From Jeff Bezos minimum wage challenge to ‘magical Amazon Go;’ key things from annual letter

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Published: April 12, 2019 1:02:50 PM

World’s richest man and Amazon’s top boss Jeff Bezos has challenged his competitor’s to match the firm’s minimum wages of $15 per hour and other employee benefits.

Amazon Go had a vision of getting rid of the worst thing about physical retail stores- ‘checkout lines.’

World’s richest man and Amazon’s top boss Jeff Bezos has challenged his competitor’s to match the firm’s minimum wages of $15 per hour and other employee benefits. “Today I challenge our top retail competitors (you know who you are!) to match our employee benefits and our $15 minimum wage. Do it! Better yet, go to $16 and throw the gauntlet back at us. It’s a kind of competition that will benefit everyone,” Jeff Bezos wrote in his latest annual letter to shareholders.

Interestingly, retail giant Walmart has hit back at Amazon questioning the firm on taxes. “Hey retail competitors out there (you know who you are) how about paying your taxes?” Dan Bartlett, Walmart’s executive vice president said in a tweet. Bartlett, also shared an article that said Amazon paid no federal taxes last year despite making a staggering $11 billion plus in profits.

Apart from Amazon’s minimum wage challenge, the annual letter also contained the behemoth’s strategy with regard to Amazon Go– the giant’s signature cashier-less brick-and-mortar stores. “With Amazon Go, we had a clear vision. Get rid of the worst thing about physical retail: checkout lines. No one likes to wait in line. Instead, we imagined a store where you could walk in, pick up what you wanted, and leave,” Jeff Bezos said adding that reaching that state was technically very hard.

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It required the efforts of hundreds of smart, dedicated computer scientists and engineers around the world, and Amazon had to design and build its own proprietary cameras and shelves and invent new computer vision algorithms, including the ability to stitch together imagery from hundreds of cooperating cameras, he said. Bezos said that the best reward has been the response from customers, who’ve described the experience of shopping at Amazon Go as “magical.”

Amazon’s third party business has grown at a staggering 52% CAGR from $0.1 billion in 1999 to $160 billion currently, while the first party business has grown at 25% CAGR from $1.6 billion in 1999 to $117 billion.  “Third-party sellers are kicking our first party butt. Badly,” Jeff Bezos said.

Explaining the huge difference, Jeff Bezos said that Amazon has helped independent sellers compete against its own first-party business by investing in and offering them ‘the very best selling tools we could imagine and build.’ Jeff Bezos also shared Amazon Echo’s stellar journey saying that customers have purchased more than 100 million Alexa-enabled devices.

“Last year, we improved Alexa’s ability to understand requests and answer questions by more than 20%, while adding billions of facts to make Alexa more knowledgeable than ever,” he said.  Sharing key stats, he said that customers spoke to Alexa tens of billions more times in 2018 compared to 2017. “The number of devices with Alexa built-in more than doubled in 2018. There are now more than 150 different products available with Alexa built-in, from headphones and PCs to cars and smart home devices,” he said.

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