Amazon is cutting hundreds of corporate jobs, according to a new report

In a rare move for the online retail giant, Amazon is laying off hundreds of corporate workers in its Seattle headquarters and elsewhere, according to a Seattle Times report.

The corporate cuts come after an eight-year hiring spree, taking the company from 5,000 in 2010 to 40,000 in its Seattle headquarters and gobbling up several retail businesses throughout the country.

However, according to the report, Amazon’s rising employee numbers over the last two years left some departments over budget and with too many staff on hand. In the last few months, the company implemented hiring freezes to stem the flow of new workers, cutting the number of open positions in half from the 3,500 listed last Summer.

The layoffs will mainly focus on Amazon’s Seattle office, but there have already been cuts in some of its retail subsidiaries in other parts of the country, such as the Las Vegas-based online footwear retailer Zappos, which had to lay off 30 people recently. And the company behind, Quidsi, had to cut more than 250 jobs a year ago.

The moves suggest Amazon may be trying to rein in spending and consolidate some of its retail businesses.

It’s important to note that cutting out a few hundred workers at a company with tens of thousands of employees is not unusual — and is pretty small in comparison to other established tech giants that have had to lay off far more recently. For instance, Microsoft had to lay off thousands of employees starting late last year — though most of those employees affected were outside of the United States.

The cuts also don’t indicate Amazon, which employs more than half a million people globally, has any intentions of cutting more or of slowing down its hiring practices elsewhere. According to its most recent quarterly earnings report, the company has upped its global workforce by 66 percent over the last year. Amazon currently has more than 4,000 job listings on its site for Seattle.

We have yet to hear back from Amazon about the latest report, but a spokesperson for the company told The Seattle Times the move was part of the company’s annual planning process and that, “We are making head count adjustments across the company — small reductions in a couple of places and aggressive hiring in many others.”

According to the report, several employees have already been told they’ve been laid off and those layoffs are expected to be completed in the next few weeks.

“For affected employees, we work to find roles in the areas where we are hiring,” the spokesperson said.

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New credit card skimmer worked in plain sight at Aldi stores

Police in Lower Pottsgrove, Pennsylvania have spotted a group of thieves who are placing completely camouflaged skimmers on top of credit card terminals in Aldi stores. The skimmers, which the gang placed in plain sight of surveillance video cameras, look exactly like the original credit card terminals but would store debit card numbers and PINs of unsuspecting shoppers.

“While Aldi payment terminals in the United States are capable of accepting more secure chip-based card transactions,” writes security researcher Brian Krebs. “The company has yet to enable chip payments (although it does accept mobile contactless payment methods such as Apple Pay and Google Pay). This is important because these overlay skimmers are designed to steal card data stored on the magnetic stripe when customers swipe their cards.”

Interestingly, commenters reported that many Aldi stores support chipped EMV credit cards but that they would often tape over the slots and ask users to swipe instead.

“The Aldi stores near me got chip readers early last year with Apple Pay and everything enabled. After ~5 months they taped over the card insertion slot and now require customers to swipe again,” wrote one commenter. “I asked one of the managers and he said corporate required them to switch back because ‘swipes are faster.’”

I love these stories primarily because point of sale terminals are widely unguarded and offer the best of security theatre – you think you’re safe because they look like the egg sacs of some armored beast but, with a quick addition of a skimmer, you create something that is deeply unsafe. That this skimmer ended up at a town of just 12,000 souls is particularly poignant.

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Barnes & Noble is killing itself

I&rsquove been chronicling the slow demise of B&ampN for a long time now, watching the organization bleed out, visit drop, until it is a covering of their former value. B&ampN would be a cultural center in places without cultural centers. It had been a stopover on wet days in New You are able to, Chicago, and Cleveland also it would be a placed you may go to obtain your kids&rsquo first books.

That&rsquos mostly over now. On Monday the company laid off 1,800 people. This offered an expense savings of $40 million. However that&rsquos particularly interesting. Which means all of individuals people made typically $22,000 approximately each year and minimum wage workers &ndash hourly people that are often hit hardest during publish-holiday downturns &ndash could be making $15,000. Actually, what B&ampN did was fire all full-time employees at 781 stores. From the former employee:

On Monday morning, each and every Barnes &amp Noble location told their full-time employees to bring along up and then leave. The eliminated positions were the following: the mind cashiers (individuals would be the people accountable for handling the cash), the receiving managers (the folks accountable for getting in product and ensuring it is going where it ought to), digital leads (the folks accountable for solving Nook problems), the newsstand leads (the folks accountable for disbursing the magazines), and also the bargain leads (the folks accountable for maintaining the huge discount sections). A couple of from the bigger stores could spare their mind cashiers as well as their receiving managers, although not many.

Further, the organization let go many shipping receivers round the holidays, leading to bare shelves along with a customer escape to Amazon . com. In December 2017, usually B&ampN&rsquos key month, sales dropped 6 % to $953 million. Internet sales fell 4.five percent.

