Amazon CEO says he doesn’t regret hiring spree as company starts layoffs | Mint

Amazon CEO says he doesn’t regret hiring spree as company starts layoffs

Amazon.com Inc. CEO Andy Jassy. (AP)
Amazon.com Inc. CEO Andy Jassy. (AP)

Summary

  • Andy Jassy adds that the tech giant won’t compromise on long-term investments

Amazon.com Inc. CEO Andy Jassy said he doesn’t regret the hiring spree the company went on in recent years even as the tech giant is now conducting one of the largest rounds of corporate layoffs in its history.

“This year we had the lens of a very uncertain economic environment, as well as having hired aggressively over the last several years," Mr. Jassy said at the New York Times’ Dealbook Summit in New York City on Wednesday. The company’s goal has been to go through its businesses “thoughtfully but thoroughly" and avoid compromising on “key long-term" bets, the chief executive said.

Mr. Jassy defended Amazon’s heavy hiring during the Covid-19 pandemic, saying that the company’s retail business grew at an “unprecedented" rate in 2020. “It forced us to make decisions at that time to spend a lot more money and to go much faster in building infrastructure than we ever imagined we would," he said.

The company is now cutting jobs across its corporate ranks that could affect about 10,000 employees, or 3% of corporate staffers.

A large percentage of those cuts have focused on Amazon’s devices unit, which has long been headlined by the Alexa brand. The unit had grown to more than 10,000 employees but has incurred losses totaling more than $5 billion annually in some recent years, The Wall Street Journal recently reported.

Mr. Jassy also reiterated the company’s rationale for opposing unionization among employees, saying it can slow product or business development and adding that Amazon pays workers well. Employees at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, N.Y., voted to unionize earlier this year, although workers at other facilities have decided against unionization.

Separately, Mr. Jassy addressed Amazon’s handling of controversial content on its e-commerce and video platforms. A video on Amazon Prime called “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America" that features false conspiracies about Jews garnered national attention after basketball star Kyrie Irving promoted it to his millions of Twitter followers.

“Inside the company, we won’t tolerate discrimination or harassment," Mr. Jassy said, but he added that Amazon must recognize that it has hundreds of millions of customers with different viewpoints. “We have to be willing to allow access to those viewpoints, even if they are objectionable," he said.

Mr. Jassy pointed out that Amazon has employees dedicated to reviewing and flagging content violations, though he also said “we don’t want a store where every page has a disclaimer." He added that the company’s “customers do a pretty good job of warning people when there’s objectionable content."

Mr. Jassy, who took over as CEO of Amazon in July 2021, has led a large review of the company’s costs and has fixated on unprofitable businesses. While Amazon has said it remains invested in Alexa’s future, executives have considered whether the company should focus on trying to add capabilities to the program that would require more investment, the Journal reported.

Mr. Jassy first acknowledged the layoffs two weeks ago after many employees had expressed confusion about which businesses would experience cuts and how far they would reach. At the time, Mr. Jassy said Amazon’s cuts would extend into next year and that the layoffs were “the most difficult decision we’ve made" during his tenure.

Amazon will continue to review its workforce levels and investment, Mr. Jassy has said. With the holiday season starting, Amazon is in its most important sales period of the year.

The company in October warned of a tough fourth quarter, with economic pressures weighing on sales. Some indicators, however, have shown a strong start to holiday shopping. Consumers spent a total of $11.3 billion on Cyber Monday, or 5.8% more than a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics.

Amazon also has sounded more optimistic. The company said Wednesday that Thanksgiving weekend was its “biggest ever," though it provided few details. Amazon said customers purchased hundreds of millions of products between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday and generated more than $1 billion in sales for small businesses in the U.S.

 

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text

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