipe up to a website or movie trailer. These are three-minute, influencer-filled productions meant to capture teen eyeballs while also proving their dedication to Snapchat.

Marriott Rewards’s effort is pretty much a dream come true for Snapchat. Previously, media partners, like Mashable and TV studios, were the only outlets building exclusive, high-quality, episodic content for its app. But now brands representing some of the world’s largest businesses are vying for spots on the platform. That could mean that brands could have their own channel or they sponsor takeovers of existing ones.

In the meantime, these businesses are proving themselves to Snapchat by creating and paying for ads.

“The idea originally was to mimic television. We wanted to create a TV series and mimic it as such,” said Amanda Moore, senior director of social and digital marketing at Marriott International. “Snapchat provided us with a lot of best practices, speaking to camera. We knew we needed someone authentic, relatable.”

The four-part series titled Six Days, Seven Nights are called “snapisodes” because it’s an ad purposely made for Snapchat. It’s so on-brand for Snapchat that they even filmed part of it using Snapchat Spectacles, the app’s video-camera sunglasses.

The three-minute episodes each feature a different social media influencer talking to the camera and sharing their story around destination. The first episode features Jen Levinson traveling in Berlin.

For the last two years, Snapchat has built up its own media platform called Discover, where media outlets (Mashable is a partner) create exclusive content. Snapchat previously ran its own channel called Snap Channel, where it had scripted shows similar to these “snapisodes.”

The world’s largest entertainment studios and now the world’s largest hospitality business have taken some of the burden off Snapchat, producing and promoting their own Snapchat Shows.

Cue revenue.

For Marriott, the ad commitment aligns with their authentic social strategy and goal of expanding the Marriott Rewards program.

“Our approach to social media is very curated and very professional,” Moore said. “When it comes to Facebook, you’ll see us do a lot in video this year especially when it comes to live. We’re focused on Instagram stories, planning to create 100 unique stories this year.”

“Snapchat for us felt like a natural next step,” she continued, “Its an opportunity for us to reach new audiences.”

Marriott Rewards began using Snapchat back in April 2016, but primarily used the app to create geofilters, where brands can pay to have filters that Snapchat users can overlay on their photos and videos while in certain locations, such as inside a hotel.

The brand isn’t that active on their Snapchat account, but for a reason.

“Snapchat for us, its a channel thats very raw, but we also wanted to be very specific and intentional,” Moore said. “We dont want to put content up for the sake of putting content up.”

That idea of not producing daily or regularly scheduled content for a social channel is foreign to some brands, but it’s exactly what Snapchat preaches. As Digiday reported, more than 30 percent of brand accounts on Snapchat are inactive. But, again, Snapchat doesn’t care. Marriott is following the playbook of creating Snapchat-exclusive ads and paying for their placement.

It’s the perfect pay-to-play scenario for Snap.

Marriott worked with Imre, a New York-based marketing agency, and Delmondo, a creative studio and technology company that gained notoriety for its analytics and production on Snapchat back in 2014.

“The episodic format is the best way to form peoples attention,” said Nick Cicero, CEO of Delmondo. “That has remained consistently the highest performing format.”

Snapchat users could happen upon the ad if they follow certain travel and hospitality-related channels on the app. The episode also will be put up on YouTube and the Marriott Rewards Facebook Page.

The Marriott Rewards Snapchat account also will feature behind-the-scenes of each episode.

Discovery on Snapchat isn’t perfect, but there’s a way forward that Marriott and Snapchat have at least discussed. Back when Snapchat debuted its first ad for the movie Ouiji, it appeared at the top of user’s feeds, a.k.a. prime real estate for attention. Now, there’s a chance users will skip it or just miss it.

But, Snapchat has been adding to the number of Discover partners. For now, branded content, as in channels sponsored by a partner brand, is forbidden on Snapchat. But brand-only channels could become a bigger part of the platform. Sony had one for James Bond Spectre back in October 2015, and Spotify sponsored a music series in December 2015.

