Shareholders get tough with Amazon and McDonaldsMay 23, 2013 @ 6:11 pm (Updated: 12:30 pm - 5/24/13 )
The CEOs of Amazon.com and McDonalds faced pointed and political questions during their annual shareholders meetings.
Amazon shareholders met at Seattle Center, with CEO Jeff Bezos giving an overview of the company's public business strategy.
Amazon did not allow video and audio recording or photography at Thursday's meeting. That could be because last year demonstrators made a lot of noise outside calling on Amazon to pay more taxes and drop its membership in a conservative public-policy organization.
This year's meeting was upbeat with Bezos saying, "We are still thinking of this as day one. In fact, I think the alarm clock is still on and we haven't even hit the snooze button yet."
The most interesting exchange came when three shareholders questioned Bezos about selling violent video games, firearms and accessories.
According to Todd Bishop, with GeekWire, a representative of the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research asked Bezos why the company would limit the sale of firearms and accessories while selling what the group considers the most violent video games and movies.
The representative asked how Amazon made the decision to restrict one form of product but not the other.
Bezos responded, "I appreciate your comments and we'll look into it. Thank you."
Sounds like a brush off, but there was a followup question from another shareholder who asked about the product called "My Ex Girlfriend," a mannequin shooting target that was pulled by the company earlier this year.
Keep in mind, Amazon doesn't create these products they sell them and Bezos pointed out that shooting target was an example of a product sold by a third-party seller, noting that the company is "constantly working on improving our methods" for policing those items," Bishop reported.
"We have millions of millions of items," he said. "It's a difficult technical challenge; it's a difficult organizational challenge to police those items." He promised that the company will continue working on it with the goal of making its processes "statistically indistinguishable from perfection."
The CEO of McDonalds had his own challenge at the company shareholders meeting and it came from a 9-year-old girl.
CEO Don Thompson had to answer to Hanna Robertson during the company's Oakbrook, Illinois meeting.
"There are things in life that aren't fair, like when your pet dies. I don't think it's fair when big companies try to trick kids into eating food. It isn't fair that so many kids my age are getting sick," she said.
The girl ended by asking, "Mr. Thompson, don't you want kids to be healthy so they can live a long and healthy life?"
Well Mr. Thompson?
"We don't sell junk food," he responded. "My kids also eat McDonald's."
He also pointed out that McDonald's sells fruits and veggies - apple slices and carrots, and the company recently started selling fat-free chocolate milk.
Thompson, who's been CEO for less than a year, thanked Hannah for her comments and said, "I think it's great that you want to eat more fruits and veggies."
By LINDA THOMAS
AP contributed to this report
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