Interview with Amazon CEO: ensuring employee safety is the top priority, and voice is the future

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Focus
1. Andy garci, the new CEO of Amazon, was interviewed by American media and talked about antitrust issues, epidemic impact, warehouse injury, recruitment plan and future business planning.
Jassy denies that Amazon’s retail business has a monopoly problem, saying that it only accounts for about 1% of the global retail market, which is far from being dominant.
Jassy confirmed that Amazon is ambitious in the media and entertainment field. Recently, it has made a big bet on original content and deepened its influence in Hollywood.
Jasi urged Congress to raise the U.S. debt ceiling and warned that if the problem could not be solved, it might undermine consumer confidence.
Jasi stressed that Amazon is making efforts to improve warehouse security conditions, including hiring 6000 professional security personnel and investing US $300 million in 2021.
Jasi said that Amazon’s enterprise employees will not work remotely forever, and there will still be many people in the office, but he did not give an expected resumption schedule.
Tencent technology news on September 15, Andy Jassy, the new CEO of Amazon, was interviewed by the media for the first time on Tuesday, US local time, more than two months after taking office on July 5. In this interview, jasi talked about many topics, including antitrust issues in Amazon’s retail business, injury of warehouse employees, impact of the epidemic, recruitment plans, employee benefits and ambitions in the media and entertainment fields.
The following is the full text of the interview:
Q: now, you are no longer the head of AWS, but the CEO of Amazon. Does that mean that you think it is a good idea to separate AWS from Amazon?
Jessie: I don’t think it’s more likely.
There is no monopoly in Amazon’s retail business
Q: last week, a judge ruled on the monopoly case of game developer Epic Games v. apple. I think the ruling has a broader impact on the technology industry and large technology companies. I mean, like apple, consumers like Amazon, but recently regulators have been putting pressure on you to change business practices. Therefore, I would like to know whether you think Amazon’s focus is to continue to focus only on customers and finally solve other problems, or do you have any different ideas as CEO? What adjustments do you need to make because of the attitude and pressure of the government?
Jessie: I think our focus will always be on customers. I have worked in this company for 24 and a half years. Our strategy has never changed. Our existence is to help customers live a better and easier life. We are always making unremitting efforts to create such a way of life. In many different types of fields, this will always be our principle. In these areas, we can help customers get a better customer experience. Therefore, this will always be the focus of our attention.
I think when you look at the more successful large companies, you must always focus on what you are trying to do and what you are trying to achieve, and ensure that in the process, you will not hurt some people and businesses that rely on these assets for a living. In Amazon, we have more than 550000 small and medium-sized enterprises that have access to the services of hundreds of millions of Amazon customers in a way they cannot obtain.
I mean, it’s easy to create a website, the cost is very low, and most small and medium-sized enterprises have their own websites, but it’s difficult to reach hundreds of millions of customers. Moreover, we want to ensure that no matter what we do, we will not hurt small and medium-sized enterprises or consumers. They have a very wide range of choices and price choices because there are so many sellers. So, I think, whenever you try to solve problems such as enterprises getting bigger, you must ensure that you do so in a way that will not hurt small and medium-sized enterprises and consumers.
Q: I want to know what differences people have in cognition and information in this regard. Four weeks before you officially became CEO of Amazon in July, the house antitrust subcommittee proposed five bills specifically for apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon. “At present, unregulated technology monopolies have too much power over our economy,” congressman David cicilline said in a press release. A judge just said that at least one company (Apple) is not a monopoly, at least in the app store. What do you think of the frame and information of this economic situation?
Jessie: I want to emphasize again that every company and every business is very different. Therefore, the word “technology giant” has never really resonated with me, because technology is really a delivery mechanism. Our business is very different from Apple’s business, Apple’s business is really different from Google’s business, and Google’s business is also very different from Microsoft and Facebook, so they are different companies.
I think when you judge whether a company is a monopoly company, the first thing to look at is what kind of market segment they have. If you look at our retail business, you will find that our retail business accounts for only about 1% of the global retail market share. Therefore, it is far from the majority share. What is usually called monopoly is that when you have the ability to raise prices without restraint without competition, you will see the monopoly power.
