business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  The Information reports that "Shopify’s sales growth has evaporated over the past year as the boom in online spending sparked by the pandemic has dissipated. But the e-commerce software giant has focused on squeezing more money out of its existing merchants from the sale of other services.

"One notable way it’s doing that is by fronting money to cash-strapped online sellers. Its six-year-old lending business topped half a billion dollars in new loans for the first time in the third quarter - a nearly 30% jump from the prior year. More importantly, that growth has outstripped growth in merchants’ sales volume in five of the past six quarters.

"Shopify executives expect the souring economy to continue boosting the company’s money-lending business - especially heading into Black Friday and Cyber Monday - as merchants’ working capital is stretched thin due to surging inventory and other costs and as traditional lenders dial back on handing out money to small businesses."

The story notes that "Shopify’s capital arm offers its customers a form of financing known as a merchant cash advance, with eligibility based on their sales history on the platform. Shopify charges a fixed fee for the service on top of the money it advances, and collects a slice of the merchants' daily sales until the advance is repaid. (Shopify also provides loans with fixed repayment periods in some U.S. states.)"

I understand that this is good for these small businesses, but I just hope that it doesn't become a matter of owing their souls to the company store.

•  Amazon said this week that "Amazon is ready for its first-ever holiday season with its fleet of custom electric delivery vehicles designed by Rivian. Hundreds of the vehicles rolled out this summer in more than a dozen cities, including Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Nashville, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, and St. Louis. Since then, Amazon has expanded its fleet and now has more than 1,000 electric delivery vehicles making deliveries in more than 100 cities across the U.S.

"Customers will begin spotting the vans delivering holiday gifts and packages to doorsteps in new cities, including Austin, Boston, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Madison, Newark, New York, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Portland, Provo, and Salt Lake City. This expansion comes as Amazon and Rivian continue their progress toward having thousands of vehicles on the road by the end of the year and 100,000 vehicles by 2030."

•  The New York Times reports that Amazon is considering the placement of a disclaimer on a video and book called “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which has been decried by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as being “deeply and unequivocally antisemitic."

The film has gotten a lot of publicity recently when is was endorsed on social media by Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, who subsequently was suspended by the team when his apologies were judged to be insufficient and insincere.

The Nets and the ADL sent Amazon a letter asking the company "to take down or add explanatory context to the film and the related book, saying they were 'designed to inflame hatred and, now that it was popularized by Mr. Irving, will lead directly to the harm of Jews'."

The Times writes that "Cory Shields, an Amazon spokesman, said the potential disclaimer would appear on the documentary’s main detail page, which viewers would see before buying or renting the film. A similar note potentially would be added to a page where customers could buy the book that the film is based on."

I'm offended by a lot of this, including the fact that people keep referring to this vile crap as being a "documentary."  Propaganda, maybe, butt it doesn't seem like a documentary to me.

At the risk of affecting my browsing history on Amazon, I went online this morning and can't find any disclaimers - except for the audio book, where the audio publisher notes that "the views expressed in this audiobook may be offensive to some listeners and do not necessarily reflect the views of the audio publisher."

I think there are times when being the "everything store" goes too far.