Brands, like Marriott Rewards, have been chatting with Snapchat about an opportunity to be on Discover, as well.

“Discover was on the table for us,” Moore said. “Going back to the TV mentality, were talking season one here. This is our pilot.”

Now Marriott and Snapchat have to determine: “Does this thing have legs? Discover is something on the table if this thing takes off … for this initial season as a brand we kind of wanted to see this vision come to life and get to market quickly.”

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Hotels, restaurants and tourism may face staff shortages – BBC News

Image copyright Reuters

The hospitality sector has warned it faces a shortfall of 60,000 workers a year if immigration from the European Union is too tightly controlled.

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) said that thousands of businesses are facing having to drastically reduce their dependence on EU workers.

Staff from the EU make up nearly a quarter of all jobs in the sector.

Immigration is set to be one of the most controversial issues to be settled during the Brexit negotiations.

The hospitality industry represents 3 million workers and about a tenth of the UK’s economic wealth.

In the first major business intervention since the triggering of Article 50, a report by KPMG for the BHA says that it will take 10 years to reduce the need for EU workers by training British staff, targeting older workers and encouraging younger people to take jobs in the sector.

But with the UK economy approaching full employment, the report says that there are no easy pools of labour to exploit and that EU nationals will still make up a large part of the workforce.

The KPMG study – which has been sent to Number 10 – says that 75% of waiting staff in the UK, 37% of house-keeping staff and a quarter of all chefs are from the EU.

Last month the sandwich and coffee chain Pret a Manger revealed that only one in fifty of its applicants was British and 65% of its workforce were EU nationals.

Image copyright Getty Images

The company’s head of human resources, Andrea Wareham, said it would be virtually impossible to recruit enough staff if heavy controls were applied to EU nationals wanting to work in the UK.

“It is clear that hospitality and tourism face major problems in recruitment if there is any major cut in the number of workers allowed to enter from the EU,” Ufi Ibrahim, head of the BHA, said.

“We want to avoid there being any cliff edge but the government must be aware that in the medium to long term we will still need considerable numbers of EU workers, who have contributed so much to our industry and the UK economy in general.

“We are aware of our responsibility to encourage more UK nationals to see the career opportunities available in hospitality and tourism.

“We do need the government to play its part too, by recognising our employment needs and recognising how important this industry, the fourth largest, is to the country.”

Ms Ibrahim is meeting officials from the Department of Culture Media and Sport to discuss the report.

Preferential access?

Theresa May has been careful not to reveal the government’s approach to immigration during the Brexit negotiations and has been reluctant to repeat an earlier government pledge that overall immigration would fall below 100,000.

One option being considered by the Home Office is to allow for preferential access to EU nationals after Britain leaves the EU.

I wrote about that last month ( and it was clear from Andrew Neil’s interview with the Prime Minister on Wednesday that no decisions on the total number of EU nationals who will be able to come to Britain have been agreed.

Senior industry figures said that the Home Office was “desperate for data” on which sectors would be most affected by limits on EU immigration.

Image copyright Getty Images

“They just don’t have the information,” one executive in the hospitality sector told me.

Number 10 and the Treasury are well aware that sectors such as hospitality and agriculture rely on EU immigrants.

However, critics have said that there has been an over-reliance on cheaper labour from Eastern Europe rather than using UK workers.

And senior ministers have told me that allowing preferential access to EU nationals might give the UK better access to the single market, but would undermine efforts to strike trade deals with countries such as India which want to see a “level playing field” for all workers coming to the UK.

Related Topics

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Li Na Land, reality TV and fashion — what China’s tennis pioneer did next

(CNN)She may have hung up her tennis racket more than two years ago, but two-time grand slam champion Li Na is still winning big in business.

China’s first major singles champion, Li has been busy since she quit tennis in 2014 following a string of injuries.
Now 35, Li has since had two children with her husband and former coach, Jiang Shan. Business interests include movie and book deals, her own clothing line in China with long-time sponsor Nike, appearances in reality television shows and possibly her own tennis academy in China.
    “We pass on many things,” Max Eisenbud, Li’s long-time agent at IMG, told CNN. “It is just crazy how much interest there is.”

