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About Amazon

Let's prepare for assessments.

Before we get into the details of assessments, take some time to learn about Amazon, get to know our business teams, and “meet” a few Amazonians.

Leadership Principles

Next, dive into our Leadership Principles. We use our Leadership Principles every day, whether we're discussing ideas for new projects or deciding on the best approach to solving a problem. It is just one of the things that makes Amazon peculiar. All candidates are evaluated based on our Leadership Principles. The best way to prepare is to consider how you’ve applied the Leadership Principles in your previous professional experience.

Customer Obsession

Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.

Leaders are owners. They think long term and don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say “that’s not my job".

Invent and Simplify

Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by “not invented here". As we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time.

Are right, A Lot

Leaders are right a lot. They have strong judgment and good instincts. They seek diverse perspectives and work to disconfirm their beliefs.

Learn and Be Curious

Leaders are never done learning and always seek to improve themselves. They are curious about new possibilities and act to explore them.

Hire and Develop the Best

Leaders raise the performance bar with every hire and promotion. They recognize exceptional talent, and willingly move them throughout the organization. Leaders develop leaders and take seriously their role in coaching others. We work on behalf of our people to invent mechanisms for development like Career Choice.

Insist on the Highest Standards

Leaders have relentlessly high standards - many people may think these standards are unreasonably high. Leaders are continually raising the bar and driving their teams to deliver high quality products, services and processes. Leaders ensure that defects do not get sent down the line and that problems are fixed so they stay fixed.

Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers.

Bias for Action

Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.

Accomplish more with less. Constraints breed resourcefulness, self-sufficiency and invention. There are no extra points for growing headcount, budget size or fixed expense.

Leaders listen attentively, speak candidly, and treat others respectfully. They are vocally self-critical, even when doing so is awkward or embarrassing. Leaders do not believe their or their team’s body odor smells of perfume. They benchmark themselves and their teams against the best.

Leaders operate at all levels, stay connected to the details, audit frequently, and are skeptical when metrics and anecdote differ. No task is beneath them.

Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit

Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.

Deliver Results

Leaders focus on the key inputs for their business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion. Despite setbacks, they rise to the occasion and never settle.

Strive to be Earth’s Best Employer

​Leaders work every day to create a safer, more productive, higher performing, more diverse, and more just work environment. They lead with empathy, have fun at work, and make it easy for others to have fun. Leaders ask themselves: Are my fellow employees growing? Are they empowered? Are they ready for what’s next? Leaders have a vision for and commitment to their employees’ personal success, whether that be at Amazon or elsewhere.

Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility

​We started in a garage, but we’re not there anymore. We are big, we impact the world, and we are far from perfect. We must be humble and thoughtful about even the secondary effects of our actions. Our local communities, planet, and future generations need us to be better every day. We must begin each day with a determination to make better, do better, and be better for our customers, our employees, our partners, and the world at large. And we must end every day knowing we can do even more tomorrow. Leaders create more than they consume and always leave things better than how they found them.

About assessments

At Amazon, one of our highest priorities is hiring and developing the best, and we work hard to raise the performance bar with every hire. Amazon uses online assessments as one way to help us get to know you better, and we design them to measure key characteristics required for success in a role. Assessments also allow us to assess applicants consistently and equitably, as every individual is provided with the same experience and information needed to complete the assessment. Depending on the position, we may ask you to take an assessment during the application process or send it to you separately after you’ve applied. The type and number of assessments will depend on the role you apply for and in some cases, must be completed within a certain timeframe. The two common types of assessments are work style assessments and work sample simulations.

WORK STYLE ASSESSMENT

These assessments are centered around Amazon’s peculiar culture and Leadership Principles, and typically take 10-20 minutes to complete. In these assessments, we ask you to choose the extent to which a statement represents your work style. For instance, we may ask you which of the two statements "I like for things to be clearly structured,” or “I look forward to the opportunity to learn new things," best describes you.

WORK SAMPLE SIMULATION

These assessments ask you to complete virtual tasks related to a specific position and typically take 20 minutes - one hour to complete. They may ask you to make decisions based on our Leadership Principles, complete activities critical to success at Amazon, and demonstrate your problem-solving, prioritization, and interpersonal abilities. Depending on the role you are applying for, the assessment may ask you to interpret data from a chart, answer a customer question, choose how to resolve an issue, multitask, or find the right information from multiple sources.

  • For any Software Development Engineer I & II applicants we recommend reviewing our Software Development Topics to help you prepare for technical evaluations and interviews. For all other roles, no advance preparation is required to complete the assessment(s). Just be yourself and do your best.
  • Some questions may ask about your work style. Try not to overthink them or spend too much time on any one question. We want to get to know the authentic you, as there are many types of successful people at Amazon.
  • Before starting your assessment, read any information provided carefully since things like timing, deadlines, and assessment types can vary depending on the team.

The formalities

  • Most assessments are conducted virtually unless administered as part of a hiring event or on-site interview day.
  • During your assessment, be in a quiet and comfortable place with no distractions.
  • Review provided instructions carefully, as some assessments must be completed by a particular date. If an assessment deadline is missed, we’re unable to grant extensions. Many assessments are also timed, so be sure to set aside an appropriate amount of time.
  • All assessments require the internet, have a computer with a reliable connection and access to email. You will be notified of any additional technical requirements in advance.
  • If you have a disability or medical condition and need an accommodation , such as an ASL interpreter or a different interview format, or if you have physical accessibility needs, please reach out to us as we are committed to making reasonable provisions for all individuals.
  • Technical assistance is available for all assessments should you experience a disruption that you cannot resolve (e.g. assessment freezes or crashes). If an issue occurs, use the contact information provided in the assessment.
  • We take your data privacy very seriously. To learn about how we store your results review our privacy policy.
  • All assessments must be completed solely by the applicant.

Amazon supports pay equity. We will not consider a candidate’s current or historical compensation when determining whether to offer employment or in determining any aspect of offer compensation for any candidate or role located in the United States.

After assessments

  • In most cases, you will be notified via email if we’re moving forward with your application. You can also check your status any time in our application portal.
  • After you complete the assessment, certain roles may require you to participate in a phone/virtual interview, or come on-site for an in-person interview, which allows us to dive deeper into your skills and experience to learn even more about you. To help prepare, explore our prep guides for phone and in-person interviews.

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HBR On Strategy podcast series

Inside Amazon’s Growth Strategy

If the key to success is focus, why does Amazon work?

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Since Amazon started as an online retailer in 1994, it has expanded into streaming, cloud computing, content creation, and even groceries. But traditional business strategy tells us that the key to success is focus. So, why does Amazon work?

“I think in Amazon’s case, everything is very tightly connected. If you remove one part, the whole becomes less,” says Harvard Business School professor Sunil Gupta . “That’s the key question: are the pieces fitting together nicely, or they just happen to be another business because it’s profitable?”

Gupta has studied Amazon’s growth strategy and he tells Cold Call host Brian Kenny how Amazon looks beyond traditional industry boundaries to define their competitors and why connecting products and services with their customers is at the core of their strategy.

Key episode topics include: business models, growth strategy, operations and supply chain management, innovation, technology and analytics, online retail, customer-centricity, customer experience, competitive strategy.  

HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week.

  • Listen to the original HBR Cold Call episode: If the Key to Business Success Is Focus, Why Does Amazon Work? (May 2019)
  • Find more episodes of Cold Call .
  • Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at HBR.org .

HANNAH BATES: Welcome to HBR On Strategy , case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, hand-selected to help you unlock new ways of doing business. Amazon started as an online retailer back in 1994. Since then, it has expanded into streaming, cloud computing, content creation, and even groceries. But if traditional business strategy tells us that the key to success is focus – why does Amazon work ? Today, we bring you a conversation with Harvard Business School professor Sunil Gupta – who has studied Amazon’s growth strategy. You’ll learn how Amazon builds its business around its customers — rather than its products and services. You’ll also learn how they look beyond traditional industry boundaries to define their competitors – and why connecting products and services with their customers is at the core of their strategy. This episode originally aired on Cold Call in May 2019. Here it is.

BRIAN KENNY: In the world of computer science, Jon Wainwright is kind of a big deal. A pioneer of computer languages, he was the principle architect of both Script 5 and Manuscript. What makes Jon a legend has nothing to do with programming. Let me explain. On April 3, 1995, Jon was in need of some work-related reading material. So, he fired up his T1 modem and navigated the fledgling internet to the beta version of a new online bookstore. With the click of a mouse, he became the very first customer to make a purchase on Amazon.com. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies, the book he purchased, never became a best seller. But Amazon took off like a rocket ship and hasn’t slowed down since. With a market cap larger than all other retailers combined, including Walmart, Amazon owns 49% of all online sales. In the time it takes me to read this introduction, the company will earn over 300,000 dollars. Will we ever see the likes of it again? Today, we’ll hear from professor Sunil Gupta, about his case entitled, “Amazon in 2017.” I’m your host Brian Kenny. You’re listening to Cold Call, part of the HBR Presents network. Sunil Gupta is an expert in the area of digital technology and its impact on consumer behavior and firm strategy. He is the author of the recently published, Driving Digital Strategy, a guide to re-imagining your business. This case is the perfect stepping off point to cover some of the ideas in that book, Sunil. Thank you for joining me today.

SUNIL GUPTA: Thank you for having me.

BRIAN KENNY: This is your second spin I think on Cold Call. We appreciate you coming back.

SUNIL GUPTA: I enjoy doing this.

BRIAN KENNY: Good, as long as it’s not too painful for you. I like having you here. I’ve had an opportunity to read the book. The case I think is really kind of a great foundational piece to launch into some of the ideas. I’m going to assume anybody listening to this podcast has purchased something on Amazon or watched something on Amazon Prime. I had forgotten about their modest beginnings and just how much they’ve grown and expanded and changed. The case was a great reminder of that. We’ll get into some of that. Let me start by asking you, just to set it up for us. What led you to write the case?

