Feb 15, 2019

Amazon isn't exempt from public anger toward big tech

Photo: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Silicon Valley has been shaken over the past two years by the recognition that Americans don't always believe big tech is making the world a better place. It was a tough epiphany for the leaders of companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google, who have vacillated between defensive and apologetic — working through their stages of grief.

Why it matters: Amazon wasn't paying attention.

And when finally confronted with disapproval, it lashed out. Like the popular but insecure kid who just learned that some classmates said unkind thing behind his back.

  • Amazon spent more than a year, and countless dollars and hours, to determine the ideal location(s) to house tens of thousands of new employees. It was a strategic imperative. And now, suddenly, it's not?
  • What are shareholders to make of that reversal?

Amazon seems to feel burned by NYC Mayor De Blasio and NY Gov. Cuomo, likely following their advice to cut out certain local politicians from the negotiation process. But Amazon should have enough savvy to know that the success of any such project requires buy-in, or at least transparency, among all major stakeholders.

  • It's mind-numbing that certain NYC politicians, including AOC, are gloating over Amazon's decision to bail. Maybe if she and others had worked for months to negotiate and ultimately couldn't find a workable compromise. But that's not what happened.
  • And the notion that this somehow frees up $3 billion for other efforts is just plain wrong (the actual figure is around $500 million).

Our thought bubble: But, at the same time, it's disingenuous for an Amazon policy spox to tell NBC that AOC's criticism was a significant factor. AOC is a federal representative who has no say over state or local tax incentives. Plus, Amazon made its initial picks after progressives helped Democrats retake the House. The new politics were known.

The bottom line: New York City is now reminiscent of Washington, D.C., where both sides too often allow viral rhetoric to overwhelm common-sense compromise. And, although Jeff Bezos nor Donald Trump will appreciate the comparison, an ultimate arbiter who becomes capricious when criticized.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 857,487 — Total deaths: 42,107 — Total recoveries: 178,034.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 188,172 — Total deaths: 3,873 — Total recoveries: 7,024.
  3. Business updates: Should you pay your rent or mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic? Find out if you are protected under the CARES Act.
  4. Public health updates: More than 400 long-term care facilities across the U.S. report patients with coronavirus — Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more at risk, new data shows.
  5. Federal government latest: President Trump said the next two weeks would be "very painful," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans.
  6. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Captain of nuclear aircraft carrier docked in Guam pleaded with the U.S. Navy for more resources after more than 100 members of his crew tested positive.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus pandemic is the "greatest test" the world has faced together since the formation of the United Nations just after the Second World War ended in 1945, UN chief António Guterres said Tuesday.

The big picture: COVID-19 cases surged past 856,000 and the death toll exceeded 42,000 Tuesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy reported more than 12,000 deaths.

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President Trump said at a press briefing on Tuesday that the next two weeks in the U.S. will be "very painful" and that he wants "every American to be prepared for the days that lie ahead," before giving way to Deborah Birx to explain the models informing the White House's new guidance on the coronavirus.

Why it matters: It's a somber new tone from the president that comes after his medical advisers showed him data projecting that the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans — even with strict social distancing guidelines in place.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health