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Amazon CEO Sides With Media in Gawker Case
Jeff Bezos didn’t talk specifically about Peter Thiel, but he broadly defended free speech
Updated May 31, 2016 11:51 p.m. ET
RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif.— Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said he doesn’t support efforts by billionaires to undermine the media
by funding legal campaigns, part of a discussion about venture capitalist Peter Thiel backing lawsuits against Gawker Media.
Mr. Bezos, who is also the owner of the Washington Post newspaper, said public officials need a thick skin because they will always have
critics. “Move forward, it’s not worth losing any sleep over,” he said at the tech summit Code Conference here Tuesday. “If you’re doing
anything interesting, you’re going to have critics.”
Mr. Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and a director at Facebook Inc., has drawn a mixed reaction in media and tech circles for providing about $10
million to finance former wrestler Hulk Hogan ’s invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against Gawker. Mr. Thiel has said he backed the lawsuit by Terry
Bollea, who uses the professional wrestling name Hulk Hogan, because he believes Gawker violates the privacy of people who can’t easily fight
Mr. Bezos didn’t talk specifically about Gawker, but he broadly defended the media and free speech, saying “beautiful speech
doesn’t need protections. It’s ugly speech that needs protection.” When asked about Mr. Thiel’s effort, Mr. Bezos evoked an old saying,
attributing it to Confucius: “Seek revenge and you shall dig two graves—one for yourself.”
Separately, Mr. Bezos said the online retailer now delivers about 50% of its packages directly to customers’ homes in the U.K. and plans to keep
ramping up such delivery in the U.S.
“We have to have capacity for peak” delivery times, he said. “We’ve had to take over a lot of last mile delivery in the U.K.” as the Royal Mail
couldn’t keep up.
Mr. Bezos said Amazon is growing its shipping business with United Parcel Service Inc. and the U.S. Postal Service, but the company still needs
to supplement its own merchandise deliveries. He denied that he is striving to put other delivery companies out of business.
Amazon is putting more of its own trucks on the road to make deliveries while opening new warehouses close to urban centers to help limit its
rising shipping costs. Delivery trucks with the familiar Amazon “a” logo are more commonplace in the U.S., and the company is leasing planes to
ferry merchandise to warehouses more quickly and inexpensively.
In the wide-ranging conversation, Mr. Bezos said the company has 1,000 people working on software and hardware related to its Echo and Alexa
virtual assistant service. Mr. Bezos said he is “absolutely” committed to the technology and expects it to be central to the future of Amazon
and other companies over the next two decades.
The Seattle online retailer faces new competition for its Echo device after Alphabet Inc. said earlier this month it is plans a similar service
called Google Home. Apple Inc. too may be working on a comparable device, according to recent reports.