- Jeff Bezos says Amazon is ready for a debate about regulation after Donald Trump's repeated attacks on the company.
- Speaking in Germany, Bezos said Amazon has a duty to educate regulators, but will work with whatever new constraints it is given — even if they damage its business model.
- He didn't mention Trump directly, but responded to a question about the president's desire to potentially break up Amazon.
- The CEO warned, however, that regulation can stifle innovation.
Jeff Bezos has said that Amazon is ready for a debate about its enormous scale after coming under repeated attack from US President Donald Trump.
Trump has called out Amazon in a number of tweets in recent months, questioning its impact on the US Postal Office, the amount of tax it pays, and the potential harm it is causing other retailers. Sources told Axios last month that the president is "obsessed" with the firm, and could "go after Amazon with antitrust or competition law."
Asked about Trump's criticism and desire for a potential break-up of Amazon, Bezos said it is right that governments and the public want to investigate the power of huge tech companies — and he doesn't take the urge for regulation personally.
"If you look at the big tech companies, they have gotten large enough that they are going to be inspected.
It’s not personal," Bezos said at an event hosted by Business Insider US Editor in Chief Alyson Shontell in Germany on Tuesday, where he was awarded a prize for business innovation and social responsibility by Business Insider's parent company Axel Springer.
The Amazon CEO said policing the power of online companies is "one of the great questions of our age" because as the internet has reached a level of maturity over the past decade "we haven’t learned as a civilization, as a human species, how to operate it yet."
Amazon, Bezos said, is ready to help educate regulators and will work with whatever new constraints it is given — even if they have damaging consequences for the company.
"We have a duty, on behalf of society, to try and help educate any regulators, give them our view on this, sincerely without any cynicism or skepticism," he said in a conversation with Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner.
"So we will work with any set of regulations we are given. Ultimately, society decides that, and we will follow those rules, regardless of the impact that they have on our business. And we will find a new way, if need be, to delight customers."
Bezos did make clear, however, that the urge to curb the power of companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google, should be balanced with the need to continue incentivising innovation in the tech industry.
"What I would not want to see happen is you do not want to block invention and innovation. One of the unintended consequences of regulation is that it really favours the incumbents," he said.
"Amazon at this point is an incumbent, so maybe I should be happy about that, but I wouldn’t be. For society, you really want to see continued progress. You want to be sure regulation is incentivising innovation."
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