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Karis: Amazon just opened the doors to its new Lakeview brick-and-mortar bookstore. And they're using big data to make sure customers buy books and buy into the Amazon tech ecosystem.

Jim: Amazon Books, located at 3441 N. Southport Ave, has 3,800 titles dictated by data collected by Amazon through its e-commerce business and Goodreads site (a social book review app and website owned by Amazon), as well as an in-house curatorial team that selects highly-rated titles that are of the zeitgeist or likely to be of interest to a general audience.

The featured books table, for example, isn’t selected by a local employee or organized by latest hyped releases—it’s a selection of’s most highly-rated books (an aggregate rating of 4.8 stars or above). Books are also organized under "Books with More than 10,000 Reviews on" and "Page Turners: Books Kindle Readers Finish in 3 Days or Less."

While Amazon sells this as a bookstore, about a fourth of the store is devoted to displaying Amazon electronics and compatible devices. Kindle devices are mounted on shelves next to their paper-and-ink counterparts to encourage e-book purchases, and book scanners scattered throughout the store show customers how much less they would pay for a book with a Prime membership. 

Karis: We all know that tech companies, particularly e-commerce companies, collect data on customers and use it increase sales and push for more purchases. But seeing that manifested in the real world really shifts the conversation on brick-and-mortar retail for me.

Amazon's bookstores are so informed by customer data that it mitigate the usual risk of opening a retail shop, which is business intelligence most small business owners don't have (or don't want, in light of privacy concerns).

While there's still local support for independent bookstores (who have taken a firm stance against Amazon's foray into retail), I wonder what happens when Amazon uses their treasure trove of customer data to expand to other verticals that don't have the same sort of customer loyalty. Will I one day walk down a Southport Corridor lined with Amazon bookshops, Amazon hardware stores and Amazon fashion boutiques? If you're interested in the future of retail, I'd be sure to take a look at this space. We've got more details and a photo tour here

Karis: Blue1647 just launched a crowdfunding site called BLUEFund, which aims to "empower the community" by focusing on entrepreneurs in underserved neighborhoods. [More here]

Jim: Infiniscene, a Techstars Chicago alum that’s making it easier for people to livestream, has rebranded to Lightstream. In a blog post, the startup said people were routinely mispronouncing their name (a problem we can relate to), and they said the new name “alludes to our mission to be lightweight and powerful.”

Karis: Our coworking columnist Nicole Vasquez has an inside look at the Co-Op, Level Office and Second Shift coworking spaces, which each cater to a different sort of entrepreneur. [More here]

3Points analyst Katie O’Shea on "How Chi Hack Night Makes Chicago a Better Place":

"Chi Hack Night’s sustained commitment to inclusion is unparalleled among tech events, especially given that the tech industry often struggles with promoting diversity and creating safe, welcoming environments. There’s something funny, yet perfectly apt, about the fact that Chi Hack Night provides a safe space within a glass-ceilinged room, given the seriousness with which participants attempt to stay aware of the glass ceilings that hold people back, then smash them."

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Jim: Jellyvision has raised $20M in new funding. The investment comes from private equity firm Updata, and it will be used to reward longtime employees and seed investors that were looking for liquidity. Jellyvision is profitable and employs more than 350 people.

Jellyvision has built an employee communication platform called ALEX, which helps workers understand complex things like signing up for healthcare coverage and financial wellness programs. It uses humor and "non-jargony" language to make understanding boring and complicated benefits programs easier.

So fittingly, Jellyvision's press release has a similar tone. Its headline reads "Jellyvision - Maker of Employee Communication Platform ALEXⓇ - Secures $20 Million in Funding, Doesn't Plan to Get All Weird About It." [More here]

Will: Last week, Fortune had a deep-dive on the ever-booming craft beer industry that included this line - “[It] is arguably the biggest start-up success story of this century that doesn't involve the Internet.”

If you’re to link craft beer startups to internet startups, I think it’s fair to wonder when the former industry’s “bubble moment” is coming. (Remember, the World Wide Web launched in 1991 and the bubble burst in 2001).

Obviously, the internet ≠ beer, but by going with that math, it does feel like craft is long overdue for a slowdown. Now, I love craft beer as much as the next guy and have tried to hit as many local breweries as humanly possible. (I got to be over 15). But if I had a disposable income in the early 2000s and was covering tech, I probably would bought into Webvan,, and every other faux Rocket Ships, too.

Karis: At least if the craft beer bubble bursts, it was a lot of fun to get drunk during the boom.

Karis: Lollapalooza's four day tickets sold out in TWO HOURS today. Lineup will be announced tomorrow. I'm going to laugh so hard when it turns out Red Hot Chili Peppers are headlining all four nights.

Jim: I always love festival lineup announcement day. People like to shit on Lollapalooza, but the Outkast show a few years ago was one of the best concerts I've been to. Here's to hoping that Chance, plus a well-rounded lineup, will make Lolla a fun fest this year. 

From our story on agtech startup FarmLead's $6.5M raise:

"Despite the recent levels of technology innovation in agriculture, very few companies are aimed at the critical commerce piece of the equation that helps farmers realize profits from day one. FarmLead built a platform that can do just that and is a key part of a diversified approach to marketing and trading grain." 

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