Plus: Apple’s retail chief is leaving after five years; Snap finally had a good day on Wall Street; your new, more-inclusive emoji for 2019.
No figure in corporate America is attacked more often by President Trump than Amazon founder Jeff Bezos — Trump even dubbed him “Jeff Bozo.” Yet, no one has made more money than Bezos since Trump’s election. Trump has repeatedly vilified Bezos, threatening his company with tax increases, antitrust prosecution, and higher shipping fees, attacking the Bezos-owned Washington Post as a “scam” and even mocking the billionaire for his pending divorce. Bezos’s wealth has surged by $64.1 billion since Trump took office two years ago; in fact, he has become the world’s richest person, with his wealth valued at $135.4 billion. For context, just four other people on the planet — Bill Gates, investor Warren Buffett, French luxury goods tycoon Bernard Arnault, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg — are worth more than $64 billion. [Justin Sink / Bloomberg]
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The audience for Trump’s State of the Union address looked like a striking sea of white, with Democratic women — many dressed in white in a nod to the women’s suffrage movement — sitting together. Midway through the president’s speech, they did something completely unexpected: They stood up and cheered. “No one has benefited more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58 percent of the newly created jobs last year,” Trump said, prompting the women to roar their approval. After all, many of them had new jobs, in the House, which they took from men. “You weren’t supposed to do that,” the president said, smiling. More highlights from the speech here; real-time fact-checking and context from the New York Times here. [The New York Times]
Apple’s head of retail operations, Angela Ahrendts, is leaving the company in April after five years on the job. Apple didn’t say where or why Ahrendts was leaving, other than to note that she was embarking on “new personal and professional pursuits.” Ahrendts joined Apple after serving as the CEO of fashion giant Burberry for almost eight years. At Apple, she overhauled the company’s retail operations, redesigning brick-and-mortar Apple Stores with more open floor plans and a focus on pushing customer service “geniuses” out from behind formal counters into more casual spaces. Ahrendts had been floated by some Apple watchers as a potential successor to current CEO Tim Cook. Deirdre O’Brien, who has been with the company for three decades and runs Apple’s human resources functions, is taking over the retail unit; her title will be senior vice president of Retail + People. [Mark Gurman / Bloomberg]
Snap finally had a good day: After a tough year in which Snap execs and investors watched the company’s stock price slowly bleed out because of government investigations, executive departures, and product issues, the company reported better-than-expected Q4 earnings that shot the stock up more than 22 percent in after-hours trading yesterday. Sales were up to a record $390 million, a 36 percent jump over the same quarter a year ago. But Snapchat’s total user base shrank in 2018 — the company ended the year with 186 million daily users, down from 187 million users a year earlier. It’s plan for growth is tied to a new version of the Snapchat Android app that the company has been working on since late 2017. [Kurt Wagner / Recode]
Ride-sharing customers are becoming less brand-loyal: Americans who used both Uber and Lyft in the last quarter of 2018 accounted for about a third of the companies’ ride-sharing revenue; that’s up 13 percentage points from the beginning of 2016. Uber-only riders still controlled a majority of that ride-share revenue last quarter — 51 percent — but that’s shrinking as a greater share of customers use Lyft, both together with Uber and on its own. Some 15 percent of revenue was from Lyft-only riders, up from 5 percent two years ago. The gap between market share overall and among people who use both services likely means that when people have both apps, they shop between them and take the car with the better price [Rani Molla / Recode]
The rise of the robot reporter: As reporters and editors find themselves the victims of layoffs at digital publishers and traditional newspaper chains alike, journalism generated by machines is on the rise. Roughly a third of the content published by Bloomberg News uses some form of automated technology — the system used by the company, Cyborg, is able to assist reporters in churning out thousands of articles on company earnings reports each quarter. Robot reporters have also been prolific producers of articles on minor league baseball for the Associated Press, high school football for the Washington Post, and earthquakes for the Los Angeles Times. [Jaclyn Peiser / The New York Times]
Top stories from Recode
Spotify has bought two podcast startups and it wants to buy more. CEO Daniel Ek says he wants to spend up to $500 million on acquisitions this year. [Peter Kafka]
Facebook is taking down 22 more Pages tied to Infowars founder Alex Jones. Facebook banned a number of Jones’s Pages in August. Now it’s citing a new policy for banning even more. [Kurt Wagner]
Evan Ratliff, author of The Mastermind, explains how tech enabled a drug kingpin. On the latest Recode Decode, Ratliff talks about his new book, which traces the rise and fall of Paul Le Roux, the leader of the first internet drug cartel (but he won’t be the last). [Kara Swisher]
This is cool
Here are your new, more-inclusive emoji for 2019.
The sommeliers of everything.