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AMAZON

Jeff Bezos Media Empire

Jeff Bezos is the CEO, Executive Chairman, and largest shareholder in Amazon.com Inc. The second largest Amazon shareholder with 90,231 shares pales in comparison to Bezos' 78.88 million shares of Amazon stock. Bezos founded Blue Origins, a space flight company and aerospace manufacturer in 2000, established Bezos Expeditions to manage his venture capital investments in 2005, and bought the Washington Post in 2013.

Bezos Affair Scandal

Summary

Few, if any, people have impacted the daily life of Americans more than Jeff Bezos in the last 20 years. From a modest start selling books online, Amazon has morphed into a retail behemoth, changing the way Americans shop and forcing scores of retailers, large and small, out of business. Bezos and Amazon have done this through a combination of innovation and prices so low that they often sell merchandise at a loss. Amazon dominates the sale of media online, and Bezos personally controls many media properties. It's basically impossible to successfully sell a book if Amazon doesn't carry it.

Amazon Books at U Village Seattle Amazon is the largest distributor of online books giving them significant power to suggest and recommend titles that support their liberal agenda. Furthermore, Amazon can use this monopolistic control of the market to influence the popularity (or lack thereof) for specific books. It doesn't stop there however, Amazon's creative destruction has brought the brick and mortar bookstore industry to its knees (this is essentially how they have gained so much control of the market).

The ability of Amazon to corner markets with its e-commerce platform is significant. As Bezos continues to acquire more and more businesses under the Amazon umbrella it becomes necessary to monitor his and Amazon's activities on a more skeptical level. This is particularly true with his media purchases; recent analysis found that the Washington Post gave excessively favorable coverage of Amazon. Can the media cover large companies if the large companies own the media? (This is a particularly timely question after Marc Benioff's recent purchase of venerable Time magazine). We live in a strange world when a newspaper owned by Amazon's CEO is writing about whether Amazon has grown too big. And when a publication in which Jeff Bezos helped finance writes about how half of all Americans will become Amazon prime customers. The liberal priorities of such an influential organization as the Washington Post, and its owner, cannot help but become entwined with the services and products provided by Amazon a means of influencing society. The recent manipulation of cities and states across America in the great HQ2 folly is a perfect example of how Amazon has become too powerful, and abuses that power. Gay pride flag In addition to subsidizing the world's richest man, American cities sank so low as to change public policies having nothing to do with employment or business; one of meetings that resulted in Arlington, Virginia "winning" half of the great HQ2 prize was held at a restaurant flying a Gay Pride flag - and that's not an accident.