SUNIL GUPTA: As you said, everybody knows Amazon. At the same time, Amazon has become quite complex. I mean, they have gone into businesses that defy imagination. That raises the question, is Amazon spreading itself too thin? Are they an online retailer? Are they video producers? Are they now making movies? In strategy, we learn, everybody should focus. Obviously Jeff Bezos missed that class.

BRIAN KENNY: He didn’t come to HBS by the way.

SUNIL GUPTA: You sort of start wondering as to, what is the magic behind this? What is the secret sauce that makes Amazon such a huge success? The market gap almost touched a trillion dollars a few months ago.

BRIAN KENNY: Insane.

SUNIL GUPTA: That was the reason why I thought A, everybody knows about it, and B, it’s hugely successful and C, his business model seems to defy logic.

BRIAN KENNY: The case we know by the title takes place in 2017. Maybe you can just start us off by setting it up. How does the case open up?

SUNIL GUPTA: At that point in time, Amazon had just bought Whole Foods, which was very counterintuitive because Amazon has been an online player. So why is it getting into offline business? That was against his grain as an online player. The second thing is food is a very low margin category. You sort of say, Amazon is a technology company, its stock is going to stratosphere. Why buy a low margin business that Amazon actually had been trying Amazon Fresh for 10 years and hasn’t succeeded? Why don’t they give up? That was a starting point. But of course, the case describes all the other 20 different things that they have done in the last 20 years and asked the question, what is Amazon up to?

BRIAN KENNY: Amazon and Jeff Bezos are sort of synonymous. He’s a cult of personality there, kind of like Steve Jobs was with Apple. Jeff’s been in the news a lot lately for other reasons, you know, personal reasons. He is still obviously, probably one of the best known CEOs in the world. What’s he like as a leader?

SUNIL GUPTA: I don’t know him personally. Based on the research that I’ve done, he certainly is very customer obsessed. He’s focused on customer. He always says, “You start with the customer and work backwards.” He still takes evidently calls on the call center. The culture is very entrepreneurial, but also very heart driven. I mean, the idea for example of Amazon Prime evidently didn’t come from Jeff Bezos, it came from a low person in the organization. He’s quick to adapt the ideas if he sees some merit in it. It’s almost a 25-year-old company that still works like a startup.

BRIAN KENNY: Was the original concept for Amazon … I mean, I know he sold books originally. Was it ever really a book company?

SUNIL GUPTA: I think it started more as an online retailer. Book was an easy thing because everybody knows exactly what you’re buying. It’s no concern about the quality. His premise in the online store was a very clear value proposition of three things. One was convenience that you can shop in your pajamas, so we don’t have to fight the traffic of Boston or Los Angeles. The second was infinite variety. I don’t have the constraint of a physical store. Even if I have Walmart, which is a huge store, I can only stock so many things. As a result, you only have the top sellers. In Amazon, I can have the long tail of any product if you will. The third was price. It was cheaper, simply because I don’t have fixed costs of the brick and mortar store. I can reduce the cost structure and therefore I can be cheaper. Those were the three key value propositions. That’s how it started. The idea was, I’ll start with books and then move on to electronics and other things. But then of course, it moved far beyond being an online retailer.

BRIAN KENNY: This gets into some of the ideas in your book. I was really intrigued in the book about the notion of what kind of business are we in? Just that question alone. At face value, it looked like Amazon was a retailer. They went in directions that nobody could have imagined. The case really goes into some of a litany of all the things they tried.

SUNIL GUPTA: Right. Again, the purpose of the case was to illustrate as to how these are all connected. From a distance they look completely disconnected and completely lack of focus. Let’s start with how the concept evolved. The first thing was, as I said was online retailer. Very soon it became a marketplace. Now, what is a marketplace? They basically allow third party sellers also to sell on the Amazon platform, which is distinct from a traditional retailer. Walmart doesn’t allow me to set up shop within Walmart, but Amazon allows me to do that. Now, why would they do that? Simply because it increases the variety that they can sell on the platform. Therefore, consumers are quite happy with the variety of the product they can get on Amazon. Amazon gets commission without having the inventory and the capital cost. Perhaps the most important thing of becoming a platform is it creates what we call the network effects. If there are lots of products, everything I can buy is available on Amazon. More consumers are likely to go there. Because there are more consumers, more sellers are likely to go there. It just feeds in itself. More consumers mean more sellers, more sellers mean more consumers, and it becomes a virtual cycle. That’s why there is only one Amazon. Even if I start an online retail, which is in many ways better than Amazon, nobody’s coming to gupta.com, because buyers and sellers are not there. That became the next phase, change from online retailer to marketplace. Then it went into AWS, and you sort of say, “Well, how can it go into a technology company and compete with IBM and Microsoft?” It was competing with Walmart before.

BRIAN KENNY: That’s the web services division.

SUNIL GUPTA: That’s the web services. In fact, at that point in time, Wall Street was very down on that. They said, “What is Bezos thinking?” The idea again, if you think about it, it was very simple. Amazon was building this technology for its own purpose. And then, they started giving this technology, using this technology for the third party sellers, who were selling on its platform.

BRIAN KENNY: Let me just interrupt for a second. That’s a marked, a marked change in direction. They had always been a consumer platform. Now they’re in a business-to-business play. I bet a lot of consumers don’t even know about Amazon Web Services.

SUNIL GUPTA: Correct. Again, not in a traditional sense saying, “This is my market.” That’s simply saying, “I have this capability. There’s a demand for this capability. Can I do it?” Part of that was opportunistic also. If you remember in 2001, the dot.com bubble crashed. If you’re a B2C company, you hedge your bets and get into B2B business. Part of that may have been luck. That was, again, a change of direction. And then, Amazon started producing hardware, Kindle, and now competing with Apple. You sort of say, why is an online retailer getting into hardware production? If you think a little bit about it, the answer is very easy. Kindle was designed to sell eBooks as people move from buying the hard copy books to downloading the eBooks. The Kindle is the classic razor and blade strategy. I sell razors cheap in order to make money on the blades. I’m not making that much money Kindle, but I’m making money on eBooks, which is very different from Apple’s strategy. Apple actually makes money on devices, but Amazon is not making money on devices, or at least not making huge money on devices. Similarly, it moved into online streaming of the video content and suddenly became a competition on Netflix. You sort of say, “Why is a retailer becoming a competition on Netflix?” Again, if you think a little about it, the answer becomes clear. As you and I moved on to not buying DVDs, but actually streaming the stuff, that’s what Netflix did. They used to send the DVDs to us.

BRIAN KENNY: I remember that. I still have a couple.

SUNIL GUPTA: Amazon is very good in sort of moving with the customer. If the customer moved from buying books to eBooks, I move in that direction. If customers move from buying DVDs to streaming, I move in that direction. Now, can Amazon do it? Of course, they can. They have AWS. Netflix is one of the largest customers.

BRIAN KENNY: Are they leading or following? Are they creating a market? In the beginning it seemed like they created something entirely new. Now, are they anticipating, or are they just sort of reacting to what’s happening?

SUNIL GUPTA: No, it’s a combination of both. In some ways they are actually following the consumer behavior and say consumers are moving to a streaming and move with that. They were not the first ones. Netflix actually started the streaming thing. Then, they sort of come up with it. If you think about it, Amazon became not only distributing third party content on videos, but now they have Amazon Studio. I mean, they are making movies, and the competition now becomes Hollywood instead of Walmart. You sort of say, “What has gone wrong with Jeff Bezos? Why is he making movies?” Movies are pretty expensive business and highly risky. The key to that is to understand the purpose of the movies. The purpose of the movies is to hook the consumers from Amazon Prime. If you remember, Amazon Prime started with 79 dollars per year. The benefit at that time was two-day free shipping. Now, you and I are smart enough to sort of do the math in our heads saying, how many shipments do we expect next year, and is 79 dollars worth it or not? Bezos does not want you to do that math. He basically says, “Oh, by the way, I’ll throw in some free content, some free music, some free unique movies.” Now you can’t do the calculation. Why does he care about Prime? Right now, Amazon has about one hundred million Prime customers globally. Let’s say I get an average 100 dollars per year, that’s 10 billion dollars in my pocket before I open the store.

BRIAN KENNY: Right.

SUNIL GUPTA: The research also shows that Amazon Prime customers buy three to four times more than non-Prime customers. I mean, if you’re a Prime customer, you don’t even price shop.

BRIAN KENNY: Once you’re Prime, you’ve got to justify being a member. You buy everything on Amazon.

SUNIL GUPTA: Exactly. Your purchase increases. You become price sensitive, which is fantastic. In fact Jeff Bezos has gone public and say that every time we win a Golden Globe award for our content, we sell more shoes. The purpose of creating their own content is not to make money on the content. This is another different razor to sell you more shoes. Once you understand that, what looks like disparate business is actually extremely tied together.

BRIAN KENNY: It all comes right back to the core. They haven’t always had good ideas. Have they had some misses along the way too?

SUNIL GUPTA: I think the biggest failure was Fire phone.

BRIAN KENNY: Remind us what that was?

SUNIL GUPTA: Amazon launched their own phone. They were obviously very late in the market. iPhone was already there. Samsung had done very good. You have two major players, if not many others, who are very well established. Consumers love their iPhones. The question of course was, why is Amazon launching the phone? What are the odds of success? Clearly the odds of success were low. The reason to launch it was they didn’t want to be beholden to the iPhone or the Googles of the world. They know that the world is moving towards mobile, in terms of shopping, certainly in emerging markets, everybody’s moving to mobile shopping. If tomorrow Apple or Google sort of restrict the Amazon use, or availability of Amazon, because they’re all competing with each other now. It becomes a challenge. To Amazon’s credit, I mean, it’s true for all innovations. Not all innovations succeed. You’ve got to take a shot. If you think about it, all the technology and thought process that got into Fire phone, was not completely a waste. That went into Echo. Now Alexa is a big hit.