    Li Na Land

    Starting her own tennis academy in China to help young Chinese players is “a huge priority” Eisenbud said.
    “My idea is to create a ‘Li Na Land’ where you have a restaurant, a hotel and spa resort,” he said.
    Although Eisenbud said he’s still looking for the right location, the project was “getting nearer.”
    “We’re not interested in just getting an academy and putting her name on it,” he said. “Li Na wants a very good school system to go with it. But then you have to partner with the right school, because we’re not going to run the school.”

    French Open

    Li became a household name in China, the world’s second largest economy, when she beat Italy’s Francesca Schiavone on the clay of Roland Garros in 2011. That match was watched by over a million people in China alone.
    Li, who also won the 2014 Australian Open and rose to a career-high No. 2 in the world that same year, is still one of China’s most popular stars, with more than 23 million followers on Chinese social network Weibo.
    Known for her aggressive game style on the court and dry wit off it, Li often clashed with the Chinese tennis federation over issues, including prize money.
    But her historic win in Paris helped put the sport on the map in her home country, where some 15 million people now play tennis, according to the International Tennis Federation. That’s up from one million in 1988.
    After her French Open victory, Li signed a string of endorsements and became the world’s second best-paid female athlete after Maria Sharapova, who is also represented by Eisenbud.

    ‘True pioneer’

    Even in retirement, Li is still a marketing force to be reckoned with.
    Last year, she made more than $20 million, according to Eisenbud, from projects and endorsements with blue chip companies, including Nike, Mercedes Benz and Swiss luxury watch brand Rolex.
    That’s $2 million more than in her final year on the women’s Tour. when her off-court earnings were calculated at $18 million by Forbes.
    “She comes from one of the wealthiest countries in the world,” Eisenbud said. “And I always call her the Billie Jean King of that country, she’s a true pioneer.”

    Reality TV

    Li and her husband, whom she often refers to as Dennis, have also been taking advantage of China’s growing appetite for reality television.
    “That business has boomed in China and she’s made some really big money doing that,” Eisenbud said.
    Li is in the process of starting her own television production company, which may produce a reality show starring the former player and her husband taking up different sports alongside other famous athletes in China.
    A movie based on Li’s life, directed by Chinese filmmaker Peter Chan and on which she is acting as a consultant, will start filming this year.
    Although Li often said her main goal once she retired was to become a housewife, she has barely sat still since chronic knee injuries forced her to end her career.
    “She has just really surprised me in how much she really wanted to do and grow businesses,” Eisenbud said.

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    #TBT: Margaret Chase Smith and her ‘place in the sun’

    (CNN)It’s hard to say what Margaret Chase Smith is best remembered for. During her three decades in Congress, Chase served in both chambers and gave one of the Senate’s most memorable speeches. If that wasn’t enough of a mark, she also ran for president.

