business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  The New York Times reports this morning that Purina has had to get busy rebutting rumors circulating on TikTok that its Purina Pro Plan pet food is making dogs sick:

"Days after the company issued a statement in which it said 'these false statements may be creating unnecessary stress for pet parents,' a Purina spokeswoman said on Thursday that there was 'absolutely no data showing us that there is a pattern of problems' with any Purina product.

"'During the past few days, we have seen an increase in consumers who are scared and reaching out to ask if we have a product recall or issue after seeing this rumor,' the spokeswoman, Lorie Westhoff, said in an email. 'In response, we are informing them that these rumors are not true and that our food is safe to feed'."

Misinformation and disinformation fuel so much of social media, and that just is a reality with which businesses have to deal.  Hard to know whether this is just some sort of weird anomaly, a rumor being spread by stupid people, or something malevolent.  Either way, there are no easy solutions, unfortunately.

CNBC reports that Amazon's Audible division is laying off about five percent of its staff, a move that follows cuts that Amazon announced this week in its Prime Video, MGM Studios and Twitch livestreaming units.

The story notes that "Amazon acquired Audible, which hosts audiobooks and podcasts, in 2008 for roughly $300 million. The unit has remained largely independent since the deal but is not immune to broader cuts underway at its parent."

Audible CEO Bob Carrigan's memo to employees said, in part:

"Today I have some difficult news to share with you. As we begin a new year, we’ve made the tough decision to reduce roles within our organization.

"I want to acknowledge the strong year we had in 2023, in which we delivered amazing listening experiences for our customers thanks to outstanding collaboration with creators and partners. Our business is in good shape, and that is because of the hard work of each and every one of you. However, to position us for continued success in the coming year and into the future, given the increasingly challenging landscape we face, we have to take this difficult decision now. As a company driven by our People Principles and in particular Activate Caring, we did not take this route without considerable thought. But getting leaner and more efficient is the way we will need to operate now—and in the foreseeable future—in order to continue delivering best-in-class audio storytelling to our customers around the world.

"A big part of what makes working at Audible so special is our many talented and dedicated employees who bring their passion to work each and every day. It’s also what makes it even harder to say goodbye to people we care about … This is a hard moment, and many of you understandably feel uncertainty about the future. I want you to know that we’re making these decisions to strengthen our business for the long term."

Of course people are uncertain.  The business is in good shape, largely because employees worked hard and well - but five percent of them are getting the heave-ho anyway.  I'm not saying they're wrong to make the cuts, but it is memos like these that made me desperate to stop working for other people.  Inevitably, folks are worried about the next five percent solution.

And I'll say it again.  Amazon's tolerance for economic pain - even imagined, future economic pain - ain't what it used to be.