Adam Selipsky, AWS CEO, on stage during his keynote address for Amazon's AWS re:Invent 2021.
Photo: AWS

The cloud according to Adam Selipsky

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Good morning! Adam Selipsky runs the world’s strongest force in cloud computing, AWS. When we sat down with him recently, we asked him for his insights on the state of the industry. Let’s dive right in.

The cloud according to Adam Selipsky

AWS is gearing up for re:Invent, its annual cloud computing conference. This year, announcements are expected to focus on its end-to-end data strategy and delivering new industry-specific services. Ahead of that, CEO Adam Selipsky sat down with Protocol’s Donna Goodison to discuss the state of the cloud computing industry. Here are some choice cuts.

One the ubiquity of cloud computing in the C-suite:

  • “There was a time years ago where there were not that many enterprise CEOs who were well-versed in the cloud. Then you reached the stage where they knew they had to have a cloud strategy, and they were…asking their teams, their CIOs, “okay, do we have a cloud strategy?” Now, it's actually something that they're, in many cases, steeped in and involved in, and driving personally.”

On how far through the cloud transition we are:

  • “Only … in the vicinity of 10% of IT has moved to the cloud. It really is still day one. The opportunity is still very much in front of us, very much in front of our customers, and they continue to see that opportunity and to move rapidly to the cloud.”

On cloud customers attempting to cut costs:

  • “Some customers are doing some belt-tightening … What we see a lot of is folks just being really focused on optimizing their resources, making sure that they're shutting down resources which they're not consuming. By the way, they should be doing that all the time. The motivation's just a little bit higher in the current economic situation.”

On what to do with all your data:

  • “A lot of people are drowning in their data and don't know how to use it to make decisions … By putting good governance in place about who has access to what data and where you want to be careful within those guardrails that you set up, you can then set people free to be creative.”

On what’s left for AWS to build:

  • “We're not done building yet, and I don't know when we ever will be. We continue to both release new services because customers need them and they ask us for them and, at the same time, we've put tremendous effort into adding new capabilities inside of the existing services that we've already built. Both prongs of that are important.”
Read more: The full Adam Selipsky Q&A

And then there were … 2,500?

And then there were … 2,500?

In the wake of Elon Musk’s ultimatum to Twitter staff Thursday to leave the company or commit to a “hardcore” culture, the social media platform now reportedly has less than a third of the staff it had at the start of the month.

Just how big is the impact of the exodus? According to The New York Times and Fortune, internal estimates at Twitter suggest that 1,200 more employees chose to leave the company last week, leaving its headcount somewhere around the 2,500 mark. (The exact number will likely remain somewhat of a mystery for now.) Here’s how the cuts appear to be affecting teams, per the NYT:

  • “One team known as Twitter Command Center, a 20-person organization crucial to preventing outages and technology failures during high-traffic events, had multiple people from around the world resign, two former employees said.”
  • “The ‘core services’ team, which handles computing architecture, was cut to four people from more than 100.”
  • “Other teams that deal with how media appears in tweets or how profiles show follower counts were down to zero people.”

And even more layoffs could be coming to the sales and partnership divisions of the company, according to Bloomberg:

  • ”On Friday, Musk asked leaders in those organizations to agree to fire more employees. Robin Wheeler, who ran marketing and sales, refused to do so, the people said. So did Maggie Suniewick, who ran partnerships. Both lost their jobs as a result, the people added.”

But Musk rallied his remaining troops, asking engineers to head into Twitter’s HQ on Friday, so that he could gain a better understanding of the company's codebase.

  • “Only those who cannot physically get to Twitter HQ or have a family emergency” were excused, per an email sent by Musk that was published by CNBC. He even encouraged people from further afield to fly in, CNBC reported.
  • He ended up working on what he called a “code review” until 1:30 a.m. on Saturday.

And now comes a crunch moment: The soccer World Cup, which started yesterday, is typically a period of heavy use for the social network.