BRIAN KENNY: They’re a market leader in that in that. Let’s talk a little bit about the ideas that underlie his Amazon case. I think it starts with knowing what business you’re in. Your book addresses this. I think I know we’re in the education space here at Harvard Business School. Should we be thinking about other businesses?

SUNIL GUPTA: You’re right. The bigger question that Amazon case raises is: how do you define what business you are in? Most of us tend to define business by the traditional industry boundaries. If I’m a bank, I’m in banking and other banks are my competition. I think industry boundaries are getting blurred today. Amazon can get into banking. I have lots of customers, I can start giving loans to small and medium enterprises.

BRIAN KENNY: They know a lot about those customers.

SUNIL GUPTA: They know a lot about customers. The key asset is now customers and data, and not the product and services that you offer. Once you know about customers, you can do lots of different things. One thing is, I would say is the industry boundaries are getting blurred. You need to think about not competition, but what do customers want. Do I have capabilities to serve that? The second thing is the traditional definition of where competitive advantage comes from is changing. What I learned, in doing my MBA class many years ago, we used to read Michael Porter’s competitive strategy stuff. If I were to simplify and summarize what I learned in competitive strategy was competitive advantage comes from making your product better or cheaper. Differentiation or cost leadership, which makes sense. If you think about it, it’s very much product-focused. I think in today’s world, competitive advantage comes from connecting products and connecting customers. The Kindle and eBooks is an example of connecting products, multiple products right? Making movies of Amazon and selling more shoes is connecting products. Razor and blade have been around forever. I think what is different today is razor and blade could be in completely different industries. Movies and shoes. The other side is connecting customers. We are in a network economy. That’s why there is only one Facebook, or one WhatsApp. If you are the only person on Facebook, what’s the value of Facebook? Not much, unless you love yourself. As more and more people get onto Facebook, the value of Facebook increases. It’s not about improving product. Without changing product, Facebook value increases. I think in this connected world that we live in, it’s about connecting products and connecting consumers.

BRIAN KENNY: We’ve got a lot of listeners out there. Many of whom are probably leading firms of one kind or another. How do they even go about exploring redefining their business?

SUNIL GUPTA: I think again, you need to think about what is your key asset? Everything starts with the consumer. In the Amazon case, you move with the consumer to some extent. I asked the same of a company for a medical device manufacturer. I said, “Who’s your competition?” The typical answer is: the other medical devices. Medical business is now becoming a lot about data. Google is getting into that. Apple. iPhone is becoming a medical device. Suddenly you have a very different kind of player getting into this thing. When I say, “What business are you in?” You need to think about who might actually get into that business and that changes the whole picture.

BRIAN KENNY: Why is Amazon so good at engaging customers?

SUNIL GUPTA: I think it comes from the culture of being customer obsessed, that no matter what the customer is right. They deliver on that promise. I mean, the level of convenience that customers expect from companies has changed. It used to be, if a company delivers a product within a week, that was considered good. Now, if you don’t deliver on the same day it just seems awful. They’ve raised the bar in everything. Of course, they’re using technology very effectively, whether it’s in their warehousing, whether now they’re investing in drones. I think they’re still a 25-year-old startup.

BRIAN KENNY: That’s another point that I wanted to touch upon. They’re able to adapt their supply chain it seems almost effortlessly to whatever business direction they move in. Is it possible for another entry to come into this space and scale in the same way that Amazon has? Is this a once-in-a-lifetime type thing?

SUNIL GUPTA: That’s a tough question. I think Amazon, it’s not that they’re adapting supply chain for everything, right? For example, I don’t think Amazon supply chain is ready for delivering frozen food yet. If I have a supply chain to ship you electronics, I can use the same supply chain to ship you prescription medication. That opens up another billion dollar, several billion dollar market. If I call myself an online retailer, I will never think of prescription drug delivery. If I think of my capabilities, I have the warehouse to deliver electronics and books. Why can’t I deliver your prescription medication? That opens up completely different businesses.

BRIAN KENNY: What are the kind of pitfalls that you need to be careful of, as you start to move into adjacent markets?

SUNIL GUPTA: I think definitely the big challenge is: how far do you go? On one hand it’s good to expand the business scope because the industry boundaries are getting blurred. The danger is do you lose focus? The classic challenge of losing focus. There’s a balance. I think in Amazon’s case, if you notice, everything is very tightly connected. If you remove one part, the whole becomes less. That’s the key question: are the pieces fitting together nicely, or they just happen to be another business because it’s profitable?

BRIAN KENNY: We’ve done a couple of cases on Cold Call that touch on the organizational impact of firms that move into new businesses. Some of them are examples of where it’s benefitted the employees. In other cases, it seems to have disrupted the culture in negative ways. How do you see this playing out at Amazon? Does it impact them in any way?

SUNIL GUPTA: If you look at Amazon, it has grown the top line 20, 25% every quarter without fail, except for one quarter in 2001. Right now, it’s in 2019, their sales are 232 billion. I don’t know that many companies, which grow at that rate, even when they’re over 200 billion. I think, if you’re on a winning team, that as an employee, it has to energize you. If you are in a culture which encourages experimentation and innovation, it has to excite you. At the same time, I’m sure it’s a very demanding culture, and there have been reports about how demanding the culture of Amazon is. It probably is not for everybody. For the people who are innovative, who are entrepreneurial, who want to be on a winning team, I’m sure it’s an exciting place.

BRIAN KENNY: There are sort of shades of Apple there. I mean, I think Apple had the same reputation. You’ve discussed this case in class with students.

SUNIL GUPTA: Oh, many students.

BRIAN KENNY: What are sort of the top line things that surprise you as you discuss it?

SUNIL GUPTA: The nice thing about this case is, everybody knows Amazon as a consumer. Everybody has shopped at Amazon. It’s very easy case. In fact, it’s a very short case that I give, at the opening of most sessions. People see it as very surface level. They sort of don’t realize the deep insights that comes out. As a three page case, you sort of say, I will be done in ten minutes, but then you peel the layers of the onion. That was a shocking thing to them, as to how you peel the layers of the onion and how you see the connection across different things. Why did Amazon buy Whole Foods? It makes no sense. Why did they get into AWS? It makes no sense. When you start un-peeling that layer, you see the connection as to why Amazon is doing all these different things. I think that’s the “A-ha” moment that comes across.

BRIAN KENNY: Much more on that in your book. How’s the book doing?

SUNIL GUPTA: Book is doing great.

BRIAN KENNY: Great.

SUNIL GUPTA: Fabulous. It was released in August. I’ve been going around on tour for many, different parts of the world.

BRIAN KENNY: I bet you can buy it on Amazon.

SUNIL GUPTA: You can certainly buy it on Amazon.

BRIAN KENNY: That’s great. Sunil, thanks for joining us today.

SUNIL GUPTA: Thank you very much Brian.

HANNAH BATES: That was Harvard Business School professor Sunil Gupta – in conversation with Brian Kenny on Cold Call . If you liked this episode and want to hear more of Harvard Business School’s legendary case studies in podcast form – search for Cold Call wherever you get your podcasts. We’ll be back next Wednesday with another hand-picked conversation about business strategy from the Harvard Business Review. If you found this episode helpful, share it with your friends and colleagues, and follow our show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. While you’re there, be sure to leave us a review. We’re a production of the Harvard Business Review – if you want more articles, case studies, books, and videos like this, be sure to subscribe to HBR at HBR.org. This episode was produced by Anne Saini, Ian Fox, and me, Hannah Bates. Special thanks to Maureen Hoch, Adi Ignatius, Karen Player, Ramsey Khabbaz, Nicole Smith, Anne Bartholomew, and you – our listener. See you next week.

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How to Nail The Amazon Writing Assignment

How to Nail The Amazon Writing Assignment in your next interview

assignment on amazon company

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Don't leave your interview to chance.

For certain positions at Amazon (usually mid to senior level, L6 and above), as part of the interview process you’ll be required to submit a writing sample. This should be roughly two pages and given to you to complete on your own so that you can do it at home. You usually have 48 hours to complete the assessment. 

This writing sample is taken seriously as part of the interview process. Amazon famously doesn’t use powerpoints, and instead relies on written memos in their meetings. When you have a new marketing or product idea to pitch, instead of having a bunch of fancy slides to present, you’ll be expected to write a 6 page, structured memo explaining your idea. In the meeting, the first few minutes are spent in silence reading the document, followed by stakeholders diving deep and asking questions about your memo. 

As you can imagine, your ability to write clearly and concisely is an important skill to have! 

assignment on amazon company

How is the Amazon Writing sample assessed? 

Almost all of the prompts for the writing sample will be a Behavioral Question based on the Amazon Leadership Principles . You’ll usually get the option to answer one of two questions, for example, “Write about a time where you had limited data but had to make an important decision,” or “Tell me about a time you had to convince a stakeholder of your viewpoint.”

The writing sample will be assessed based on the relevance of your example, the structure, your adherence to the Leadership Principles and the logic. If you’ve done the preparation of your STAR stories for Amazon, then you should already have plenty of examples to choose from. The best way to write this is to choose a very solid example and use the STAR format to have a structured story. If you’re new to STAR, you can start here.

It’s very common for an interviewer to bring up your writing sample in the actual interview and ask probing questions about it — so make sure to review your writing sample before going into the interview! Be ready to dive deep.

