Welcome back to The Spin! Today's issue is quite tech heavy with news on Amazon, Google, JD and freakishly lifelike sex robots. We also tell you, which retailer has permanently installed a repair station at its Paris flagship, and how consumers can collect - and sell! - their own data. Enjoy the read and - as always - feel free to share! Best, Ulrike


Big brother, Bezos! Amazon’s Rekognition facial-recognition software is so sophisticated, that US law enforcement uses it to track people. Fearing mass surveillance, Amazon shareholders are calling for a halt. Alexa also got people up in arms when the Amazon voice-assistant allegedly recorded one family’s private conversation and sent it to their contacts - especially since it shuts down when asked (video) if it's connected to the CIA.


The giant claw. Google is going to invest $550 million in Chinese eCommerce giant JD.com. The strategic partnership should advance the world’s largest search engine operator in its competition with Amazon. Google also plans to expand its presence in Asia and to develop trading technology solutions with JD. Investors like the idea and sent Google parent Alphabet’s stock up on Monday.

The Loomiati! For brands whose customers are looking to share their data for crypto coins, the Brooklyn-based start-up Loomia offers a flexible electronic layer that can be integrated into garments to emit heat or light - and gather data on movement and temperature. Via a Loomia Tile, customers can sell their info to Storj Labs, with payment made in Loomia’s crypto tokens. The thin fabric is based on a conductive ink. It is already being tested by brands like Calvin Klein, LL Bean and The North Face.


Penney and the jets. JC Penney is getting serious about cost cuts, putting three corporate jets up for sale. The Plano, Texas-based company expects (SEC filing) the planes to fetch about $20 million, with annual costs lowered by $5 million to $10 million. As reported, the retailer is looking for a new CEO since Marvin Ellison moved to Lowe’s last month. Ellison already had his plane privilege capped to $150,000 per year, after Michael Ullman used (SEC filing) it to the tune of almost $900,000 in 2015.

Fast fashion fix. After a successful test (paywall; in German) in Hamburg, Swedish fast fashion retailer H&M is permanently installing a clothing repair service at its newly renovated flagship in Paris. In addition, the station in the lounge area on the store’s top floor offers (paywall) customized embroidery, patches, sewing kits and laundry bags that help keep plastic residues out of the water system.


Subtler signals. US consumers are assaulted by 4,000 to 10,000 ad messages per day, giving most people far more information than they can process and possibly leading to logo fatigue and brand rebellion. Consumers now pay for label-less websites, while brand-free companies like Brandless sell plainly packaged, premium staples for $3 per item. In turn, established luxury companies are turning to more subtle signals including tiny allover logos.


Launch date. Finnish designer Johanna Uurasjarvi has been named Chief Design Officer at J. Crew. She succeeds Somsack Sikhounmuong, who left in September. Uurasjarvi comes from the furniture retailer West Elm and had been Creative Director at Anthropologie before. At J. Crew she reports to CEO Jim Brett, with who she shares a long work history. The J. Crew brand is scheduled to relaunch in September.


Silicone Valley's dolls. As of a new US TV series (trailer) the porn industry is being disrupted by life-like Robots with silky silicone flesh and the vocabulary necessary for the vocation. A sex brothel in Paris already features robot sex workers, and it should only be a question of time for such humanoids to find their way into edgy retail stores.


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