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Jeff Bezos is stepping down as Amazon CEO

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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will step down from his role as chief executive later this year and transition to the role of executive chair, the company said Tuesday. He will be replaced by Andy Jassy.

Bezos has been Amazon’s CEO since its founding in 1995. He oversaw its growth from an online bookseller into a $1.7 trillion global retail and logistics behemoth, which has also made Bezos into one of the world’s richest people. Jassy has worked for Amazon since 1997 and currently serves as CEO of the company’s cloud business, Amazon Web Services, its biggest profit driver.
“This journey began some 27 years ago. Amazon was only an idea, and it had no name,” Bezos wrote letter to employees Tuesday. “The question I was asked most frequently at that time was, ‘What’s the internet?’ … Today, we employ 1.3 million talented, dedicated people, serve hundreds of millions of customers and businesses, and are widely recognized as one of the most successful companies in the world.”
The news came as part of Amazon’s fourth-quarter earnings report. The company handily beat Wall Street analysts’ projections for both sales and profit, capping a banner year as the pandemic boosted its retail and cloud businesses.
The company’s shares were essentially flat shortly after the market closed Tuesday, but gained almost 1% two hours after the closing bell. Amazon’s stock has grown nearly 69% over the past year.
Andy Jassy, who currently heads Amazon Web Services, will take over as Amazon CEO from Jeff Bezos later this year.

Massive earnings beat

Amazon (AMZN) posted quarterly net sales of $125.6 billion, up 44% from the same period in the prior year and well ahead of the $119.7 billion Wall Street analysts had projected.
Net income in the quarter hit $7.2 billion — nearly double the $3.7 billion Wall Street predicted and more than double the $3.3 billion in income the company earned in the year-ago quarter. Earnings per diluted share were $14.09.
The quarterly results include sales from Prime Day, which was held October 13-14 after being postponed over the summer because of the pandemic. Sales from Prime Day, as well as continued demand for online shopping as Covid-19 cases surged, contributed to 40% year-over-year growth in Amazon’s net sales in North America, which totaled more than $75 billion. International sales jumped 57% to nearly $37.5 billion.
Amazon said it delivered more than a billion products to customers worldwide during a “record-breaking holiday season.”
Revenue from Amazon Web Services grew 28% from the prior-year quarter to more than $12.7 billion, which the company attributed to “significant customer momentum,” including new commitments and migrations to the cloud by the likes of JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Twitter (TWTR), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, among others. AWS posted full year revenue of more than $45 billion and operating income of $13.5 billion.
“AWS is well on its way to creating an annualized $50 billion revenue company,” Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, said in an emailed statement. “This makes AWS larger than Salesforce.com and SAP combined. Equally impressive is that AWS delivered over half of the company’s operating profit.”
 The company’s “other revenue,” which primarily includes advertising, grew 64% during the quarter, an acceleration in growth from the two previous quarters, CFO Brian Olsavsky said on a call with analysts Tuesday.
Amazon’s strong overall sales performance “may obscure the more important story of Amazon’s surging ad business,” eMarketer Principal Analyst Andrew Lipsman said in a statement. “Two consecutive quarters of huge bottom-line beats in the face of rising operational costs and softening AWS growth points to a much more profitable ads business than previously appreciated.”
As for the full year results, Amazon reported total net sales increased 38% to $386.1 billion, more than $6 billion more than analysts had projected. Net income for 2020 reached $21.3 billion, or $41.83 per diluted share, an increase of nearly 84% from a year earlier.
The strong growth in profit came even as Amazon spent more than $11.5 billion on pandemic-related costs in 2020, Olsavsky said on the call. That includes $2.5 billion in additional Covid-related employee pay and ramping up in-house employee testing. Despite those efforts, Amazon has faced intense scrutiny over its warehouse safety during the pandemic.
Nucleus Research analyst Daniel Elman said he’s “not entirely surprised” to see the huge jump in annual sales “given the worldwide shift to e-commerce in light of the pandemic.”
“With this change in consumer behavior likely to remain permanent, and Amazon’s accelerating shipping and fulfillment speeds, the company’s dominance as the go-to platform for e-commerce will remain unchallenged,” Elman said.
For the current quarter, Amazon anticipates revenue will grow between 33% and 40% compared to the prior-year quarter to between $100 billion and $106 billion. The company also expects to incur approximately $2 billion in costs related to Covid-19 during the current quarter, putting quarterly income guidance at between $3 billion and $6.5 billion, compared to the $4 billion Amazon earned in the first quarter of 2020.

