Amazon says studio executive Joe Lewis resigns

(Reuters) – Inc on Monday said Joe Lewis, the head of comedy and drama at its entertainment studio unit, has stepped down, but gave no reason for his resignation.

FILE PHOTO: Joe Lewis, Head of Original Programming at Amazon Studios, poses during Amazon’s premiere screening of the tv series “Transparent” at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, California, September 15, 2014. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian

Amazon said Sharon Tal Yguado, who is the head of event series, will replace Lewis in the interim.

Lewis’ exit comes after Amazon Studios chief Roy Price resigned this month after taking a leave of absence in the wake of harassment allegations from a female producer.

The Hollywood Reporter, which earlier reported Lewis’ departure, said Lewis will still have a producing deal at Amazon Studios.

Reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru and Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco; Editing by Mary Milliken

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Amazon Aims to Be the Next Big Fashion Brand with Body Labs Acquisition

This month, not long after acquiring Whole Foods, Amazon quietly bolted on Body Labs, a New York artificial intelligence startup that creates 3D models of real people from photos, with better than 2-centimeter accuracy. Natasha Lomos and Jordan Crook, writing for TechCrunch which broke the acquisition story, commented, “Amazon has been ramping up its own fashion business in recent years, expanding and growing its private label fashion brands.”

So what are three possible outcomes from another Amazon acquisition, this one AI? Let’s take them one by one.

1. Amazon uses social selling to sell more clothes, sportswear, shoes and jewelry

Amazon has already invested a lot into its product recommendation engine. If you’re like me, you scan Amazon’s “Recommended for you” a lot–it’s good. Body Labs should jump that forward in product categories like clothing, jewelry, and sportswear.

Flo McDavid, director of business development at Body Labs, put it this way just before the acquisition,  “While there are tons and tons of Google images of very diverse people, it’s hard to find someone who’s like you. At Body Labs we’ve developed artificially intelligence software that understands human body shape from everyday photos.  . . . No body scanners, no changing clothes or anything like that–just a  simple photo. So we thought, what if we could connect people with similar body shapes so they could be inspired by people like them?”

The Body Labs demo shows people using a selfie to connect them to “shape doppelgangers” on Instagram in clothes that look good. Hear Flo talk more about it in the video below:

2. Amazon Fashion rolls out the red carpet for customers.

Amazon currently has a product–Echo Look–that takes real-time images of customers. It is marketed as a “Hands-Free Camera and Style Assistant with Alexa–includes Style Check to get a second opinion on your outfit.” It is not a tough guess that Amazon’s second opinion is you can buy three or four more things–just ask Alexa. But seriously, by bolting on Body Labs engine in the background, Amazon could power recommendations around fashion and accessories that work in the real world.

Body Labs VP of Developer Relations Ali Javid said recently in a company YouTube video, “Imagine if an apparel brand or retailer knew the shape of every single one of their customers—imagine how the shopping experience could change. Imagine how the supply chain would be innovated upon. This is possible today with BodyLabs human-aware AI.”

3.    Amazon grows profitable game developer infrastructure.

In July, Amazon reported just over 4 billion in income from its Amazon Web Services division. Amazon runs its own games studios, distributes Lumberyard, and has GameLift and GameSparks back-end services for multi-player games. Body Labs would be a natural extension for gamers to have to develop photo-realistic, moving body avatars. Adding on this kind of service would continue to expand their digital revenue, so it makes sense, although the company has not commented on this direction.

So, what’s next for Amazon?

Integrating Body Labs into the launch of Amazon Prime Wardrobe, a try-before-you-buy clothing discount service now in beta, is an obvious next step–whether or not that integration is obvious to the customer. Echo Look integration also looks to be a no-brainer. Peering a bit further down the line, with big technology companies hungry to acquire production and distribution, it wouldn’t be surprising to have Amazon acquire fashion production as well as fashion brand assets in the near future to round out its in-house fashion lines Lark + Ro, Franklin & Freeman, Pinzon, Scout + Ro, and more.


Wal-Mart tests direct-to-fridge; Amazon ups restaurant game

(Reuters) – Wal-Mart Stores Inc is testing a service to stock groceries directly to customers’ refrigerators as it seeks to take on e-commerce giant

The delivery of groceries and meal kits is emerging as the next frontier of competition among retailers.

The world’s biggest brick-and-mortar retailer said on Friday it is partnering with August Home, a provider of smart locks and home accessories, to test the service with certain customers in the Silicon Valley. (

The grocery business is set to be upended through Amazon’s acquisition of upmarket grocer Whole Foods last month and the online retailer is also entrenching itself more deeply in the restaurants business.

Amazon Restaurants on Friday teamed up with online food ordering company Olo whose network of restaurants includes Applebee’s and Chipotle.

A Wal-Mart Stores Inc company distribution center in Bentonville, Arkansas June 6, 2013. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

The partnership will help Olo’s restaurant customers connect with Amazon’s delivery services.

The competition in the meal-kits business is also heating up. Supermarket operator Albertsons Cos Inc said it would buy meal-kit delivery service Plated while rival Kroger-owned Ralphs started selling meal kits in stores this week.


As part of the test, Wal-Mart delivery persons gain access to a customer’s house using a pre-authorized one-time passcode and put away groceries in the fridge and other items in the foyer.

Homeowners would receive notifications when the delivery is in progress and could also watch the real-time process from their home security cameras through the August Home app.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer has been exploring new methods of delivery and in June said it was testing using its own store employees to deliver packages ordered online.

Reporting by Vibhuti Sharma and Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Martina D’Couto

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


Amazon enters the student loan business


Next time you’re ordering your textbooks from Amazon, you can also order a student loan. 

Amazon is entering the private student loan business through a partnership with Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo’s student lenders will offer a 0.5 percent interest rate discount to members of Prime Student, Amazon’s half-price version of Prime for college students.

Amazon already offers small business loans through Amazon Lending, the invitation-only loan program for third-party sellers it launched in 2012. But this will be the company’s first involvement in the student loan market. 

The interest rate discount will be available for all Wells Fargo student loans, including both new loans and loan refinancing.  Read more…

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