It took 13 years for Amazon (AMZN 0.73%) to add 100 million customers to its Prime customer loyalty program, but it took just 3 years to add the next 100 million.
In his annual letter to shareholders, his final as CEO of the e-commerce giant, Jeff Bezos said Amazon Prime has surpassed 200 million subscribers globally. What's even more impressive is that Amazon has added more than 50 million new members since January 2020, when Bezos announced the company had exceeded 150 million Prime members.
Amazon announced earlier this year that Bezos will step down as CEO and transition to the role of executive chair, effective in the third quarter of 2021. He used the shareholder letter to provide some insight into his plans. In his new role, Bezos said he will "focus on new initiatives," without providing specifics. "I'm an inventor. It's what I enjoy the most and what I do best. It's where I create the most value."
He also pushed back against the perception of downtrodden Amazon employees, as they're frequently portrayed in the media. "When we survey fulfillment center employees, 94% say they would recommend Amazon to a friend as a place to work," he said. However, in a nod to the recent lopsided vote against a union at an Alabama warehouse, Bezos said, "We need to do a better job for our employees."
Bezos also shared a letter from customers who originally purchased two shares of Amazon stock for their son's birthday back in 1997, saying it was "all we could afford at the time." The letter writers, identified as Mary and Larry, recounted the various stock splits that eventually turned those two shares into 24. We don't know the exact date of the purchase, since it was redacted, but Amazon shares sold for a split-adjusted high of $5.40 in late 1997.
At current prices, the total value of those 24 shares is more than $80,000, illustrating the power of time for investors.