Amazon raises wages, Roku to rollout original content

Yahoo Finance’s Dan Howley reports the latest in the world of tech.

Video Transcript

KRISTIN MYERS: Well, we just heard about how to get a job in the tech sector. And for those of you that are looking, well, Amazon is hiring. We have our Yahoo Finance tech editor Dan Howley here with all of the details. Hi, Dan.

DAN HOWLEY: That's right, Kristin. Amazon is going to be hiring 75,000 new employees across its warehouse-- that's the fulfillment centers-- and delivery businesses. And essentially, what they're going to be doing here is offering them an average starting salary of $17. Now that's obviously higher than the $15 salaries-- starting salary that they already offer. They're also going to be offering benefits for those who have their COVID vaccines already. There will be $100 bonus for each new employee that has their vaccine. And they're also going to be offering $1,000 signing bonus, depending on the location.

So, obviously, what they're trying to do here is skirt the criticism that they've faced. Jeff Bezos, by the way, most recent and last shareholder's letter, had said that the company needs to do better by its workers, especially those in the warehouses. And that followed the defeat of the unionization effort at that Bessemer, Alabama fulfillment center-- excuse me.

So what they're trying to do here is clearly set up themselves to have a better appearance as far as how they treat workers by giving them that two extra dollars an an hour. Now, by the way, it's important to point out that a number of people who had been hired during the pandemic [INAUDIBLE] that was falling back, though, especially those at that Bessemer, Alabama plant to the $15 an hour starting price. So it'll be interesting to see if Amazon goes ahead and raises the starting price for all of its employees down the line to that $17 an hour. But obviously, they're doing a good job here of trying to get as many employees on board as possible. They're the second largest private employer in the US behind Amazon. And they have-- sorry, Walmart. And they have well more than a million employees now.

KRISTIN MYERS: All right, Dan, I want to make a pivot now to Roku because they are going to be following in the footsteps of Apple TV, Netflix, Hulu, and starting to produce their own content. What can you tell us there?

DAN HOWLEY: Yeah, this is interesting. They're offering 30 new free shows as part of the Roku channel. These shows, though, will look familiar. They are the cast-offs, rather, of that little project called Quibi that just fell right on its face at the gate. They're not going to be charging you that $4.99 price that Quibi had charged. They're going to be part of the Roku channel. That's their advertising back channel that they offer. And they say that they see huge amounts of uptake from consumers who want free content without having to sign up for a new subscription.

So they're adding shows like "Chrissy's Court," which is Chrissy Teigen's show, obviously. They're going to be adding "Reno 911" and a number of others from that Quibi purchase. It'll be interesting to see how much interest this draws from consumers. You'll know that the original deal for Roku was to make money off of selling its devices. That's its device business. But the platform [INAUDIBLE] business, the cut of subscriptions that are purchased through Roku has exploded.

And really, that's the moneymaker for the company right now. They had seen, let's see, as much as revenue up 101% for its platform business in the most recent quarter. That's at $466 million. Now, just to give you an idea, the player revenue was also up 22%, but that's only at $107.7 million. So really, the platform is pulling Roku and this kind of addition where it could get people very interested. Obviously, it will be advertising back. They'll be able to sell more ads across the platform. You'll see them on the home screen, things along those lines. That is really where Roku is trying to go.

One of the interesting tidbits, again, is the fact that they are now going to be producing their own content. So what does that mean as far as it being that kind of Sweden where they're-- sorry-- Switzerland, where they're the kind of neutral party in the streaming wars? You know, you have Apple offering its own take, Apple TV Plus. You have Amazon offering its own. They've all been happy to work with Roku because Roku has been neutral. But now, with its own content, that may change down the line.

KRISTIN MYERS: All right, well, call me a pessimist, but I don't know if Quibi would inspire me to go out and get a Roku. Yahoo Finance tech editor Dan Howley, thanks so much for all of those details.

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