    Margaret Chase was born in Maine in 1897. She worked as a teacher, a telephone operator and at a newspaper. She married Clyde Smith in 1930, six years before the Maine Republican won a seat in the US House.
    Margaret got her first taste of Washington while working in her husband’s office, and when he died in 1940, she ran in a special election to finish out his term. According to a House biography, she beat her Republican primary challenger 10-to-one. Without a Democratic challenger, she won her late husband’s seat, becoming the state’s first female member of Congress.
      That year, 1940, was also an election year, and Smith almost immediately turned her attention to the general election. While it was almost a symbolic tradition at the time for women to finish out their late husband’s term in office, running for office in their own right was still rare. Nevertheless, she ran — and won. She proceeded to win reelection three more times.
      In 1948, Smith decided to run for Senate, as one does after a successful career in the House. But Smith was a woman, and for women in politics at the time, nothing was typical. According to the Senate records, Smith’s eventual victory made her the first woman to win a seat in the Senate without having first served as a Senate appointee or winning a special election to fill a vacancy in that chamber. She also became the first woman elected to both chambers of Congress.
      The military drew most of Smith’s legislative focus during her time in the Senate. She became a high-ranking member on both the Armed Services and Appropriations committees. But Smith choose not to emphasize the fact that she was a woman in what was (and still is) a majority male Congress.
      “If we are to claim and win our rightful place in the sun on an equal basis with men, then we must not insist upon those privileges and prerogatives identified in the past as exclusively feminine,” she said.
      Despite this lack of emphasis on the “feminine” in her daily work, Smith fought for women in the military. She was the driving force behind the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, which, when signed into law by President Harry S. Truman in 1948, granted women serving in the military regular status.
      What can perhaps be called Smith’s brightest moment in the national spotlight came in 1950, when Smith spoke out on the Senate floor against anti-Communist Sen. Joseph McCarthy in her “Declaration of Conscience” speech.
      “Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all too frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism — the right to criticize. The right to hold unpopular beliefs. The right to protest. The right of independent thought. The exercise of these rights should not cost one single American citizen his reputation or his right to a livelihood nor should he be in danger of losing his reputation or livelihood merely because he happens to know someone who holds unpopular beliefs,” Smith said on June 1, 1950.
      While she didn’t mention McCarthy by name — even she lamented the Senate rule against that — it was clear that her speech was directed at him. The famed speech helped break the Cold War-era Red Scare fever.
      The only way to outdo that kind of mic drop was clearly to run for president, which Smith did in 1964. Smith was in her mid-sixties at the time, and her sex and age were counted against her by opponents and the press. Just for some context, President Ronald Reagan and President Donald Trump were both older than Smith was when they took office.
      At the 1964 Republican National Convention, Smith became the first woman to be submitted for the nomination of a major party in the US. She received 27 delegate votes and lost to Barry Goldwater. He went on to lose the general election to President Lyndon B. Johnson.
      Smith suffered her second loss in 1972, when she lost her Senate seat. Her House biography says that she was considering retirement until people started saying the 74-year-old was too old to run again.
      The move highlighted a sentiment she had shared during her 1964 presidential bid: “When people keep telling you you can’t do a thing, you kind of like to try.”
      After decades in Washington, Smith retired to Maine. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1989 and passed away in 1995.

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      Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar’s great hope fails to live up to expectations

      A year after her party swept to power, the Nobel laureate faces questions over her leadership and silence on persecution

      It was never meant to be this way.

      The script called for the lead actor, a Nobel prize winner, to seize control of a country, bring peace where there was conflict and prosperity where there was poverty. A nation emerging from years of military dictatorship was to become a beacon of hope not only for its cowed population but also for much of a fractured and turbulent south-east Asia.

      But like many political dramas especially over the past 12 months the script has not been followed by Myanmar and its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

      Now, a year since one of the worlds most famous prisoners of conscience came to power in the specially created position of state counsellor, the talk is not of progress.

      Instead, it is of drastically escalating ethnic conflicts that have simmered and sporadically exploded for decades; a new Rohingya Muslim insurgency that has prompted an army crackdown some say may amount to crimes against humanity; a rash of online defamation cases that have fostered a panic over freedom of speech; and a repressive legal framework that allowed the generals to jail so many still being in place. And all the while, Aung San Suu Kyi is accused of remaining mostly silent, doggedly avoiding the media.

      Interviews by the Guardian with more than a dozen diplomats, analysts and current and former advisers reveal frustrations with a top-down government struggling to cope with immense challenges. Aung San Suu Kyis questionable leadership style, her inability or unwillingness to communicate a vision, and her reluctance to speak out against the persecution of minorities have raised the question of whether the popular narrative is misplaced.

      And although some defend her, saying it takes time to right the wrongs of decades, others see a fundamental misunderstanding of the woman herself.

      Many of the people who led the campaign [to free Aung San Suu Kyi] were more on the liberal side of the spectrum, one diplomat put it. I think shes closer to a Margaret Thatcher.