The curve balls

After coaching hundreds of people on the Amazon writing sample, I’ve noticed that sometimes an interviewer will throw a curveball or two. This happens either one of two ways: 

  • During the interview they bring up the example you wrote in your writing assignment, but are not happy with the example you gave. So, they ask you for another example to answer the question! (A bit stressful if you’ve only prepared that one example)
  • Usually there are two question prompts in the writing sample. They will probe into the one you answered, but then ask for an example/answer to the other question that you haven’t answered!

The solution to mitigate these curveballs is to over prepare. In case 1, you should prepare and write out one extra example for the same question prompt (for yourself), which you can use as backup in case it’s asked for. For case 2, you should definitely answer both questions in the writing prompt, even though you are only submitting one. Putting this extra effort will make you more confident in the interview and moreover give you a larger pool of quality stories to choose from.  

  • Keep the length to two or three pages - no more than that.
  • Keep in mind the Leadership Principles as you write and frame your examples from the lens of these values.
  • Revise your writing sample to be as logical and concise as possible using the STAR format.
  • Always include the reasoning behind decisions you made in the story.
  • Include numbers/data where you can.
  • If possible, have someone else review your example to get a second opinion.

Here is an example of what an Amazon writing sample looks like for a candidate who successfully received a job offer. Successful Writing Sample

assignment on amazon company

Can I use the same STAR story I used for my leadership principle stories? Or should I have a different one? 

It’s okay to reuse a story you’ve already prepared. What’s more important is how well the story is written!

Should I include headers and bold/italics? 

Yes, it’s definitely fine to add in headings and subheadings to structure the document if necessary.

What font should I use?

It doesn’t matter too much, but I’d suggest using Calibri 10. This is actually the font that Amazon uses internally, so you’ll automatically create some familiarity…and familiarity breeds trust!

How should I use numbers? 

It’s super important to add data. Be specific. Instead of saying you increased sales or marketing spend, give the number. If you have no numbers or data in your example, it’s likely a no-go.

Can I include graphs, images or tables?

This is a big no! And would usually result in a rejection. Amazon is focused on the written word, and the expectation is that you should be able to explain your points without the support of extra images.

Can I write 3 pages? 

No, definitely don’t go over the 2 page requirement. If you’re trying to squeeze in a bit more, make the font a bit smaller. :)

Can I use an example from 10 years ago? It’s old, but it’s really relevant to the question!

I don’t recommend it. As a rule of thumb, choose an example within the last 5 years. Amazon prefers examples that are fresh and relevant. 

What other tips do you have? 

The person reading your writing sample is busy and wants you to get to the point as soon as possible. Don’t make it hard for them! So, get your long version written down first and then edit. To edit, use this method: remove 1 paragraph from each page, one sentence from each paragraph, and one word from each sentence. Be strict and cut out any fat.

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Home / Essay Samples / Business / Corporation / Amazon

Amazon Company: Introduction, Background, History & Goods

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Amazon Essay – Company Background and History

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Introduction and background of amazon, faster delivery, goods made by amazon, services offered by amazon, security issues and working conditions, security issues, suggestion for amazon, references:.

  • https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/introduction-qualitative-analysis-amazoncom-inc-2013-lawton
  • https://qz.com/1051814/what-is-amazon-really/
  • https://www.foresightfactory.co/2017/07/14/trends-driving-amazon-innovations/
  • https://www.aboutamazon.com/

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Amazon Company Analysis Research Paper

Amazon.com is a transnational electronic commerce organization founded in 1994 by an American named Jeff Bezos. The company is the largest online retailer in America dealing with a wide range of consumer products such as books and other products (“Your Amazon.com,” 2010). Since the time it was established, Amazon.com has acquired five different businesses.

The company started by selling books and now deals with a range of other consumer products. These vary from a database technology to videos. It has also expanded to the European market where it has established separate websites. The success of this company can be attributed to its low competitive prices and the simplicity of making purchases from anywhere.

SWOT analysis is the internal review of an organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and external environment threats, which influence its strategic decisions. Kotler (1988) has noted that a company should keep evaluating its strengths, weaknesses, risks, and opportunities if it has to survive in a competitive marketing environment.

Amazon Company is one of the profitable businesses dealing with online products (Longo, 2009). The company has adopted major initiatives towards meeting the varied needs of its consumers that gave yield to the increased profits.

The first issue facing the online store is that despite its increased profits, it usually experience periodic loses. These huge losses are due to a large amount of capital used in its establishment, poor implementation of some strategies, promotions of its products, and seasonality of its purchases.

In 2005, for example, the turnover for one hundred days to June dropped by thirty-two percent to $52m compared to $76m during the same period one year later. Therefore, the company should continue implementing strategies such as the practice of CRM as a technique for fulfilling its objectives (Byers, 2007, p.69).

It should also maintain the use of IT in assisting its business strategy as this will ensure that it cautiously documents all the relevant information related to customer buying behavior. This strategy is beneficial in providing people with particular items, or package of assorted items, based on preferences shown, through a collection of things bought or online products visited.

The strategy of providing free shipping to its consumers would undoubtedly decrease its returns. Although, it is a fair strategy since a person may consider purchasing similar products from a local shop at no added costs. Nevertheless, it is rumored that delivery costs could reach $500m, and such an amount is detrimental to the longevity of the online retailer.

Therefore, the management should reconsider this expensive strategy since transportation costs are increasing due to the high fuel price increments. Moreover, the periodic losses are also due to the seasonality of its purchases. The items that the company sells tend to be purchased on a seasonal basis; hence, this makes its revenues to fluctuate.

These items are most of the time purchased as gifts during holiday seasons. This makes most products to be sold at certain times of the year. To manage this issue efficiently, the management should consider trading in overseas markets in different cultures and such a situation will not be persistent. The growth of sales during the off-season can also be facilitated by introducing a membership facility to offer clients benefits during such times.

Secondly, Amazon is at the risk of deteriorating its established brand. Amazon is a significant global brand recognized for many reasons. The brand was one of the initial versions of dotcoms (Ehrlich, 1999). During the previous decade, it reached an estimated number of thirty million clients. Amazon took an early advantage of online technologies for establishing e-commerce.

This enabled it to be one of the earliest online retailers. However, as the company continues to add more products on its website, it risks deteriorating its brand. Microsoft, for example, is well known for computer software products. Imagine if Microsoft decided to diversify and start selling books. This will confuse its customers and put its brand at risk. Similarly, many of the new products, for instance, automotive products, might bewilder Amazon’s consumers.

Also, to avoid deteriorating its brand, Amazon can capitalize on several opportunities that can enable its continued growth within the marketplace. The company can build specialist connections with publishers to provide exclusive editions on its website as well as launch proprietary rights with authors. This would give a point of difference within the retail market and create aroused expansion through followers of particular artists. The company has the opportunity of adding more investment in fulfillment.

This would boost the level of actual client service and meet the needs and requirements of the purchasers since it depends on customer expectations to provide repeat purchases and prolonged existence. The company can sell its skills to various store groups. For instance, the British retailer Marks and Spencer, Target, and Toys-R-Us all agreed to corporate with the firm in online retailing.

The company can also exploit other opportunities that come from the entrance into new markets such as its new Luxembourg-based division seeks to provide retailers in Europe with tailored services. In 2004, the firm entered into China and bought the country’s largest internet store, Joyo.com. Joyo.com is dealing with similar items as Amazon. Exploiting foreign markets can expand their customer base.

For example, the move into the Chinese market by buying Joyo.com is commendable as this would increase its returns in the long run. However, the management should take drastic measures to ensure that Amazon does not lose its market leadership amidst these mergers. This is because the collaborations that it has formed with other firms may make weaken its brand in the market.

Finally, in this era of technological advancement, Amazon is faced with several threats to its existence. Every online business that has achieved its goals attracts rivalry from other players in the market. Since the firm deals with related items as high street retailers and other internet shops, differentiating the brand from its opponents can prove to be a significant problem. Therefore, with no particular differential to the increasing competition, potential consumers can shift their loyalties to other brands.

However, Amazon has its established brand and a variety of items to sell. Or else, price competition might harm the online retailer. As the company grows, the management should implement strategies for dealing with increased competition, especially from international opponents. This is because when the home-based competitors have failed to outdo it in the home ground; they may make their way and compete with it overseas.

In conclusion, Amazon.com plan of maintaining the competitive edge in the market is to employ every resource it has to make profits. To achieve this, it has spent fifteen years and about $2 billion developing its internet store, which is one of the largest and most consistent worldwide.

To maintain its market leadership, the company should implement counter-measures for dealing with the rise in property rentals, piracy, and unauthorized downloading of internet materials.

Reference List

Byers, A. (2007). Jeff Bezos: the founder of Amazon.com. New York: Rosen Publishing Group.

Ehrlich, C. (1999). Retail Success Factors. Web.

Kotler, P. (1988). Marketing Management (6th Edition ed.). Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice Hall.

Longo, D. (2009). Pillars of Amazon’s Success. Nielson Business Media. Web.

“Your Amazon.com.” (2010). Shop all departments. Amazon.com. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2023, November 20). Amazon Company Analysis. https://ivypanda.com/essays/company-analysis-of-amazon-com/

"Amazon Company Analysis." IvyPanda , 20 Nov. 2023, ivypanda.com/essays/company-analysis-of-amazon-com/.

IvyPanda . (2023) 'Amazon Company Analysis'. 20 November.

IvyPanda . 2023. "Amazon Company Analysis." November 20, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/company-analysis-of-amazon-com/.

1. IvyPanda . "Amazon Company Analysis." November 20, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/company-analysis-of-amazon-com/.

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IvyPanda . "Amazon Company Analysis." November 20, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/company-analysis-of-amazon-com/.