You should observe that when other major retailers, namely Circuit City, went the path of firing all highly compensated employees and getting in minimum wage cashiers, stockers, and salespeople it signaled the start of the finish.

Streamlining a book shop may go theoretically however in practice a book shop is much more than the usual depot for printed matter. It’s a play place, a coffee shop, along with a browsing place. Small booksellers know this plus they make their spaces intriguing and welcoming.

A Barnes &amp Noble with no guy inside a pirate suit studying tales is really a Wal-Mart without the additional advantage of promoting not only media. We think that those who dedicated their lives to selling books at B&ampN weren&rsquot there for they cash except rather labored there for that passion for books. Description of how the&rsquove lost individuals people forever.

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Apple has acquired Workflow, a powerful automation tool for iPad and iPhone

Apple has finalized a deal to acquire Workflow today a tool that lets you hook together apps and functions within apps in strings of commands to automate tasks. Weve been tracking this one for a while but were able to confirm just now that the ink on the deal is drying as we speak.

I havent beenable to get financial details for the deal, but if I come up with them Ill update. As far as I know it was a solid payday for the team and small upside for investors. Workflow had raised an un-announced seed round of what were hearing was in the range of a couple millionfrom Lowercase, Eniac and General Catalyst.

The app was made by a small team that includes Ari Weinstein, a former iPhone jailbreaker. Ive been following his efforts since the iPod Linux days and covered his very useful DeskConnect app a few years back.

Workflow has been around for a couple of years and weve covered it and its updates. It shares some similarity with the service IFTTT, in that it allows people to group together a bunch of actions that can allow them to perform complicated tasks with one tap. It had built up a sizeable numberof users and downloads over the past few years.

Workflow the app is being acquired, along with the team of Weinstein, Conrad Kramer, Ayaka Nonaka and Nick Frey. In a somewhat uncommon move for Apple, the app will continue to be made available on the App Store and will be made free later today.

We are thrilled to be joining Apple, said Weinstein in a statement. Weve worked closely with Apple from the very beginning, from kickstarting our company as students attending WWDC to developing and launching Workflow and seeing its amazing success on the App Store. We cant wait to take our work to the next level at Apple and contribute to products that touch people across the world.

This is not a pure acquihire in that Workflow not just the talent is being purchased in this deal. This makes sense and Im glad to see it because Workflow itself was a prime meat example of how to find a need in the iOS ecosystem, tackle it in an interesting way and execute it with cleverness and attention to honoring the platform. Simply put its super smart, really well designed and works very well.

Workflow won an Apple Design Award in 2015, with Apple Accessibility engineer Dean Hudson waxed ecstatic about the way that it handled accessibility. When I first saw the app, I was just like man, this accessibility is cray-cray. This is off the charts!

Apple confirmed the deal, and has said the following about Workflow:

The Workflow app was selected for an Apple Design Award in 2015 because of its outstanding use of iOS accessibility features, in particular an outstanding implementation for VoiceOver with clearly labeled items, thoughtful hints, and drag/drop announcements, making the app usable and quickly accessible to those who are blind or low-vision.

The accessibility features of Workflow are super impressive, especially for an app that is a tool for building complicated macros. It would have been much easier to say hey, this is for heavy users maybe we dont need to make sure its 100% accessible but they didnt, and they won a bunch of awards (and an exit)for their trouble.

Workflows existing integrations with apps are extensive and will continue to be updated. You can see some of the pretty intense capabilities of the app in this post from Federico Viticci, a workflow maniac.

For you super nerds, this news could be a nice treat given the recent-ish departure of legend Sal Saghoian, Apples automation Czar, and the elimination of his position. Some folks had taken this as a signal that Apple was no longer interested in the automation category.

The special sauce of Workflow is that it enables users to dip into specific deep linked functions of individual apps and connect those actions together into a string of seamless, invisible commands. If that sounds familiar then you might be thinking of the budding Siri API which will only be getting more beefy as time goes on.

If you spool out the thread here its not hard to see Workflow being integrated heavily with Siri, allowing even more seamless activation and composition of actions now that the team has access to Apples private APIs, which are more robust than the tiny bit of Siri thats public so far.

There are also great opportunities here to offer value-add power user capabilities to the iPad ecosystem. Apples efforts to get people to see the iPhone, iPad and even Apple Watch ecosystem as something that can be used for many light-to-medium tasks could be bolstered here.

The Workflow app for Apple Watch is especially clever and a nice organic fit Ive long been a proponent of the 1.5 seconds or bust interaction model with Apple Watch. Workflows endpoint is a single tap or automated action that can hide a complex system of commands or interactions underneath it ideal for Apple Watch.

Workflows acquisition is a fairly crisp example of the kinds of app successes that have become a bit more muddied in this age of services. A small, clever team (that were one-time WWDC student scholarship recipients) built a tool so useful on iOS that Apple itself essentially copped thatthey couldnt do it better and bought it. It will be interesting to see where it goes from here.