Bezos stepping down

Bezos said in his Tuesday letter that he is excited for the transition, which will free up more time for him to work on outside projects. As executive chair of Amazon, he will focus on “new products and early initiatives,” he said.
“Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming,” Bezos wrote. “When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else. As Exec Chair I will stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives but also have the time and energy I need to focus on the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and my other passions. I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring. I’m super passionate about the impact I think these organizations can have.”
He added that Jassy “will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence.”
Jassy is an obvious choice for the top job, especially after Jeff Wilke, the head of the company’s worldwide consumer division and another veteran Amazon leader, announced his retirement in August. Jassy is a longtime member of Amazon’s elite leadership group, the “S-team,” and has overseen the growth of AWS into a cash cow and the world’s biggest cloud computing provider.
The cloud computing market is expected to expand even further in coming years as the pandemic accelerates companies’ adoption of cloud, as they aim to be more effective in an era of digital-first interactions.
“Andy Jassy stepping into the CEO role at Amazon is a natural fit,” Tim Hubbard, assistant professor at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business said in an emailed comment. “Amazon Web Services is a powerhouse within the company, driving a lot of profitability. The transition may indicate that for the core of the company, it’s going to continue down the path it’s going.”
SOURCE: CNN
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Young T & Bugsey Release Long-Awaited New Mixtape “Truth Be Told”

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Brit-nominated rap duo Young T & Bugsey release long-awaited new mixtape Truth Be Told, out now via Black Butter. A fifteen track project that follows colossal debut Plead The 5th, and sees the Nottingham-hailing rappers join forces with some of the most exciting names in the UK and internationally.

Just weeks after the release of “Blessings” featuring Jamaican musician Chronixx, the new project lands alongside brand new single and video ‘Nice’. Watch here.

Young T & Bugsey deliver yet another striking track, fueled with an enticing beat that the pair ride effortlessly. This time they’re backed by fellow TikTok viral star, Blxst – the LA-based rapper and producer who catapulted into the spotlight last year with his US Gold certified project, No Love Lost. Combining their signature bars and smooth melodies, the Teeeezy C directed visual sees the duo perform amidst colourful serene settings, and is an ode to the women they love.

Truth Be Told 2020 debut Plead The 5th, which boasts over 1BN+ Global Streams and features some of the pair’s biggest singles to date, including brit-nominated smash hit “Don’t Rush”. Featuring recently released Big Bidness and November offering “Roberto C” featuring Unknown T, the new mixtape is a further display of Young T & Bugsey’s commitment to their sound knowing no bounds and it’s this musical dexterity that has earned them a stamp of approval across the UK and beyond.

Truth Be Told shows the duo in a whole new light, with guest features from M Huncho, Aitch, Chronixx, Blxst, Unknown T, Jasmine May and Nafe Smallz. The project details the complexities of relationships, the harsh realities of dealing with adversity and sacrifice, acting with more intention, whilst admirably embracing their African and Caribbean heritage. It’s a demonstration of Young T & Bugsey being ready and willing to express some of their most personal circumstances to date, and feeling a new sense of responsibility towards themselves and those closest to them. Adding to what is already an impressive catalogue and further honing in on their chemistry, Truth Be Told is another monumental body of work.

 

“After the success of our debut project, Plead The 5th, with stand out Hits like Strike a Pose and the worldwide smash Don’t Rush, we knew we had to take our time with our follow up mixtape. ‘Truth Be Told’ continues the illustrious run of head jolting, dance floor prompting Young T & Bugsey music, with an added flair this time around and refreshing sense of musical and personal growth! We’re excited for fans to go on this journey with us.”  says Young T & Bugsey.

 

Being based outside of London, Young T & Bugsey met aged 15 whilst working in KFC. Having followed a less-travelled path to success, the duo are rarely out of the limelight – having been tipped by BBC Radio 1Xtra, co-signed by Stormzy, and going on to spearhead the emerging Nottingham rap scene. The duo’s single “Ay Caramba” with fellow rapper Fredo became their first top 40 single, and they consequently went on to be named the first act from their city to achieve a Platinum Certified single.  2020 saw the release of debut mixtape Plead The 5th , an impressive first body of work featuring hit singles “Strike A Pose” featuring Manchester rapper Aitch, and the Headie One backed smash “Don’t Rush.” The single quickly became a global success and an unavoidable soundtrack to 2020, achieving one of the most exciting viral moments seen from a UK act. Young T & Bugsey went on to receive three Brit Award nominations, plus a stellar performance at the 2020 ceremony alongside Headie One. They reached even further heights when they were nominated for two BET Awards and became the first UK Rap duo to hit The Billboard Hot 100 List. Young T & Bugsey are firmly cemented at the forefront of UK rap and they’re just getting started. Stay tuned for more from them this year.

