Amazon CEO Bezos tells shareholders: ‘We can’t rest on our laurels’

Despite Amazon’s triumphs, its rivals are as fierce and its environment as challenging as ever, CEO Jeff Bezos told shareholders at Tuesday’s annual meeting. “There’s no rest. We can’t rest on our laurels.”, now in its 20th year as a publicly traded company, held its annual shareholders meeting at a time of triumph.

It’s the fourth-largest company by market capitalization, with shares trading near an all-time high — close to the $1,000 mark that just a few years ago seemed wildly optimistic. It’s generated vast amounts of wealth for early investors and many other shareholders. And its momentum doesn’t seem anywhere near stopping, as its various businesses — from retail to cloud computing to Hollywood — multiply.

Yet CEO Jeff Bezos says Amazon’s rivals remain as fierce and the environment as challenging as ever. “It never looks like smooth seas to us,” the Amazon founder, clad in a blue blazer, told shareholders and reporters at the event held in Fremont on Tuesday. “There’s no rest. We can’t rest on our laurels.”

The gathering also underscored the new set of challenges that have come as a result of two decades of breakneck growth.

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Protesters for various causes — from pilots working for the airfreight companies that fly Amazon’s planes to animal-rights advocates — swarmed outside the meeting venue, showing how the world’s largest online retailer has become a lightning rod for a wide array of economic and societal issues.

Inside the room, the Rev. Jesse Jackson asked Bezos to make decisive…

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