Tuesday , October 27 2020

What to Expect When Amazon's Annual General Meeting Goes Virtual for the First Time

Demonstrators hoist the "Bezos Bot" ahead of an earlier Amazon shareholder meeting in Seattle (GeekWire Photo / Todd Bishop)

Amazon's response to COVID-19 will be scrutinized on Wednesday morning as the company is holding its Annual General Meeting for the first time.

Employees and lawmakers are putting pressure on Amazon to be more transparent about the consequences of the disease for its workers and to take further measures to ensure their safety. At the same time, the company before questions from shareholders on its spending on COVID-19 initiatives, which are expected to be $ 4 billion this quarter alone.

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon elaborated on the company's COVID-19 response in his annual letter, which usually contains the draft for his prepared comments to the shareholders.

In the midst of all of this, switching to an online format promises to change the dynamics of the event in a variety of ways.

The giant "Bezos Bot" will be absent. the dancer, and the rest of the spectacle that normally surrounds the meet on the sidewalks of the Fremont neighborhood in Seattle.

Gone are the questions and answers of the live audience with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, which will be replaced by questions from shareholders.

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. (GeekWire file photo)

But for the first time, people around the world can watch the meeting either live or afterwards. Shareholders are welcome to attend the virtual meeting, but the company announces that it will make a repetition available for later viewing by anyone on his Investor Relations website, along with his answers to questions submitted.

Amazon said in its proxy statement that the virtual meeting "is an important step to improve access to our Annual General Meeting for all of our shareholders and reduce the carbon footprint of our activities", in addition to "evolving public considerations." Health and safety". by COVID-19.

The availability of the video is actually a big change. With the exception of some handpicked video snippets from last year, the company traditionally chose not to stream or distribute audio or video within the event. Amazon urged shareholders and the media not to record or photograph conditions for participation.

This means that many people following the company, including many shareholders, have never had a look at Amazon's annual meeting.

For the few hundred shareholders who attended each year, the personal event was a rare opportunity to see and hear Bezos and other Amazon executives who gave a detailed business update and field questions.

Amazon's growth into a global technology giant has also made the meeting an annual goal for groups who want to hold the company accountable for issues such as work, the environment, artificial intelligence and product safety.

Shareholders submitted eleven proposals this yearon issues such as food waste; Use of Amazon technologies for law enforcement oversight; and policies and controls for products that promote hatred, violence, or bias. Another proposal stimulates efforts to replace Bezos as chairman of the board, and demands that the director be independent in this position.

During the meeting last year, a group of Amazon employees showed solidarity to urge the company to take more aggressive measures to reduce the environmental impact. A few months later, Amazon announced its "climate protection promise". Bezos said the company was "done with being in the middle of the herd on this issue."

The same group, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, submitted a proposal this year Ask the company's board of directors to consider environmental racism. Two leaders of the group who spoke out against the company were fired earlier this year "because they repeatedly violated internal guidelines."

The questions and answers from the live audience were usually the most revealing part of the personal event. In response to shareholders, Bezos has delivered some of its most frequently cited business philosophies, such as the importance of “being willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time”.

The event also served as a spontaneous forum for Amazon customers, such as the frustrated Prime member who asked Bezos last year to personally accept their product return.

We'll find out soon if the virtual version of the event can keep up with these moments. 2020 shareholders' meeting of Amazon starts at 9:00 p.m. Pacific Time on Wednesday morning. Check the cover again.

About Darrel Hodges

Darrel Hodges works as a computer technician at a technology company.

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