During the annual shareholders meeting held on Monday, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) chief Jeff Bezos announced his intention to speed up the manufacture and deployment of the company’s robotic workforce. Amazon has about a thousand robots picking products as you read this, but would like that number to rise to 10,000 by the end of 2014.
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)’s robots are made by Kiva Systems, a company that Bezoz and Amazon acquired in 2012 for $775 million. Automation is critical the sheer volume of goods that Amazon sells and must pick and pack when ordered.
The Wall Street Journal described Kiva as a logistics-technology company that makes robotic shelf and pallet systems for warehouses, “allowing Internet retailers to cut down on the numbers of people they need to select items that are then packed off for shipping.”
This year’s meeting was once again held at the Seattle Repertory Theatre following the reception it gave shareholders in 2013 for the first time. The meeting went exactly as Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Jeff Bezos had planned/scripted it. Despite losing 25% of its share value since the beginning of 2014, no shareholder questioned this when it was it was their turn to pose questions to the CEO.
Amazon’s Bezos sees new opportunities everyday
Prior to the Q&A session with shareholders, Bezos gave his familiar speech that included a few of his oft-spoke assurances that every day is “Day One” in the company’s 19th year when it eyes a new opportunity and seizes on it.
When queried by a representative of the National Center for Public Policy Research and asked a question about Amazon’s employee policy with regards to privacy, Bezos easily answered.
Bezos says employee policy is complicated
When a questioner representing the conservative asked if Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) would support an employee policy protecting private political dealings, Bezos said the issues are “complicated, and we’ll continue to look at them.”
On a question about stopping the sale of foie gras on Amazon’s site by third-party merchants, Bezos responded that it’s “an active issue and one we’re looking at.” Critics object to the sale of foie gras because the methods to make it involve force-feeding ducks and geese.
And Bezos referred a question about efforts to unionize the security staff at the company to Tim Halladay, vice president of finance operations. Halladay told the guard who asked the question that the dispute was with Security Industry Specialists, with whom Amazon contracts.
Bezos didn’t face a single question about Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)’s stock, even though the shares have slid 25 percent since the start of the year.
One shareholder asked Bezos about the company’s penchant for saying little to media. “We talk when we have something to say,” Bezos said. “I don’t think of us as secretive. I think of us as quiet.”