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Recode Daily: The inside story of how Amazon invented Prime

Plus: Facebook bans Alex Jones and others deemed “dangerous”, tech CEOs are getting pay raises, and Tumblr is for sale.

An Amazon Prime truck trailer.
An Amazon Prime truck trailer
Shirin Ghaffary is a senior Vox correspondent covering the social media industry. Previously, Ghaffary worked at BuzzFeed News, the San Francisco Chronicle, and TechCrunch.

Amazon’s introduction of Prime fundamentally changed the nature of online shopping. Jeff Bezos’s idea to offer unlimited two-day shipping to the masses “was a bold move that helped bolster Amazon as the king of online retail — but it was one that came with “huge risks” that caused real tension within the company. Jason Del Rey, speaking with numerous employees at the company when it launched — from the rank and file to the executive level — compiled an oral history of this critical moment for the online shopping giant. As Del Rey writes, “[s]ome managers resented that their projects appeared to be deprioritized for a secret program they knew little about,” while “others feared that Amazon’s top customers were going to abuse the program and ultimately bankrupt the company with soaring shipping costs.” As one former Amazon executive said, “Back then there wasn’t a blind faith that every Jeff idea was going to be a home run.” Of course, Amazon Prime turned out to be perhaps the company’s biggest home run yet.
[Jason Del Rey / Recode]

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Facebook banned Alex Jones, Infowars, Louis Farrakhan, and others it deemed “dangerous” from both Facebook and Instagram. Facebook on Thursday announced that it was banning a number of right-wing extremists as well as Nation of Islam leader Farrakhan. In addition to Jones and Farrakhan, Paul Nehlen, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer, and Infowars — which Jones runs — will be banned. The company says the decision has been made under its policies against dangerous individuals and organizations. As Emily Stewart writes, it’s a “big move for Facebook, which (like many social media companies) has been criticized for lax oversight of individuals and groups that spread hateful messages and vitriol its platforms, but has thus far attempted to toe an awkward line on the matter.” A spokesperson for Facebook said in a statement, “We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology.”
[Emily Stewart / Recode]

CEOs — especially those in tech — are making more money than ever.Tech CEO salaries soared by an average of 15 percent last year, to $6.6 million, according to data from the executive compensation company Equilar. That’s even more than the 8 percent increase for CEOs across all industries. The data set pulled from CEOs at the 3,000 largest US companies by market cap. Meanwhile, worker pay has been stagnating, as average median pay for workers declined 2 percent to $82,500 — a CEO-to-employee pay ratio of 129 to 1.There are a number of reasons for the exceptionally good year for CEOs, Rani Molla writes, including that 2018 was a strong year for the stock market. Many economists are concerned about the growing discrepancy between average worker and executive pay, although others argue that high CEO pay is necessary for companies to attract and retain top leaders.
[Rani Molla / Recode]

Verizon is reportedly seeking to sell Tumblr. Verizon is seeking a buyer for micro-blogging platform Tumblr, the Wall Street Journal first reported. Times have changed since Yahoo bought the site during its peak popularity for $1.1 billion in 2013, which Verizon then inherited when it acquired Yahoo. Now, Verizon’s plans to offload Tumblr come as the company struggles to meet its revenue targets. Among those interested in buying Tumblr? Apparently, Pornhub. Pornhub VP Corey Price said in a statement to BuzzFeed News that his company is “extremely interested” in buying Tumblr and “very much looking forward to one day restoring it to its former glory with NSFW content.” Tumblr used to be one of the most popular sites for porn, but late last year Verizon controversially banned pornographic content. It’s unclear if Pornhub has made a serious offer or who — if anyone — will end up purchasing Tumblr.
[Chris Welch / The Verge]

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