Amazon's new unit has more than 400 employees, focused on helping engineers avoid rote work




Happy Thursday, readers. Jordan Parker Erb here, reporting from New York and counting down the seconds until it's Friday.

Today, we're kicking things off with my colleague Eugene Kim's look at a (secret) new team at Amazon. Plus, to get us in the (luxury, extremely expensive, utterly unattainable) pre-weekend spirit: We're taking you inside late Microsoft founder Paul Allen's $90 million yacht.

Shall we?

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Kara Swisher and Amazon President and CEO Andy Jassy speak onstage during Vox Media
Kara Swisher and Amazon President and CEO Andy Jassy speak onstage during Vox Media's 2022 Code Conference.  

Kara Swisher and Amazon President and CEO Andy Jassy speak onstage during Vox Media's 2022 Code Conference.Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Vox Media

1. Amazon CEO Andy Jassy is trying to fix the company's crumbling engineering culture. After internal complaints about a slowing engineering culture, Amazon has created a new unit that tackles "foundational pain points" raised by the company's frustrated developers.

  • According to leaked documents, Amazon formed the "Amazon Software Builder Experience" group to "focus on improving the experience of software builders across Amazon." To achieve that end, the team has six guiding principles.

  • Concern over Amazon losing its innovative "building" edge has come to a head in recent years, with many longtime executives responsible for the early growth of the company leaving for smaller startups or competitors.

  • An Amazon spokesperson confirmed the existence of the ASBX team, saying it's part of an effort to maintain its speedy and entrepreneurial - or "Day 1"- culture.

  • Some Amazon engineers have expressed that they're "overwhelmed" by mundane software upgrade work, manual testing and deployment, and hard-to-use developer tools.

Inside the new ASBX team. 

In other news:

Errol Musk, Elon's father.Cyrus McCrimmon/Getty Images


2. Elon Musk's father, Errol, says the Tesla founder should have more children. During a recent call with Insider, Errol said his son "officially" has 10 children - and is supportive of Elon continuing to grow his family. If money's no object, Errol said, "why shouldn't you?" Read our exclusive interview here.

3. Speaking of children: Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan are expecting their third child. The Meta CEO announced on Instagram: "Happy to share that Max and August are getting a new baby sister next year!" More here.

4. And speaking of Meta: The company is reportedly putting some workers onto a "30-day list" that gives them a month to find a new role within Meta - or leave. As per the Wall Street Journal, instead of terminating employees outright, Meta is giving some workers whose roles have been eliminated a month-long purgatory period to apply to different jobs. Check out the full report. 

5. The FTC rejected Amazon's bid to quash subpoenas ordering founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Jassy to testify in a Prime investigation. The investigation centers around Amazon's allegedly misleading tactics around its sign-up and cancellation process for Prime and other subscription services. Read the full story here.

6. This commerce startup was born out of Apple's 2020 privacy changes - and raised a $12 million supergiant seed round. Fermat allows brands to embed shopping experiences directly in influencer content. Here's its 10-slide pitch deck. Plus, check out our searchable pitch deck database to see how other companies raised millions.

7. VCs share their picks for the most promising proptech startups of 2022. We asked top investors to name real-estate startups - both in their portfolios and companies they have no financial ties to - that they think are poised to succeed despite a housing market downturn. See their list of 21 nominees here. 

8. Tech companies are worried an aging Congress can't meet or even understand their demands. Making laws that affect tech can be complicated - and the sector has grown increasingly concerned about legislators who cling to their flip phones. Get the scoop here.

Odds and ends:

Fraser Yachts, Tatoosh

9. Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen's superyacht is on sale for $90 million. The boat, Tatoosh, will be featured at The Monaco Yacht show later this month. With two helicopter pads, a swimming pool, and a movie theater, the yacht can fit 19 guests in 11 rooms. See photos of Allen's ship - and others - here. 

10. These iOS 16 features can help you enhance your privacy and security. Using iOS 16, iPhone owners can now lock private photos and notes with Face ID biometric security, as well as implement a Safety Check to audit who has access to their data. Here are five other privacy settings in iOS 16. 

What we're watching today:

Keep updated with the latest tech news throughout your day by checking out The Refresh from Insider, a dynamic audio news brief from the Insider newsroom. Listen here.

Curated by Jordan Parker Erb in New York. (Feedback or tips? Email jerb@insider.com or tweet @jordanparkererb.) Edited by Lisa Ryan (tweet @lisarya) in New York and Hallam Bullock (tweet @hallam_bullock) in London.

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