If you look at our business, you will find that all our businesses are competing with very large companies, such as retail giants such as Wal Mart, target and Kroger, as well as many very successful digital companies, such as eBay, Etsy and WAYFAIR. Nor can we raise prices in any unconstrained way. In fact, if you look at what we usually do, you will find that we are constantly reducing prices because these markets are very competitive. So sometimes rhetoric sounds good, but you have to see what reality is. With 1% of global retail sales, it is difficult to believe that we are a monopoly.
The epidemic will prompt more retailers to turn to e-commerce

Q: let’s novel coronavirus pneumonia. During this period, many people have experienced the experience of shopping through e-commerce. If we are still participating in such activities, what is the impact on e-commerce, Amazon’s mission and view of Amazon? What do you think of it?
Jessie: I think the epidemic is a bit crazy. None of us has experienced such a thing before. I hope not in the future. I think we realized in the early stage of the epidemic that no matter what role Amazon plays in the world, we will have to play an increasingly important role because there are so many enterprises that are about to close down.
So, you know, I think more and more people will support e-commerce. People have used e-commerce for a long time, but it is always combined with physical retail, and the vast majority of retail still exists. However, due to the outbreak of the epidemic, more and more people have to try e-commerce. I think they have realized that this is a convenient and wide choice, and the price is lower. I think over time, you will see more and more retail share turn to e-commerce.
Q: you already have physical retail stores and whole foods. Have you made more preparations, or maybe you are making plans for 2023 and pushing them forward, or something like that?
Jessie: we feel that we may have experienced the equivalent of two to three years of growth in 18 months, but you may not be able to plan responsibly for a pandemic or the required capacity. For example, Amazon took 24 to 25 years to establish a very wide coverage distribution center network, but in the past 18 months to two years, we have to double this footprint because the epidemic has brought unprecedented demand.
I think in this process, we know we can do better. But I also think we can help so many people get the personal protective equipment they need, the food they need, the things they need, which can not only play a role during the epidemic, but also stay awake when we are all at home. And, you know, in AWS, it’s just the ability to allow companies and governments to maintain business continuity. I think it’s quite amazing. We are really proud of the way we try to help.
Amazon does not support permanent telecommuting
Q: I think at least in the United States, about 18 months ago, Amazon announced the hq2 plan of its second headquarters. This is a huge physical space. Build it in Virginia. However, our current world needs more telecommuting and more mixed office modes. Do you need to change hq2 plan? Do you need hq2, as you might have thought you needed two years ago?
Jessie: that’s a good question. As we begin to get people back to physical offices, I think there are a lot of things that are uncertain now. I think we’re all trying to figure out what that would be like. I think people have more flexibility than in the past. They work in more places than in the past. It remains to be seen whether people really return to the office for most of the week.
I think this is largely related to the functions you perform. In some jobs, you can work remotely as easily and even more effectively in some cases. Taking engineers as an example, when they enter coding mode, it is very helpful to stay alone where they are not distracted or disturbed. However, there are other jobs that you really need to work with the team, work together and brainstorm. So I think we’re solving all the problems, just like everyone else.
I don’t think we regret the construction of hq2 in Arlington in any way or form. I think we believe that in the future, although there may be more mixed office modes, we will often have people in the office. We want people to get together and our team to be more dispersed than before. Arlington has always been our very good partner. In the next few years, we will employ thousands of employees there, and our number of employees will reach 25000. I think it’s a great partnership and we’re very excited about it.
Q: do you need to reconsider the economic impact? Because this is based on the assumption that people work in the office and have lunch in a nearby restaurant, and small businesses are affected. But people may also order takeout at home. Do you have Amazon go expansion plans and may be considering where to put them? In a different environment from that before the epidemic, does this prompt you to reconsider some commitments and obligations to the local government and how you operate your own physical retail stores?
Jessie: I think we’re trying to figure out what the real change will be like everyone. We believe there will be many people in the office. Like I said, I don’t know if it’s like this every day, but over time, people will make great progress because they will feel more comfortable returning to work. We have created many jobs in the cities where we operate. I think in the past few years, we have also invested more money to become a good neighbor and give back to the community. I think we have made a good start in our cooperation with Arlington and expect this to continue.
