In his final letter to shareholders as Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos said he takes no comfort in the fact that Amazon employees voted overwhelmingly not to form a union. "While the voting results were lopsided and our direct relationship with employees is strong," he wrote, "it's clear to me that we need a better vision for how we create value for employees – a vision for their success."
Bezos' shareholder letters are a longstanding tradition and a fittingly Amazonian one given the company's love for long documents. In this one, Bezos reflects on both the company's history and its future. Amazon has created huge wealth, he wrote, employs vast numbers of workers, and is an increasingly crucial part of the economy.
But Bezos seems to be slightly conflicted about the employee experience in particular. He noted that "our employees are sometimes accused of being desperate souls and treated as robots," and said that's not accurate. And yet he acknowledges how much work is left to do. In addition to being "Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company," Bezos said, "we are going to be Earth's Best Employer and Earth's Safest Place to Work." That's what he plans to focus on in his post-CEO role at the company, looking at everything from safety to training to hiring and pay practices.
David Pierce (
@pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.