• The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon is in talks to acquire autonomous car company Zoox in a deal that, if completed, would value the company at less than the $3.2 billion valuation it had during its last funding round in 2018.
According to the story, "Zoox, founded in 2014, has been working to develop the hardware and software needed to create electric-powered, robot taxis that would be summoned by smartphone app starting this year.
"A successful deal could give new life to a once-high-profile startup that has seen its fortunes dim as it struggled to raise money.
"Amazon a few years ago created a team devoted to driverless-vehicle technology, motivated in part by a push to transport more of its goods itself. It has made several investments in the area, including last year when it participated in autonomous-technology firm Aurora Innovation Inc.’s $530 million funding round."
• Axios reports that "Amazon is looking to invest in localized podcast content, like news and sports, sources tell Axios. Sports content is top of mind as the company plans to buy up more TV rights and have adjacent audio content for users … It wants to explore short-form audio content that can be surfaced when users ask Alexa for information about topics like news and sports."
The reason: "Amazon sees a strategic advantage in podcasts by leveraging Alexa voice tech to help users discover personalized content." Plus, the story says, this would allow Amazon "to possibly tap into a more localized ad market by serving local ads adjacent to that hyper-personalized audio content."
Local advertising, Axios notes, "is a roughly $150 billion market in the U.S."
• From USA Today:
"FedEx and Microsoft's new alliance will bolster FedEx's technological capabilities, but that alone won't be enough to edge out rival Amazon, experts say.
"FedEx and Microsoft announced their multiyear collaboration on May 18, focused on combining the two’s strengths in logistics and computing to give customers better insight on their supply chains."
According to the story, "FedEx's Microsoft team-up allows it to compete technology-wise with Amazon without having to spend years developing its own cloud capabilities in-house, he said.
"The first piece of the two's collaboration is FedEx Surround, giving businesses information on any logistical slowdowns, such as severe weather or clearance issues, and how their inventory is selling in different areas. The release said it will provide an 'unprecedented level of data-driven insight' for customers."
The piece makes the point that "Amazon has the advantage of being both a technology and a supply chain company, giving it the advantage over those more focused on one or the other … "