Amazon’s Board: Obscure and Rich

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Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) has become one of the most successful companies in the world, and with a market cap near $776 billion, it is the second most valuable public corporation in America. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and the richest person in the world, is the only member of management or the board who is a household name. The board is loaded with obscure people who, in many cases, have become rich due to Amazon stock or options.

In addition to Bezos, who is the founder, board chair and chief executive of the company, there are eight other directors being proposed for re-election to the board at the annual meeting currently scheduled for May 30. There are currently 10 directors, including John Seeley Brown, who informed the company in April that he would not stand for another term. Brown was first elected to the board in 2004, and until 2000 he was the director of Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). According to Amazon’s proxy statement, the company’s bylaws have now fixed the number of directors at nine.

Amazon’s directors receive no cash compensation other than reasonable expenses to attend meetings. Directors may, at the board’s discretion, receive stock-based awards. In 2017 two such awards were made, one to a current board member. The stock award was designed to provide about $298,000 in annual compensation.

Here are the nine Amazon directors and a brief summary of who they are.

Jeff Bezos

Bezos is the world’s richest person, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index. As of this morning, his personal worth was set at $139 billion. His wealth increased by $1.39 billion yesterday and has risen by $33.9 billion so far in 2018. Bezos’s salary last year totaled $81,840, and his total compensation as a CEO was $1.68 million. Those numbers have been the same for the past three years at least.

According to the latest proxy filing, Bezos owns 78.9 million shares of Amazon stock (16.3% of outstanding common stock).

Tom A. Alberg

Alberg has been a director since June 1996, almost a full year before Amazon become a publicly traded company. Alberg apparently invested $50,000 in Amazon prior to the IPO (at $18 a share!). He has been a managing director in Madrona Investment Group since 1999 and a principal with the venture capital firm since 1996.

He is a member of Amazon’s audit committee. Alberg owns 19,329 shares of Amazon stock, including some 4,500 held in a charitable trust in which he shares voting and investment power. He held 718 unvested restricted stock units at the end of 2017.

Jamie S. Gorelick

A director since February 2012, Gorelick is a partner in the law firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr and has also served on the boards of VeriSign, United Technologies and Schlumberger.

Gorelick chairs Amazon’s nominating and corporate governance committee and owns 6,241 shares of Amazon stock and held 879 unvested restricted stock units at the end of 2017.