2009 – A List of Achievements

This shareholder letter, as Jeff states, is “the cumulative effect of 15 years of customer experience improvements: increasing selection, speeding delivery, reducing cost structure so we can afford to offer customers ever-lower prices, and many others.” It’s a list of Amazon’s achievements in the past 15 years as a public company.

I think more interesting than some of the metrics he includes is the end of the letter where he talks about the annual goal setting process and includes some details about the goals, including that 360 of the 452 goals will have a direct impact on customer experience. The word revenue is used eight times and free cash flow is used only four times, and in the 452 goals, the terms net income, gross profit or margin, and operating profit are not used once.

“Taken as a whole, the set of goals is indicative of our fundamental approach. Start with customers, and work backwards. Listen to customers, but don’t just listen to customers – also invent on their behalf. We can’t assure you that we’ll meet all of this year’s goals. We haven’t in past years. However, we can assure you that we’ll continue to obsess over customers. We have strong conviction that that approach – in the long term – is every bit as good for owners as it is for customers.” — Jeff Bezos