THE AMAZON MONOPOLY AND ACQUISITIONS

  • Monopolistic Qualities of Amazon
    • Amazon controls almost 50% of the U.S. printed book market and a staggering 75% of 90% of all online e-book sales.
    • But what's really scary is that Amazon publishes it's own books under it's own imprint, and isn't acting only as a intermediary, but is has the power to make best sellers out of any book it decides to publish, in direct competition with all the other books on the site. Amazon Rewrites Book Industry by Marching Into Publishing ‘They Own the System’: Amazon Rewrites Book Industry by Marching Into Publishing  
    • Amazon has been accused of squeezing publishers by delaying the delivery of books when they have disagreed with Amazon's attempts to level e-book prices to $9.99.
    • In 2017, the Yale Law Journal published a 24,000-word "note" by Lina Khan titled "Amazon's Antitrust Paradox." The article laid out with remarkable clarity and sophistication why American antitrust law has evolved to the point that it is no longer equipped to deal with tech giants such as Amazon.com, which has made itself as essential to commerce in the 21st century as the railroads, telephone systems, and computer hardware makers were in the 20th.
  • Noteworthy Personal Investments of Jeff Bezos
    • An early angel investor in Google, In 1998, before Googles' IPO, Bezos invested $250,000. While he has not currently disclosed the number of Google shares he still owns, if he had kept them all, it would translate to 3.3 million shares when Google went public in 2004. Based on a stock quote of$ per share (), 3.3 million shares in Google would currently be worth more than $ billion.
    • Bezos owns the Washington Post, 3% of Business Insider, and is an investor in Twitter.
  • Noteworthy Amazon Acquisitions
    • Amazon recently made its second largest acquisition ever when it purchased Ring for $1.8 billion, the doorbell camera security company. With this new technology (that is now compatible with Alexa) Amazon will now see when you come and go (in addition to the eavesdropping that already occurs with Alexa).
    • Bezos empireAmazon owns Alexa, IMDB, and Thinkbox Software (a media design and content creation solutions software that works on the cloud). So if you're reading a glowing review of a movie that happens to be available for sale on Amazon.com, you may not realize that IMDB is simply promoting its own products. Amazon also owns many third-party services that you may not realize including Alexis (an internet ranking service), and many sub-domains through Amazon Registry Services (e.g., .book, .buy, .wow, .free, .pay, .tunes).
    • Amazon Web Services Most importantly, Amazon owns Amazon Web services, which is the largest provider of web connectivity in the United States. AWS provides basic web connectivity for many startups, including media startups. Thus, no media company can afford to alienate Jeff Bezos or Amazon. If they did, these are the sorts of ways that Amazon can punish them:
      • Cutting off basic web connections through Amazon Web Services
      • Poor reviews on IMDB.com.
      • Refusal to carry their product on amazon.com.
      • Manipulation of web ranking numbers on Alexis.
      • Poor coverage in The Washington Post, Business Insider, or many other publications that cover the media.
  • Cronies and CompetitorsConnect facebook to amazon
    • Now Amazon users may link their Facebook account to their Amazon account. At the outset, this will allow Amazon to show you recommendations based on your Facebook interests and activity. Some have argued that Amazon is trying to take ad revenue from FB, as well as Google, but this partnership may be related or preemptive in segregating from Google. But the important point here, from our point of view, is that as big as Amazon and Facebook are by themselves, they still combine forces to overwhelm any potential competition.
    • No company, including media companies, can survive without cash flow, and big tech may soon control this. Many big tech companies may begin to have banking services: In 2018 the banks will concede customer mindshare to the GAFAMs (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) and the BATs (Baidu, Alipay, Tencent). Banks are notoriously slow-moving to adopt new technology, weighed down by massive legacy tech systems, cumbersome regulations, and the cost of maintaining a huge physical branch network. If Big Tech takes over the financial system their control of media, politics, and ideas will only be cemented.
    • Amazon is already providing small business loans, competing relentlessly against prepaid card issuers.

