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Sat, Feb 03, 2001 EST
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A River of Layoffs at Amazon

Fox Market Wire

NEW YORK — It's a company that has the power to get just about any book, movie or DVD delivered right to your doorstep. And though Amazon.com says it will continue to provide the best services to its customers, the company announced today that turning a profit means cutting jobs — some 1,300 workers will be laid off this year.

Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto talked to the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, on Your World.

Bezos: Neil, many times you have asked me once or twice — when is Amazon.com going to be profitable?

Q: I think 10 times in the past.

Bezos: We always declined to answer that because we did not have enough visibility and confidence to do so, but finally we are making the prediction that it should happen in the 4th quarter of this year. That is our expectation and we will work very hard to achieve it.

Q: Why are you upbeat — ahead of the fact?

Bezos: Well, one of the things that we have done over the last 12 months is learned about the characteristics of our business, especially the distribution centers and expenses shipments. If you look at our performance, we improved the bottom line every quarter over the past 12 months, 4 quarters in a row, and our operating loss has gone from 26 percent a year ago, to 6 percent in the most recent quarter. So it is that trend that is giving us the confidence, to set that expectation to set that as a public goal.

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Q: Why does the market have so little confidence in you?

Bezos: It is true that over the last year that the Internet, general tech sector and e-commerce have not been looked at well by the capital markets. There may actually be a return to normalcy and that makes sense so we are focused on building a lasting company and as far as the stock price goes we let that take care of itself.

Q: Still expectations were that layoffs would be steeper — will there be more streamlining ahead?

Bezos: Right now this is all we are focused on. We are closing our Georgia distribution center, a customer service center in Seattle, and making our Seattle distribution center a seasonal facility. These decisions are painful and distressing for everybody. But they are the right business decisions, and clearly the thing we needed to do if we are serious about our goals and we are.

Q: If you do not make the 4th quarter goal, are you folding up the tent or what?

Bezos: No, we won't fold up the tent, we are not going to quit. I will tell you that we will be incredibly disappointed with ourselves. The reason we declined the question of when we'll make a profit was because we did not want to set a public expectation unless we were pretty confident we could make it. That is why we waited for so long, and if we do not do it, we will be very disappointed.

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