Axios Closer

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Monday ✅.

Today's newsletter is 674 words, a 2½-minute read.

🔔 The dashboard: The S&P 500 closed up 0.9%.

  • Biggest gainer? NRG Energy (+6.8%), following positive comments from Bank of America analysts.
  • Biggest decliner? First Republic Bank (-47.1%), after suffering a second credit rating downgrade in a week from S&P. (See below.)

1 big thing: Amazon shrink

Illustration of a frowny face with an upside down Amazon arrow as the mouth.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Amazon is making deeper cuts to its workforce as the tech giant continues to reset from the pandemic, Hope writes.

Why it matters: The company is now worried about a slowdown in its strongest businesses.

  • Previously targeted roles were within low-margin devices and retail. The upcoming contraction will be felt within its more profitable and faster-growing units, including cloud (Amazon Web Services) and advertising.

Details: CEO Andy Jassy announced today an additional 9,000 corporate job cuts planned on top of the company's recently completed round of 18,000.

  • Combined, that’s about 7%–12% of its corporate staff and about 2% of Amazon’s total workforce as of Q4 2022, CFRA’s Arun Sundaram estimates.

Context: AWS sales grew 29% in 2022 over 2021, while advertising sales grew 21%.

  • Comparatively, physical stores saw 11% sales growth, online stores declined 1%, and the company’s overall top line ticked up 9%.

What they're saying: Cloud customers are belt-tightening, and ad spend is expected to further slow this year.

  • “The overriding tenet of our annual planning this year was to be leaner while doing so in a way that enables us to still invest robustly in the key long-term customer experiences,” Jassy wrote in a note to employees today.

The big picture: Tech companies went on a hiring craze during the pandemic and are slimming down quickly.

  • The number of tech employees laid off this year has already reached about 90% of last year’s full total, according to data from Layoffs.fyi.

What to watch: Jassy said that he expects “impacted teams” to make their final decisions on “precisely which roles” will be cut by mid-to-late April.

2. Charted: Regional relief

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

U.S. regional bank stocks largely rebounded today, a day after UBS' agreement to take over ailing Swiss rival Credit Suisse prompted a sigh of relief in the broader market, Axios' Pete Gannon writes.

  • The exception today was First Republic Bank, which fell another 47% following a second credit rating downgrade in a week from S&P Global.

State of play: First Republic customers have pulled roughly $70 billion in deposits since SVB failed earlier this month, WSJ reported.

The latest: JPMorgan is reportedly leading talks with other banks about further actions to stabilize First Republic, after last week's $30 billion deposit lifeline failed to stem the bank's slide.

3. What's happening

🚀 Virgin Orbit is scrambling to avoid bankruptcy, which could come as early as this week without a funding lifeline. (CNBC)

🌎 President Biden vetoed a bill that would have prevented retirement fund managers from considering ESG principles in investment decisions. (Axios)

4. Starbucks has a new CEO, a bit early

Howard Schultz back stage with Laxman Narasimhan at Starbucks' 2022 investor day. Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

That Starbucks' next CEO would be Laxman Narasimhan is no surprise. That he'd become CEO today, however, was.

  • The most immediate impact of the fast-tracked turnover — Starbucks had said it would happen on April 1 — is that Narasimhan will lead Starbucks' annual shareholder meeting Thursday.
  • It also means that when Starbucks' former chairman and CEO Howard Schultz testifies at a U.S. Senate hearing next week about the coffee chain’s alleged union-busting activity, he won't technically be in charge, Pete writes.

Zoom in: The company had already resisted prior requests for Schultz's appearance before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, arguing that he'd be on his way out soon enough.

5. Viral lobbyists

Illustration of hands fighting over the Tik Tok logo.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

TikTok creators are in Washington this week to help the platform fight off a forced sale (or ban), Hope writes.

  • Stand “side by side with creators and the TikTok team at the U.S. Capital” to show TikTok’s positive impact on lives, brands and businesses, an invitation message reviewed by The Information reads.

What to watch: It’s unclear how many creators received the invite or how many will be taking part in lobbying efforts.

  • TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will also be appearing at a congressional hearing on Thursday.

6. What they're saying

"Nobody wants to be systemic when it comes time for regulation, and everybody wants to be systemic when it comes time for bailouts."
— Aaron Klein, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and formerly a deputy assistant secretary at the Treasury Department, to Bloomberg.

Today's newsletter was edited by Pete Gannon and copy edited by Sheryl Miller.

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