Amazon releases CEO Jeff Bezos’ opening statement ahead of landmark antitrust hearing

Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in June 2019. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will point to the “strikingly large and extraordinarily competitive” global retail market in his opening statement to a U.S. House antitrust subcommittee on Wednesday, making the case that the tech giant he founded as a modest online bookseller more than two decades ago is but a bit player in the larger world of commerce.

“Every day, Amazon competes against large, established players like Target, Costco, Kroger, and, of course, Walmart — a company more than twice Amazon’s size,” Bezos will say, according to a copy of his prepared remarks released by the company Tuesday afternoon. “And while we have always focused on producing a great customer experience for retail sales done primarily online, sales initiated online are now an even larger growth area for other stores.”

It remains to be seen whether Amazon can persuade lawmakers to accept its definition of the market, given its status as one of the world’s most valuable companies, led by the globe’s richest person. But the statement makes the company’s position clear on the critical question of whether it has attained enough market power to warrant an antitrust crackdown.

“Amazon accounts for less than 1% of the $25 trillion global retail market and less than 4% of retail in the U.S.,” Bezos will say, according to the prepared remarks. “Unlike industries that are winner-take-all, there’s room in retail for many winners.”

On a key issue at the heart of the inquiry, the company will tout the benefits of its online marketplace for third-party sellers. Bezos’ opening statement contrasts sharply with the image of the company that has emerged from reports, most notably an investigation by the Wall Street Journal, that the company has leveraged proprietary data to compete unfairly with those sellers.

“We didn’t have to invite third-party sellers into the store. We could have kept this valuable real estate for ourselves. But we committed to the idea that over the long term it would increase selection for customers, and that more satisfied customers would be great for both third-party sellers and for Amazon. And that’s what happened.”

Bezos is scheduled to testify via video conference Wednesday in addition to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google/Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Read the full text of Bezos’ prepared remarks.

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