Joseph Farah serves up a new and exciting conspiracy theory in his June 2 WorldNetDaily column:
It must be nice to be Jeff Bezos.
How do you become one of the richest men in the world by founding a company that only recently gave a thought to profitability?
But it was less than three years ago that Amazon began to achieve any profits to speak of. And, even today, you’d be shocked to know how high its revenues are and how relatively low its profits are.
For instance, in 2015, Amazon’s fourth quarter revenues were an astronomical $35.7 billion. But its net income was, by comparison, a measly $482 million. Last year, Amazon’s fourth quarter revenue was up 22 percent to $43.7 billion. It’s net income was $749 million.
Of course, net income is after Jeff Bezos gets his astronomical salary, which has helped him to be a mega-billionaire.
I tell you all this so you don’t think what I’m about to tell you represents chump change for Amazon and Bezos.
The first profitable year for Amazon was 2013. Fourth quarter profits were $239 million and $274 million for the year. The year before, Amazon posted a loss for 2012 of $39 million.
What happened to make 2013 so much better than the year before?
Amazon won a $600 million cloud computer contract from the CIA. That was the difference – more than the difference.
Later that year, Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post for $250 million.
To put that another way, Bezos used less than half the money he got from the CIA to buy the Washington Post.
Do you think that was a sweetheart deal?
I do. And like others, I believe it’s something Americans should know about.
You'd think that someone who has publicly begged for money to keep his website alive, like Farah has, would understand that businesses on the Internet run a little differently than regular businesses.The reason why Amazon didn't show a profit for many years is that profits were reinvested in the company in order to grow it further. Has Farah never heard of reinvesting profits? Has he never done that at WND?
Despite Farah's envious fantasy, Bezos does not make an "astronomical salary" -- it's only $81,480 (as we pointed out the last time someone didn't understand how Bezos gets paid). Even though Bezos received an additional $1.6 million in compensation last year, he still isn't the highest-paid employee at Amazon; that would be the guy who runs Amazon Web Services, the company's cloud services division and the one that the CIA contracted with for cloud computing in 2013. AWS is a $10 billion business, and the CIA is just one of more than 1 million clients who use its services.
Bezos' wealth is driven by the stock price of Amazon, given the fact that he's Amazon's largest shareholder. Which means Bezos didn't need that CIA contract with AWS to buy the Washington Post -- he just had to cash in a little stock.
Also, the CIA-AWS deal appears to be a beneficial one in modernizing the CIA and actually helping it run a little more like a business by outsourcing services, which right-wingers like Farah claim to want government to be like. The Atlantic reported on the deal at the time:
If the technology plays out as officials envision, it will usher in a new era of cooperation and coordination, allowing agencies to share information and services much more easily and avoid the kind of intelligence gaps that preceded the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
For the first time, agencies within the intelligence community will be able to order a variety of on-demand computing and analytic services from the CIA and National Security Agency. What’s more, they’ll only pay for what they use.
“What we were really looking at was time to mission and innovation,” the former intelligence official said. “The goal was, ‘Can we act like a large enterprise in the corporate world and buy the thing that we don’t have, can we catch up to the commercial cycle? Anybody can build a data center, but could we purchase something more?
“We decided we needed to buy innovation,” the former intelligence official said.
Nevertheless, Farah is demanding "an investigation into the collusion between John Brennan, Jeff Bezos, Amazon, the Washington Post and the CIA."