‘Truth Be Told’ Tracklist

  1. Truth Be Told
  2. Big Bidness
  3. Oh Lordy feat. M Huncho
  4. Caliente feat. Aitch
  5. Hall Of Fame
  6. Home Run
  7. Blessings feat. Chronixx
  8. Tense
  9. Nice feat. Blxst
  10. Roberto C feat. Unknown T
  11. Glitter Ain’t Gold
  12. Celly
  13. 5th Not Atlanta
  14. Prada Bae feat. Nafe Smallz
  15. Outro
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Kid Cudi, A$AP Rocky, & Playboi Carti To Headline The Smokers Club Fest April 30th In So-Cal

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Get ready to blaze up as The Smoker’s Club Fest takes over Glen Helen Amphitheater on Saturday, April 30, 2022. Celebrating hip hop as one of the leading forces in paving the way for cannabis culture becoming mainstream, the festival lineup includes Kid Cudi, A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti, Schoolboy Q, Wiz Khalifa, A&AP Ferg, 2 Chainz, Dom Kennedy, Lupe Fiasco, Joey Bada$$, Flatbush Zombies, Yung Lean, Wale, Curren$y, Danny Brown, Rico Nasty, Earl Sweatshirt, Sofaygo, Pierre Bourne, Sahbabii, Cochise, Lucki, Yeat, AB-Soul, Jay Rock, Berner, Zack Fox, The Alchemist, Clams Casino, Mick Jenkins, Reason, Smoke DZA, Casey Veggies, Domo Genesis, The Underachievers, The Cool Kids, Kirko Bangz, Pac Div, Kreayshawn, Ken Car$on, Bktherula, Babyxsosa, Zeelooperz, Coco & Clair Clair, Tisakorean, Destroy Lonely, Sid, Shyne, Bad Neighbors, Sparoh Homicide, Meechie, Abby, Jasmine, Belis, Eryn, Yayo, Dacartune, Slayter, Nymlo, McFly, Lul Bob, and Stinje.

There will be a special presale beginning Monday, January 24th at 10am PT for fans who sign up for early access to passes online at smokersclubfest.com. Following the presale, any remaining tickets still available will go on sale to the general public beginning Monday, January 24th at 2pm PT at smokersclubfest.com. GA tickets start at $222.99 and VIP tickets start at $408.99.

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Akon sued for $4 Million by former business partner

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Akon’s former business partner is suing the singer for refusing to pay him $4 million. (more…)

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Netflix Commits $1 Million towards Scholarships in Africa

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Netflix , the world’s leading entertainment streaming service, has  announced a commitment of US$1 million towards the newly-established Netflix Creative Equity Scholarship Fund (CESF) for film and TV students in Sub-Saharan Africa. The scholarship fund forms part of Netflix’s global Netflix Creative Equity Fund  launched in 2021 to be allocated to various initiatives over the next 5 years with the goal of developing a strong, diverse pipeline of creatives around the world.

The scholarship fund will cover the costs for tuition, accommodation, study materials and living expenses at institutions where beneficiaries have gained admission to pursue a course of study in the TV & film disciplines in the 2022 academic year.

The Netflix CESF is targeted for rollout across the region in the academic year commencing in 2022, starting with an open call for applications in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, in partnership with social investment fund management and advisory firm Tshikululu Social Investments (https://bit.ly/3qLORX2) as implementing partner/fund administrator in Southern Africa. Fund administration partners for East Africa and the West and Central Africa regions will be announced in due course.

“Netflix is excited by the potential of the next generation of storytellers and we’re committed to investing in the future of African storytelling in the long-term,” says Ben Amadasun, Netflix Director of Content in Africa. “We believe there are great stories to be told from Africa and we want to play our part by supporting students who are passionate about the film and TV industry so they too, can ultimately contribute to the creative ecosystem by bringing more unique voices and diverse perspectives to African storytelling that our global audiences find appealing.”

