Opening Statement to Congress on Amazon.com, Inc.
delivered 29 July 2020, Washington, D.C.
[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]
Thank you, Chairman Cicilline, Ranking Member Sensenbrenner, and Members of the Subcommittee:
I was born into great wealth -- not monetary wealth, but instead the wealth of a loving family, a family that fostered my curiosity and encouraged me to dream big.
My mom, Jackie, had me when she was a 17-year-old high school student in Albuquerque. Being pregnant in high school was not popular. The school tried to kick her out, but she was allowed to finish after my grandfather negotiated terms with the principal: She couldn't have a locker, no extracurriculars, and couldn't walk across the stage to get her diploma. She graduated -- and was determined to continue her education, so she enrolled in night school, bringing me, her infant son, to class with her throughout.
My dad's name is Miguel. He adopted me when I was four. He was 16 when he came to the U.S. from Cuba, by himself, shortly after Castro took over. My dad didn't speak English and he did not have an easy path. What he did have was grit and determination. He received a scholarship to college in Albuquerque, which is where he met my mom.
Together with my grandparents, these hardworking, resourceful, and loving people made me who I am. I walked away from a steady job on Wall Street into a Seattle garage to found Amazon -- fully understanding that it may not work. It feels like just yesterday I was driving the packages to the Post Office myself, dreaming that one day we might afford a forklift.
Customer obsession has drive our success and I take it as an article of faith that customers notice when you do the right thing. You earn trust slowly, over time, by doing hard things well -- delivering on time, offering everyday low prices, making promises and keeping them, and making principled decisions even when they are unpopular.
And our approach is working, Eighty percent of Americans have a favorable impression of Amazon overall. Who do Americans trust more than Amazon to do the right thing? Only their doctors and the military. The retail market we participate in is extraordinary large and competitive. Amazon accounts for less than one percent of the 25 trillion dollar retail market and less than four percent of U.S. retail.
There's room in retail for multiple winners. We compete against large, established players like Target, Costco, Kroger, and of course Walmart, a company more than twice Amazon's size. Twenty years ago we made the decision to invite other sellers to sell on our store, to share the same valuable real estate we spent billions to build, market, and maintain.
We believe that combining the strengths of Amazon's store with the vast selection of products offered by third parties would be a better experience for customers, and that the growing pie of revenue and profits would be big enough for all. We were betting that it was not a zero sum game.
Fortunately, we were right. There are now 1.7 million small and medium-sized businesses selling on Amazon. The trust customers put in us everyday has allowed Amazon to create more jobs in the United States over the past decade than any other company -- hundreds of thousands of jobs across 42 states.
Amazon employees make a minimum of 15 dollars an hour -- more than double the federal minimum wage. And we offer the best benefits, benefits that include comprehensive health insurance, 401k retirement, and parental leave, which includes 20 weeks of paid maternity leave.
More than any place on earth, entrepreneurial companies start, grow, and thrive here in the U.S. We nurture entrepreneurs and startups with stable rules of law, the finest university system in the world, the freedom of democracy, and a deeply accepted culture of risk taking.
Of course, this great nation of ours is far from perfect. Even as we remember Congressman John Lewis and honor his legacy, we're in the middle of a much-needed race reckoning. We also face the challenges of climate change, and income inequality. And we're stumbling through the crisis of a global pandemic.
Still, with all of her faults and problems, the rest of the world would love even the tiniest sip of the elixir we have here in the U.S. Immigrants like my dad see what a treasure this country is. They have perspective and can often see even more clearly than those of us who were lucky enough to be born here. It is still day one for this country, and even in the face of today's humbling challenges I have never been more optimistic about our future.
I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today and I'm very happy to take your questions.
Page Updated: 8/5/20
U.S. Copyright Status: Text and Audio = Public domain.