DOING BUSINESS WITH THE GOVERNMENT

  • U.S. Military Defense Innovation Advisory Board
    • Bezos was invited to sit on the Defense Innovation Advisory Board with three other executives in the tech industry including:
      • Alphabet Inc. - Eric Schmidt (DIAB Chair)
      • Instagram - Marne Levine
      • LinkedIn Reid Hoffman
      Bezos did not accept his nomination to the board. Travel schedules and security, legal, and ethical obligations were cited as reasons for Bezos' decision to provide "individual advice" to the Secretary of Defense, as opposed to working from within the Board itself.
  • Government Contracts and PartnershipsAmazon Government Contracts
  • HQ2"New York's governor jokes he'll change his name to 'Amazon Cuomo' to win the HQ2 bid" Business Insider
    • When Amazon announced it had outgrown its Seattle headquarters location and would conduct a public search for a secondary headquarters, cities and states across America went into a frenzy offering incentives to land the promised 50,000 high paying jobs.
    • Some of the 238 offers from cities and states around the country (aimed at convincing Amazon to bring its supposed 50,000 jobs to their locality) are astounding to say the least. One of the applicants offered to name a separate city Amazon.
      • Newark, New Jersey tax incentives worth $7 billion! California - $300 million to $1 billion in tax incentives!
      • Maryland promises a "blank check" for transportation improvements that Amazon deemed necessary. Maryland's transportation secretary Rahn is on record as saying, " we'll provide whatever is necessary to Amazon when they need it." On 4/4/18, Maryland's House adopted an incentive package worth over $5 billion to push Amazon to choose them as the HQ2 State.
        • DFW Master Plan - HQ2 Site ConceptBut those bids are nothing compared to disclosed this week through a public-records request: more than $22 billion over 99 years from Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport and nearby cities, for HQ2.
        • It's interesting that most of these bids are cloaked in secrecy, despite the fact that taxpayers have to pay for them. The nonprofit news site Muckrock found that 124 of the Amazon bids were completely secret. Both of the winning bids, from New York and Virginia, were secret. Bidders for projects like Amazon and Apple expansions always say the benefits of attracting such marquee employers are worth the costs. But the careful analysis doesn t bear this out. Virginia s own analysis of its film incentive program found that of every $1 in tax credits yields only 20 cents in tax revenue. In fact, most reviews of such programs call for ending economic incentives or dramatically changing them, for the simple reason that most companies would have come to the same location without any incentives; a charge that appears to be true in the case of Amazon s choices.
        • But don t think this sort of extortion by the rich only takes place for big glamorous projects that bring lots of high paying jobs. Amazon also managed to extort $70 million each from Illinois, Kentucky, and Missouri to place fulfillment and distribution centers in those states.
    • Amazon CEOWhile many seem excited at the prospect, others have several valid concerns about allowing Amazon into their towns and cities. This process dragged on for over 14 months while politicians across the country licked Amazon's boots. At the end, of course, no one won but Amazon. Despite Amazon's endless manipulation of the choices, they somehow missed an opportunity to combine two of Bezos's interests.
      • In a time when cities and states are almost uniformly complaining about the cost of meeting existing basic obligations, like transportation improvements and public employee pensions, these same entities fall over themselves to lavish huge cash-rich corporations with subsidy packages. For instance, many stakeholders are trying to form a coalition to fund a Gondola to move people from Arlington County across the Potomac to notoriously traffic-plagued Georgetown. But Arlington County, in which Rosslyn is located, turned down any participation in the project. "Arlington County currently faces significant budget pressures and does not have the capital at this time to invest in the project," the more recent letter, signed by board Chair Katie Cristol stated, Right. But somehow even with those significant budget pressures the county and the state of Virginia were able to come up with a lavish incentive plan for Amazon.
      • Quote from Bloomberg Tech: "The contrarians say their communities are thriving as is, and that's why Amazon is interested in the first place. They look at the downside of winning: diverting money from schools and other services, making housing more unaffordable and clogging roads and straining transit."
      • Some believe this is an unfortunate opportunity for Amazon to amass a significant amount of data about participating metro areas including data on their labor forces, access to mass transit, and quality of life in addition to what kinds of incentives they have to offer.
    • This process dragged on for over 14 months while politicians across the country licked Amazon's boots. In the end of course, no one won but Amazon.
  • Dealings with Hillary Clinton
    • Amazon Kindle Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Bezos announced the global launch of the Kindle Mobile Learning Initiative on June 20, 2012 at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. When Jeff Bezos and Hillary Clinton form a partnership, you can be sure it will reflect their shared left leaning values: extreme political correctness, gay friendly, and a world vision where the rich and powerful dominate society and impose their personal values on everyone else.
      • This public-private partnership with Amazon.com and the U.S. government created a global e-reader program that introduced aspects of U.S. society and culture directly to young people, students, and international audiences in new ways and expanded English language learning opportunities worldwide.
    • Hillary Clinton has made several positive comments about Jeff Bezos and his purchase of the Washington Post:
  • International Governments
  • President Trump Holds Amazon Accountable
    • While then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was busy cozying up to Amazon, Trump was attacking against the company's questionable business tactics. Bezos Trump
      • President Trump has called out the Washington Post, labeling it a lobbying tool for Amazon. Trump would like to see the Washington Post register as a lobbyist.
      • After the Washington Post misrepresented Trump in an article about North Korea talks Trump fought back. He often refers to both entities as the Amazon Washington Post to highlight the level of bias favoring Amazon and Bezos.
      • In April of 2018, President Trump said he's going to be taking a "serious look" at policy options with respect to Amazon.

