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Amazon Knows What You Buy. And It’s Building a Big Ad Business From It.

SEATTLE — When a chain of physical therapy centers wanted new patients, it aimed online ads at people near its offices who had bought knee braces recently on Amazon.When a financial services provider wanted to promote its retirement advisory business, it directed ads to people in their 40s and 50s who had recently ordered a personal finance book from Amazon.And when a major credit card company wanted new customers, it targeted people who used cards from other banks on the retail site.The advertisers found those people by using Amazon’s advertising services, which leverage what the company knows better than anyone: consumers’ online buying habits.“Amazon has really straightforward…

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Common Sense: Why Jeff Bezos’ Divorce Should Worry Amazon Investors

Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, may be the first billionaire couple with a huge stake in an enormous technology company to announce their divorce.They won’t be the last.The surprise announcement last week that the Bezoses would divorce after 25 years of marriage instantly raised questions about the future of their 16 percent, roughly $140 billion stake in Amazon. As its founder, chairman, chief executive and largest shareholder, Mr. Bezos exerts almost complete control over the company he created.The big question is, now what? Will Ms. Bezos sell her portion of the family’s vast Amazon holdings? Will she seek a seat on the company’s board? Will she…

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Microsoft Pledges $500 Million for Affordable Housing in Seattle Area

SEATTLE — The Seattle area, home to both Microsoft and Amazon, is a potent symbol of the affordable housing crisis that has followed the explosive growth of tech hubs. Now Microsoft, arguing that the industry has an interest and responsibility to help people left behind in communities transformed by the boom, is putting up $500 million to help address the problem.Microsoft’s money represents the most ambitious effort by a tech company to directly address the inequality that has spread in areas where the industry is concentrated, particularly on the West Coast. It will fund construction for homes affordable not only to the company’s own non-tech workers, but…

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Who Is MacKenzie Bezos?

In her 25 years of marriage to Jeff Bezos, MacKenzie Bezos has been a loyal ambassador for Amazon, the company that made her and her husband the richest couple in the world.She was an integral part of its origin story, driving to Seattle in 1994 while Mr. Bezos sat in the passenger seat, working on the nascent company’s business plan. She was Amazon’s first accountant and was involved in its transformation from a small online bookseller to the e-commerce behemoth it is today, the second company in American history to be valued at over a trillion dollars.Ms. Bezos, 48, is a novelist. But Amazon has defined her…

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Tech Fix: CES 2019: It’s the Year of Virtual Assistants and 5G

LAS VEGAS — The show must go on. That sentiment couldn’t have been stronger this week at CES, the largest consumer electronics convention in the country. The conference, which brought more than 180,000 people to Las Vegas, was a reminder of what the tech industry is best at: being optimistic about itself.ImageCreditJoe Buglewicz for The New York TimesWho cares about the abysmal stock market and growing fears that we are sliding into a recession? Check out these virtual-reality headsets, self-driving cars and big-screen TVs.Filippo Yacob, a tech entrepreneur who attended, was blasé about the state of the market. “The speed of progress and innovation happens at such…

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Bits: The Week in Tech: Amazon’s Burning Problems

Each week, technology reporters and columnists from The New York Times review the week’s news, offering analysis and maybe a joke or two about the most important developments in the tech industry. Want this newsletter in your inbox? Sign up here.Hi, I’m David Streitfeld, reporting from a very quiet week in Silicon Valley. The venture capitalists were at their vacation homes or exotic resorts, dreaming of riches to come. Entrepreneurs also must have taken time off, because I made it to San Jose in less than two hours, a personal record. There wasn’t even a new data privacy scandal to occupy the pundits.Amazon, however, never lets up.…

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Tech Fix: Devices That Will Invade Your Life in 2019 (and What’s Overhyped)

Imagine a future where you are never truly alone. Even when your spouse is on a business trip or your children are away at summer camp, you will always have someone (or something) to talk to. In the morning, you could ask the microwave to heat up a bowl of oatmeal. In your car, you could tell your stereo to put on some ’90s music. And when you walk into the office, you could ask your smartphone, “What’s on my calendar today?”This is increasingly the world the tech industry is building with a bloating portfolio of devices that can react to voice commands — and that the…

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Big Tech May Look Troubled, but It’s Just Getting Started

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Silicon Valley ended 2018 somewhere it had never been: embattled.Lawmakers across the political spectrum say Big Tech, for so long the exalted embodiment of American genius, has too much power. Once seen as a force for making our lives better and our brains smarter, tech is now accused of inflaming, radicalizing, dumbing down and squeezing the masses. Tech company stocks have been pummeled from their highs. Regulation looms. Even tech executives are calling for it.In the face of such a sustained assault, this might be a good moment for Big Tech to lie low. It could devote some of its mountains of cash…

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India Curbs Power of Amazon and Walmart to Sell Products Online

The Indian government dealt a surprise blow on Wednesday to the e-commerce ambitions of Amazon and Walmart, effectively barring the American companies from selling products supplied by affiliated companies on their Indian shopping sites and from offering their customers special discounts or exclusive products.If strictly interpreted, the new policies could force significant changes in the India strategies of the retail giants. Amazon might have to stop competing with independent sellers and end its offerings of proprietary products like its Echo smart speakers in India, its top emerging market.For Walmart, which spent $16 billion this year to buy 77 percent of Flipkart, India’s leading online retailer, the new…

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Last-Minute Shoppers Increasingly Trust Only Amazon to Deliver

SEATTLE — Olivia Zimmermann started her holiday shopping early this year, buying a Bluetooth speaker from Best Buy for her sister. It was supposed to arrive by Dec. 10, two weeks before Christmas.The speaker never showed up — and the post office said it had delivered the package to a different town. Best Buy apologized and offered to reship it. But Ms. Zimmermann, who works in marketing in Chicago, was over it.“I just want a refund,” she told the retailer, and then added: “At this point, I have already ordered from Amazon because I know for a fact it will be here when they say it will.”Amazon…

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