Amazon

Alexa, Play 'Morning Edition'

Nov 4, 2019

Morning Edition is now available on-demand on all Alexa-enabled smart speakers. Just say, "Alexa, play Morning Edition," and you will hear the last hour of that morning's show as it was aired on KUT. You will no longer need to worry about missing a story, or tuning in mid-broadcast, because now you can choose when to listen at your own convenience.

 Google has reportedly leased an entire 35-story, 735,000-square-foot building under construction on Cesar Chavez Street in downtown Austin.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

If you were relieved by last year’s announcement that Amazon’s HQ2 would go elsewhere – along with its potential 50,000 employees over 15 years – know this: Expansion efforts by Amazon, Apple and Google could produce a near-equivalent wave of folks coming to Austin – and sooner than any HQ2.

Amazon headquarters building
Robert Scoble/Flickr <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(CC BY 2.0)</a>

Amazon will create 800 new jobs in engineering, research and cloud computing in Austin, the tech giant announced Thursday.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

After more than a year of lists and speculation, Austin's bid to secure Amazon's second headquarters is over. According to NPR, Austin joins a long list of more than 230 cities that competed in the race for an unheard-of prize: the promise of 50,000 jobs from the ecommerce juggernaut.

That prize has now been split in two – between Arlington, Va., and a neighborhood just across the East River from Manhattan. So what’s to come for Austin and the scores of other cities that didn't get a call from Amazon?

Updated at 2:07 p.m. ET on Wednesday

Amazon's HQ2 is getting divided by two.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Former Austin City Council member Laura Morrison is challenging Mayor Steve Adler this Election Day. Both candidates talked with KUT about why they are running and where they stand on some pressing issues in Austin.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

It appears the end is near for Amazon’s search for a location for a second headquarters.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that the company has changed its initial plans and will select two cities for what would reportedly be – in effect –  two HQ2s. The new plan would mean an even split of the planned 50,000 employees to two locations. The Journal reported the finalists are New York, Dallas and Crystal City, Va. (which is part of the Washington, D.C., suburb of Arlington).

Wikimedia Commons/U.S federal government (public domain)

From Texas Standard:

One question Amazon's Alexa won't be able to answer – at least not yet – is where Amazon will build its next headquarters.

It's been a year since the tech company announced it has outgrown its Seattle home base and needs to expand elsewhere. But the $1 trillion company has been tight-lipped about where that might be.

Since that announcement, 238 U.S. cities ingratiated themselves to the company, trying to win its favor. Amazon whittled that list of bids to 20 finalists, and among them are Austin and Dallas.

Phillip Pessar/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

A year ago Saturday, Amazon announced it was buying Whole Foods, prompting a flurry of questions about what it meant for the country’s biggest online retailer to get involved in the grocery business. Since then, the industry has started exploring ecommerce, but Amazon has been moving cautiously.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Amazon made a big splash when it announced it is looking for a home for its second headquarters and subsequently placed Austin on its short list with 19 other cities. But beyond those big, public proclamations, not much is known about what the company will do next. 

Spencer Selvidge / KUT

Amazon giveth and Amazon taketh away.

The Seattle-based tech giant bought Austin-based Whole Foods in August. Since that acquisition, Amazon has cut prices on bananas, yogurt and other items at the organic grocer, and began selling Kindle e-readers in some of its 470 stores.

Now, it's rolling out something new for Whole Foods patrons: two-hour delivery.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler sits in a KUT studio before an interview with KUT's Jennifer Stayton last year.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Austin is on the short list of cities Amazon might choose to host its second headquarters. But just what would bringing the huge ecommerce company do for Austin?

In a letter to Amazon last year, Mayor Steve Adler called it an “opportunity for a precedent-setting partnership.”

KUT's Jennifer Stayton sat down with Adler to talk about the potential he sees if Amazon were to pick Austin.

Amazon

And then there were 20.

Amazon has whittled the number of potential sites for its second headquarters from 238 to 20, and Austin has a spot in the final slate of cities vying to host the e-commerce giant.

TORLEY/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Amazon accounts for more than 40 percent of online sales in the U.S. and that means a lot of deliveries, especially during the holiday season.

Getting those packages to your front door is the job of individuals who are part of a program called Amazon Flex. Independent contractors deliver Amazon orders using their own vehicles. It’s a little like Uber for packages. The way the program operates has raised questions about how workers are treated, and whether they should be classified as Amazon employees, rather than contractors.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

News that the Sandow Power Plant outside Rockdale was closing broke on Friday the 13th.