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Amazon’s Mission Statement & Vision Statement (An Analysis)

Amazon corporate vision statement and corporate mission statement characteristics e-commerce business purpose analysis case study

Amazon’s mission statement and vision statement influence the multinational technology and e-commerce business toward long-term growth and success. This success is attributed to stringent measures to ensure that the vision and mission statements are fulfilled. In theory, the corporate vision statement provides organizational direction toward a desired future condition of the business, while the corporate mission statement presents the business purpose and goals that guide strategic management in the company. Based on this business analysis case, Amazon’s mission statement focuses on customer satisfaction. The business strengths identified in the SWOT analysis of Amazon are applied while focusing on this purpose. In relation, the company’s vision statement shows a target future of global leadership in human resource management and workplace safety in the online retail industry and beyond.

Amazon’s corporate mission and vision statements are fundamental to developing strategies to support the company’s competitive advantages over firms, like Google (Alphabet) , Apple , Microsoft , Walmart , and Costco . These competitors create the aggressive competitive rivalry evaluated in the Five Forces analysis of Amazon . The company’s corporate vision and mission statements also influence the operations of its subsidiaries, such as Whole Foods Market . Considering the variety of its products, which include online retail services, digital content distribution, cloud computing services, and computer software and hardware, Amazon aligns its vision statement with its mission statement to unify its diverse operations.

Amazon’s Mission Statement

Amazon’s mission is “ to be Earth’s most customer-centric company. ” This mission statement promises attractive e-commerce services to satisfy target customers’ needs. The company’s focus on customers implies a set of variables based on what customers require and expect from the technology and online service business. The following characteristics are some of the most prominent factors associated with Amazon’s mission statement:

  • Lowest prices
  • Best selection of goods and services
  • Convenience in e-commerce
  • Global industry leadership

The “lowest prices” variable based on the mission statement guides the pricing strategies included in Amazon’s marketing mix or 4P . Low prices are a selling point that makes the company’s e-commerce website and services attractive. A corresponding strategic objective is to reduce operational costs to enable the business to minimize prices. Amazon’s corporate mission statement also points to having the best product mix and selection to satisfy customers. For example, the wide selection of products on the company’s website and mobile app is a factor that attracts shoppers. Moreover, Amazon’s mission statement emphasizes convenience, such as in accessing the company’s products via the Internet. This characteristic is a response to consumers’ use of “convenience” as a criterion when evaluating the quality and attractiveness of online retail services. The inclusion of “Earth” means that Amazon’s corporate mission statement pushes the multinational business to become a leader in customer satisfaction relative to all firms in the global market.

Amazon’s Vision Statement

Amazon’s vision is “ to become Earth’s Best Employer and Earth’s Safest Place to Work. ” This vision statement underscores the aim of becoming the best e-commerce company in the world, with emphasis on human resources and workplace safety. The following characteristics are identified in Amazon’s vision statement:

  • Global reach
  • Best employer
  • Safest workplace

The “global reach” component of Amazon’s vision statement is all about international leadership in the market. For example, in stating the “Earth” as the market, the company shows that it aims to continue expanding globally. A corresponding strategic objective is international expansion through market penetration and market development, which are included in Amazon’s generic competitive strategy and intensive growth strategies . The employee-centeredness of Amazon’s corporate vision statement shows that the company considers employees as among the most important stakeholders in the online retail business. This consideration agrees with Amazon’s corporate social responsibility strategy for its stakeholders . Furthermore, the corporate vision’s emphasis on workplace safety indicates continuing efforts to address the e-commerce firm’s workers’ needs. These efforts contribute to business growth and to making Amazon’s services more attractive to workers and, in turn, more attractive to target customers based on corporate or brand image.

Evaluation of Amazon’s Mission & Vision

Amazon’s mission statement satisfies only a few of the conventional characteristics of ideal mission statements. For example, the company includes target customers and market (customers in the global market), and basic business aims (industry leadership and customer satisfaction) in the corporate mission. However, the company does not include technology and the nature of the business and its operations. In this regard, Amazon can add details in its corporate mission to give employees and investors a better idea of what the company is all about. These details should make the corporate mission statement more comprehensive, especially in representing the company’s businesses, such as online retail services, cloud-based computing services, digital content delivery, software and hardware, and brick-and-mortar retail (e.g., Amazon Go).

Similar to the corporate mission, Amazon’s vision statement satisfies only a few of the ideal characteristics of vision statements. The e-commerce firm’s vision statement is one-sided, in that it focuses on workers only, without details about the long-term strategic targets of the business with regard to customers, products, industry, and market. Amazon’s corporate vision statement needs a holistic description of the target future condition of the e-commerce and technology corporation. An appropriate recommendation is to improve the vision statement by including how the company’s product mix (e-commerce service, cloud computing service, consumer electronics and other merchandise, etc.) relates to being the best employer and being the safest place to work. Additional details about long-term industry positioning could also make Amazon’s vision statement more relevant to the business and its investors. Such improvements to the vision statement could strengthen it in clearly guiding the technology firm’s long-term strategic planning.

  • Amazon.com, Inc. – Form 10-K .
  • Amazon.com, Inc. – Our Approach .
  • Amazon.com, Inc. – Update on our vision to be Earth’s Best Employer and Earth’s Safest Place to Work .
  • Fitzsimmons, A. B., Qin, Y. S., & Heffron, E. R. (2022). Purpose vs mission vs vision: Persuasive appeals and components in corporate statements. Journal of Communication Management, 26 (2), 207-219.
  • Lüthy, A. (2023). From the Mission Statement to Value-Oriented Corporate Management. In Value-Oriented Leadership in Theory and Practice: Concepts-Study Results-Practical Insights (pp. 79-93). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
  • U.S. Department of Commerce – International Trade Administration – Retail Trade Industry .
  • U.S. Department of Commerce – International Trade Administration – Software and Information Technology Industry .
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Amazon: Company Analysis

Introduction.

Businesses that operate in the present-day competitive market may not record optimal performance if they disregard the prevailing regulatory standards. Such guiding principles have been put in place to inform companies’ economic decision-making processes. Contravening the laid-down ethical, accounting, monetary, and government policies may subject organizations to significant penalties, hence reducing their expected profitability levels. This paper examines the above elements with a focus on Amazon, which is a globally recognized business located in Seattle, Washington, offering technology, e-commerce, artificial intelligence, and cloud-computing services.

Regulatory Considerations

Regulatory considerations help Amazon to implement economic decisions that facilitate its productivity in the marketplace not only in the U.S. but also around the world. The organization is also aware of penalties associated with improper transportation of its products and the mistreatment of workers. For example, regarding remuneration, Amazon has to abide by the stipulated hourly rate of approximately $15.24 per employee (Murninghan, 2018). Overall, regulatory considerations influence Amazon’s level of operations in various countries depending on the existing federal, local, and government policies.

Regulations

Environmental regulations.

Although Amazon’s business is online-based, the company is required to put in place practices that boost EPA’s recommended environmental regulations (Dillon et al., 2018). For instance, Greenpeace, an organization that monitors companies’ levels of adopting renewable energy, sustainable commodities and services, and non-poisonous materials, accused Amazon of violating environmental regulations (Dillon et al., 2018). Specifically, it blamed the technology business for failing to embrace transparency regarding its green practices. According to Dillon et al. (2018), Amazon’s move to supply harmful pesticides breached EPA’s environmental requirements, hence resulting in a $1.2 million fine.

Accounting Regulations

According to the Dodd-Frank Act, employees have the right to report to the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) in case any wrongdoing is noted in the company (Elzweig, Davidson, & Chambers, 2018). Amazon is expected to operate in a manner that guarantees sanity in its financial records in line with the Dodd-Frank Act. As Elzweig et al. (2018) assert, Amazon embraces the provision that requires any employee exposed to unwarranted termination or intimidation to seek legal services. The company also adheres to the Sarbanes-Oxley policy, which allows workers to inform the appropriate federal agency about malpractices observed in the organization.

The Extent of Impact on the Company

Regulatory issues have significantly affected Amazon’s operations. For instance, the company has been forced to ensure that it utilizes non-toxic materials while at the same time keeping customers’ details confidential (Murninghan, 2018). Observing the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Dodd-Frank policy has contributed to ensuring that economic crises similar to what was experienced in the period of 2007 and 2008 do not recur.

Ethical Considerations

Ethical guidelines influence companies’ financial decisions. Amazon has invested heavily in mechanisms for ensuring that unintended third parties do not access its customers’ details for malicious reasons. Ethical considerations have also helped the company to allocate financial resources aimed at boosting creativity and innovation, as opposed to utilizing other organizations’ ideas against the stipulated IP requirements.

Ethical Issues

Some of the ethical issues that Amazon has to consider include concealing clients’ confidential information and upholding intellectual property (IP) rights. Other ethical elements entail offering fair wages, giving employees long-term contracts, and allowing expectant women to take a break regardless of whether they have achieved the set targets or not. According to Elzweig et al., (2018), the company is expected to implement policies, which ensure that no worker is fired or subjected to any form of mistreatment for exposing fraudulent deals, including the misrepresentation of financial statements.

The Impact of Amazon’s Ethical Issues

Amazon is among the most compliant companies globally. As a result, it has consistently remained profitable due to the limited fines associated with violations of the existing ethical guidelines. For instance, as Murninghan (2018) reveals, part of its economic decisions include ensuring that workers get the recommended $15.24 per hour.

Fiscal and Monetary Policies

Fiscal and monetary considerations play a huge role in informing the company’s idea of encouraging American central and state governments to execute policies that guarantee fair tariffs on online sales. According to Da, Warachka, and Yun (2018), such policies ensure that Amazon contributes to the U.S. economic development targets through the revenue collected from its products in the form of taxes.

The Effect of Fiscal and Monetary Policies on Amazon

Whenever the U.S. wishes to fund its projects, it has the power to increase taxes imposed on products. It can also influence the amount of money supplied to businesses. For Amazon, such policies determine the prices to be set on various products. However, according to Da et al. (2018), they may also result in reduced stock returns, and consequently, low profitability levels, especially when customers are unable to cope with the new prices.

