The daily business briefing: March 1, 2017
Amazon cloud glitches disrupt thousands of websites, Penguin Random House wins auction to publish Obamas' books, and more
Amazon Web Services glitch disrupts thousands of websites
Amazon's Simple Storage Service, or Amazon S3, suffered unspecified technical problems on Tuesday, disrupting cloud computing services to thousands of websites and apps. The outage lasted about three and a half hours. Amazon Web Services, by far the world's largest provider of internet-based computing services, announced near the end of the work day that S3 was "operating normally" again for the affected customers, who were in its eastern region. The breakdown underscored the importance of cloud services, and the potentially disproportionate impact of glitches when most businesses depend on just a few companies for remote storage of their images, customer data, commercial transactions, and other files.
Penguin Random House beats out rivals to snag Obama book deal
Penguin Random House won an auction for the right to publish forthcoming books by former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, the company said Tuesday night. No details on the deal were immediately released, but publishing industry executives said it was likely worth tens of millions of dollars. Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle said the publishing house looked forward to working with the Obamas to make the books "global publishing events of unprecedented scope and significance." The company plans to donate one million books in the Obamas' name to First Book, a Penguin Random House nonprofit partner, and to Open eBooks, a partner of the 2016 White House digital education initiative.
YouTube says it will launch TV service soon
YouTube announced Tuesday that it would launch a subscription service called YouTube TV within a "few months." Subscribers will get access to more than 40 channels, including all four major networks, Disney Channel, FX, and ESPN, for $35 per month. Customers will be able to store as many programs as they want on a cloud digital video recorder. "YouTube TV represents an effort to evolve television," YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said. YouTube isn't the first company to offer viewers an alternative to cable and satellite TV, however, as Sling and other rivals already have a share of the live TV streaming market.
Dollar rises as Fed policy makers say a March hike is on the table
With employment and inflation data improving, a rate hike is "very much on the table for serious consideration" at the Federal Reserve's March policy meeting, San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams said on Tuesday. The Fed raised its benchmark short-term interest rate by a quarter percent in December, but has paused its plan to gradually raise rates, waiting to see how President Trump's economic policies would impact the economy. With an unemployment rate of 4.8 percent, roughly full employment in the eyes of economists, and inflation near the Fed's 2 percent target, more Fed officials are open to a hike in the near future. New York Fed President William Dudley also said upbeat data was making the case for tightening monetary policy "more compelling." The comments helped push the dollar and U.S. Treasury yields higher on Wednesday, and U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher open, with possible fresh highs for the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq-100 indexes.
Uber CEO caught on camera fighting with his Uber driver
Uber's bad February ended on a sour note Tuesday when Bloomberg released a dashboard video of CEO Travis Kalanick getting into a fight with his Uber Black driver, Fawzi Kamel, on Super Bowl Sunday. Most of the 6-minute video is pretty boring, but as Kalanick was preparing to get out at his destination, Kamel decided he wanted to talk shop, complaining about changes to Uber's business model he says are hurting drivers. Kalanick cordially argued with Kamel then lost his temper. "Some people don't like to take responsibility for their own sh-t," he said. "They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!" In an email to Uber staff on Tuesday, Kalanick said he's "ashamed" of his actions and called them "a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up."