Friday, October 26, 2012

How Many Words Does it Take to Describe a Business?

After AMZN's report last night and surprisingly positive stock reaction, I decided to turn to the annual report for some perspective.  I was stunned by how little information the company actually provides to its shareholders.

The entire description of AMZN's business is only 1000 words--3 pages.  Amazon web services is described in one sentence: "We serve developers and enterprises of all sizes through Amazon Web Services (“AWS”), which provides access to technology infrastructure that enables virtually any type of business."  Rackspace takes 3700 words to describe a similar business line.

For a sense of how out of the ordinary AMZN's bare bones description is, below is a list of the number of words it takes other large tech, internet and retail companies to describe their business lines.  Most are about 4x as long.  Length does not necessarily equal strength, but does imply some extra information.

Certainly, AMZN isn't just a company of few words either.  Where there's legal liability involved the company is plenty verbose.  The risk factors section is 5826 words and the legal proceedings section is 3812 words.

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