retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Business Insider reports that at Amazon's all-hands meeting last week, CEO Andy Jassy said he "believes that the press and politicians are nitpicking when they criticize the retail giant, overlooking how the company is doing far more good than bad to society at large."

Jassy said:

"So we haven't gotten everything right. However, simply because reporters or politicians find it more interesting and salacious to point out things that they think we could be doing better doesn't necessarily mean that that's the norm versus the edge or the rarity … We have over 1.2 million employees, which is almost like a small country. And so with a company that big, you could always find a bunch of anecdotes that support whatever point of view that you want to make. But it doesn't mean that that is the norm. Those typically are either real rarities or edge cases. We've learned from them. Every time we hear something that we think could be wrong, we go away and look at them and investigate them and look at how we could be doing better. However, it doesn't mean that that's necessarily the norm."

KC's View:

I was curious, just from a statistical point of view, if Jassy was right - that Amazon actually is the size of a small country.  Turns out he is - there apparently are something like 76 countries in the world with smaller populations than Amazon's workforce.  (And, for the record, more than 150 countries with larger populations.  The smallest country in the world is the Holy See, with 801 residents.  But I digress…)

Here's what I think:  It isn't a good look for Jassy to be running a company that is credibly accused of some - certainly not all - questionable practices, and that also is aiming for world domination, and then complain about "reporters or politicians (who) find it more interesting and salacious to point out things that they think we could be doing better."

For the record, that's our freakin' job.  It isn't like you don't get attention for doing things right, and it isn't like your company is the only one being analyzed.

The founder of your company happens to own one of the newspapers that has been most aggressive in its journalism about your company's actions and inactions.

Maybe, instead of whining about the coverage, it makes more sense for a guy who earlier this year was awarded $200 million in Amazon stock (what is that, like five shares?) and who is running a company that has annual profits in excess of $20 billion, to simply say, "the bigger we are, the more important it is for us to do things right.  And when we get things wrong, it is even more important that we do everything we can to make things better, even ideal, for our employees, our customers, and our stakeholders.  Amazon's size and success is more than a right and/or privilege.  Most of all, it is a responsibility."

He hinted at some of that in his statement, but I think the "salacious" crack is absurd.  Who has he been getting communications advice from, Mark Zuckerberg?

(One other thing.  If youn want to see a terrific movie about a really, really small country, watch The Mouse Thats Roared, with Peter Sellers in three roles.  Outstanding.)