What didn’t Jeff Bezos know and when didn’t he know it?
A Republican representative from Wisconsin may deserve some social media mocking for not knowing the difference between Facebook and Twitter after yesterday’s “big tech” Congressional hearing. What, however, can you say of Jeff Bezos? Amazon’s CEO offered less than satisfactory answers to questions about his company’s vetting of third-party sellers and its alleged use of sales data to compete directly with the marketplace vendors and brands it claims are so important to its business.
Rep. Lucy McBath (D – GA) questioned Mr. Bezos about the information that Amazon requires third-party sellers to provide in its efforts to prevent the sale of stolen goods on the site. When asked how his company verified that information supplied by third parties was accurate, he said, “I don’t know the answer to your question.”
Mr. Bezos would not be the first CEO of a company not to know “how the sausage is made,” so to speak, but his lack of a ready-prepared answer is startling since it was common knowledge that the sale of counterfeit and stolen goods on the platform would be on the list of questions he would be asked.
For the record, Amazon introduced a program earlier this year that involves in-person verification of third-party marketplace sellers. When the pandemic hit, Amazon shifted to a video call verification system.
Mr. Bezos also said in his testimony that his company will pursue action with law enforcement authorities when and if it becomes aware of sellers engaged in illegal activities using its marketplace.
In response to a question by Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) about a Wall Street Journal report earlier this year that Amazon has leveraged sales data from third-parties to launch competitive private label items, Mr. Bezos cited company policy that prohibits that activity.
“I can’t guarantee you that that policy has never been violated,” he said. “We continue to look into that very carefully. I’m not yet satisfied that we’ve gotten to the bottom of it, and we’re going to keep looking at it. It’s not as easy to do as you would think because some of the sources in the article are anonymous.”
- User Clip: McGrath Bezos – C-SPAN
- Can Amazon weed out marketplace fraudsters via video chat? – RetailWire
- Jeff Bezos can’t promise Amazon employees don’t access independent seller data – The Verge
- Amazon Scooped Up Data From Its Own Sellers to Launch Competing Products – The Wall Street Journal
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How important is ending the sale of stolen and counterfeit goods to Amazon’s future success? What about allegations that it is using data to compete directly with third-party sellers on its platform?