MEDIA CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

Bezos Is the News

TAXES AND OTHER AMAZON CONTROVERSIES

PUBLIC POLICY LOBBYING AND POLITICAL DONATIONS

  • Amazon's Corporate Political DealingsAmazon has doubled it's lobbyists since 2016
    • Amazon, for its part, has been aggressively lobbying Congress since 2011 on multiple issues. Amazon has quadrupled its spending on lobbying efforts since 2014 and doubled its lobbying staff since 2016 (when Trump was elected.)
    • Telecommunications, Net Neutrality and (SOPA)
      • Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Twitter, and many others formed the lobbying group called the Internet Association. IA was started mostly in response to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). IA is also heavily involved in the legal battle on net neutrality.
      • IA's Site: https://internetassociation.org/our-members/.
      • Amazon is just not on an even playing field, They have a tremendous lobbying effort, in addition to having The Washington Post, which is as far as I'm concerned another lobbyist. But they have a big lobbying effort, one of the biggest. -Trump told reporters Thursday aboard Air Force One. After extensive lobbying and protests from companies like Amazon and the IA, the SOPA bill was dead in the water and has yet to be resurrected by Congress. Basically, Big Tech was allowed to continue its blatant ripoff of copyright holders. Big Tech is very aggressive about protecting its own patents but they have an extremely casual disregard for the intellectual property rights of writers and artists.
      • In 2015, the FCC passed a bill that prevented internet service providers from slowing or blocking access to internet content or from charging fees to access certain internet content. Telecommunications industry lobbying jumped 71% overall to prepare for the FCC s scheduled vote to possibly repeal the initial passing of the net neutrality bill.
      • In April of 2018, the FCC repealed net neutrality to the delight of companies like Amazon. Ever since attempts have been made by Congress to restore the previously enacted legislation. It appears the current Senate-approved Congressional Review Act (CRA) to restore net neutrality will fall short of the 218 signatures required in the House by the end of December 2018.
    • Copyright LawsCopyright Law
      • Amazon may be one of the largest beneficiaries of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) as the number of copyright infringements resulting from its third-party seller practices is unmatched. Amazon also regularly sells counterfeit goods through its third-party marketplace, and those sellers regularly sell used books as new .
      • Amazon is consistently accused of taking too long to address copyright infringements on its website, but nothing ever seems to come from these accusations.
      • Lobbying to sway the copyright law conversation in Washington is vital to Amazon s current business model.
    • Internet sales tax, the proposed Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 and Nexus Laws Amazon has built its business model on tax avoidance. Amazon reported $5.6 billion of U.S. profits in 2017 and didn't pay a dime of federal income taxes on it. -Matthew Gardner on Taxation and Economic Policy.
      • Amazon has spent its share of lobbying funds on fighting the internet sales tax in the past. Due to Amazon s lack of a physical presence in many states, they were able to avoid these taxes for a long time.
      • Now that Amazon has warehouses in many states and is moving toward same-day shipping, they have changed tactics and are supporting an internet sales tax likely to ensure other online vendors with less of a physical presence are held to the same tax laws as Amazon. Amazon is a firm believer that laws should change to accommodate whatever Amazon s current needs are; when then they began the HQ2 search part of the official announcement was that states and cities might have to pass new laws in order to accommodate all the subsidies and tax breaks Amazon was requesting.
      • The term nexus is used in tax law to describe a situation in which a business has a "nexus" or tax presence in a particular state or states. Nexus describes the amount and degree of business activity that must be present before a state can tax an entity's income or for taxes on sales within the state A new bill broadening Nexus rules was passed in California in June 2011. And Nexus laws related to the collection of internet sales tax continue to be an issue as the Supreme Court recently heard.
      • As a result of this law, Amazon immediately terminated its 10,000 affiliates in California, urging them to besiege legislators. When that didn't work, the company put up $5 million to launch a statewide referendum to overturn the measure.
      • The Supreme Court heard South Dakota v. Wayfair in 2018 ruling that states did have the right to tax businesses without a physical presence. But Amazon had bought enough time so that by this point they were already a dominant retailer, having forced many brick and mortar retailers who had always paid sales tax out of business.
      • This issue continues to be contested in congress, even though the Supreme Court ruled that states have the right to require an online sales tax as congress continues to work on federal solutions to this ruling.
  • Bezos' Personal Political Dealings
    • Washington State Politics
    • Personal support for candidates both federal and state offices:
    • In May 2017, Bezos donated $1 million to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press a philanthropic interest in keeping with his business interests; Bezos owns The Washington Post. It's the largest donation they have received in their entire 46 years of existence.
    • Bezos' Personal Political Leanings
      • Early Amazon investor Nick Hanauer has described Bezos as a libertarian, as have many others. But his political leanings seem to have taken a hard left turn as Amazon has grown, he has become personally richer, and his companies do so much business with the government.
      • Jeff bezos donald trump blue origin amazon tax internet tax politics In December 2015, Bezos wise-cracked that he'd like to send Trump into space on rocket, though his mood has changed dramatically since then. In May, he noted that Trump needed to "develop a thick skin" and last month, he said "Trump's behavior wasn't fit for someone hoping to lead the country".
    • Bezos recently donated 33 million dollars to fund college scholarships for Dreamers. The subsequent scholarship grants will go to 1,000 undocumented high school graduates with DACA status.
    • Bezos made what many consider his first major political donation in 2018 when he and Makenzie Bezos gave 10 million to a PAC that works to elect Veterans. Cynics might assume that his interest in vets has something to do with currying favor with the American military industrial complex, given Amazon's bid for the $10 billion dollar pentagon JEDI cloud contract. We'd also note that the new Amazon HQ in Arlington, Virginia is within walking distance of the Pentagon. That's not a coincidence.