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It’s been a cloud-filled week in tech, with Amazon getting a new CEO to run AWS, and Microsoft stock soaring on quarterly earnings driven by Azure’s success.
But now that Andy Jassy has been tabled to use his cloud computing management skills to run the largest e-commerce company in the world, we have only one question: What TV shows does he watch?
This matters more than a little as one of the most prominent Amazon side issues is Prime Video. Just today, Prime Video landed 10 Golden Globe nominations (Small Ax, Borat sequel film) That balanced it out in second place, with Hulu, for the most nominations. Netflix led the way with a goggle 42.
However, unlike Netflix or Hulu, Prime Video is available for free if you are one of the approximately 150 million households that subscribe to Amazon Prime. Many people do this for free shipping of all the stuff they buy online.
But about half of those subscribers, several studies have suggested, also take advantage of their free Prime Video access to a wide variety of often excellent shows (in addition to the Globe nominees, too. Sound of Metal, The Vast of Night, The Boys, Jack Ryan, I’m Your Woman, Sylvie’s Love, One night in Miami Hanna, Tales from the Loop, and many more originals).
Prime also has its library stocked with many licensed old sitcoms and movies, a wide variety of comedy specials, a sequel to Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America even live streams of some NFL games.
And as big as Prime Video is, it’s just a big part of Amazon’s confusing closet of “TV” initiatives. There’s a free ad-supported channel IMDb TV, all the subscription channels it sells and hosts, everything that happens on Twitch, even the social video content from influencers trying to sell products on the site.
And don’t forget all those Fire TV devices, whose widespread popularity puts them just behind Roku as the most popular streaming video interface in America.
In short, Andy Jassy is going to be one of the most important people in Hollywood. Like it or not, the Cloud Guy will influence (or maybe better, can influence) that tens of millions of TV fans watch and what thousands of TV makers make.
No better example of that power comes from Jassy’s future predecessor, who once stepped into Prime’s Los Angeles headquarters to declare he wanted to know where Amazon’s version of HBO’s. Game of Thrones used to be.
At the time, as Bezos’ emphatically suggested, Prime’s offering leaned toward the small, smart and somewhat costly, an outgrowth of Prime’s first chef, Roy Price’s programming strategy. But those shows, some of which got critical acclaim but not many viewers, didn’t do much to attract and retain Prime subscribers, which was the point of the entire service, after all.
Soon after, Price’s successors had pledged $ 250 million for the rights to a spin-off series in the Lord of the Rings universe, with an additional $ 250 million allocated to actual production. That show hasn’t arrived yet, although Amazon says it’s on the way.
Bezos is also reportedly a huge fan of it The expanse, a complex space opera about the solar system with a particularly deep political and scientific foundation thanks to its roots in a series of novels by James SA Corey.
The series ran for three seasons on NBCU’s Syfy Channel, was canceled and then picked up by Amazon, in part because of Bezos’ affection for it. Prime has since played two more seasons and has ordered a third, possibly final, season, although producers Alcon Entertainment “remain very committed to the IP.”
Both tidbits suggest that running a giant ecommerce company and the largest cloud company in the industry (not to mention, in the case of Bezos, The Washington Post, and a commercial aerospace company) doesn’t mean you can’t also move to a small. television occasionally. We’ll probably start figuring out what Jassy is up to soon enough.
Jassy is taking the lead under a seemingly rather tight line, unsurprisingly given that he will only be the second CEO in Amazon’s 27-year history. Only in the summer does he take over, which gives Bezos time to change his mind.
In fact, the first CEO remains as executive chairman, even though Bezos’ last years of a historically costly divorce, tabloid scandal, relationship building (all of this not necessarily in that order) and new Los Angeles mansions have yielded enough of gossip mill that has surprised even Amazon loyalists.
According to a Business Insider profile, Jassy has a conference room called ‘The Chop’, a place ‘where ideas, and sometimes employees too, go to be tailored. Sweet.
Like Bezos, Jassy manages it via memo instead of PowerPoint. As a writer I can find out. Bezos has even praised shareholders for the virtues of memo-based management in, yes, a memo (technically an investor’s letter, but the same difference).
These are not just any office memo, he said. They are edited, reworked, set aside for a few days, then reworked. It takes a week or more to generate a six-page document centered on an entire business conversation.
However, if that sounds like the equivalent of network suits ‘nuts’ to a producer or showrunner, one of Hollywood’s great hazing for creative talent, it might suggest that Jassy will fit right in with the new moguls now running the city.