Amazon’s annual shareholder meetings are often spectacles, and the latest one, which took place in Seattle Wednesday morning, didn’t disappoint. Shareholders presented more than a dozen resolutions calling for various forms of change by Amazon’s leadership, including two separate proposals demanding that Amazon stop completely or study further the sale of its controversial facial recognition technology to governments.
One representative of a conservative think-tank asked the board of directors to disclose members’ ideological perspectives to counter what he called their liberal bias. Another man introduced a last-minute resolution with vague aims, managing to cram in both praise and criticism of Donald Trump and an allusion to the blackmail that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has said he experienced at the hands of the National Enquirer.
The presentation of the resolutions was mostly for show since nearly all of them had been revealed to shareholders in Amazon’s regulatory filings and voted on by the time of the meeting. Amazon said all of the proposals were defeated.
Still, there was one extraordinary moment during the meeting when a woman who said she was an Amazon employee stood up and presented a resolution pressuring Amazon to produce a report about its climate change commitments. The woman asked other Amazon employees present at the meeting to stand and dozens did so, along with other shareholders sympathetic to their cause. Much has been written about the new spirit of employee activism at tech companies. Still, it is striking to see such a display of dissent at a high profile shareholder event by employees of a company whose logo is literally a smiley face.