Bezos talks Amazon Prime, employee work conditions, stock and more in annual letter to shareholders

What just happened? Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has published what will ultimately be his final annual letter to shareholders before passing the baton to Andy Jassy later this year. In it, he touches on a variety of topics including Prime, employee work conditions, climate change and more.

Bezos said Amazon now has more than 200 million Prime members worldwide. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that Amazon now directly employs 1.3 million people around the world and has more than 1.9 million small and medium-sized businesses selling on its platform.

Even more impressive still is the fact that Amazon has created $1.6 trillion in wealth for its shareholders through its stock, much of which is owned by ordinary individuals.

“I know people who’ve used their Amazon money for college, for emergencies, for houses, for vacations, to start their own business, for charity – and the list goes on. I’m proud of the wealth we’ve created for shareowners. It’s significant, and it improves their lives.” — Jeff Bezos

Bezos also touched on the recent union vote in Bessemer, Alabama, noting that he doesn’t take comfort in the outcome. “I think we need to do a better job for our employees,” Bezos said. “While the voting results were lopsided and our direct relationship with employees is strong, it’s clear to me that we need a better vision for how we create value for employees – a vision for their success,” he added.

The executive also addressed recent reports about Amazon’s treatment of employees.

“Employees are able to take informal breaks throughout their shifts to stretch, get water, use the rest room, or talk to a manager, all without impacting their performance. These informal work breaks are in addition to the 30-minute lunch and 30-minute break built into their normal schedule.”

The full letter to shareholders can be found over on Amazon’s website alongside a copy of the company’s very first letter to shareholders from 1997.

Images courtesy Alex Millauer, rblfmr