Amazon To Add Board Members with Retail Know-How

Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) will add two members to its board of directors and is seeking people experienced in retail operations, chief executive officer Jeff Bezos told shareholders Wednesday.

At Amazon’s annual meeting in Seattle, Washington, Bezos told stockholders and reporters that the e-tailer is turning its attention to “breaking through the wall” that all companies face when they reach US$1 billion in annual sales.

The move to find new expertise comes as Amazon turns away from its initial focus on rapid growth and customer acquisition, toward profitability.

While Bezos has been reluctant to pinpoint a date for true profits for Amazon, the e-tailer has targeted the fourth quarter of this year for profits on an operational basis.

“We have a plan to get there,” Bezos said in a letter to shareholders last month. “It’s our top priority, and every person in this company is committed to helping with that goal.”

Amazon stock opened trading Thursday ahead 20 U.S. cents, at $15.80. Though far off its 52-week and all-time highs, Amazon had risen 95.1 percent since hitting a 52-week low of $8.10 on April 4th.

Bigger Board

The addition of new members would expand Amazon’s board from five members to seven. Bezos said he is looking for directors who have experience in the areas of vendor management and inventory management.

In addition to Bezos, current board members include two venture capitalists, John Doerr and Tom Alberg. Former Intuit CEO Scott Cook holds a seat, as does Patricia Stonesifer, a director of the Gates Foundation.

While Bezos said he is happy with the board as it now stands, more experienced retail professionals would help address the operational side of the business, where efforts to trim expenses will help boost margins and lead to profitability.

Search Is On

Bezos said Amazon is currently seeking the additional board members but has not set a time limit on the search.

Wednesday’s shareholder meeting was the first since Amazon was slapped with a number of lawsuits dating back to mid-March. The suits all charge that Bezos and other executives misled investors in the way they accounted for equity investments made in other e-commerce startups that eventually failed.

Amazon’s early investments include failed e-tailers such as Pets.com, Living.com and Kozmo.com.

Investors at the meeting, however, did not question Bezos on the lawsuits, which he said are being handled by the e-tailer’s legal department and are not distracting the rest of the company from its work.

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