In his last annual letter CEO Jeff Bezos – who is stepping down in the third quarter of 2021 to make way for Andy Jassy – told Amazon shareholders that Prime subscribers have reached 200 million. Fourth quarter 2019 revenues include the milestone of over 150 million subscribers to the Prime service that offers fast shipping, original TV content and more. Essentially, Amazon convinced 50 million people to join Prime during the pandemic, accounting for about 33 percent growth from the base.
If you haven’t paid attention to the company’s earnings in the past year, Prime subscribers are by no means the only number Amazon has been able to grow. 2020 was the most profitable year to date, growing at a time when many other companies were shrinking or disappearing. To put some of its success into context, by mid-2020 – around the first major surge in COVID-19 nationwide – Amazon already doubled its profits. committed in the second quarter of 2020 to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE), clean its facilities, guarantee “higher wages for hourly teams” and expand its own COVID-19 testing capabilities. In late March 2021, Amazon received FDA approval for a COVID-19 test kit it had developed at home.
It’s been a pretty busy last year for any CEO to forward – let alone the year in charge of the world’s largest, most profitable company. But despite its success at the corporate level, it has been a tumultuous year from a PR perspective so far. Amazon warehouse workers who contribute to its success are still struggling to be recognized and gain ground in their efforts to join a union. And lest we forget that as early as 2021, the company saw Twitter spar with US state representatives over taxes, as well as publicly contesting reports that some Amazon employees are peeing bottles to meet the company’s goals. It later apologized to Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) for his “You don’t really believe peeing in bottles, do you?” tweet from his @AmazonNews handle, while trying to pass the blame.