Congress should raise the US debt ceiling
Q: what impact has the epidemic had on the macro economy? What do you see? What have you been through?
Jessie: there are many effects. Let me give a few examples. First, in the United States, our government has to spend at an unprecedented level to protect the safety of our citizens. But I think if you look at our debt and see where the debt ceiling is, you’ll be a little worried. I think if we do not ensure that the debt ceiling is raised, it will be terrible for consumer confidence, confidence in American enterprises and potential credit rating. I know this will be debated in Washington, but I hope Congress will solve this problem as soon as possible.

I think education is the same. You know, in today’s modern economy, like the United States, if you don’t have the right educational background, it’s hard to find a satisfactory opportunity. And there is a real gap in this country. If you look at families with an income of $56000 or less, only about 16% of families have children going to college. For those families with an income of more than $108000, about 82% will send their children to college. This is a huge gap. Therefore, if you want to ensure that everyone in the country and around the world has the opportunity to participate in the emerging economy, we must ensure that all our communities have appropriate quality education.
Q: some companies and some leaders believe that community universities should be free and become the standard.
Jessie: I don’t know. Over time, it will be very interesting to see if we have the same number of four-year universities in ten years, because it’s very expensive. I really believe that we need to do more in two-year universities in this country and around the world. We focus on what people are learning. You can learn trade and other professional knowledge in two years of concentrated education. This may be a very important way forward.
Q: are you still continuing this investment?
Jessie: Yes, we are always investing in two-year universities all over the country. I hope we will continue to cooperate with those community universities.
Ensuring employee safety is a top priority
Q: let’s talk about workers! I was deeply impressed by Bezos’s statement in the final shareholder letter. He wrote: “we will be the best employer on earth and the safest workplace on earth.” later, he wrote: “we do not set unreasonable performance goals. We set achievable performance goals and take into account tenure and actual employee performance data.” two things have driven Amazon to change, Many of us have heard of the urine bottle incident and what happened to the delivery driver. However, some trade unions said that the injury rate of Amazon from 2017 to 2020 was twice that of Wal Mart, 50% higher than that of ups and delivery. Are these data the same as what you see, or are they different? What would you do?
Jessie: for us, employee safety is the first priority of our distribution center. We have more than 6000 security professionals, and that’s what they do. This year alone, we spent more than $300 million on the security of distribution centers, and we will not compromise on this point. So we’re really trying to do it. I think we have made great progress. We are always trying to help those who sometimes get hurt in physical work, but this is our top priority.
Q: what is a script that does not share secrets and what is a script that makes progress? Does it view data in Amazon’s way and figure out how to train? You have videos and you have practice in this area. Does it invest in a different R & D effort?
Jessie: we’re obviously looking at and analyzing the data. During the epidemic alone, we redesigned 150 different procedures to try to ensure people’s safety and health. It involves a lot of training. We are studying various types of musculoskeletal, instruments and inventions to make people work safer. By the way, it’s a great thing. If you haven’t been to the distribution center, we’d be happy to show you there. You can see a lot of things we do there. Moreover, employees have the ability to tell us that what they think they are doing may be safer or help them become healthier. We are interested in this feedback and they have direct contact with our manager to do this.
Q: in terms of employee treatment, you raised the minimum hourly salary to $15 or higher very early. You just announced a higher education benefit. Why is it free now? What message does this convey? What is the impact on employees? What do you think the benefits in 2021 mean?
Jessie: we have 1.2 million employees who play different roles in our distribution center. If you strive to be the best employer on earth, you must work hard to achieve this goal. One of the things we just talked about is the concern and investment in security. But we have long known that we must be competitive in terms of pay and benefits.
That’s why we took the lead in raising the minimum hourly salary in the distribution center to more than $15. Moreover, it continues to increase. Today’s average hourly wage is $18.32, more than twice the federal minimum hourly wage. This is also the salary of more than 40 million American workers, so we need to raise the federal minimum wage. I hope the government can work hard in this regard. But this is not only a matter of compensation, but also can bring many benefits.
In addition to the super high salary we can’t find elsewhere, we also have a series of benefits: full medical insurance, 401 (k) retirement plan and 20 weeks of parental leave. If you want to transfer these benefits to others, your partner or other important people, you can do so. If you want to come back to work in 20 or 8 weeks, you can work half the time. You know, what you call “career choice” is a project we have implemented for ten years.