“You would think you could put off till Monday to make that announcement," Steven Garza chuckles. "But that’s how it went down.”

Garza has worked as an electrician at the plant for four years. He and his wife were driving their son to school when he got the call and had to tell her he would be out of a job. 

Jordan Stead/Amazon

While Amazon has been very public about its process of finding a location for a second headquarters, it has asked Austin and the other 100-plus bidders to keep quiet about their proposals.

Amazon.com screenshot

Austin is officially in the race for perhaps the biggest corporate prize ever.

“This afternoon, we formally submitted the Austin-region bid for Amazon HQ2,” Mike Berman, senior vice president at the Austin Chamber of Commerce, said.

On a wall in Greg LeRoy's office is a frame with a custom-engraved wrench and a photo of workers in front of the Diamond Tool and Horseshoe factory in Duluth, Minn. It's from his days helping unions fight plant closings — when he first started digging into the convoluted financial relationship of corporations and local governments.

These days, LeRoy is the guy to call if you want to know about corporate subsidies. Lately, his phone has been ringing about one company in particular: Amazon.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Let’s get this out of the way: Amazon’s second headquarters is not coming here – yet. But the prospect of the e-commerce giant's "HQ2" coming to Austin has invited more than enough speculation.

Spencer Selvidge
KUT

The Federal Trade Commission has cleared the way for Amazon to buy Whole Foods. The decision came just hours after shareholders of the Austin-based grocery chain approved the sale.

Mike Mozart/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Amazon has made online shopping almost too easy: You can buy pretty much anything, from patio furniture to pet food, and have it delivered, in some cases, within two hours. Now brick-and-mortar retailers are finding creative ways to compete.

bryansjs/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

There are deals, and then there are big deals. Amazon buying Austin-based grocery chain Whole Foods for $13.7 billion certainly falls into the latter category. But what makes this deal so big isn’t even the money – there have been bigger deals before – it’s the ripple effects on workers, wages, other companies and everyday people.

https://flic.kr/p/h6y7Fr

Requiring Amazon to charge state sales tax has sent many consumers looking for other tax-free options, according to a new study for the National Bureau of Economic Research.

In 2012, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs reached an agreement with Amazon to collect sales tax on items sold to Texans. Because Amazon has a "physical presence" in Texas - its distribution center in Irving - Combs said Amazon should have been collecting state sales tax on online sales. She agreed to drop her demands for $269 million in taxes if Amazon promised to create 2,500 jobs and spend $200 million in capital investments.

But after Amazon started charging sales tax in Texas, its sales in this state dropped by 11 percent, according to researchers.

The news that Amazon is hoping to one day use semi-autonomous drones to deliver small packages to customers has many asking a familiar question:

What could go wrong?

Check this tweet:

"An Amazon drone!? What could go wrong?! 'They're autonomous' - this is how the Terminator started FYI..."

Update at 7:00 p.m.:

The Senate has passed the Marketplace Fairness Act by a vote of 69 to 27, The Associated Press reports.

Here's our original post:

The Senate is expected to approve a measure on Monday that would end tax-free shopping for online purchases, a move that concerns many e-retailers but has the support of the states that stand to collect billions in previously lost revenues.

flickr.com/dionnehartnett

Ordering the most recent Jodi Picoult novel or maybe a nice throw blanket on Amazon?

Now you can get a robust, full-bodied cabernet to complement them both.

Today, Amazon opened up their wine delivery service up to the Lone Star state, offering over 350 wines and 2,200 labels from across the world.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Online retail giant Amazon.com began charging Texas sales tax this weekend. But that doesn’t mean everything you buy through the site will be taxed.

While most products on Amazon are sold by, well, Amazon, Wikipedia notes that as of 2007, the site had over 1.3 million third-party sellers and associates. And Amazon says it’s up to those sellers to determine whether they need to charge the tax.

“Third party sellers that use our platform must determine their tax collection requirements based on their individual circumstances,” Amazon Corporate Communications spokesperson Scott Stanzel tells KUT News.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

In less than 48 hours, online retailer Amazon.com will start charging Texas sales tax on products you buy from its site.

Texas will become only the sixth state to charge sales tax on Amazon purchases. The switch comes after an agreement was made between the Texas Comptroller’s office and the online retailer. In 2010, the comptroller’s office claimed Amazon owed the state $269 million in uncollected sales tax. Under the new agreement, Amazon will create at least 2,500 jobs  in the state and will also bring at least $200 million in capital investment. 

For many brick-and-mortar operations the move will level the playing field. Jason Brewer is with the Retail Industry Leaders Association, a national trade group.