At over 4000 words, Jeff Bezos' 2016 letter to Amazon shareholders (posted last week) has a lot to say. While I highly recommend tech executives and investors read the entire thing, here are my top ten excerpts from the letter:
1. Our growth has happened fast. Twenty years ago, I was driving boxes to the post office in my Chevy Blazer and dreaming of a forklift.
2. This year, Amazon became the fastest company ever to reach $100 billion in annual sales. Also this year, Amazon Web Services is reaching $10 billion in annual sales … doing so at a pace even faster than Amazon achieved that milestone.
3. AWS is bigger than Amazon.com was at 10 years old, growing at a faster rate, and – most noteworthy in my view – the pace of innovation continues to accelerate – we announced 722 significant new features and services in 2015, a 40% increase over 2014.
4. Prime Now … was launched only 111 days after it was dreamed up.
5. We also created the Amazon Lending program to help sellers grow. Since the program launched, we’ve provided aggregate funding of over $1.5 billion to micro, small and medium businesses across the U.S., U.K. and Japan
6. To globalize Marketplace and expand the opportunities available to sellers, we built selling tools that empowered entrepreneurs in 172 countries to reach customers in 189 countries last year. These cross-border sales are now nearly a quarter of all third-party units sold on Amazon.
7. We took two big swings and missed – with Auctions and zShops – before we launched Marketplace over 15 years ago. We learned from our failures and stayed stubborn on the vision, and today close to 50% of units sold on Amazon are sold by third-party sellers.
8. We reached 25% sustainable energy use across AWS last year, are on track to reach 40% this year, and are working on goals that will cover all of Amazon’s facilities around the world, including our fulfillment centers.
9. I’m talking about customer obsession rather than competitor obsession, eagerness to invent and pioneer, willingness to fail, the patience to think long-term, and the taking of professional pride in operational excellence. Through that lens, AWS and Amazon retail are very similar indeed.
10. One area where I think we are especially distinctive is failure. I believe we are the best place in the world to fail (we have plenty of practice!), and failure and invention are inseparable twins.
11. We want Prime to be such a good value, you’d be irresponsible not to be a member.
12. As organizations get larger, there seems to be a tendency to use the heavy-weight Type 1 decision-making process on most decisions, including many Type 2 decisions. The end result of this is slowness, unthoughtful risk aversion, failure to experiment sufficiently, and consequently diminished invention