      Its a stark contrast to the Aung San Suu Kyi who, during 15 years of house arrest at her lakeside villa on University Avenue in Yangon, stood on rickety tables and delivered speeches about human rights over the gate.

      Aung San Suu Kyi in 2010, when she was freed from 15 years of house arrest. Photograph: STR/EPA

      And she was electric, said David Mathieson, a longtime Myanmar researcher for Human Rights Watch who is now an independent consultant. She was funny. She was informative. She was principled And I think its lamentable that shes not doing the equivalent of that now.

      Sole decision-maker

      Five hours north by car from Yangon, Myanmars dystopian capital Naypyidaw stands surrounded by densely forested mountains.

      It is here, in the so-called Abode of Kings supposedly built to insulate Myanmars generals from attack, amid a landscape of deserted 20-lane highways and grandiose hotels, that Aung Sun Suu Kyi lives her life in power.

      The 71-year-old is a disciplined ruler. Her habit, established during imprisonment, is to wake before dawn and meditate in the house she shares with her pet dog and a small retinue of maids.

      She has breakfast with an adviser, often Kyaw Tint Swe, a former ambassador who spent decades defending the juntas actions.

      An aide, Win Htein, says Aung San Suu Kyi eats every little. The amount of food she is taking is like a kitten, he said. She doesnt eat carbohydrates. Fruit and vegetables. No pork, or mutton, or beef. Only fish.

      Her few indulgences include a vast wardrobe of luxurious silk longyis and evening film viewings, musicals being her favourite. Win Htein recently gave her a copy of La La Land.

      But mostly she works. And there is a lot of work.

      As well as state counsellor a position created to get around the military-drafted constitution that bars her from the presidency she is foreign minister, minister of the presidents office and chair of numerous committees.Widely described as a micromanager, she pores over documents after hours. A source close to the attorney generals office says she asks to see a copy of every draft bill before it is submitted to parliament. Ministers routinely pass decisions upwards.

      The problem is there are no policymakers in her cabinet, said Burmese political analyst Myat Ko.

      People who know her say Aung San Suu Kyi inspires both devotion and fear. She is variously described as charming and charismatic, and sharp and authoritarian. She feels like a real leader, one diplomat said. Intelligent, quick-witted, quite funny. At the same time, he added: I would say that she has appeared to be very keen to be the sole decision-maker to have no chance of establishing rival power centres.

      Echelons above her subordinates in stature, the state counsellor is often depicted as living in a bubble, surrounded by a cabal of advisers who are too nervous to convey hard truths. A Yangon-based analyst working on the peace process said bad news often does not reach her.

      In meetings, she is dismissive, dictatorial in some cases, belittling, said a senior aid worker who, like many others interviewed for this story, insisted on anonymity because he works with the administration. The government, he said, has become so centralised, there is complete fear of her.

      A bumpy transition

      This is not the administration many hoped for when the National League for Democracy (NLD) took over the government last year following victory in the 2015 election. The circumstances of this seismic shift in Myanmar has admittedly been far from ideal for cohesive, effective government. The army has retained control over key ministries as well as the security forces. But the election and transfer of power from the previous military-backed government were smooth.

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      The robot debate is over: the jobs are gone and they aren’t coming back

      New report shows automation is already causing losses, depressing wages and likely to have lasting, devastating effect

      In 2013, the Oxford Martin School released a report that looked at the automation of work, assessing the likelihood that robots and other technologies would replace humans. It concluded that of the 702 job categories examined, 47% were susceptible to automation within the next 20 years. The report completely upended our ideas about the future of work.

      Now, a new report by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in the United States is set to be an even bigger wake-up call. Written by economists Daron Acemoglu (MIT) and Pascual Restrepo (Boston University), it not only adds support to the Oxford Martin conclusions, it actually suggests the jobs are already lost and unlikely to come back.

      It contends that in the US between 1990 and 2007, the addition of each robot into manufacturing industries resulted in the loss, on average, of 6.2 human jobs. It also suggests automation depressed wages by between a quarter and a half of one per cent. Using this approach, the report says, we estimate large and robust negative effects of robots on employment and wages across commuting zones.

