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- Amazon’s twice-a-year internal all-hands staff meeting, scheduled for March 19, has been postponed indefinitely.
- The move follows the company’s decision to have all employees globally work from home if they can as the coronavirus continues to spread worldwide.
- It’s a missed opportunity for some employees because the meetings offer a rare chance to ask questions directly to Amazon’s leadership, including CEO Jeff Bezos.
- At these events, Bezos often speaks in language that’s more candid than how he talks at public events, addressing sensitive issues, like the regulatory environment.
- Meanwhile, Amazon says it’s moving the annual shareholder meeting online, also in response to the coronavirus crisis.
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Amazon’s internal all-hands staff meeting, which happens only twice a year, has been postponed indefinitely as the spread of the coronavirus continues to upend business routines at companies throughout the World.
The meeting was initially scheduled for March 19, but the company has told employees that it would take place at a later date, Business Insider has learned. Amazon’s spokesperson confirmed in an email to Business Insider that the change was made “in light of the evolving situation with COVID-19.”
The move follows Amazon’s decision to recommend all of its global workforce work from home if their jobs can be done remotely after the coronavirus spread to more than 100 countries. The coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, has killed more than 4,700 people and infected over 128,000 worldwide.
The delay of an in-person meeting was somewhat expected, given that most of Amazon’s office workers are now working remotely. But some insiders expected it would take place as a livestreamed event instead.
The move may be especially disappointing to employees at a time when the pandemic has created so much uncertainty, as the event was a rare opportunity for the rank and file to ask questions directly to Amazon’s top executives, including CEO Jeff Bezos.
At Amazon all-hands meetings, Bezos often speaks in language that is more candid than how he talks in other public events, addressing sensitive issues, like controversies surrounding his personal life. In previous meetings, for example, he answered questions about the lack of diversity in the company’s upper ranks, the worsening regulatory environment, and the counterfeit issues in its marketplace, among others.
“Amazon is not too big to fail,” Bezos said in response to a question about Amazon’s future, according to a 2018 recording of the meeting obtained by Business Insider. “In fact, I predict one day Amazon will fail. Amazon will go bankrupt. If you look at large companies, their lifespans tend to be 30-plus years, not a hundred-plus years.”
Meanwhile, Amazon is taking a different approach with its annual shareholder meeting. Amazon’s spokesperson told Business Insider that the meeting will move online, also in response to the spread of coronavirus. The exact date of the shareholder meeting hasn’t been announced yet. GeekWire first reported the news that the shareholder meeting would take place virtually.
“Due to the continued concerns about COVID19, Amazon will be hosting a virtual annual shareholder meeting this year. Shareholders from around the World will be able to view and participate in the meeting live, regardless of their location,” Amazon’s said in a statement.
Given that shareholder meetings are typically required to take place at least once a year and have to abide by strict laws and regulations, it makes sense that Amazon is moving it online. Starbucks, for example, has also decided to hold its shareholder meeting virtually this year because of the coronavirus crisis.
But doing so will also help Amazon avoid protesters and activists that have used the shareholder meeting to get their voice heard in recent years. At last year’s event, a group of Amazon employees raised issue with the company’s climate pledge, while a group of pilots who deliver Amazon packages criticized the company’s pay structure.