PBS FRONTLINE’s new documentary, Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos, is now available for streaming. The show premiered on Tuesday, February 18.
Amazon Empire features interviews with Amazon executives, former employees, industry insiders, regulators, and notable Amazon critics who touch on a number of different topics relating to Amazon. Among those interviewed are former Amazon Chief Technology Officer Shel Kaphan; Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs Jay Carney; author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism (PublicAffairs) Shoshana Zuboff; and Executive Director of Good Jobs First Greg Leroy.
When asked if he is concerned that Amazon is a monopoly, Kaphan stated, “I’m concerned that it has that type of power…. It’s certainly an oligopoly, or it participates in one, and also the other side, monopsony and oligopsony, which is on the supplier side.”
Carney took a different view, claiming that Amazon’s business model is “built upon the success of small and medium-size businesses.” He continued, “[Amazon’s] gone from zero percent of our sales and inventory being non-Amazon sellers to 58 percent. Small businesses are growing at twice the speed of our own retail.”
Referring to Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa, Zuboff remarked, “Amazon wants to have the entire environment essentially miked…. All these intimacies, all this insight is being analyzed and integrated. That is an extraordinary kind of power that has never before existed.”
Leroy spoke to how Amazon’s early strategy spurred the company’s growth. “Not collecting sales tax gave Amazon a real leg up over brick-and-mortar retailers,” he said. “That was central to their early strategy of gaining market share as quickly as they can.”
The American Booksellers Association hosted an antitrust symposium on January 21 in conjunction with ABA’s 15 Annual Winter Institute. The symposium’s expert panel, which examined recent antitrust developments related to Big Tech, featured Maria Coppola, adjunct professor at George Mason University Law School, teaching European competition law; David Dayen, author of Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power (The New Press); Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance; and Matt Stoller, author of Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy (Simon & Schuster).