      There is another important insight: these jobs losses and lower wages are likely to have a lasting and devastating effect. Author Daron Acemoglu told the New York Times that, even if overall employment and wages recover, there will be losers in the process, and its going to take a very long time for these communities to recover. The market economy is not going to create the jobs by itself for these workers who are bearing the brunt of the change.

      These are game-changing findings, so let me put them into context of the overall debate.

      There has been a rather unproductive back-and-forth over whether or not robots are going to take our jobs. This dead end approach was something I warned about in my book Why The Future Is Workless when I wrote, Lets not go down the same route we have with climate change and mindlessly divide ourselves into camps of sceptics and advocates. Lets instead bypass the ultimately futile argument about whether or not robots will take our jobs (they will) and make the imaginative leap, together, into a workless future that can liberate us all.

      Much of the argument has rested on the claim that technology ultimately creates as many jobs as it destroys (an approach that author Calum Chace calls the reverse Luddite fallacy).

      Probably the most influential proponent of this argument is MIT economist David Autor. His important paper, Why Are There Still So Many Jobs?, although careful to allow for the fact that past behaviour is not always a great predictor of future outcomes, nonetheless notes that journalists and even expert commentators tend to overstate the extent of machine substitution for human labor and ignore the strong complementarities between automation and labor that increase productivity, raise earnings, and augment demand for labor.

      As recently as last week, Australian economic commentator, Ross Gittins, ran a similar line in a strongly worded piece decrying so-called futurologists for scaring everyone about job losses. He wrote, improving the productivity of a nations labour increases its real income. When that income is spent, jobs are created somewhere in the economy. Technological advance doesnt destroy jobs, it displaces them from one part of the economy to another.

      This claim, of course, was always as much a guess about the future of work as anything offered by dreaded futurologists, but the point is, the NBER report makes it even more tenuous than it was. In fact, Acemoglu and Restrepo specifically argue there is little evidence of new jobs being created, saying the results indicate a very limited set of offsetting employment increases in other industries and occupations.

      What lends the NBER report added authority is it doesnt rely on modelling to predict what robots are likely to do to jobs in the future, but on hard data to look at what robots are already doing to jobs in the present. The results are so startling that even the authors were surprised, having previously taken a much more sceptical line.

      So where does this leave us? Well, we need to keep things in perspective. The future of work is a hugely complex issue, social and political as much as technological, and one new report, however important, hardly settles the matter. Nonetheless, Acemoglu and Restrepos findings do give us a new baseline for our discussions.

      In so doing, they will likely reanimate calls for a universal basic income, because if there really are fewer jobs, we are going to need new ways of distributing wealth.

      The report also challenges the neoliberal tenet that unregulated markets are a surefire way to full employment, and it can reasonably be taken to imply a large role for governments in managing the change that is coming. Additionally, it undermines the persistent claim that technology will create enough jobs in the future because this is what happened in the past.

      Most importantly, the results suggest politicians and others who carelessly promise jobs and growth need to stop waffling and start taking seriously the fact that the future of work is going to be a very different beast to the past and present of work. We are likely to face not just different sorts of work, but far fewer jobs.

      How we respond to this reality will be a huge test for our democracies, and this report is an important contribution to the ongoing debate.

      Read more:

      Lyft tests Shuttle, a commuter service that’s basically a bus

      The Lyft Shuttle.
      Image: lyft

      Lyft is truly an innovator of transportation.

      The ride-hailing app is testing a new service in San Francisco and Chicago called Shuttle. Like the name suggests, Shuttle is basically a bus.

      Lyft users in those two cities can request a Lyft Line like they normally would, and then see the option to switch to a Shuttle if they are near one of the preset Shuttle routes. Those routes have preset pickup and dropoff points, like, again, a bus.

      Shuttle will only be available during weekday commuter hours, from 6:30 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

      The cost of a Shuttle ride is fixed, according to the time and distance of the route.

