Here’s what Jeff Bezos said in his final letter as Amazon CEO

<p>Jeff Bezos will step down from his role as Amazon CEO later this year</p>

Jeff Bezos will step down from his role as Amazon CEO later this year

Getty Images

In his final letter to shareholders on Thursday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos left readers with a final piece of advice.

“We all know that distinctiveness – originality – is valuable,” he wrote. “We are all taught to ‘be yourself.’

“What I’m really asking you to do is to embrace and be realistic about how much energy it takes to maintain that distinctiveness. The world wants you to be typical – in a thousand ways, it pulls at you. Don’t let it happen.”

In the 4,000 word letter Bezos – who announced in February that he would transition to the role of executive chair to the company’s board – also told shareholders that the company needs to “do a better job” for their employees.

He admitted “It’s clear to me that we need a better vision for how we create value for employees – a vision for their success.”

Read more:

Amazon, which employs more than 1.3 million people worldwide, has previously been criticised for the working conditions inside its warehouses.

Though Bezos, 57, refuted these claims, he continued: “If you read some of the news reports, you might think we have no care for employees.”

But, he continued: “In those reports, our employees are sometimes accused of being desperate souls and treated as robots. That’s not accurate.”

Employees are able to take informal breaks throughout their shifts to stretch, get water, use the rest room, or talk to a manager, all without impacting their performance, the company insists.

According to the outgoing CEO, informal work breaks are in addition to the 30-minute lunch and 30-minute break built into their normal schedule.

“We don’t set unreasonable performance goals. We set achievable performance goals that take into account tenure and actual employee performance data,” the multi-billionnaire said.

The 57-year-old, who founded the company in 1994, said he will strive to make Amazon “Earth’s best employer and Earth’s safest place to work” in his new role as executive chair.

A passage from the non-fiction book “The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design” by Richard Dawkins, was referenced in the letter by Bezos, who described it as an unintended metaphor that is “very relevant” to Amazon:

“Staving off death is a thing that you have to work at. Left to itself – and that is what it is when it dies – the body tends to revert to a state of equilibrium with its environment ... Our bodies, for instance, are usually hotter than our surroundings, and in cold climates they have to work hard to maintain the differential. When we die the work stops.... ...[I]f living things didn’t work actively to prevent it, they would eventually merge into their surroundings, and cease to exist as autonomous beings.”

He went on to argue it is also relevant to “all companies and all institutions and to each of our individual lives too.”

Referencing the previous passage, he described how we have to “pay a price” for our distinctiveness and that “it’s worth it.”

“The world will always try to make Amazon more typical – to bring us into equilibrium with our environment. It will take continuous effort, but we can and must be better than that,” Bezos wrote.

Andy Jassy, who built Amazon Web Services, or AWS, into a multi-billion dollar business will succeed Bezos as Amazon CEO.

“I guarantee you that Andy won’t let the universe make us typical,” Bezos wrote.

We think its safe to say that the world’s richest man will never be considered “typical.”

The Conversation (0)