The coming days and weeks will reveal whether Musk’s Twitter can cope with the realities of a heavily diminished staff. It could get ugly.

Bye, Bob. Hi, Bob.

Disney dropped a bombshell overnight: Bob Chapek is out as its CEO, to be replaced by former CEO Bob Iger. Ouch.

  • Chapek was, you may remember, Iger’s hand-picked successor. But when Chapek took over as CEO with Iger still in place as chair of the board, their relationship soured. Iger stepped down at the end of 2021.
  • Iger will return for the next two years and help find another successor, which hopefully goes better this time.

Streaming has been an ongoing headache for Disney. Despite record revenue and profits in some of its divisions over the past year — albeit with a weakening in the most recent quarter — the company has faced growing losses in its direct-to-consumer business, which include Disney+ and Hulu.

  • In the most recent quarter, that division lost $1.47 billion, double the loss it made in the same period a year earlier.
  • The company has blamed increases in programming, production, marketing and technology costs for the widening gap.
  • It recently had started planning hiring freezes, layoffs, and other cost-cutting measures, according to CNBC.

Bob Iger could shake things up when it comes to content and streaming. Given he has a mandate “to set the strategic direction for renewed growth,” according to Disney, he may have little choice.

  • He will be “viewed as a catalyst to improve the content aspects of Disney,” according to a note by Wells Fargo analyst Steven Cahall seen by The Wall Street Journal.
  • Worth noting, per CNBC: “Iger … believed Disney+ should underprice competitive streaming services to maximize its price-value perception among consumers. Chapek decided to raise Disney+’s price to $10.99 without ads as of Dec. 8, making it more expensive than other no-ad streaming services.”

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People are talking

Palo Alto Networks CEO Nikesh Arora sees a silver lining in the current economic clouds:

  • “You go in there and say, ’Listen, I can replace seven vendors for you. I can get you to a better security outcome.’”

Mastodon founder Eugen Rochko said Elon Musk has a real chance of destroying Twitter:

  • "It takes a lot to run a social media platform ... that deals with real-time data, and losing most of your engineers is not a good thing."

Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth isn’t a fan of Blind, according to anonymous Meta staff posting on the platform. Per one commenter:

  • “Our CTO went off on a rant talking about how bad blind is for your mental health.”

Bill Gates explained some of the strange things he’s done to raise awareness of sanitation:

  • "I drank water from fecal sludge with Jimmy Fallon, shared the stage with a jar of human feces, and smelled pit latrine odor."

Making moves

TikTok is still hiring, despite the bloodbath of layoffs through the tech sector.

Indonesian online learning platform Ruangguru laid off “hundreds”of employees, according to Bloomberg.

In other news

Amazon’s Alexa division is in turmoil, according to Insider. Struggling against “huge losses,” it was hit hard by recent layoffs and was referred to by one former employee as “a wasted opportunity."

Companies are worried about increased investor activism as a result of new proxy-voting rules that make it easier for activist shareholders to elect new board members.

Elizabeth Holmes was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison. She plans to appeal.

A name to know: Caroline Ellison, the former CEO of Alameda Research. This WSJ profile of her is worthy of your time. Relatedly: Here's a profile of SEC chair Gary Gensler. Also related: FTX owes its 50 top creditors almost $3.1 billion.

Salesforce is insisting some employees return to the office, Insider reports. CEO Marc Benioff had previously said that office mandates wouldn't work.

Ticketmaster is being investigatedby the Justice Department over antitrust concerns, The New York Times reported.

Microsoft is on a mission to convince governments that its $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard is a good idea. The outcome could shape how much more Big Tech can grow.

Tesla recalled 321,000 vehicles in the U.S. due to a software issue that affects the rear lights of the cars.

The FCC finally released its broadband maps. They provide a more accurate picture of coverage than your ISP might like you to see.

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Protocol sat down with Randy Littleson, chief marketing officer at Conga, to talk about how revenue lifecycle management can help organizations create predictability, even in an unstable economic environment.

Learn more

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

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