Bernie vs. Bezos, Round 2
Last week in this space we reported on a heated war of words between Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders and Amazon, who traded charges of “deeply disturbing” warehouse conditions and “playing politics.”
Now, the one-time presidential candidate has made good on his promise and introduced the “Stop BEZOS Act” — legislation that would compel large employers like Amazon to pay the government for the cost of food stamps, public housing, Medicaid and other federal assistance their workers require because they can’t afford to live on their salaries. “The taxpayers of this country would no longer be subsidizing the wealthiest people in this country who are paying their workers inadequate wages,” Sanders said.
Amazon Concept Would Keep Workers In A Cage
We’ve all heard reports of harsh working conditions in Amazon fulfillment centers, but this latest reveal by The Seattle Times takes the cake, or cage.
In 2016 a patent was granted to the e-commerce giant for a cage-like contraption with a mechanical arm that sits atop a trolley system. The device was designed to protect workers from large, automated robots as the occupant skirts across the warehouse floor, but never became operational, an Amazon spokesperson said, noting that the company conceives many forward-looking but dead-ended inventions as part of its culture to experiment. That was likely good news to employees and the researchers who unearthed the patent, with the latter calling it “an extraordinary illustration of worker alienation.”
Ring Founder Reveals Life Under Amazon
Last April Amazon further consolidated its smart-home standing by buying connected-doorbell maker Ring for upward of $1.8 billion in its second largest acquisition after Whole Foods.
But if you were expecting a clash of cultures, forget about it. Ring founder Jamie Siminoff said the two companies had been in talks for four years and learned over that time that their objectives and corporate personalities aligned. Key selling points, he told a tech conference, were a shared frugality and Amazon’s hands-off approach to subsidiaries. As for Bezos himself, Siminoff simply described him as a “normal smart person.”
Amazon’s Strategy: Make More By Selling Less
It may sound counterintuitive, but research analyst Rohit Chhatwal makes a strong argument in a Seeking Alpha opinion piece that Amazon is intentionally throttling online sales.
The rationale, he says, is that steadily rising fulfilment costs were cutting into profits and led the company to intentionally curtail its retail business. Instead, at least on the consumer side of the business, Amazon is focusing on subscription services like Prime, while exploring other lucrative offerings.
Microsoft Sees Gold In Amazon’s Growth
Amazon’s oversized ambitions in retail, Cloud computing, healthcare, delivery services, and even home insurance have opened new sales doors for Microsoft’s own Azure Cloud business, which is reportedly growing faster than AWS.
Speaking at a global Citi tech conference last week, Microsoft executive VP Judson Althoff explained that companies are reluctant to do business with a business that wants to eat its lunch. “Amazon is frankly attacking a lot of industries right now, and they're pretty bold and open about it,” he told attendees. Case in point: Walmart, which has eschewed AWS for a five-year pact with Azure. Observed Althoff, enterprise customers are “not interested in going to the Cloud with somebody who’s interested in taking [their] business.”