Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos is nothing if not a buccaneer and a gambler. But when you make a deal with cash that amounts to only about 1 percent of your net worth, is it really much of a gamble? Is it much of a gamble when Bezos reaching into his pocket, pulls out lunch money and pays cash for one of the most storied newspapers in the history of the United States?
OK, so maybe it isn’t much of a gamble for Bezos to buy the newspaper part of the The Washington Post Company (NYSE:WPO) for a “mere” quarter of a billion dollars. But can you imagine someone like Jeff Bezos, who runs Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) on a razor-thin margin most of the time, would actually find a way to not only buy a newspaper, but buy out one of the world’s richest men, out of his share of the newspaper? One of the major stakeholders in WPO stock for much of the last 40 years has been fund manager Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A).
The Associated Press reports in the The Economic Times that Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) will get about $53 million from Bezos and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) when the sale of the Washington Post newspaper goes through – about 21 percent of the sale price.
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) Warehouses From Hell?
There may be some workers at The Washington Post Company (NYSE:WPO) who likely will hope that Amazon doesn’t turn a Post distribution center into a warehouse, at least if the latest rumblings that have surfaced the Web are true. Jim Edwards of Business Insider took notice of a recent trend of outcry about the working conditions inside Amazon.com warehouses for workers, the kinds of conditions that have resulted in union workers in Germany walking out on strike due to low wages. But that is not the half of it.
Edwards chronicled other cases that have come out in recent weeks, including Hamilton Nolan’s piece on Gawker.com that discussed conditions in one of the Amazon.com, Inc. warehouses in America. In this one, Nolan reported that the warehouses were very cold and that they were so large that many workers did not have time to even take their breaks because of the time it took to get from their work stations to the break room. Another story by Spencer Soper in Pennsylvania detailed conditions in a Lehigh Valley warehouse, where several workers got dizzy and fainted on the job due to the heat in the warehouses – where paramedics had to be called to transport them out of the environment.
Seems pretty safe to say that these various incidents are the kinds of things that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and CEO Tim Cook would face scrutiny over if these conditions were reported at one of its manufacturers like Foxconn. It may not come to light just yet, but image is something that can be tarnished over time unless these types of conditions are addressed. And this doesn’t even consider the stories about Amazon hiring temp workers and reportedly fighting unemployment compensation and firing employees if they “become emotional” on the job. (The latter story was reported by Mother Jones magazine in a piece written by Mac McClelland.)
But is Amazon.com a Work of Art in the End?
While there are a lot of questions about Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) in regards to its working conditions, there has been little question about the company’s success in the marketplace for various items – or types of items. Amazon recently expanded its Marketplace to include Amazon Fresh for grocery delivery, and this week the company announced the opening of Amazon Art, a marketplace of more than 40,000 fine art pieces as reported by David Chirico in the Finance Post.
The new Amazon Art marketplace will give online shoppers who are art lovers an opportunity to buy masterpieces from about 150 dealers and galleries worldwide, and the art includes pieces from Clifford Ross, Monet and Norman Rockwell, while also offering paintings, drawings, photographs and other works. Prices, Chirico reports, will range from as low as $200 for a Ross original up to nearly $5 million for a Rockwell.
Between the Post purchase, the reported working conditions and now the fine-art marketplace, investors like fund manager Ken Fisher just might take some different directions than they have in regards to the stock.
For a final word on Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), check out this video about what it’s might be like inside one of the company’s warehouses.
This article was written by David Woodburn