From its earliest days, Amazon has faced a central challenge: Get the product to the customer as fast and as cheaply as possible.
From those early days when the firm cleverly used USPS’ book shipping rate to today when Amazon is contemplating an air freight business, an international shipping fleet and an army of drones, it has been an interesting ride.
And one that is set to, perhaps, get more interesting, as Amazon is now leaning hard on the federal government to help make sure that ride is smoother.
According to New York Times reports, Amazon has become one of Washington’s more present and outspoken new voices — one of the tech industry’s most likely players to be found in meetings with lawmakers and legislators.
Those efforts are broader than one might guess prima facie. Among things Amazon has advocated for in the recent past: more flexibility for commercial drone deliveries, improved transportation infrastructure (that feel of trust has to drive on something, after all, and deliveries are endangered by old roads and bridges) and better federal support for its long-embattled partner in delivery — the United States Postal Service.
Yes, the USPS has finally found a powerful advocate — something it has waited for since Ben Franklin’s passing.
This effort comes in the face of some headwinds, particularly related to safety concerns around Amazon’s drone program.
“Amazon is disrupting huge industries; retail was a start, then the enterprise market with its cloud platform and, now, transportation logistics,” said Colin Sebastian, a senior analyst at Robert W. Baird. “This is Jeff Bezos’ playbook, and achieving it by influencing legislation would be consistent with that plan.”
In 2015, Amazon spent $9.4 million lobbying, doubling the previous year. That figure still lags behind others: Boeing spent $21 million, and Alphabet spent an estimated $15 million or so. But Amazon is kicking up its spending rate per year faster than others, making like Mr. Smith and going to Washington — indicating an increasing interest.
Amazon also has interests in Washington as a major government contractor, with a $600 million cloud computing partnership with the CIA.