Higher and Lower Tax Rates

Higher tax rates can lower Amazon’s expenditure levels because of the associated reduced returns. Hence, its economic decisions will primarily be geared towards ensuring that customers continue being loyal to the company’s products, despite the high prices. In case of low tax rates, Amazon expects improved purchases due to the prevailing reduced product prices (Da et al., 2018). Overall, productivity levels increase to the extent that the company can allocate part of the income gained to other development agendas such as CSR projects.

Amazon’s business is required to comply with various ethical, environmental, and accounting regulations, including the Dodd-Frank Act and the Sarbanes-Oxley policy. In case of any violation, the underlying court charges may interfere with the company’s global image and, consequently, its profitability levels. In line with EPA’s guidelines, Amazon is required to reveal information concerning its energy consumption, the raw materials it uses, and the amount of harmful chemicals utilized in the production process.

Da, Z., Warachka, M., & Yun, H. (2018). Fiscal policy, consumption risk, and stock returns: Evidence from U.S. states. Journal of Financial & Quantitative Analysis, 53 (1), 109-136. Web.

Dillon, L., Sellers, C., Underhill, V., Shapiro, N., Ohayon, J. L., Sullivan, M., …Wylie, S. (2018). The environmental protection agency in the early Trump administration: Prelude to regulatory capture. American Journal of Public Health, 108 (2), 89-94. Web.

Elzweig, B., Davidson, B., & Chambers, V. (2018). Disparities between Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower statutes can greatly impact claims. Banking & Financial Services Policy Report, 37 (11), 4-10.

Murninghan, M. (2018). Equity culture and decent work: The case of Amazon. New England Journal of Public Policy, 30 (1), 1-15.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, July 10). Amazon: Company Analysis. https://studycorgi.com/amazon-company-analysis/

"Amazon: Company Analysis." StudyCorgi , 10 July 2021, studycorgi.com/amazon-company-analysis/.

StudyCorgi . (2021) 'Amazon: Company Analysis'. 10 July.

1. StudyCorgi . "Amazon: Company Analysis." July 10, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/amazon-company-analysis/.

Bibliography

StudyCorgi . "Amazon: Company Analysis." July 10, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/amazon-company-analysis/.

StudyCorgi . 2021. "Amazon: Company Analysis." July 10, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/amazon-company-analysis/.

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  • Amazon Assessment Test
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Amazon Writing Exercise: What to Expect & How to Ace It

The majority of Amazon's high-level employment interviews include a writing exercise, which is a mandatory screening step that evaluates several specific abilities.

In this article, you'll learn:

  • What Is the Amazon writing exercise?
  • Requirements for Length and Time Limits

Common Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Writing Sample

  • Tips for Creating a Perfect Writing Sample

Let's get started.

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What Is the Amazon Writing Exercise?

The Amazon writing exercise is a written task you will need to complete prior to your job interview.It is meant to assess your ability to communicate effectively in writing and how well you handle difficult situations.

When Do You Receive the Writing Exercise?

The written exercise usually comes after the initial phone screen and the on-site interviews. However, depending on the position you are interviewing for, you may be given the task during your on-site interviews.

What Job Levels and Specific Positions Require It?

Positions at both levels 5 and 6 will require you to complete a writing assignment at some point during the interview process. However, there are a few exceptions. For instance, entry-level customer service positions to join the customer support team may not require it.

For some levels at Amazon (often mid to senior level, L6 and above), you'll be asked to submit writing samples as part of the interview process. Depending on Amazon’s employee job description, some positions have a higher chance of requiring an amazon writing sample, as many positions require frequent email communication.

Length and Time Limit Requirements

No more than two or three pages is required in this interview phase to answer the two written interview questions. As you write, keep in mind the Leadership Principles, and Amazon’s company culture, and structure your examples in light of these principles. Use the STAR format to edit your Amazon writing sample to make it as logical and concise as possible.

You will have 48hrs to complete the writing assignment, depending on the criteria and instructions. If you finish early, take a few moments to review your work and make any necessary edits.

What Topics Will You be Asked to Write About?

The first question in the written exercise revolves around the type of innovation you have already contributed. You'll be asked to describe the most innovative or creative thing you've ever done eg a product idea you’ve championed.

Pick one innovation that was your idea and speak on that; it might be a new product idea, a process modification, a new metric, or a creative customer interface. Something new that made improvements to your work is enough; you don't necessarily need to have a patent or anything as complicated.

Remember not to divulge any confident and proprietary information about your current or previous employer. Give the reviewers all the information they need to understand your idea.

Answer questions about the issues you tried to resolve, the measures you employed, the outcome, if it was a crucial issue, and the impact of fixing this issue on a bigger scale.

A great majority of decisions we make involve careful deliberation, but some can't be thought about scientifically because there simply isn't enough time or data. In business cases, no matter how big or small the issue, they should answer the situation, any alternatives considered, and why the final decision was made.

Be sure to explain how the alternate route you considered differs from others.

Some of the Amazon written interview questions at the on-site interview can also come this way:

Most decisions involve analysis, but some are Proper judgment calls that can't be subjected to analysis because of time or information limitations. For example - "please describe a recent judgment call you made that couldn't be analyzed."

It should center on a business issue, regardless of how big or little it is. What were the circumstances, the alternatives you thought about and weighed, and the steps in your decision-making process? Include a justification for your decision concerning other options that were taken into consideration.

How Is the Exercise Evaluated?

Your submission will be evaluated and rated generally by Amazon reviewers based on the following two standards:

  • Expression and Clarity of idea.
  • Thought organization and structure.

Explain your answer clearly while maintaining the logical flow of the written piece to increase your chances of passing Amazon's written test.

The written exercise will also be evaluated on the following criteria:

Content: Does the response address the customer's concerns? Does it attempt to resolve the issue? Is the language professional and courteous?

Structure: Is the writing easy to read and understand? Is it well organized?

Formatting: Are the document's font, point size, and spacing consistent? Are any charts, graphs, or images easy to understand?

Creativity: Did the candidate devise a creative solution to the problem?

Impact: Would resolving this issue positively impact the customer's experience?

Candidates who can effectively address all these criteria will be well on impressing the reviewers and landing the job.

Now that you know how to format your written exercise, it's time to avoid common mistakes that can ruin your chances of impressing the reviewers.

1. Not Answering the Question: When you are given a writing prompt, make sure that you answer it directly. The reviewers are looking to see if you can understand and follow simple instructions, so don't try to be creative or clever with your response and deviate from the relevant context of the question.

2. Being Too Creative: While you want to show that you are a creative thinker, you don't want to go overboard with your written exercise. Stick to the facts and avoid any fanciful language or outlandish claims.

3. Failing to Proofread: One of the quickest ways to lose points is to submit a writing sample full of spelling and grammar mistakes. Be sure to proofread your work before you submit it, or have someone else take a look for you.

4. Using Slang or Colloquialisms: Your written exercise is not the place to bust out your best slang or colloquialisms. Stick to Standard English and avoid any language that could be interpreted as unprofessional.

5. Being Too Negative: If you are asked to write about a time when you faced a challenge, it's important to focus on the story's positive aspects. The reviewers want to see that you can stay calm and collected under pressure, so avoid any negativity in your writing.

Tips for Crafting a Writing Sample That Will Impress Your Recruiters

Now that you know what to do (and what not to do), it's time to start crafting your written exercise. Use the following tips to create a writing sample that will wow your recruiters and helps you land the job.</p<>

1. Keep It Simple: When it comes to your writing sample, less is more. Stick to the facts and avoid superfluous language that could confuse or distract the reader.

2. Make It Easy to Read: Use short paragraphs and simple language to make your writing sample easy to read and understand. The reviewers should be able to quickly scan your work and get a clear sense of your writing style.

3. Stick to the Prompt: If you are given a specific prompt, make sure that you answer it directly. The reviewers are looking to see if you can follow simple instructions, so don't try to be creative or clever with your response.

4. Proofread Your Work: Before you submit your written exercise, be sure to proofread it for any spelling or grammar mistakes. These errors can be costly and may cause the reviewers to doubt your writing ability.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice: If you want to ace your written exercise, practicing ahead of time is important. Write out a few sample responses to common prompts and get a feel for how to structure your work. With some practice, you'll be able to write a writing sample that will impress your recruiters and help you land the job.

According to Amazon, the only communication that can assist you in successfully resolving any disputes you may encounter while making quick business decisions is written communication. Simply put, this is because words are quantifiable, purposeful, precise, and time-bound.

When working in teams as large as Amazon's, being concise in your writing might help you get your point across. To prove to the recruiters that you are the ideal candidate for the position, you must succeed on the written test.

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Amazon Assignment 2

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This assignment is focusing on the e-commerce service of Amazon.

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Amazon Writing Exercise: What to Expect & How to Do Well

May 16, 2017 • amazon interview writing assignment • amazon writing exercise • amazon writing sample interview

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SEE ALSO: How to Ace the Amazon Leadership Principles Interview

Have an Amazon interview? Worried about the Amazon writing exercise? 📝

Have no fear. 👍

I'll answer all your top questions about the Amazon writing sample you are expected to write including:

  • Example Amazon writing assignment prompts from past candidates
  • Tips and tricks on how to score well
  • Examples of what has worked well for others

My team's research and analysis comes straight from candidates who have been through the process themselves and succeeded.

Amazon Writing Exercise: Frequently Asked Questions

What is it?

The Amazon writing exercise consists of two written interview questions that Amazon candidates are asked to respond to before their on-site interviews. How many questions are there?

Candidates are given two options and instructed to pick one question to answer. When is it due?

Candidates are required to submit their answers over e-mail 1 to 2 days before their on-site interviews. What are the length requirements?

