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Bezos rebuts Elizabeth Warren’s Amazon breakup call in antitrust defense

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By Spencer Soper

Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, in an annual letter to shareholders, argued that Amazons growth has benefited its third-party merchants — a veiled riposte to calls to break up the company.

Last month Senator Elizabeth Warren, a presidential candidate, laid out a detailed plan for breaking up Amazon, Google and Facebook Inc. In her vision, Amazons Marketplace should be separated from the rest of the site because she said it “crushes” small businesses.

“Third-party sellers are kicking our first-party butt. Badly,” Bezos wrote in the letter published Thursday.

Merchants on Amazons marketplace now account for 58 percent of gross merchandise sales on the platform, Bezos said. Amazon helps independent sellers compete against its own business by investing in and offering them “the very best selling tools we could imagine and build,” he wrote. Amazon Prime and Fulfillment by Amazon “meaningfully improved the customer experience of buying from independent sellers.”

Bezos routinely uses the letter to outline his long-term strategy, which made him the worlds wealthiest man and Amazon one of the most valuable companies. He also challenged rival retailers to raise their minimum wage to $16 an hour.

"Today I challenge our top retail competitors (you know who you are!) to match our employee benefits and our $15 minimum wage," Bezos said. "Do it! Better yet, go to $16 and throw the gauntlet back at us. Its a kind of competition that will benefit everyone."

The company in October pledged to pay all of its warehouse workers at least $15 an hour, after presidential hopefuls Warren and Bernie Sanders held out Amazon workers on food stamps as an example of the need for living-wage protections.

This was Bezos first shareholder letter since his personal affairs became tabloid fodder. The CEO in January announced his divorce from his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie Bezos, and the couple last week announced a settlemRead More – Source