Amazon CEO Andy Jassy appeared yesterday at the New York Times DealBook Summit in New York City, addressing a number of front burner issues with which the company is dealing. Among the things he said:
• Jassy said that he has no regrets about all the hiring that the company did during the pandemic, even though Amazon now has to lay some of those people off as business slows in the post-pandemic, high-inflation climate. He said that the company is making the cuts "thoughtfully but thoroughly” and won't compromise on "key long term bets."
• He said that Amazon will go to court to challenge the vote by employees at one of its Staten Island, New York, warehouses that resulted in unionization.
• Jassy also said that Amazon has no plans to remove from its store an antisemitic film, “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America," which got a lot of attention when Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving tweeted about it. "As a retailer of content to hundreds of millions of customers with a lot of different viewpoints, we have to allow access to those viewpoints, even if they are objectionable — objectionable and they differ from our particular viewpoints,” he said, adding that it is easier to make decisions about products that advocate for things like violence or pedophilia.
In other Amazon news…
• Bloomberg reports that "Amazon’s cloud unit plans to add employees next year and keep building new data centers, a sign that a hiring freeze elsewhere in the company hasn’t derailed investment plans for its most profitable business … Matt Garman, a senior vice president who oversees Amazon Web Services’ sales and marketing teams, said he expected both his organization and the wider AWS business to add staff in 2023."
• Amazon said that "this Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend was its biggest ever, with customers around the world purchasing hundreds of millions of products between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday."
"This was a record-breaking holiday shopping weekend for Amazon. Customers shopped millions of deals this weekend and we have many more amazing deals to come,” said Doug Herrington, CEO, WW Amazon Stores, in a prepared statement. “Thank you to our customers for choosing to shop on Amazon, and to our employees and selling partners around the world who are delivering for customers every day.”
- KC's View:
• Right-sizing makes sense, and should be a constant endeavor. As for "key long-term bets," it'll be interesting to see if the definition of those bets has changed now that Jeff Bezos is no longer engaged operationally.
• I detect very little introspection at Amazon as to whether the union vote reflects real and legitimate concerns about working conditions. We can debate whether a union is necessary in representing employee concerns, but there does seem to be a disconnect between management and labor. (Then again, maybe there is a ton of introspection, but we just aren't seeing it.)
• I think that there is plenty of evidence that antisemitism can, in fact, lead to violence. Some viewpoints do not deserve oxygen … and it is hard for me to imagine that this is a hill that Amazon wants or needs to defend.
• AWS can be classified as a "key long-term bet." No surprise there.
• The bet here is that Amazon is going to have a surprisingly good Christmas.