Your response must be no longer than 4 pages and typical responses are about 2 pages. Anything longer than two pages might bore the reviewer, especially given their busy schedules. Why is it important?

Written communication is a central part of Amazon’s company culture. Writing is part of every Amazon employee’s job description in at least some capacity. This is why they include a writing sample in their interview process and take candidate responses seriously. How will your writing be evaluated?

Amazon will evaluate your writing response on two criteria:

  • Clarity of thought and expression . Be sure to explain your point well.
  • Organization and structure . Make sure that your writing flows logically and makes sense.

What are the guidelines?

  • Clearly indicate the question you have selected at the top of your response.
  • Respond in narrative form and limit the use of bullets or outlines.
  • Type your response in rich text format (i.e., MS Word).
  • Do not include any confidential or proprietary information in your response.

Amazon Writing Exercise: Example Prompts

Example #1: amazon writing exercise.

What is the most inventive or innovative thing you’ve done? It doesn’t have to be something that’s patented. It could be a process change, product idea, a new metric or customer facing interface – something that was your idea. It cannot be anything your current or previous employer would deem confidential information. Please provide us with context to understand the invention/innovation. What problem were you seeking to solve? Why was it important? What was the result? Why or how did it make a difference and change things?

Example #2: Amazon Writing Exercise

Most decisions are made with analysis, but some are judgment calls not susceptible to analysis due to time or information constraints. Please write about a judgment call you’ve made recently that couldn’t be analyzed. It can be a big or small one, but should focus on a business issue. What was the situation, the alternatives you considered and evaluated, and your decision making process? Be sure to explain why you chose the alternative you did relative to others considered.

Amazon Writing Exercise: Tips to Help You Score Well

  • When choosing your example, try to pick something as recent as possible . The more modern and applicable your answer is to the current tech environment, the better.
  • Be specific . Include all relevant dates, names, titles and elements involved in your example. Answers with more information are perceived as more truthful and paint a better picture of what it is that you accomplished.
  • Clearly answer each part of the question . As you can see in from the above examples, the writing questions are complex and multi-faceted. One of the worst mistakes that you can make is to ignore part of the prompt.
  • Context is important . These question will always, in some form or another, ask you about a time in your career when you were faced with a problem and how you responded to and successfully fixed that problem. Although showing off your accomplishments is obviously important, so is describing the problems that you faced. Your explanation of the problem should be given just as much space as your explanation of the solution.
  • Don’t be afraid to discuss adversity . In real life, unanimous agreement about solving hard problems is practically unheard-of in the workplace. An example that includes disagreement, controversy and how you were able to overcome it is more believable and applicable to a real company than an example where everything goes smoothly and everyone agrees.

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Amazon Change Management Case Study

Change is an essential component of any successful organization, and in today’s rapidly evolving business environment, the ability to manage change effectively is more critical than ever. 

One company that has demonstrated exceptional change management skills is Amazon, which has undergone numerous transformations in its nearly three decades of operation. 

From its early days as an online bookseller to its current status as a global technology and retail giant, Amazon has had to adapt to changing market conditions and customer demands. 

In this blog post, we will examine Amazon’s change management practices and explore a case study of the company’s acquisition of Whole Foods to understand how Amazon manages change on a large scale. 

By analyzing Amazon’s change management strategies, we hope to provide insights that can help other organizations navigate change and remain competitive in today’s dynamic business environment.

Overview of Amazon History and Growth 

Amazon was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos as an online bookstore in Seattle, Washington. Initially, the company operated out of Bezos’ garage and was primarily focused on selling books online. However, Amazon quickly expanded its offerings to include a wide range of products, including electronics, toys, clothing, and more.

In 1997, Amazon went public, and by the end of the year, it had grown to serve customers in all 50 US states and more than 160 countries. Throughout the 2000s, Amazon continued to expand its business, launching new services like Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2006 and the Amazon Kindle e-reader in 2007.

By 2010, Amazon had become the world’s largest online retailer, offering millions of products to customers around the world. In recent years, Amazon has continued to grow and diversify its business, expanding into new markets like groceries, healthcare, and entertainment. Today, Amazon is one of the largest companies in the world, with a market capitalization of over $1.5 trillion and a workforce of more than 1.3 million employees.

Need of Change Management at Amazon 

As Amazon has grown and evolved over the years, the need for effective change management has become increasingly important. Amazon operates in a fast-paced, rapidly changing industry, and the company must continually adapt to new technologies, shifting customer needs, and changing market conditions. Without effective change management, Amazon could struggle to keep pace with these changes and risk falling behind competitors.

Additionally, Amazon’s size and scale can make change management particularly challenging. With more than 1.3 million employees and operations in numerous countries around the world, implementing changes across the organization can be complex and time-consuming. Effective change management processes are essential to ensure that changes are communicated clearly and effectively to all stakeholders, and that the changes are implemented in a way that minimizes disruption to the business.

Overall, the need for change management at Amazon is driven by the company’s growth and the fast-paced, ever-changing nature of the business environment in which it operates. By effectively managing change, Amazon can continue to stay ahead of the curve and remain a leader in the global marketplace.

Amazon’s Acquisition of Whole Food

In 2017, Amazon announced its acquisition of Whole Foods, a high-end grocery store chain known for its focus on organic and locally-sourced products. The $13.7 billion acquisition marked Amazon’s entry into the grocery market, a move that was seen as a potential game-changer in the industry.

The acquisition was met with mixed reactions from investors, analysts, and industry experts. Some saw the move as a smart strategic play that would give Amazon a foothold in the lucrative grocery market, while others were skeptical of the challenges that Amazon would face in managing a physical retail operation.

Despite the challenges, Amazon moved forward with the acquisition, and in August 2017, the deal was completed. Amazon quickly began to integrate Whole Foods into its business operations, including implementing changes to the store’s pricing, product offerings, and supply chain. The acquisition also paved the way for new innovations in the grocery industry, such as the launch of Amazon Go, a cashierless convenience store that uses AI and computer vision technology to track purchases.

Analysis of change management process used by Amazon 

Amazon’s change management process during the acquisition of Whole Foods was thorough, well-planned, and executed effectively. By emphasizing communication, training, cultural integration, and flexibility, Amazon was able to successfully integrate Whole Foods into its business and begin to innovate in the grocery industry.

1. Planning: Amazon spent a significant amount of time planning for the acquisition and identifying the key changes that would need to be made to integrate Whole Foods into its business. This included identifying potential synergies, determining how to integrate supply chains and pricing strategies, and assessing the impact of the acquisition on employees and customers.

2. Communication: Effective communication was a critical component of the change management process. Amazon made a concerted effort to communicate the changes to all stakeholders, including employees, customers, and investors. The company emphasized its commitment to maintaining Whole Foods’ brand identity and values, while also highlighting the potential benefits of the acquisition for customers and employees.

3. Training and education: To ensure that employees were prepared for the changes, Amazon provided extensive training and education programs to Whole Foods employees. This included training on new technology, changes to store operations, and other aspects of the integration process.

4. Flexibility and agility: Amazon was able to be flexible and agile in its approach to the change management process. The company made adjustments as needed, based on feedback from employees and customers, and was willing to pivot its strategies when necessary

5. Cultural integration: Amazon recognized the importance of cultural integration in the change management process. The company worked to integrate the cultures of the two organizations and to ensure that Whole Foods employees felt valued and supported during the transition.

Success of change management process 

The change management process used by Amazon during the acquisition of Whole Foods was largely successful. The following are some indicators of the success of the change management process:

1. Smooth integration: Amazon was able to integrate Whole Foods into its business smoothly and quickly, with minimal disruptions to store operations or customer experience. The company was able to implement changes to pricing, supply chain, and product offerings without significant negative impacts.

2. Employee satisfaction : Amazon prioritized the needs and concerns of Whole Foods employees during the integration process, providing extensive training and education, and working to integrate the cultures of the two organizations. This approach contributed to high levels of employee satisfaction and engagement, and helped to maintain employee loyalty to the Whole Foods brand.

3. Innovation: The acquisition of Whole Foods paved the way for new innovations in the grocery industry, such as the launch of Amazon Go and the expansion of Amazon Fresh. These innovations have helped to position Amazon as a major player in the grocery market and have contributed to the company’s overall growth.

4. Financial success: The acquisition of Whole Foods has been a financial success for Amazon, with the company seeing significant growth in its grocery business in the years since the acquisition. This financial success is a strong indicator of the effectiveness of the change management process.

These indicators suggest that Amazon’s change management process was effective in managing the challenges of integrating a large and complex organization into its business and positioning the company for continued growth in the grocery industry

Final Words  

The success of Amazon’s change management process during the acquisition of Whole Foods highlights the importance of effective change management in modern business. With technology and the competitive landscape changing rapidly, businesses must be able to adapt quickly to stay relevant and competitive. Effective change management is essential for ensuring that organizations can manage the challenges of change and position themselves for success in a rapidly changing business environment.

Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods serves as a valuable case study on the importance of effective change management in modern business. By emphasizing planning, communication, training, cultural integration, and flexibility, Amazon was able to successfully integrate Whole Foods into its business and position itself for continued growth in the grocery industry. The lessons learned from this case study can serve as a valuable guide for future change management efforts in both Amazon and other organizations.

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Amazon will be added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, replacing Walgreens Boots Alliance

FILE - The Amazon logo is seen, June 15, 2023, at the Vivatech show in Paris. Amazon.com is being added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, joining Apple, Walt Disney, Walmart and other companies that make up the 30-stock average. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

FILE - The Amazon logo is seen, June 15, 2023, at the Vivatech show in Paris. Amazon.com is being added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, joining Apple, Walt Disney, Walmart and other companies that make up the 30-stock average. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

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NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon.com Inc. is being added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, joining Apple, Walt Disney, Walmart and other companies that make up the 30-stock average.

