A Post-Bezos Corrective to the Amazon Narrative

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Feeling stuffed with puff pieces about Amazon’s business prowess, occasioned by the announced departure of Jeff Bezos as CEO? Nauseated by the speculations about what the Great Man might do next? (Take over the drug business and health care? Move into electric and automated vehicles? Move industry to outer space as a cure for climate change? Build modern company cities?)

Maybe you need to gulp down this article by anti-monopolist Matt Stoller, who argues the case that Amazon did not become the mega-corporation it is by innovation and new technology, but rather by shrewdly exploiting legal loopholes. On the list: Washington state’s tax structure, a lull in anti-monopoly enforcement, extracting information from competitors and would-be headquarters cities.

All legal, or sorta-legal at the time. Stoller thinks the jig is up for monopolies like Amazon and other tech giants. He contends, “The politics have turned. One need look no further than Bezos’s hometown congresswoman, Pramila Jayapal, who praised Bezos for his creativity, but also made it clear that the law is going to change. She said that Amazon must be ‘held to account for unacceptable treatment of workers including delivery drivers and warehouse employees,’ and that Congress must ‘aggressively challenge dominant tech platforms such as Amazon and others and rein in anti-competitive behavior and monopolistic practices.’” Goliath is probably not yet nervous.

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David Brewster, a founding member of Post Alley, has a long career in publishing, having founded Seattle Weekly, Sasquatch Books, and Crosscut.com. His civic ventures have been Town Hall Seattle and FolioSeattle.

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