“This isn’t business as usual, and it’s a time of great stress and uncertainty,” Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said in distinct understatement today as the coronavirus saw more and more of America shutdown and confirmed domestic cases of the global pandemic neared 27,000.
“It’s also a moment in time when the work we’re doing is its most critical,” the world’s richest man and perhaps the most pivotal executive on the planet added in a long letter posted online Saturday.
At the same time, the ever expanding COVID-19 pandemic saw the multi-billionaire admitting today to the limits of his power & wealth.
The note from Bezos comes as Amazon’s hometown of Seattle has gone into lockdown, cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported in the company’s increasingly overwhelmed warehouses and stay-at-home ordered Americans have turned to the delivery service of the self-styled everything store for everything. – read the full letter from the Amazon CEO below.
“My own time and thinking is now wholly focused on COVID-19 and on how Amazon can best play its role,” Bezos told his employees and the world as health officials and governments predict a vast surge in coronavirus cases and deaths in the coming weeks. “I want you to know Amazon will continue to do its part, and we won’t stop looking for new opportunities to help.”
As businesses and facilities across the continent and the world are sliced down to ever more and more pointed essential services, Amazon has become a grocery story, a supply store, an isolation necessity with its Prime Video streamer and the fuel of vast swaths of public and private data resources, to name a few. Which is another way of saying, as the federal government has floundered in its response over the past few weeks, Bezos’ power now rivals his wealth and his responsibilities exceed his bank balances.
With a lot of Amazon information already out there and a plan to hire 100,000 new workers to meet the buckling demand put on the company, Bezos copped to the fact that he is not able to truly protect his workforce, at home and abroad. Despite a mass order for “face masks,” Amazon is facing the same frustration that its customers are seeking protective gear – there is a global shortage of masks and short supplied governments are at the head of the queue.
“It’s easy to understand why the incredible medical providers serving our communities need to be first in line, Bezos proclaimed on Saturday in the letter first dropped on the official Amazon blog. “When our turn for masks comes, our first priority will be getting them in the hands of our employees and partners working to get essential products to people,” he promised, in what may be true but small comfort to those frontline Amazon workers in warehouses and out in the trucks.
A sentiment that Bezos seemed to implicitly acknowledge near the end of his letter today.
“There is no instruction manual for how to feel at a time like this, and I know this causes stress for everyone,” the exec admitted. “My list of worries right now — like yours I’m sure — is long: from my own children, parents, family, friends, to the safety of you, my colleagues, to those who are already very sick, and to the real harm that will be caused by the economic fallout across our communities.”
There are currently 307,277 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide with that number presumed to double and double again and again in the coming days and weeks.
Read the full letter from Jeff Bezos here:
This isn’t business as usual, and it’s a time of great stress and uncertainty. It’s also a moment in time when the work we’re doing is its most critical.
We’ve changed our logistics, transportation, supply chain, purchasing, and third party seller processes to prioritize stocking and delivering essential items like household staples, sanitizers, baby formula, and medical supplies. We’re providing a vital service to people everywhere, especially to those, like the elderly, who are most vulnerable. People are depending on us.
I’m not alone in being grateful for the work you are doing. I’ve received hundreds of emails from customers and seen posts on social media thanking you all. Your efforts are being noticed at the highest levels of government, and President Trump earlier this week thanked this team profusely.
Across the world, people are feeling the economic effects of this crisis, and I’m sad to tell you I predict things are going to get worse before they get better. We’re hiring for 100,000 new roles and raising wages for our hourly workers who are fulfilling orders and delivering to customers during this period of stress and turmoil. At the same time, other businesses like restaurants and bars are being forced to shut their doors. We hope people who’ve been laid off will come work with us until they’re able to go back to the jobs they had.
Much of the essential work we do cannot be done from home. We’ve implemented a series of preventative health measures for employees and contractors at our sites around the world — everything from increasing the frequency and intensity of cleaning to adjusting our practices in fulfillment centers to ensure the recommended social distancing guidelines. We are meeting every day, working to identify additional ways to improve on these measures.
We’ve placed purchase orders for millions of face masks we want to give to our employees and contractors who cannot work from home, but very few of those orders have been filled. Masks remain in short supply globally and are at this point being directed by governments to the highest-need facilities like hospitals and clinics. It’s easy to understand why the incredible medical providers serving our communities need to be first in line. When our turn for masks comes, our first priority will be getting them in the hands of our employees and partners working to get essential products to people.
My own time and thinking is now wholly focused on COVID-19 and on how Amazon can best play its role. I want you to know Amazon will continue to do its part, and we won’t stop looking for new opportunities to help.
There is no instruction manual for how to feel at a time like this, and I know this causes stress for everyone. My list of worries right now — like yours I’m sure — is long: from my own children, parents, family, friends, to the safety of you, my colleagues, to those who are already very sick, and to the real harm that will be caused by the economic fallout across our communities.
Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones. I know that we’re going to get through this, together.