      Shuttle service will operate within Lyft Line, Lyft’s ride-pooling service. Lyft won’t yet say when the service will roll out to other cities and customers.

      The startup Chariot tried something similar in San Francisco and Austin. And Uber is experimenting with a commute option in D.C.’s suburbs.

      “Lyft Line is the future of rideshare, and we often test new features that we believe will have positive impact on our passengers’ transportation options,” Lyft said through a spokesperson. “We look forward to feedback on Shuttle from the Lyft community; we see a number of commuting use cases that this mode will make easier.

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      Why the creators of new podcast ‘S-Town’ went with their gut and released the whole thing at once

      Julie Snyder and Brian Reed, co-creators of "S-Town"
      Image: Elise Bergerson/NPR

      It’s refreshing in modern media when the answer to the question “Why did you do this?” is “instinct.”

      “There’s not really any analysis or metrics or anything really in podcasting,” said Julie Snyder, executive producer of “S-Town,” a new podcast that follows closely in the steps of “Serial,” the smash-hit that Snyder also co-created. “There’s very little that you know, so you’re really going off of gut instinct.”

      In the data-soaked world of digital media, podcasting remains something of a bookish alcove in comparison to the rest of its digital cousins. When Snyder and her co-creators sat down to structure “S-Town” their new true-crime podcast released on Tuesday it occurred to them that the story might best be served if the entire thing could be posted at once.

      “There’s a lot of paranoia and a lot of accusations that get kind of thrown around back and forth,” Snyder said. “And if we were going to do it weekly, you’d have to address all of those things in that episode. You can’t leave someone hanging [when] accusing someone of being a murderer.”

      And that’s about it. One of the most anticipated podcasts of the year dropped in its entirety because its producers thought that would be the best thing to do. Considering how binge consumption seems all the rage these days, it’s hard to disagree.

      “I don’t know how Netflix justifies what they do,” Snyder said. “But they seem like they’re doing pretty well.”

      Podcasting isn’t quite to Netflix-level success, but it has continued to grow despite limited distribution and marketing. Snyder helped usher in what might be called the new wave of podcasting with “Serial,” which broke out of its relatively limited world in 2014 to become a cultural phenomenon. Snyder, then a producer on “This American Life,” co-created “Serial” with Sarah Koenig.

      Image: pew research center

      That growth hasn’t necessarily meant that podcasts or podcasting have changed much. Part of the reason Snyder could make a gut call on dropping “S-Town” all at once came from the fact that there’s not much in the way of data to affect the decision. Aside from downloads, there’s not many broadly tracked and accepted metrics.

      That leaves room for experimentation, said Steve Nelson, director of programming for National Public Radio.

      “Podcasting is such a young industry that we sort of don’t know what the best way to do things are as an industry,” Nelson said. “As a public media provider, NPR has been striving to try new and different things.”

      Matt Lieber, cofounder and president of Gimlet Media, which produces a variety of podcasts including “Startup” and “Reply All,” said that podcasting is still driven almost entirely by the people creating them and the stories they find.

      “I don’t think there’s a right answer, but in some ways ‘S-Town’ is its own specific thing because the storytelling is so good that they can release that thing on vinyl and it would still get a large audience,” he said.

      That’s not to say there aren’t some risks. “Serial” became a hit in part because its listeners talked about the show and what might happen next. Hundreds of articles were written about it. Numerous podcasts about “Serial” sprung up.

      Snyder said that the only real concern over its all-at-once distribution came from iTunes, which isn’t exactly nothing considering Apple’s outsized role in the podcasting world.

      “I think [iTunes] very smartly raised the issue that you might be leaving something on the table in that by the weekly thing,” Snyder said.

      That didn’t stop Snyder, and it hasn’t stopped Lieber and Nelson from having conversations about releasing podcasts in bingeable form. Both said that they will be keeping an eye on “S-Town” to see how the release works out.

      It hasn’t hurt so far. “S-Town” is already at the top of the iTunes podcast chart.

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