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Data Sheet—Amazon Wants to Get America Scanning for the Holidays

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I’ve been traveling and consuming election coverage and doing other stuff, so I’ll keep it short this morning by commenting on a delicious nugget Aaron brought you yesterday. That would be Amazon’s decision to issue a paper catalog devoted to selling toys this Christmas season.

The Verge reported on this Wednesday. I revel over stories like this for their old-combined-with-new goodness.

The old is print itself. Techno hipsters—and wannabe bleeding edgers—are never content to sing the praises of the latest bright shiny object. They have to disparage the last generation’s toys too. Thus print is dead because, well, digital is better.

Except when it isn’t. Amazon recognizes that people like shopping in catalogs. Just like some people—me, for instance—like the serenity of reading a book or a newspaper without staring into a screen. And so Amazon will invest a tiny percentage of its marketing budget on good, old-fashioned catalogs.

The new? The pages of Amazon’s catalog are stuffed with QR codes. These black-and-white scannable options for buying things are all the rage in China but are less popular in the U.S. They’re on our boarding passes, sure. But most American’s don’t pay for things with QR codes. Amazon might change that.

I told you I’d be brief. Have a great weekend.

Adam Lashinsky


Partial response. After thousands of Google employees walked out, CEO Sundar Pichai on Thursday announced he would adopt some of their suggestions to combat sexual misconduct. “We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that,” he wrote in an email to all employees. “It’s clear we need to make some changes.” Google will no longer require people making harassment claims to go to private arbitration, Pichai said. Among other steps, the company also will report to employees the number of claims made company-wide and will publish an internal guide to harassment investigations. But Google did not agree to put an employee representative on the company’s board. Separately, Google is hiring David Feinberg, who ran a large hospital network in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, to oversee its health care tech push.

At least it won’t be confusing. Amid plenty of hype, Disney revealed more details of its forthcoming Netflix competitor which will arrive late next year under the name Disney+, which is not particularly imaginative but certainly better than Oath or Tronc. The House of Mouse will offer a “first look” sneak peek in April. CEO Bob Iger said the service will give subscribers “unprecedented access” to Disney’s film library including content from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic.

Virtual smackdown. The Securities and Exchange Commission took action against a digital currency and token trading platform called EtherDelta for operating without registering as a securities exchange. Founder Zachary Coburn agreed to pay almost $400,000 to settle the charges. In a more positive regulatory action for tech, the Federal Aviation Administration for the first time granted permission for large commercial drones to fly beyond the line of site of human operators. GE-backed startup Avitas Systems will use drones with radar sensors to avoid obstacles to inspect Shell oil facilities in Texas.

Charting some ups and downs. On Wall Street, Dropbox reported its third quarter revenue rose 26% to $360 million and adjusted earnings per share jumped 57% to 11 cents, both better than analysts expected. Dropbox shares, which had gained 18% since the company’s IPO in March, rose another 8% in premarket trading on Friday. But the news wasn’t so great for Yelp, which reported that its sales rose 9% to $241 million and earnings per share almost doubled to 17 cents, but due to “a combination of smaller operational factors that negatively affected productivity” it was reducing its fourth quarter outlook. Investors absolutely pummeled the stock, sending it down 32% in premarket trading and cutting over $1 billion off its market value.

Local news. In a bit of breaking news that affects everyone at Data Sheet, Meredith announced on Friday morning that it is selling the entire Fortune operation to Chatchaval Jiaravanon, executive chairman of Thailand’s biggest conglomerate, Charoen Pokphand Group, for $150 million.

Fact-finding fix. While almost every story out this week about new Tesla board chair Robyn Denholm said she was the first female Tesla board member—including ours—venture investor and corporate advisor Laurie Yoler writes to say that she was actually the first, serving from 2003 to 2008. And she’s even got the 2008 Fortune article citation to prove it.


Sundar Pichai of Google: ‘Technology Doesn’t Solve Humanity’s Problems’ (New York Times)
Growing up in India, he slept on the floor of a house without a refrigerator. Today, the chief executive is steering Google through the most turbulent period in its history.

Silicon Valley’s Radical New Idea: Treat Employees Well (Literary Hub)
It turns out that a quiet movement has been taking shape, led by people who see how things have gone wrong and believe that business might be the solution. Business could be a way to make money but also a way to transform society and lift people out of poverty. Each person I met introduced me to others, and so my journey into the world of work took an unexpected turn, and one that left me feeling uplifted and hopeful.

The American Grandmaster Who Could Become World Champion (
Just a normal guy who is ranked second in the world in chess. A normal guy who was pulled out of school after seventh grade to do nothing but play the ancient and intricate game. A normal guy who is a hairbreadth away from prying the No. 1 position loose from probably the best player ever to play the game.

Chasing Denali: The Four Miners Who Created One of Climbing’s Greatest Mysteries (The Guardian)
In 1910, four gold prospectors summited North America’s tallest mountain in a single day, using little more than donuts and rudimentary equipment. But were they telling the truth? In an extract from his latest book, Jon Waterman details the start of the expedition.


Having trouble keeping focus amid all the distractions of the modern day? Psychologist and author Nick Wignall blogs about research in his field that can help people stay on track better. Today, he’s exploring the idea of a “distractions list” as a way to shunt mental pop ups from taking control. The idea is that whenever an idea pops into your head that’s a distraction from what you’re doing, you write it down in a notebook that you keep handy for just such quick notes.

While the experience of worry and the anxiety it produces is uncomfortable, it often serves the purpose of increasing our memory. In other words, when our mind is afraid that we’ll forget about important things, it often throws those things at us (in the form of worry) as a kind of primitive memory aid.

Imagine driving in the car and seeing a phone number you want to remember on a billboard. Ideally, you’d write the number down as a way to remember it. But you’re driving, so you have to resort to a more primitive technique—repeating the number over and over again. Often this is what our mind is doing when it throws “distracting” things at us while we’re working. It’s afraid that we’ll forget something important, so it repeats it over and over again.

By keeping a Distractions List, you’re effectively reassuring your mind that you have a reliable system for remembering these important things. And if you get in the habit of keeping a Distractions List, eventually your mind will really start to trust that you will remember important things. Consequently, it will feel less of a need to throw these distracting worries at you.


Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Ranks Highest in This Important Category, Poll Finds By Jonathan Vanian

Intel’s Former CEO Gets New Gig at Much Smaller Company By Aaron Pressman

Volkswagen’s Answer To Tesla: A €20,000 Electric Car By Grace Dobush

Chinese Drone Giant DJI Fixed This Major Security Vulnerability By Jonathan Vanian

Time to Ditch the Word ‘Blockchain’, Report Says By Jeff John Roberts

Holiday Gift Guide 2018: Luxury Lifestyle By Rachel King


Residents of Galveston, Texas, are about to become probably very annoyed pawns in the quest for faster air travel. NASA is creating dozens of sonic booms over the city this month, which will then be followed up by surveys of residents to see how disruptive they found all the noise in the sky. The research is aimed at guiding new rules to permit supersonic passenger aircraft in the United States. A variety of new, super-fast plans are already planned. Here’s to hoping you have a quiet weekend.

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman. Find past issues, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters.