Insider Today: Amazon’s secret search plan

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Hello! If you’re looking for a quick and easy workout to start your day, give this one a try. Some of the longest-living people on Earth swear by it. 

Today’s big story looks at some massive changes to how you shop for items on Amazon.

What’s on deck: 

Markets: The biggest mistakes made by Wall Street’s up-and-comers.Tech: The top VCs in New York, according to their peers.Business: We’re entering the Great Social Media Splintering — and that’s good for all of us.

But first, what’s on your wish list?

If this was forwarded to you, sign up here.

The big story

A new way to shop

Mike Blake/Reuters; Amazon; Alyssa Powell/Insider

Shopping on Amazon is about to change.  

The retail giant is overhauling its search bar with ChatGPT-like features that’ll act as a sort of concierge for customers, offering expert answers and product suggestions. 

Dubbed Project Nile, Amazon’s top leaders, including CEO Andy Jassy, view the new search bar as a top priority. Set to be launched in January, Project Nile aims to improve the consumer experience and drive traffic and sales. 

Eugene Kim, Insider’s chief tech correspondent, has all the details on what one executive described as a “super confidential” project, including details from internal documents and a town hall meeting for employees. 

The plan is Amazon’s most significant push into leveraging generative AI, an area the company has been scrambling to take advantage of over fears of falling behind competitors like Microsoft. 

However, Amazon’s overhauled search bar will arguably be the most impactful implementation of generative AI from Big Tech for US consumers thus far. Most US online shoppers (61%) start their product search on Amazon.

insider intelligence

In reading Eugene’s piece, three follow-up questions immediately came to mind:

How will Amazon sellers try and game the new search bar?

 Third-party sellers are a huge part of Amazon, accounting for nearly a quarter of the company’s $514 billion in revenue in 2022, according to e-commerce software maker Jungle Scout. Incorporating an AI-backed search engine leads to questions about the steps third-party sellers will take to ensure their products are more likely to be recommended. 

Does recommending products open up Amazon to legal risks?

Eugene’s story touches on how the new search bar might refuse to answer sensitive questions about things like healthcare products. But where will the retail giant draw the line? Answering food-related questions could be tricky if they’re not adequately labeled or the AI misinterprets them. The company plans to use human reviewers and content moderation tools, but it seems unlikely they’d be able to keep pace with the volume of requests. 

What does this mean for Alexa?

At first glance, Project Nile might seem like a death knell for Amazon’s virtual assistant, which less than a year ago was described by insiders as a division in crisis. However, Joseph Sirosh serves as VP of Amazon Search and Alexa Shopping, suggesting Alexa could get a much-needed boost from the new search bar.

 

3 things in markets

Getty Images; Alyssa Powell/Insider

Young Wall Street executives detail lessons learned from their mistakes. We asked this year’s class of Wall Street’s rising stars about some of their biggest mistakes. From why not all advice is worth taking to the importance of taking your time, here are big takeaways.

How bad was September for stocks? Let me show you some charts. September was the worst month of the year for stocks, with the S&P 500 falling 5%. These four charts outline how bad things got, including the performance of the US’s big three indexes and a disappointing month for most of the “Magnificent Seven” stocks. 

Keep swiping on this financial advice. Plenty of TikTok videos offer tips on what you should do with your money. But experts recommend treading carefully. Here’s what finance TikTok gets wrong about saving money.

3 things in tech

From left: Ben Sun of Primary; Anu Duggal of Female Founders Fund; Susan Lyne of BBG Ventures; Josh Wolfe of Lux Capital.

Ben Sun, Anu Duggal, Susan Lyne, Josh Wolfe

New York’s top VCs, according to other top VCs. We highlighted more than 60 influential investors based in the Big Apple writing checks to startups of all stages. The list, which includes Bain Capital Ventures’ Matt Harris and Cowboy Ventures’ Jillian Williams, was based on recommendations from fellow investors and investment data. 

No VC money? No problem. Melissa Kwan has launched multiple startups over the past 13 years without venture capital. Doing so meant she could live a life that favored happiness over maximizing profits. She detailed why she’s a big proponent of avoiding VC money

Google cofounder Sergey Brin rallied the troops. Brin hyped up Google’s AI work in a surprise appearance at the tech giant’s monthly all-hands meeting. “It’s just a very profound time to be alive and to be part of this technology revolution,” Brin told staff, according to a recording heard by Insider.

3 things in business

Hugo Herrera for Insider

The days of big social media platforms could be behind us. We’re entering a new era of social media where users are opting for smaller online circles instead of all-encompassing networks. But don’t worry. The Great Social Media Splintering could produce a healthier online environment.

Las Vegas’ newest venue looks pretty incredible. U2 was the opening act for The Sphere, which features the largest LED screen in the world. Wall Street seems to agree, with Sphere Entertainment’s stock soaring as much as 17% Monday. Here are more cool high-tech moments from the venue’s first concert. 

Trump in court. Former president Donald Trump appeared in a Manhattan court on Monday to defend himself in a $250 million fraud trial. During the lunch break, he made a dramatic speech outside the courtroom door, accusing the judge overseeing the trial of “getting away with murder” and “interfering with an election.” Meanwhile, Trump and his family denied responsibility for fudging Trump Org numbers in a previously unseen deposition video shown at trial.

In other news

At Rosemead High, generations of students were harassed or groomed for sex as they tried to get an education.

Matt Gaetz is seeking to oust Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker.

Beyonce’s Renaissance World Tour is getting the Hollywood treatment.

A nude dating show that was recently added to the streaming service Max has some people up in arms.

Gen Z workers have no problem telling their bosses what they’re doing wrong or discussing compensation.

An 8-foot-tall pumpkin named Lewis from Target is the new, hottest decoration Halloween fans are obsessing over.

Microsoft’s Jaron Lanier, considered the father of virtual reality, said the rush to advance generative AI tech could be corrosive.

Prominent healthcare VC 7wireVentures just raised $217 million with an eye toward backing later-stage startups.

Sam Bankman-Fried reportedly considered paying Donald Trump $5 billion to not run for office in 2024.

What’s happening today

Speaking of Sam Bankman-Fried, the jury trial for the FTX cofounder begins today. Prosecutors say Bankman-Fried manipulated funds to defraud depositors and investors of the collapsed crypto exchange.

The 18th annual BET Hip Hop Awards will be held tonight in Atlanta. Cardi B and 21 Savage lead with 12 nominations each.

The MLB postseason kicks off with the American League and National League Wild Card Series. The Houston Astros, the reigning World Series Champions, have a bye to the Division Series.

For your bookmarks

Financing a tiny home

A two-bedroom Adobu ADU in Sonoma, California.

Courtesy of Abodu

Despite ADUs — accessory dwelling units — increasing in popularity, figuring out how to pay for them can be a pain. Here are some options

The Insider Today team: Dan DeFrancesco, senior editor and anchor, in New York City. Diamond Naga Siu, senior reporter, in San Diego. Hallam Bullock, editor, in London. Lisa Ryan, executive editor, in New York.

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