ANALYST NOTE: We all scream for Amscreen

Alicia Keys' BlackBerry crumble, Mackenzie Bezos' Wendi Deng moment, Lord Sugar strikes again, Prince Charles finds a job.

by Emma Haslett and Gabriella Griffith
Last Updated: 14 Nov 2013

SELL: Alicia Keys

Poor Alicia Keys. Taking on the role of creative director at BlackBerry back in January was meant to end differently. It was supposed to:

A – Cure her of her iPhone addiction
B – Kick start her new habit of dressing androgynously
C – Create a campaign as successful as the time she did that song for the New York tourist board.

Sadly, though, things haven’t quite gone as planned.

In February, just a few weeks after she was revealed as Blackberry’s new creative supremo, she tweeted…from her iPhone. On realising her relapse she swiftly deleted the tweet, but it was too late. The world knew she was back on the old Apple juice.

Despite making a good start at her new ‘post Annie Lennox’ androgyny look at the BlackBerry launch event, she has since been spotted wearing everything from leather hot pants to slash tops (showing side boob).

And to top it all off, BlackBerry is – to put it kindly – screwed. Chief exec Thorsten Heins has had the chop and the share price has fallen off a cliff.

In Heins-sight, perhaps the BlackBerry chief shouldn’t have chosen a star whose biggest hit was a song called ‘Fallin’.

SELL: Mackenzie Bezos

Heart-warming news from across the pond, where Mackenzie Bezos – wife of Amazon founder Jeff - has leapt, Wendi Deng-style, to her husband's defence. Only instead of the former Mrs Murdoch's patented right-hook, Bezos chose to wield a more awesome power: that of the one-star review. As MT often points out to restaurant proprietors whose portions it considers on the stingy side, the one-star review is mightier than the sword.

The review was for new book 'The Everything Store’, an unofficial biography of Bezos. In the book, we learn he is the is the biological son of one of Albuquerque's greatest unicyclists, that his laugh is a 'startling, pulse-pounding bray', and that he wants to establish a colony on the moon (but is presumably waiting until Amazon offers free next-day delivery on air-tight bio domes).

Mackenzie, though, was having none of it: in a review of the book posted on Amazon itself, she complained of ‘unbalanced reporting’, ‘techniques that stretch the boundaries of non-fiction’ and ‘passing off speculation about [Jeff’s] thoughts and intentions as fact’.

‘For example, when the author does include people whose accounts of a supportive and inspiring culture contradict his thesis, he refers to them dismissively throughout the book as robots’ – an image that confirms some of MT’s own speculation about what goes on at Amazon’s euphemistic-sounding ‘fulfillment centres’.

But while MT is sure Bezos himself very much appreciates his wife's loyalty, it suspects that in his heart, he can’t really muster the sort of rage she feels – and that really, this is really just one of those things he would stay out of.

For if he was really all that upset about the book, he would probably just, sort of, not let it be stocked by Amazon in the first place.

He has that power, you know.

HOLD: Lord Sugar

Alan Sugar – or, to give him his proper title, Baron Sugar of Clapton – is no stranger to a bit of hard graft. Not only has he worked his way up from greengrocer in Hackney to the shining example of pin-striped entrepreneurial finger-pointing we see before us today, but he has also run the gauntlet of the honours system, progressing from humble civilian to Siralan to Lord Sugar in a few short years.

Indeed, in a piece published in men’s magazine Shortlist, Sugar poured scorn on ‘this free-lunch culture’.

‘I am sick and tired… of people asking, "where can I get some money? How do I borrow that? Who’s gonna fund me?" It’s the disease that caused banks to collapse,’ he raged.

And just to make sure no one was in any doubt about his views, he added: ‘It’s all bull, it comes to nothing, it’s a disease.’

MT has to say that after the last ‘network meeting’ it attended, it’s inclined to agree with his ‘disease’ prognosis – although that could also be something to do with the £3.99 Chablis being served at the event. Difficult to say.

Nevertheless, given his emphasis on egalitarianism and hard work, MT was surprised to learn that the chief executive of one of his ventures, Amscreen, is none other than Simon Sugar, his son.

Readers will be relieved to know that Simon has followed in his father’s footsteps: before he started at Amscreen, he spent 18 years at Amstrad. And before that, MT presumes, he was also a Hackney greengrocer – or a chimney sweep, or some manner of Victorian shoe-shine boy. With a jauntily-tipped hat and a cheeky cockney accent. 

BUY: Prince Charles

MT was delighted to hear that one of the UK’s long-term jobseekers finally found a paid position this week, albeit a temporary one. None other than HRH the Prince of Wales took on the role of guest editor of Country Life.

In a weird act of reverse retirement, his time foray into journalism coincides with his 65th birthday. At least he’s bypassed years of making tea, writing pithy ‘cat in tree’ news stories with no byline and trying desperately to get the editor to notice him.

It sounds like the next in line to the throne was worked pretty hard by the snarly hacks over at IPC Media: the Prince chose the majority of content going into the mag and even wrote a leader. He also tried his hand at writing about a subject surprisingly close to his heart – affordable rural housing. By George: he certainly deserved some cucumber sandwiches after that…


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