How it works:

The Netflix CESF is designed to provide financial assistance, through full scholarships, at partner higher educational institutions (HEI) in South Africa to support the formal qualification and training of aspiring creatives from a SADC region country that wish to study in South Africa, and are able to obtain the necessary permissions to do so. The following countries will be eligible: Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In the SADC region, the fund will be available to students who have obtained admission to study in various film & TV-focused disciplines, for the 2022 academic year, at the following partner institutions:

Students interested in applying for scholarships for the 2022 academic year will be able to find additional information, application criteria, a list of partner higher education institutions (HEI) and will be able to apply online on our fund manager and advisory partner, Tshikululu’s website (Tshikululu.org.za). Applications are now open until 04 February 2022 at 23h59 CAT.

The Netflix CESF will also benefit students from other parts of Africa – particularly East Africa as well as West and Central Africa. Fund administration partners for East Africa and the West and Central Africa regions will be announced, along with the calls for applications, in due course.

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Cummings Blasts Weah After Unprovoked Attack On Peaceful Protest

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Liberian opposition leader Alexander B Cummings has launched a stinging attack on President George Weah after government forces today launched an unprovoked attack on peaceful protesters in Monrovia, injuring multiple people.

 

The protesters displayed banners and posters calling for justice and indicating solidarity with Cummings, the leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), who is being prosecuted by the Government of Liberia on discredited, politically motivated charges of “forgery and criminal conspiracy”.

 

Cummings accused the Weah administration of abusing its authority to restrict Liberia’s political space ahead of the 2023 presidential elections.

 

“Today, thousands of Liberians took to the streets of Monrovia to exercise their right to peaceful assembly. This right is one of the cornerstones of Liberia’s democracy, bestowed to us through our constitution. These peaceful, lawful protesters have been tear-gassed, wounded, and arrested by police,” Cummings said.

 

“I have stood firm and calm when the government has violated my own democratic rights, through the manipulation of courts and casting false accusations. I cannot remain calm when the democratic rights of my fellow Liberians are violated, and law-abiding citizens are left bleeding on the streets on Liberia.”

 

Footage and pictures of the protest have been circulating widely on Liberian social media, showing multiple injuries and abuses by police.

 

Cummings, a former international business executive, called on Weah to govern in line with international democratic standards, or move aside in favor of others who can.

 

Cummings said, “The weak leadership of President Weah has brought the Liberian economy to the brink of collapse; the events at this protest, combined with the bogus charges levelled against me, is further evidence that he is now abusing his position and using every tool, including democratic institutions, at his disposal to cling to power. Enough is enough.”

 

The ANC leader called on his countrymen to defend the country’s young and hard-won democracy.

 

He said, “Now, I speak to all Liberians – whether my supporters or critics. Liberia cannot continue in this downwards spiral. Our democratic rights are not guaranteed. We – the upholders of democracy – need to protect them. Our chance to choose the government we deserve, and deliver the future we deserve to a future generation of Liberians, comes in 2023. I stand with you. I hear you.”

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Social audio platform Stationhead launches new web interface, a first for live social audio

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Live social audio platform Stationhead is now accessible via its new web interface, making it the first entry in the social audio space to allow users to broadcast their own streaming audio shows—fully integrated with streaming music—directly from the web without using an iOS or Android app. In the wake of the new web interface launch, host engagement has increased by 50%.
Stationhead’s new web platform provides users with the ability to integrate premium recording hardware, giving professional creators even more options. With over 3.5 million active users and 20k+ active hosts spending an average of more than two hours on-platform per day, Stationhead continues to expand and improve its capabilities for all users.
“Stationhead has exploded in popularity this year. Our exponential organic growth is a testament that radio needed to be reinvented for the world we’re living in today,” Ryan Star, CEO and co-founder of Stationhead, tells Billboard. He goes on to explain about the new web interface, “As we continue to grow, it is critical to give our users even more ways to stay connected with each other and for our hosts to be able to take it to the next level.”
Stationhead continues to see extensive adoption by top tier artists since its launch, with Cardi B, Camila Cabello, Megan Thee Stallion, Brandi Carlile and Raekwon all making live appearances on shows. Coldplay is now using Stationhead as their primary radio outlet, featuring broadcasts from members of the band, and Ed Sheeran and Halsey have also held listening parties via Stationhead while The Maine and Vanessa Carlton have established their own artist stations on the platform. Most recently, Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak joined guest host D-Nice for a listening party debuting their new record as the superduo
Silk Sonic.
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