Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos just wrapped up the company’s 2014 annual meeting at Seattle Center, giving shareholders a broad overview of the state of the company — from e-commerce and Amazon Fresh to drones and Amazon Web Services.
He also listened to (and in some cases deflected) questions from representatives of protesters who picketed the meeting over a variety of issues.
But one of the most interesting insights came toward the end of the meeting, when a longtime shareholder asked Bezos about the company’s approach to talking publicly about what it’s doing. The Amazon CEO’s answer was revealing on a variety of levels, including the fact that he singled out Samsung, Apple, HP and IBM as competitors that Amazon wouldn’t want to pick up on its secrets.
“Our primary approach is, we talk when we have something to say,” Bezos said. “I never think of us as secretive, I think of us as mostly quiet.”
However, he said, there is one exception where the company tries not to say too much.
“We operate in a really competitive environment,” he said. “Retail in general, e-commerce for sure, technology and our devices. We take great care to try and keep our product roadmaps quiet. I would love to know what Apple’s product roadmap is. That would be very helpful to me. They work hard to keep their product roadmaps quiet.”
He added, “When you’re competing against terrific companies — like Apple and Samsung, and in AWS’s case, terrific companies like IBM and Hewlett-Packard, the list goes on — you really need to be cognizant of how your competitors are going to glean useful tidbits from seemingly harmless disclosures.”
The shareholder noted in his question that Amazon’s meeting isn’t covered as intensively by the major TV networks as it was during the dot-com bust. The implication was that the networks aren’t as interested in the company, but it also may have something to do with the fact that the company now doesn’t allow cameras or even computers to be used during the meeting, restricting journalists to pen and paper.
More from Amazon’s annual meeting