Jeff Bezos In Shareholders Letter On Amazon’s Culture, Marketplace, Prime And More

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Jeff Bezo’s letter to Amazon’s shareholders is a good, concise read on Amazon’s culture and general mindset. Here are some selected quotes:

This year, Amazon became the fastest company ever to reach $100 billion in annual sales. Also this year, Amazon Web Services is reaching $10 billion in annual sales … doing so at a pace even faster than Amazon achieved that milestone. (…)

Under the surface, the two are not so different after all. They share a distinctive organizational culture that cares deeply about and acts with conviction on a small number of principles. I’m talking about customer obsession rather than competitor obsession, eagerness to invent and pioneer, willingness to fail, the patience to think long-term, and the taking of professional pride in operational excellence. Through that lens, AWS and Amazon retail are very similar indeed. (…)

Outsized returns often come from betting against conventional wisdom, and conventional wisdom is usually right. (…)

AWS, Marketplace and Prime are all examples of bold bets at Amazon that worked, and we’re fortunate to have those three big pillars. They have helped us grow into a large company, and there are certain things that only large companies can do. (…)

We’ve grown Prime two-day delivery selection from 1 million items to over 30 million (…)

On the start-up-iness of Amazon:

Prime Now offers members one-hour delivery on an important subset of selection, and was launched only 111 days after it was dreamed up. In that time, a small team built a customer-facing app, secured a location for an urban warehouse, determined which 25,000 items to sell, got those items stocked, recruited and on-boarded new staff, tested, iterated, designed new software for internal use – both a warehouse management system and a driver-facing app – and launched in time for the holidays. Today, just 15 months after that first city launch, Prime Now is serving members in more than 30 cities around the world. (…)

On Marketplace and the virtuous cycle of Prime and FBA:

We took two big swings and missed – with Auctions and zShops – before we launched Marketplace over 15 years ago. We learned from our failures and stayed stubborn on the vision, and today close to 50% of units sold on Amazon are sold by third-party sellers. Marketplace is great for customers because it adds unique selection, and it’s great for sellers – there are over 70,000 entrepreneurs with sales of more than $100,000 a year selling on

Amazon, and they’ve created over 600,000 new jobs. With FBA, that flywheel spins faster because sellers’ inventory becomes Prime-eligible – Prime becomes more valuable for members, and sellers sell more. (…)

Also interesting is the current scale of Amazon Lending:

We also created the Amazon Lending program to help sellers grow. Since the program launched, we’ve provided aggregate funding of over $1.5 billion to micro, small and medium businesses across the U.S., U.K. and Japan through short-term loans, with a total outstanding loan balance of about $400 million. (..)

On a global strategy with Marketplace:

To globalize Marketplace and expand the opportunities available to sellers, we built selling tools that empowered entrepreneurs in 172 countries to reach customers in 189 countries last year. These cross-border sales are now nearly a quarter of all third-party units sold on Amazon. To make this possible, we translated hundreds of millions of product listings and provided conversion services among 44 currencies. (…)

On the growth of AWS:

AWS is bigger than Amazon.com was at 10 years old, growing at a faster rate, and – most noteworthy in my view – the pace of innovation continues to accelerate – we announced 722 significant new features and services in 2015, a 40% increase over 2014. (…)

And finally:

Our approach remains the same, and it’s still Day 1.

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