Friday Five: Meet Andy Jassy, the new king of Amazon

Zone’s Ross Basham handpicks and shares the five best new stories on digital trends, experiences and technologies…

1. Meet Andy Jassy, the new king of Amazon

So farewell, then, to Jeff Bezos, who is stepping down as Amazon’s CEO 30 years after he founded the company in his garage. But who is his successor, Andy Jassy? He’s been at Amazon for 23 years and founded its most lucrative business: Amazon Web Services (which accounts for a third of worldwide cloud infrastructure spend).

Jassy will be expected to grow more offshoots in the way he built AWS, such as its burgeoning advertising business, Ring home security, Amazon Prime and its move into pharmacy. And don’f forget, Bezos isn’t retiring with his $200bn fortune; he’s staying on as exec chairman to keep a close eye on his incredibly lucrative baby.

2. Google’s firefighting drones idea fizzles out

It’s emerged that Google sought permission from the US Federal Aviation Administration to test a drone for monitoring and fighting fires. Its plan was to use the kind of drone currently used for spraying chemicals on crops, which could in theory be filled with water to put out a fire. But the plans have now been extinguished.

Google’s Wing subsidiary (not linked to this aborted project) has used drones to deliver food and medicine during the pandemic. And drones have been used in firefighting efforts for some years now, so it’s unclear why Google decided to abandon the project. It has confirmed there are no plans to reengage on the work.

3. Influencer ban on ‘misleading’ beauty filters

The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that filters should not be applied to social media adverts if they exaggerate the effect of the product. The ruling comes in response to the #filterdrop campaign, which called for it to be compulsory for influencers to state when they use a beauty filter to promote skincare or cosmetics.

The #filterdrop campaign was started by Sasha Pallari, a 29-year-old from Weston-super-Mare, who said she wanted to see “more real skin” on Instagram. The ASA examined two examples where filters were added to videos shared by influencers advertising tanning products, which were then banned for being “misleading”.

4. Tech CEO to lead first all-civilian space flight

The world’s first all-civilian space mission is to be led by a tech boss. No, not Zone’s very own Andy Peppiatt, but Jared Isaacman, the CEO of Shift4 Payments (a US-based provider of payment processing solutions). Isaacman and three other private citizens will be trained by Elon Musk’s SpaceX operation and fly on its Dragon craft.

Isaacman, who has logged thousands of hours of flying, will command the flight, which is called Inspiration4 in a nod to its aim to inspire support for St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. The mission is scheduled to launch late this year and the plan is that one of the crew will be a frontline health worker from St Jude’s.

5. You better believe it… Bebo’s back, baby

Remember Bebo? Back in the heady days of the mid-noughties it was the UK’s most popular social network and had over 40 million members worldwide. Well, it’s back, and its co-founder plans to relaunch it with a focus on profiles and ‘real-time’ interactions between friends in a bid to take on the might of Facebook and Twitter.

Michael Birch — who is coding the rebrand himself — and his wife Xochi sold the site to AOL for $850m in 2008 before later buying it back for $1m. His aim is to provide a “refreshing break” from the misinformation spread elsewhere and, to that end, he has already pre-emptively banned Donald Trump. The Friday Five wishes him luck.

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