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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
As Amazon narrows the finalists to host its much-sought second headquarters and its tens of thousands of new, high-paying jobs, a little-remarked-upon factor may be playing a large role in its thinking — the company's vulnerability to antitrust action by an activist White House.
Driving the news: In an interview with Axios that aired on HBO last night, President Trump said his administration is "very seriously" considering antitrust action against Amazon, along with Google and Facebook.
Amazon declined to comment. But Bezos has publicly welcomed scrutiny, saying that "all big institutions of any kind ... should be inspected."
Why it matters: Amazon has faced intensifying critical attention — expanding into industry upon industry, accounting for half the money spent on U.S. online shopping, and at one point this year having a $1 trillion market cap.
This war of words has come as Amazon conducts its high-profile search for the site of what it calls its "second headquarters," in addition to Seattle. In January, it disclosed 20 finalists, culled from a list of 238 cities that applied to host HQ2.
In recent days, a series of scoops has roiled the search:
In terms of why D.C., a number of analysts tell Axios that it's — not surprisingly — politics.
For the same reason, Bezos may decide to avoid Trump's ire by striking Toronto off the list. Trump has conducted a long Twitter war against companies that, in his view, send American jobs overseas.
Citi's Mark May is even arguing that Amazon break itself up preemptively: "By separating the retail and [Amazon Cloud] businesses, Amazon could minimize or avoid the risk of increased regulatory pressure," he wrote in a note to clients today.
The bottom line: Even if setting up shop close to D.C. and keeping jobs in the U.S. don't end the antitrust debate, they will undoubtedly present advantages, experts say.
An Amazon warehouse. Photo: Grant Hindsley/AFP/Getty
Amazon has kicked off the holiday shopping season with an aggressive shot over the bow of its competitors — free shipping, including for non-Prime members.
Erica writes: After capturing half of all U.S. online holiday sales last year, Amazon is now plotting how it can lure even more customers in what's expected to be a $720 billion shopping bonanza this holiday season, per the National Retail Federation.
Details: Amazon will waive the $25 minimum purchase that its non-Prime members must meet for free shipping. The deal lasts through the busy season.
Go deeper: The decline of Black Friday
Wildfires in Northern California, beneath the International Space Station. Photo: NASA
Artificial intelligence will allow satellites to quickly detect new fires from space, skirting the need to send high-definition imagery down to Earth before finding signs of fire.
Axios' Kaveh Waddell writes: The economic burden of U.S. wildfires is estimated between $71 billion and $348 billion every year. As climate change lengthens and intensifies wildfire season, earlier detection could save lives, money and property.
Background: Two NASA satellites currently orbiting the Earth scan nearly the entire planet once a day with special instruments useful for fire detection.
Now MacKinnon’s system allows satellites themselves to flag the fires, using artificial intelligence.
On its own, a 3-hour speedup may not seem valuable. But MacKinnon envisions a new constellation of many small satellites that can fly frequently over the Earth, quickly process the images they take onboard, and send down only information about the fires they detect.
What’s next: "Space-qualified computers are extremely limited, so getting these modern algorithms working on them really opens up a ton of opportunities for doing cool science," MacKinnon says.
Only half of Americans have faith in democracy (Kim Hart — Axios)
AI will devastate the developing world (Kai-Fu Lee — Bloomberg) (video)
Is Oumuamua actually a UFO? (Matt Williams — Universe Today)
When developing nations contract planned-city-itis (Monte Reel — Bloomberg BusinessWeek)
Sears near bankruptcy financing deal (Mike Spector — Reuters)
Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG/Getty
A number of fast-food and casual-dining restaurants around the country, like McDonald’s and Bob Evans, are seeking out senior citizens, who employers say are more sociable and punctual than teenagers, reports Bloomberg's Leslie Patton.
“Hiring seniors is a good deal for fast-food chains. They get years of experience for the same wages — an industry median of $9.81 an hour last year, according to the BLS — they would pay someone decades younger.”— Bloomberg's Leslie Patton
Axios' Khorri Atkinson writes: At 3.7% unemployment, the labor market is tight. Citing the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bloomberg reports that the number of working Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 is expected to grow 4.5% by 2024. Meanwhile, the number of workers aged 16–24 will plunge by 1.4%.