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Jeff Bezos, essential subject in times of crisis

Jeff Bezos, June 6, 2019 in Las Vegas. John Locher / AP

The coronavirus epidemic happened, and Amazon was there. More powerful than ever. In a confined America, the business founded by Jeff Bezos has changed in nature. The old Seattle Internet bookstore has almost become a public service refocused on the delivery of essential food and medical products. This is how the American leader in Internet commerce presents himself. “Amazon employees work 24 hours a day to deliver necessities to the door of the people who need them”, wrote Jeff Bezos in his letter to shareholders in mid-April. The point is not completely false, as the New york times, in a very critical investigation. “The faster the world degrades, the more attractive the business. The arrival of the coronavirus, which made traveling to the supermarket a risk and a torture, only accelerated the process “.

In a world in which everything collapses, where the federal state and the Fed print dollars without counting to save the economy, Amazon displays an insolent health. Its action hit a historic high of 2,461 dollars (2,282 euros) in mid-April, up a third since the start of the year. The company is worth $ 1.2 trillion, more than a hundred times its profits, and the personal fortune of its founder, who owns 11.2% of the shares, now stands at $ 145 billion. The richest man in the world is way ahead of Bill Gates and Bernard Arnault who are hovering around 100 billion, according to the magazine Forbes In less than a year, Bezos almost wiped out the painful divorce deal with his former wife MacKenzie Bezos, who had cut his fortune by $ 38 billion.

In a country that admires entrepreneurs, Bezos is only the eighth most popular boss in the United States with 26% of favorable opinions according to the company YouGov

In a country that admires entrepreneurs, Bezos is only the eighth most popular boss in the United States with 26% of favorable opinions according to the company YouGov (far behind the 58% of Bill Gates). Probably because he has the brutal success of the titans of the XIXe century, John Davison Rockefeller in petroleum and Andrew Carnegie in steel. Like them, starting from nothing, Jeff Bezos multiplied the blows of genius to transform his Internet bookstore, founded in 1994, into an empire.

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In the 2000s, he opened his platform to all manufacturers on the planet, to become a global supermarket, and built customer loyalty by promising them delivery in two days at a price of $ 119 per year. Then, after the Great Recession, he built gigantic warehouses in most American states, combining robots and workers, to supply all American households. But like Rockefeller and Carnegie, he also mistreated his employees, fought unions, used his dominant position and laminated his suppliers, by practicing what was internally qualified as a leopard's strategy against the gazelle: exhausting its prey by starting with the weakest. In a curious, semi-unconscious admission, Bezos had written a memo called Amazon at the start of the decade. love, in which he described his values ​​and what was ” cool “. An anti-portrait of Amazon’s practices. Ten years later, he has an opportunity to change his image. Savior or profiteer of crisis, America hit by the Covid-19 is torn apart more than ever on Amazon and its controversial founder.

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