Jeff Bezos says employee activists are wrong and Silicon Valley firms should feel comfortable doing business with the US military

insider@insider.com (Isobel Asher Hamilton)
Jeff Bezos

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos threw his support behind the US Department of Defense on Friday, saying big tech firms had a responsibility to collaborate with the military or else "this country is in trouble."
  • Employee movements within big tech companies including Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have been known to scupper big contracts with the Pentagon, the highest profile being Google's abandoned military drone contract, Project Maven.
  • Bezos said it's the responsibility of management to push back against employee outrage toward military contracts.
  • Amazon is appealing a Pentagon decision to award a $10 billion defense contract to Microsoft over Amazon.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos threw his weight behind the US Department of Defense on Friday, saying that unless big tech companies collaborated with the US military, "this country is in trouble."

Bezos was being interviewed at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in California, and he discussed employee movements within big tech companies to block contracts with the US military.

"One of the things that's happening inside technology companies is there are groups of employees who for example think that technology companies should not work with the Department of Defense," Bezos said.

The most notable example of this was Google's military drone contract Project Maven, which the company abandoned after intense employee backlash.

"I think it's a really important issue, and people are entitled to their opinions, but it is the job of a senior leadership team to say no," Bezos said.

"It's the senior leadership's team to say to people: 'Look, I understand these are emotional issues, that's OK and we don't have to agree on everything, but this is how we're going to do it. We are going to support the Department of Defense.' This country is important," he added.

Amazon has also had its fair share of employee outrage for its work with government agencies. Amazon employees have petitioned the company's leadership to end its relationship with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. So far these efforts have been unsuccessful.

Bezos framed big tech's involvement with the military as a national security issue. "My view is if big tech is going to turn their backs on the Department of Defense, this country is in trouble. That just can't happen," Bezos said.

"We are the good guys," he added. "I really believe that. And I know it's complicated, but do you want a strong national defense or don't you? I think you do."

Amazon is protesting a decision by the Pentagon to award a $10 billion cloud contract, known as JEDI, to Microsoft. Amazon had been expected to get the contract, and court documents unsealed last week show Amazon is alleging bias against it on the part of President Donald Trump.

You can watch the entire interview below:

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