1. Amazon & GM to Invest in Tesla Rival
Amazon and General Motors are reportedly interested in investing in Rivian Automotive, one of Tesla’s direct rivals. The deal would value the automotive technology company anywhere between $1B and $2B and give both Amazon and General Motors minority stake. Rivian, based in Plymouth, Michigan, aims to be the first automaker in the U.S. market with an electric pickup truck. The truck market has historically been more lucrative than the car market given that profit margins are much higher. Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas believes that Tesla’s dominance in the U.S. electric car market—with 80% of unit sales and 90% of revenue— is “unsustainable” and faces “serious competition” from Rivian Automotive. A deal could be finalized within the month if negotiations run smoothly; however, there is still a chance the deal could fall through. Amazon, General Motors, and Rivian did not comment on the matter at this time, but sources believe the deal has real potential.
2. Toys ‘R’ Us Makes a Comeback
Toys ‘R’ Us just might be making a comeback this year. Failing to jump onto the e-commerce bandwagon early on caused the company’s sad demise. After liquidating their business last year in the U.S., the company is back and ready to try again with a new strategy and a brand new name. The new company, called Tru Kids, will aim to regenerate sales of the Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us brands. This time with e-commerce in the picture. The company will be run by the former global chief merchandising officer at Toys ‘R’ Us along with other former executives. This year alone, Tru Kids plans to open 70+ stores in Asia, India, and Europe in addition to growing throughout the U.S. market. As the parent company to Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us and owner to the rights of Geoffrey and other toy brands, Tru Kids is “exploring various options including freestanding stores and shops within existing stores.” It plans to invest in technological experiences for their customers where products and information can be easily accessed online. The company intends to make this happen by the upcoming holiday season.
3. Insta Tests DM Feature for the Web
According to app researcher Jane Manchun Wong, Instagram is testing a new direct messaging feature for the web on mobile and desktop. This feature will allow users to privately chat with each other without the app.
Currently, there is little activity available on Instagram’s desktop experience with no direct options to upload photos or stories. Browser notification support was added last September, but Instagram has said the company has no intention to add the feature to upload photos or stories from a desktop. “We’re always testing ways to improve the Instagram experience,” says Instagram spokesperson. This new feature being tested would essentially allow any user with access to a mobile web browser to send direct messages, emojis, and memes to their friends. This web version could transform Instagram’s messaging app, Direct, into a feature beyond discussing photo content on the app. For now, Instagram is not making moves to publicly test the feature.