In his annual letter to shareholders, Jeff Bezos reviews Amazon’s highlights from the last year. A glimpse into business initiatives and continued growth, this letter outlines what the future holds for the industry giant.

Looking back at 2018, Jeff Bezos returned to his first letter to shareholders, filled with an entrepreneurial spirit. “A builder’s mentality helps us approach big, hard-to-solve opportunities with a humble conviction that success can come through iteration: invent, launch, reinvent, relaunch, start over, rinse, repeat, again and again,” he notes.

One of the main examples of this that Bezos addressed was Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the business’ growing success. Thinking back to the origins of AWS and discussing future innovations, Bezos says, “The biggest needle movers will be things that customers don’t know to ask for. We must invent on their behalf. We have to tap into our own inner imagination about what’s possible.”

AWS has since developed databases such as DynamoDB, Amazon ElastiCache, Amazon Timestream and Amazon Quantum Ledger Database, all of which are helping businesses streamline workloads, saving time and money. A relatively new Amazon launch, SageMaker, helps customers build machine learning models on top of AWS.

Here are the key insights from this year’s letter:

Amazon Business Highlights

  1. Third-Party Seller domination: Third-party sellers are dominating Amazon and outselling first-party sales. However, Bezos seems proud that Amazon is a platform so many turn to for selling.
  2. AWS growth: AWS is at a $30 billion annual run rate business. Bezos says, “None of this would be possible without a culture of curiosity and a willingness to try totally new things on behalf of customers.”
  3. Failure breeds success: Bezos is proud of the Fire phone failure, as many of those learnings have led to the Echo’s success. Hardly discouraged, Bezos notes, “If the size of your failures isn’t growing, you’re not going to be inventing at a size that can actually move the needle.”

Takeaways for Consumers and Employees

  1. Goodbye, lines: There are 10 Amazon Go stores in Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle, with plans for continued expansion.
  2. Show me the money: Amazon raised their minimum wage to $15-an-hour for all full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees across the U.S. 250,000 Amazon employees and over 100,000 seasonal employees benefited from this increase (Bezos also challenged competitors to see or raise the ante by meeting or exceeding $15/hour).
  3. For our veterans: Amazon is on their way to meeting their pledge to hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses by 2021.

With 3rd Party Sellers on the rise, new tech and brick-and-mortor stores, Amazon has a busy year ahead in 2019.

Read more: 2017 Letter to Shareholders

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