Catch up with this week’s Five on Friday!

Jamie O’Donoghue
Jul 19 · 5 min read

#PrimeDay

Amazon had another wildly successful Prime Day this week, with overall sales easily surpassing last year’s totals.

What does this mean?

The two-day event saw customers purchase more than 175 million items through Amazon, meaning that total sales outperformed the company’s previous Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. It was also the biggest event ever for the sale of Amazon devices, with products like the Echo Dot, the Fire TV Stick with the Alexa Voice Remote coming out as particularly strong sellers. While Prime Day continues to grow in size and reach, the outlook isn’t all roses for the e-commerce giant, as the European Union also formally opened an investigation into the company this week. This investigation will determine whether the company is using sales data to gain an unfair advantage over smaller sellers on the Marketplace platform, and could eventually end in a whopping fine for Amazon like the ones received by Google and Facebook.

Bet You Didn’t Know

A glitch at this year’s Prime Day allowed shoppers to buy $13,000 camera gear for $94.

#Netflix

Shares of Netflix took a serious hit yesterday after the company revealed that new subscriber numbers fell far short of expectations.

What does this mean?

Although Netflix surpassed earnings estimates for its second quarter, the streaming giant’s real problem came after the revelation that it had added only 2.8 million new users to its platform, well below the anticipated 4.8 million, causing stock to fall more than 10%. Some commentators were quick to suggest that the company’s disappointing growth could be attributed to an influx of powerful competitors — most notably Disney’s forthcoming Disney+ — but the company dismissed these concerns. “We don’t believe competition was a factor since there wasn’t a material change in the competitive landscape during Q2,” a spokesperson said. Rather, Netflix claims that the poor figures can be blamed on price increases in certain regions and a less compelling content slate in Q2. While the company is set to give up massively popular sitcoms ‘Friends’ and ‘The Office’, much of its current quarter eggs will be placed in a basket labeled ‘Stranger Things, Season Three.’

Bet You Didn’t Know

In 2007, Netflix delivered its billionth DVD (the lucky recipient was awarded a lifetime subscription).

#PodcastWars

Apple looks set to strike a significant blow against Spotify with the news that the company is planning to start funding its own original podcasts.

What does this mean?

A Bloomberg report earlier this week claimed that Apple executives have been reaching out to media companies with a view of buying exclusive rights to podcasts. Though this has not yet been confirmed by the company, it was enough to cause shares in Spotify to tumble throughout the week. Over the past few months, Spotify has been investing heavily in beefing up its podcasting capabilities, purchasing two podcast startups and announcing that it could spend as much as $500 million on original audio content this year. CEO Daniel Ek has also previously said that he believes over 20% of Spotify listening will be non-music content in the future. As both Apple Music and Spotify continue to battle it out to be number one in the music streaming world, a push like this from Apple will certainly shake things up.

Bet You Didn’t Know

After becoming a teenage millionaire, Daniel Ek came up with the idea for Spotify in his early twenties while living in a Swedish cabin.

#Slack

Slack revealed yesterday that it was forced to reset the passwords of thousands of customers after receiving new information about a hack that occurred back in 2015.

What does this mean?

The newly-listed company said that it would reset the passwords on about 1% of its user accounts after it came to light that some log-in credentials may have been compromised in a hack that occurred back in 2015. At the time, the company believed that hackers had just gained access to databases containing profile information and encrypted passwords. It blocked the access, reset passwords, and released two-factor authentication as an extra security measure. The company said it has “no reason” to think any of the accounts it’s resetting now were actually compromised, but in an environment where privacy concerns are on everyone’s minds, the company said that it’s taking the security measure as a precaution. However, this incident will likely stoke fears about the potential of a data breach at a company that is used by over 10 million people daily and home to very sensitive company information.

Bet You Didn’t Know

Prior to founding Slack, CEO Stewart Butterfield built the photo-sharing app, Flickr.

#AndFinally

It feels like ages since Elon Musk last shocked us by unveiling a new product that sounded like something straight off the pages of a science fiction novel. Thankfully, the billionaire behind Tesla and SpaceX was back this week to reveal key details about his secretive and (literally) mind-bending venture, Neuralink. Speaking at a launch event on Tuesday night, Musk announced that he is working on a ‘brain-machine interface’ that will connect human cognition to external hardware, allowing humankind “to achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence.” So far, a lot of this technology is purely speculative, but Musk did show off one of his innovations — a so-called ‘neural lace’, no wider than a human hair, that carries electrical signals between the brain and an external device worn behind the ear. “We hope to have this in a human patient by the end of next year,” Musk suggested.

What does this mean?

Musk has been known to overstate his case in the past, but it might just be possible that he’s brought us to the verge of a major revolution in technology.

Bet You Didn’t Know

Elon Musk once said in an interview that he hopes to “die on Mars, just not on impact.”

The Week In Numbers

$15 per hour

will be America’s new minimum wage after the House passed a landmark bill on Thursday.

$272 million

is how much Qualcomm has to pay the EU for using “predatory prices” in the bloc’s latest high-profile antitrust fine.

$22 billion

is how much Vodafone paid to acquire Liberty Global’s cable networks in Germany, making it Europe’s largest broadband provider.

The Takeaway

Clouds may be beginning to gather for both Netflix and Amazon, whether they take the form of highly-prepared competitors in the former case, or antitrust regulators in the latter one. For the moment, however, both companies are enjoying being at the top of their respective heap. Perhaps more importantly, clouds may be gathering for the rest of us if Elon Musk manages to bring his Neuralink project to fruition, which would result in nothing less than a merger between human beings and machines. A brave new world, indeed.

MyWallSt operates a full disclosure policy. MyWallSt staff currently hold long positions in some of the companies mentioned above.

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Jamie O’Donoghue

Written by

Content Specialist at MyWallSt

The MyWallSt Blog

Investing is for everyone, we show you how. MyWallSt is a multi-award winning company that helps you to become a confident and successful investor.

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