💎 Revisited: US Immigration, Subscriptions & Amazon (30 January 2022)


One of the key aspects of acting decisively is following up and observing your past decisions closely. All governments, businesses, and individuals, at some point in time, reflect and contemplate what could be done better.

Here are some such interesting stories on various stakeholders revisiting their decisions. Scroll down and read our take on them!

Biden Extends a Warm Welcome

The Biden administration has announced policy changes to ease the path for foreign students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (popularly known as STEM fields) so that they can  remain in the U.S. on a long-term basis.

Lately, international student enrollment at U.S. universities has fallen. More students are opting to study in other English-speaking countries such as Canada or U.K., where education is cheaper and the path to becoming a permanent resident is clearer.

The measures

22 more disciplines have been added that qualify international students to work in the U.S. Also, students will be permitted to work in the US for 3 years after graduation, rather than the 1 year offered earlier.

There will also be new initiatives to connect these students with US businesses.

How does it benefit the US economy?

- Foreign students provide a strong revenue stream for both public and private universities, generally paying higher rates than domestic students

- Foreign workers help increase employment opportunities for natives too. As per research, restrictions on foreign students’ immigration would result in 255,000 fewer positions for native workers

- Including fields like data science and business analytics in the new subjects  will help businesses source more talent in these growing areas

Our take

Lack of financial resources and Covid-19 have already created backlogs in the US immigration system. According to government data, everything from applying for citizenship to getting a work permit is taking longer than it did a few years ago.

Additional changes such as increasing the number of visas available or broadening visa eligibility, especially for from countries with higher demand from students, can be considered to give a boost to foreign immigrants.

Rewarding the Creators

Platforms like Instagram and Twitter are relooking at their business model and coming up with trials of subscription service that allows users to pay for extra content from creators. The endeavour is to bring value to the community and enrich the platform experience.

Until now, the source of earnings for creators were brand partnerships, sponsorship deals, and advertisements.

High stakes involved

As of 2021, the size of the influencer economy is over USD 104 billion and evolving each day.

A survey found that content creators' favorite platform is TikTok with 30% votes, followed by Instagram and YouTube with 22% each. TikTok is also the top platform for content curators to make money, with 24% citing it as the most profitable, followed by Instagram at 22% and YouTube at 20%.

How is it helpful?

- For creators, subscriptions are one of the best ways to have a predictable income—a way that’s not attached to how much reach you get on any given post

- For social media platforms, it solves the urge to retain the best creators when others like YouTube and Facebook already have good traction on the paid subscription plans

- For subscribers, they get extra value addition and engagement through  the content created by their favorite creators

Our take

Gone are the old days when content creation used to be a passive source of income. With the increasing appetite for content consumption, many professionals have taken this as a full-time opportunity.

The platforms that can discover the right subscription model, by striking a balance between subscribers getting value for money and creators getting value for work, will lead the race of monetization.

Going the Offline Way

Amazon announced its first brick-and-mortar store will  be opened in California later this year. Customers will be able to select clothes on the Amazon app, which will then get delivered to a changing room or checkout counter by the store employees.

Recently, Amazon has been heavily investing in physical stores. Currently, they are in seven different formats across 500+ locations.

The nudges

Amazon’s brick-and-mortar store sales surged by 13% in the past year to USD 4.3 billion, giving it a good enough a reason to focus on physical stores.

Moreover, the competitor’s Walmart+ subscription, which promises delivery of online orders through nearby stores, has been challenging for Amazon. According to data, Walmart+, subscribed by 32 million U.S. households, has made a dent in Amazon's reach.

Why does it make sense?

-It could be a testbed for new ideas where Amazon can collect consumer shopping data that it can use for its main online stores and growing advertising business

-AI and tech-enabled blended format will aid Amazon to enhance customer experience and maintain its current 90% customer retention rate

-It can enable the same-day-multiple deliveries and also cut down on the huge shipping costs

Our take

At present, investors admire Amazon for its low customer acquisition costs relative to competitors. But, since physical stores come with high investments, it becomes important to evaluate the acquisition and retention costs and weigh them against the revenues.

However, the revenue side of numbers will get reflected only in the long term. Hence, investors need to patiently wait and watch.

In the ninth episode of Insider Investing, we take a look at what's happening in equity markets. There's a massive sell-off in growth and innovation stocks. We discuss the reasons behind this, and what investors should do in this environment of turmoil.

Because some instances in life are worth the revisits!