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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Facing attacks from several Democratic presidential candidates, Amazon's strategy is to hit back.
Why it matters: A Democratic administration could mean tougher antitrust enforcement, and some candidates have gone so far as promising that they'll break up Amazon and other tech giants, Axios' David McCabe reports.
A person familiar with the thinking inside Amazon said executives particularly want to respond when they think candidates are making inaccurate claims about the business.
The big picture: Big Tech has become a political symbol of out-of-control corporate power. But while Google and Facebook have largely avoided mixing it up with specific candidates, Amazon is punching back.
Yes, but: Amazon's defensive postures don't always last.
The bottom line: Amazon is toeing a fine line — countering its critics without being so aggressive that it alienates its customers.
A Drive.ai van in Frisco, Texas. Photo: Kaveh Waddell/Axios
As Kaveh Waddell and I confirmed yesterday, Apple bought Drive.ai, an autonomous driving startup once valued at $200 million. We also confirmed that Apple has hired dozens of Drive.ai engineers and acquired some of its assets, including its vehicles.
Why it matters: This confirms that Apple hasn't given up its autonomous driving project, though it has changed direction and leadership a couple of times.
Context: Drive.ai's highlighter-orange vans ferried workers around a business park in Frisco, Texas, and shuttled fans in nearby Arlington to Cowboys games.
Drive.ai is laying off 90 workers in California, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. And the company employed many more in Texas.
Separately, troubled AV maker Faraday Future has reportedly fired several dozen of the employees who have been on unpaid leave, according to The Verge.
Also: Uber is buying Mighty Ai to boost its self-driving car efforts.
Photo: Sergei Bobylev\TASS via Getty Images
SpotHero is integrating Waze, a navigation app owned by Google, into its app, Kia Kokalitcheva reports. Waze will navigate SpotHero's customers to their pre-booked parking spots.
Why it matters: Americans spend 17 hours per year on average searching for parking, costing them $345 per driver in wasted time, fuel and emissions, according to INRIX. Both companies say they aim to help reduce congestion by helping cars get to their destinations more efficiently.
How it works: After users find and book a parking spot in SpotHero’s app, they hit a button for directions to that lot or garage. If they’re already Waze users, the app will open on their smartphone, preset to the destination, or they’ll be prompted to download Waze if they don’t already have it. A button will also let them toggle to their reservation ticket when they reach the garage.
The deal doesn’t have a financial component, SpotHero CEO Mark Lawrence told Axios.
Go deeper: Kia has more here
One of the more striking parts of Tuesday's Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the ways tech companies manipulate users was a Google executive's insistence that the company doesn't employ "persuasive technologies," aka "dark patterns," on YouTube or anywhere else.
"Dark patterns and persuasive technologies [are] not core to how we design our products at Google," Google's Maggie Stanphill said, in response to a question from Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).
You can watch the exchange here.
Between the lines: To be clear, Google and YouTube do have any number of recommendation engines, autoplay options, etc., but Google doesn't consider any of those to meet the definition of persuasive technologies or dark patterns.
Photo Illustration: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
As Axios' Ursula Perano reports, employees at online furniture company Wayfair are set to walk out at 1:30pm ET today in response to the company's unwillingness to stop selling beds to the operators of migrant child detention centers.
The big picture: At least 547 employees have signed a petition asking executives to stop selling beds to the facilities after discovering an order for more than $200,000 for a Texas facility, according to the Wayfair Walkout Twitter account.
What they're saying:
Go deeper: Migrant kids crisis
New York is always home to one of the world's biggest Pride parades, but this year it's also home to one of the smallest.