Amazon PBS documentary missing Jeff Bezos
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Jeff Bezos loomed large but never sat down for an interview in PBS "Frontline's" wide-ranging Amazon documentary that aired Tuesday night.
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Instead, several Amazon executives answered questions about warehouse conditions, Amazon facial recognition technology, the company's stance on unions and other topics.
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In response to criticism that Amazon has monopolistic tendencies and is running small competitors out of business, Amazon executive Jeff Wilke described the corporation as a "speck" compared to the global economy.
"I do understand why when you're in a lot of [vertical markets] it can seem like we're everywhere, but if we were everywhere that means we're talking about the global economy, not just global retail," Wilke said. "It's so vast. We're just a speck."
"We're far from the largest retailer," he said. "I describe this as retail and we're competing against Walmart and Target … selling in both physical stores and online. … There are intense competitors, and these competitors are global."
But Amazon's critics say it has bullied smaller business partners, like book publishers, and should be looked at closely by antitrust regulators.
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"If the door was open, the publisher would say, 'Amazon, they’re a terrific customer,'" Open Markets Institute executive director Barry Lynn said. "You close the door, they say Amazon is destroying our business model. … They have way too much power. We must do something about it."
The documentary highlighted Amazon's humble origins in Bezos' garage and lesser-known aspects of its history, like Bezos' original idea to call his website Relentless.com. Decades-old footage showed Bezos pointing to the original poster-board-and-spray-paint "amazon.com" sign he made himself.