But we made a very significant improvement to it a few days ago. We will pay the college tuition of our distribution center employees, which is very surprising. If they want to carry out different skills upgrading and education every year to learn different skills, we will subsidize them. We hope that many of these people can use this program to continue to develop their career in Amazon. But we also know that many of them may go elsewhere, which doesn’t matter. If you really want to build a place where people can have a good career for a long time, you must find ways to help people grow and master more skills, which is the real meaning of career choice.

Q: during the epidemic, almost all companies encountered challenges in finding talents. You just talked about salary, benefits, etc. I guess you may get feedback from those new employees to tell you why they want to join you, not for other reasons. Why can you continue to recruit talents? How did you do it?
Jessie: remember, Amazon is a very unusual workplace. If you are such a person: like to start with customers, build all your strategies and tactics from there, like to observe the customer experience, see what shortcomings, and are excited about re creating them, like construction and have a significant impact on the world, I can’t think of anything better than Amazon.
So I think it’s very attractive to people. We will hold a “career day” in a few days. We have announced that we will recruit 55000 new employees in the technology and enterprise departments, and then recruit 125000 more employees in our distribution center network. Moreover, these jobs cover a wide range, from software development engineers to artificial intelligence and machine learning experts, from product managers to designers to research scientists, and various entertainment opportunities, because our business is growing.
If you look at our retail business, AWS, advertising, equipment, entertainment and overall new business, and look at our low earth orbit satellite business Kuiper, we will invest US $10 billion in the next few years. We have a lot of business growing very rapidly, and you will have the opportunity to influence the world. I think for the right type of people, I think there are many right types of people, which is a very encouraging mission: start from the customer, establish a strategy from there, and then have the ability to influence the world and make the customer’s life better.
I’m flattered to be nominated CEO
Q: one of Bezos’s legacies will be whether your handover as the second CEO of Amazon is regarded as a success. You have been responsible for the operation of AWS for a long time. How did you find yourself elected as the next CEO of Amazon, and how do you plan to run a wider company now?
Jassy: Bezos called me and asked me if I was interested. He told me that he was considering doing something different, then left and asked me if I was interested. I’m obviously flattered and honored. I want to talk to my wife about it. Most of the decisions I made in my life were wrong and I didn’t ask my wife for advice. However, I responded quickly and agreed immediately.
Q: is all this done over the phone?
Jessie: Yes, because we are in a pandemic.
Q: if you want to be different, what do you think needs to be changed first?
Jessie: first of all, the first thing I think of may be how to ensure that AWS has the right succession plan. We are really lucky at AWS. We have a very strong leadership team, which is really one of the biggest reasons for the success of our business so far. Moreover, I think many times, when things go well, leaders get too much praise. The fact is that AWS is not inferior to any large-scale enterprise, with a revenue of $60 billion and an annual growth rate of 37%.
To run such a big business, you must have great leaders and great guidance from these leaders. In addition, we also need great builders, and we need great builders in the whole process of the whole business. Therefore, the AWS team is very, very strong and has a strong leadership. We can join Adam selipsky. He is not an outsider. I mean, selipski worked at AWS for 11 years and helped build a business, responsible for sales, marketing and support. Therefore, it is very beneficial for him to join the already strong leadership team, and I am excited about it.
In preparing for the role of CEO of Amazon, I have other backgrounds. Before AWS, I worked in the consumer industry for about six years. I have been involved in marketing for some time, developed our business plan for the music business and operated it for some time. I have participated in S-Team meetings for about 20 years, our senior leadership team meetings, where I had the opportunity to see a lot of customer and consumer problems.
I spent a lot of time trying to read all the business plans and talk to all the leaders of these businesses. And I feel very lucky again. We have a very strong leadership team in the whole business. We are pursuing all our efforts. I have several outsiders who have given me some good suggestions.
Q: will you participate in AWS business in a different way from Bezos?