The e-commerce giant will replace drugstore operator Walgreens Boots Alliance in the Dow before the open of trading on Monday, S&P Dow Jones Indices said Tuesday.

The shift was prompted by Walmart’s decision to do a 3-to-1 stock split, which will reduce its stock’s weighting in the index. The Dow is a price-weighted index, so stocks that fetch higher prices are given more weight.

Seattle-based Amazon will join the Dow on the same day that Walmart executes its stock split.

FILE - A tractor trailer bearing the Walmart logo in Richland, Miss., Sept. 6, 2023. Walmart reports earnings on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, file)

“Reflecting the evolving nature of the American economy, this change will increase consumer retail exposure as well as other business areas in the DJIA,” S&P Dow Jones Indices said.

Amazon’s entry into the Dow, Walgreens’ exit and Walmart’s stock split will cause a ripple effect on the weighting of the Dow stocks. Once the shift is completed, Amazon’s weight in the Dow will rank 17th out of the 30 stocks in the index. Walmart’s weighting will drop to 26 from 17. UnitedHealth Group will remain the most heavily weighted stock in the index.

Also before the start of trading on Monday, ride-sharing service Uber Technologies will be added to the Dow Jones Transportation Average, S&P Dow Jones Indices said.

The change help give the index exposure to the ride-sharing industry.

San Francisco-based Uber will take the spot now held by JetBlue Airways, whose low share price caused its weight in the index to drop to less than one-half of one percentage point.

S&P Dow Jones Indices made the announcements after the closing bell. Amazon shares rose 1.4% in after-hours trading, while Uber’s stock picked up 1.1%.

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Jeff Bezos unloads around $2.4 billion in Amazon stock, bringing recent sales to 50 million shares

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  • Jeff Bezos unloaded more than 14 million shares of Amazon stock in recent days, according to a securities filing.
  • The latest disclosure brings the total sold in the past month to 50 million shares.
  • Bezos has been aggressively selling Amazon stock since he disclosed a plan to sell up to 50 million shares in the company before Jan. 31, 2025.

Amazon founder and executive chairman Jeff Bezos unloaded more than 14 million shares of his company valued at roughly $2.4 billion, bringing the total sold since the start of the month to 50 million.

The sales began late last week and continued through Tuesday, according to a securities filing . In total, Bezos sold 14,006,906 shares in the company for about $2.37 billion, the filing states.

The sales were executed under a prearranged trading plan that Bezos adopted in November and disclosed earlier this month , which said he could sell up to 50 million Amazon shares before Jan. 31, 2025.

Bezos sold about 12 million Amazon shares, worth approximately $2.03 billion, last week, in addition to another tranche of 12 million shares just days before. He unloaded another 12 million shares the  week before that .

Bezos hadn't sold Amazon's stock  since May 2021 , the year he stepped down as Amazon's CEO, prior to the latest flurry of sales. He  gifted  about $240 million worth of Amazon shares last year.

Bezos' stock sales  have accelerated  since he  announced  last November he would leave Seattle and move to Miami, allowing him to be closer to fiancée Lauren Sanchez and his parents, as well as Blue Origin's operations.

Clarification: This story has been updated to reflect that Bezos unloaded around $2.4 billion in stock

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What Amazon, the F.T.C. and C.I.A. Won’t Say When You’ve Been Scammed

New York magazine’s money columnist wrote about being conned out of $50,000 by crooks pretending to be from Amazon and government agencies. We asked the company and agencies for comment.

A woman holding money facing a shark wearing a human mask.

By Ron Lieber

When New York magazine’s finance advice columnist dropped an article that went viral on Thursday about falling victim to a $50,000 scam, my heart skipped a beat.

My own financial planner had gone to jail years ago, which I’d chronicled in a few columns . Nearly all of us are vulnerable to scams, at least sometimes. What would I have done if someone called and insisted that my children, in particular, were in grave danger?

The writer, Charlotte Cowles , who once had a weekly business column with The New York Times, described crooks spinning a fantastical tale: First, they impersonated Amazon and told her she’d been a victim of identity theft. Then, one thief passed her on to someone who impersonated a Federal Trade Commission investigator, who told her that nine vehicles, four properties and 22 bank accounts were registered to her name. Finally, a supposed Central Intelligence Agency “lead investigator” persuaded her to withdraw money from her bank and give it to them for safekeeping while her husband and son watched.

But what would any of those entities do if they thought that any one of us was actually a victim of some kind of identity fraud? What would they say, request and tell us to do?

I called them all and asked. Here’s what they said.

Amazon has no direct line to the Federal Trade Commission.

Ms. Cowles’s story begins with a call in October that was supposedly from Amazon, when a woman on the line told her about $8,000 of fraudulent purchases and said she was a victim of identity theft.

The woman then offered to connect Ms. Cowles with Amazon’s liaison at the F.T.C. Soon enough, he was on the line.

But Amazon does not transfer customers to the F.T.C. or any other government agency, according to Tim Gillman, a spokesman.

The company will sometimes call people to verify account activity, which will likely get much harder to do as Ms. Cowles’s story continues to go viral. But if the call seems fishy, just hang up and reach out directly via the Amazon app or website.

“Do not call numbers sent over text or email or found in online search results,” Mr. Gillman added. And if someone suggests that you download or install Amazon customer service software, don’t.

The F.T.C. won’t offer a badge number.

Once Ms. Cowles was on the phone with the supposed F.T.C. investigator, he offered up his badge number and asked about the contents of her bank account.

On Thursday afternoon, Lina Khan, the Federal Trade Commission chair, posted on X : “Being the victim of a scam can be devastating. A reminder that nobody from @FTC will ever give you a badge number, ask you to confirm your Social Security number, ask how much money you have in your bank account, transfer you to a C.I.A. agent, or send you texts out of the blue.”

By coincidence, the F.T.C. on Thursday finalized a new rule giving it more powerful tools to combat criminals who impersonate businesses. Consumers reported fraud losses of over $10 billion for the first time in 2023, according to the agency, up 14 percent from the previous year.

Last month, the F.T.C. issued a warning about fraudsters trying to persuade you to move your money someplace safer. It sounded a lot like what had already happened to Ms. Cowles.

The C.I.A. probably isn’t going to call you.

Before inducing her to move her money, the F.T.C. impersonator wanted to pass her on to the lead investigator on her case, who purportedly worked for the C.I.A. She had her doubts, but he called from what appeared to her to be the F.T.C.’s main phone number.

She thought he might be “spoofing,” using tools to pretend he was indeed calling from that number. But he quickly moved on to telling her not to talk to her husband or a lawyer about the situation. Soon, the exchange turned to the freezing of her assets and the issuance of a replacement Social Security number.

“C.I.A. is a foreign intelligence organization; this is simply not the kind of matter we would be involved in,” a C.I.A. spokesman said.

The C.I.A.’s website makes a few points that are relevant. The agency collects foreign intelligence and conducts covert action. “We are not a law enforcement organization,” the site says . And while it may work with law enforcement entities, it tends to be on things like counterintelligence and terrorism.

Its F.A.Q. goes into even more detail, noting that it “does not require employees/contractors to obtain assurances of money or any personal information (such as your Social Security number, driver’s license or banking information) to initiate a relationship.”

Nevertheless, Ms. Cowles’s contact told her to go to her bank and take out $50,000 — and not tell the bank why.

Banks may not stop you from leaving their branches with a backpack full of $100 bills.

Ms. Cowles did as her C.I.A. minder told her. At a Bank of America branch, someone directed her up a set of stairs, where a teller handed over the money and a piece of paper with some warnings about scams.

“Going in, I was honestly hoping that they would say no to my withdrawal or make me wait, but they didn’t,” Ms. Cowles told me via email. “The fraud warning DID give me pause, but since the scammers hadn’t yet told me to give the money to them, I didn’t feel like it really applied to my situation. What’s more, I was so terrified of what would happen if I didn’t follow instructions that it overrode my skepticism.”

Ms. Cowles is not a senior citizen. If she were, perhaps the bank teller might have slowed things down. Banks worry a lot about elder fraud and will shutter every account a person has if it suspects anything untoward.

Ms. Cowles said that she did not hold it against Bank of America, given that it was, in fact, her money she was withdrawing. But do banks typically hand over large amounts of cash?

“We have extensive efforts to warn clients about avoiding scams,” said a Bank of America spokesman, William P. Halldin, via email. The bank declined to comment further.

“We don’t restrict customers from accessing their money,” said Justin K. Page, a Chase spokesman, via email. “However, there are instances where funds are held for additional verification. This includes instances where one of our bankers suspects that our customer may be accompanied by someone who appears to be pressuring them. We train our bankers to look for that.”

Hijackers are in brains, not planes.

The thief impersonating the C.I.A. agent did eventually tell Ms. Cowles to hand over the cash. After all, he said, she was going to be charged with money laundering; allowing the agency to convert the money to a government check using her new Social Security number would render her $50,000 clean.

This sounds preposterous. It also, however, created a conflicting internal dialogue.

“People who have always used their brains are not paying attention to their emotions, and I think we need to pay attention to what our bodies are telling us,” said Amy Nofziger , director of fraud victim support for AARP’s Fraud Watch Network. “The gut is actually a scientific dumping of chemicals. I’ve heard countless victims tell me, ‘My gut told me I shouldn’t do this, but my brain told me I should.’”

Eva Velasquez, who has seen it all as the president of the Identity Theft Resource Center , viewed the situation similarly. “The bad actors hijack our brains,” she said. “And it works, because we are all, after all, human.”

Tara Siegel Bernard contributed reporting.

Ron Lieber has been the Your Money columnist since 2008 and has written five books, most recently “The Price You Pay for College.” More about Ron Lieber

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