Amazon

Bezos’ Annual Investor Letter Praises “Nimbleness” And Diverse Opinions

As it turns out, even if Jeff Bezos doesn’t like a show or movie coming out of Amazon Studios — even if he thinks it sounds boring and too complicated to make — he will greenlight it if his team makes the case for it.

“I disagree and commit and hope it becomes the most watched thing we’ve ever made,” he wrote in a shareholder letter published Wednesday. “Consider how much slower this decision cycle would have been if the team had actually had to convince me rather than simply get my commitment.”

Because, Bezos notes, the team knows what they’re talking about — and part of the Amazon success story is about finding the right answer, whomever has it, even if it isn’t him.

“And given that this team has already brought home 11 Emmys, 6 Golden Globes, and 3 Oscars, I’m just glad they let me in the room at all!” Bezos added.

This year’s investor letter focused — as it usually does — on the importance of putting customers first and keeping a startup mentality.  Bezos cited the importance of focusing on customers, keeping ahead of trends, making quick choices and avoiding proxies.

“We can have the scope and capabilities of a large company and the spirit and heart of a small one. But we have to choose it,” Mr. Bezos wrote.

This year’s letter in fact, included a copy of his original letter to shareholders from 1997.

This year’s letter comes as Amazon is preparing to go into start-up mode somewhat — as the biggest player in eCommerce is now officially making a move on real-world retail. Analysts are concerned that the heavy investments the out-building will require could ding profits in the near term. The company has promised to add 130,000 full- and part-time jobs through mid-2018.

But, as Bezos noted in the 2015 edition of this missive, Amazon’s primary fear is not of failing, it is of failing to innovate.

“I believe we are the best place in the world to fail (we have plenty of practice!), and failure and invention are inseparable twins. To invent you have to experiment, and if you know in advance that it’s going to work, it’s not an experiment.”

Apart from the annual peek into the CEO and founder’s psychology, Amazon has also released its compensation data.  Jeff Bezos’ base salary was $81,840 last year. Since he holds a very large stake in the company, Bezos has never taken stock-based compensation. He does receive benefits from Amazon, including a security detail, that brought his total compensation to $1.68 million, the same as the previous year.

Bezos’ stake in Amazon was 16.9 percent at the end of 2016 — down from 17.6 percent in 2015, according to company filings. He recently said he has sold about $1 billion a year in Amazon stocks to help fund his rocket ship company, Blue Origin LLC.

Andy Jassy, who runs the Amazon Web Services cloud division, was the top earner at $35.6 million last year. Jeff Wilke, CEO of worldwide consumer, earned $33 million last year including stock awards, and Diego Piacentini, senior vice president of international consumer business, earned $23.7 million.

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