Jessie: we’ll see about that. I think Adam will really run this business well. He is in charge of that business now. I will not forget the relationships I have established over the years, and I hope to maintain them. We have more and more partners. They are AWS customers, but they also cooperate with Amazon in other areas of our business, such as equipment, retail, operation, advertising, etc., so I hope I will establish a new black general relationship. No matter how I can help each team, I will try my best to do it.
Machine learning and AI will become more and more powerful
Q: Amazon is showing ambition in two key areas: one is its ambition in media, streaming media, MGM and NFL games, and the other is how close it is to artificial intelligence. Facebook made a mistake in its AI tagged video and had to apologize. What do you think of this topic? What role will Amazon play in influencing fences and policies around artificial intelligence?

Jessie: in my opinion, artificial intelligence and machine learning have made incredible progress in the past few years. This is something that people have been studying for decades. I think, especially in the past decade, we have made great progress in this field, because cloud computing makes the cost of computing and storage lower. But this is still a science that needs a lot of data, a lot of training and a lot of algorithm improvement, and there will be errors.
Now, I don’t think you will abandon the whole project because of your mistakes. In my opinion, people who use machine learning must take it as a very important input and one of the factors you need to consider in decision-making. Moreover, I think people have successfully used machine learning in many ways. The place where it is most often censored is the law enforcement department.
For me, over time, machine learning and artificial intelligence will become more and more powerful, so it will become an important reference for us to make laws and some law enforcement decisions. But you have to make sure you are making human decisions and using the different inputs you have as they do in other surveys. But I think machine learning and artificial intelligence will be better and better. We shouldn’t throw away children and bath water at the same time just when you make a mistake.
Andy Jassy: I also really believe that the federal government should regulate what they want to see, what guardrails they want, and how they will hold accountable those who use machine learning or artificial intelligence in an irresponsible way. I mean, there are many technologies that we can use all the time, but you don’t want to ban them because it can bring so many customer experiences. But when people are not responsible for this technology, they should be responsible for the consequences. I think it should be the same here. I hope the government will find the way they want to regulate.
Greater ambition in media and entertainment
Q: MGM is indeed a very important target in the media field. In Amazon, including e-commerce, AWS and whole food supermarket, where is the media strategy suitable for providing snacks during movies and games? Why is it so important?
Jessie: first of all, we have a very important partnership with the National Football League (NFL). Over the years, as you know, we support AWS. We make statistics together with the NFL and their players’ health and safety work. They try to analyze hundreds of hours and thousands of hours of videos to understand when you have a head injury or lower limb injury, and try to change the rules and equipment to solve this problem. Then our relationship with the NFL took another step forward, and we launched Thursday night. From 2022, we are very, very excited about this. We will try and be creative in the experience provided to our fans.
I think more generally, we have great enthusiasm and optimism about what we do in the media field. If you look at our success in prime video and Amazon studios, you will find that hundreds of millions of people are watching our original content, and those who subscribe to prime get all of it for free. It turns out that when they actually consume video content, they also tend to participate in many other activities, which can be obtained through prime.
Prime has a wide range of benefits, and we are always adding new features. I think it’s too early to peddle our media ambitions. But I think we have a good start. We have the opportunity to provide customers with a unique viewing experience with truly original and creative content.
Q: finally, the new TV equipment may be available next month. Is this where all these efforts come together? Advertising, prime content, even TV shopping services, is that what we should probably look for there?
Jessie: we are very excited about the omni series smart fire TV we just announced. I think they will have many functions. Voice is the future. It will integrate well with Alexa, so you can say “Alexa, what should I see”, and then it will recommend it to you. You can say, “Alexa, help me find something on Netflix.” it will help. You can also say “Alexa, play tiktok”.
We are the first company to integrate tiktok with fire TV. Therefore, I think for a long time, people have found great value in the viewing experience, but also found the content selection provided on fire TV and our channel business, and more and more people will conduct business activities in these mechanisms. Between what we do with Alexa and what we do in the living room, I think we have a chance to change what people can do and what people can touch.
For those who want to use voice, I remember how creative it was to have an app a long time ago, click on an app, and then you’ll get what you want. When you experience a great voice application, it will let you click on an application around 2005. Therefore, I think all these experiences are in the process of being recreated and enjoy more unprecedented experiences. (reviewed by Tencent technology / Jinlu)