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Amazon CEO Andy Jassy releases first shareholder letter

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Yahoo Finance's Dan Howley details the takeaways from Amazon CEO Andy Jassy's first shareholder letter, including the retailer's progress in building fulfillment centers and improving working conditions for Amazon laborers.

Video Transcript

- From Twitter to Amazon, who realized the equivalent of three years forecasted growth in about 15 months, that was the headline from Andy Jassy's first shareholder letter since taking over as CEO from Jeff Bezos. Search as you will, though, and this was a lengthy letter. There is not one mention of the word "union." He did really sell the benefits and the compensation package offered to Amazon employees. Dan Howley is here with what else we learned from this letter. Hey, Dan.

DAN HOWLEY: How's it going? That's right. We actually got to see this letter, obviously, and as you pointed out, it was very long. I think it was about nine pages. But it did include the original Amazon newsletter to shareholders, which they put in every single time. So it's not exactly that long, maybe about seven pages.

But what Andy Jassy had to say, and this was very interesting, outside of the fact that as you pointed out he didn't mention unions, he discussed things like worker treatment, as well as how much they had to build up. So one of the lines that he actually said was, "We spent Amazon's first 25 years building a very large fulfillment network, and then had to double it in the last 24 months to meet customer demand." Now, obviously, that's a reference to the fact that Amazon had to really build out its own fulfillment centers, its workforce, as a means to ensure that it could provide its customers with the goods that they needed throughout the pandemic, whether that's PPE, or food, diapers, things along those lines. And you remember that if you were buying something that wasn't considered an essential item during the early days and the middle of the pandemic, it may have come later than it otherwise normally would outside of the pandemic, because they were putting more resources into ensuring that those got to people faster, those more necessary goods than something, like, say, I don't know, Shake Weights or something, if those are still made.

And then outside of that, he discussed how they had managed to build that out. So he said, "Fast forward to the end of 2021, we had 253 fulfillment centers, 110 sortation centers, and 467 delivery stations in North America, with an additional 157 fulfillment centers, 58 sortation centers, and 588 delivery stations across the globe." And he goes on to say that they have 260,000 drivers, as well as more than 100 aircraft in Amazon air cargo.

And one of the other things that I just want to point out is the worker safety aspect has been coming up pretty regularly since Amazon has really had this huge expansion into two day shipping and now one day shipping. And so that, he says, kind of pats Amazon on the back for going ahead with the $15 minimum wage, the 401(k), contributions. And then he goes into talking about injuries, which was something that had come up recently in some reports, basically saying that Amazon workers are injured at a higher rate than similar warehouse workers. Now, he says that Amazon, those numbers aren't really understood because he says Amazon is actually considered two different types of jobs, warehousing and carrier and delivery. And if you take the numbers and you look at them in that sense, that Amazon is actually below average when it comes to its peers as far as the shipping and delivery and things along those lines. But he says he wants to make it best in class, and they say they're doing that by focusing on things like how to help reduce strains, sprains and falls when it comes to workers.

But again, that idea of unions and unionization not brought up, we have that Staten Island plant warehouse rather that was unionized, we have the ongoing issue there at the Bessemer, Alabama plant, and other regions of the country where we see Amazon workforces wanting to unionize, but no mention of that, obviously, to likely keep shareholders happy for the time being as Amazon continues its union busting efforts.

- And just quickly, Dan, we have about 30 seconds. Obviously, Jassy is filling some big shoes after Bezos. What did we hear about his plan to move the company forward?

DAN HOWLEY: Yeah, a lot of this has to do with the kind of building up what's already there and ensuring that he's able to continue down that line, whether it's a AWS, which he spent a lot of time discussing and how much that has built up and how imperative that was for a number of companies during the pandemic. And then, obviously, the shipping and fulfillment, where they have to continue to build that out as they expand. But a lot of changes have happened with Amazon. Prime, obviously, pricing one up, AWS became incredibly important and continues to be important with the whole work from home environment. So obviously, he still has a lot ahead of him. And this is again only his first shareholder letter as CEO, so hopefully we'll get to see more from him in the coming year until the next one.