Thousands of Amazon staffers took over CenturyLink Field on Friday for a “post-holiday” party that showcased the company’s growth. The event was headlined by pop star Joe Jonas and his band, DNCE.
After crunching it during a record fourth-quarter shopping season at Amazon.com, a sizable chunk of CEO Jeff Bezos’ army took over CenturyLink Field on Friday night for a “post-holiday” party.
The size of the crowd showcases how much Amazon has grown in a single year: 25,000 people showed up, compared with 18,000 attendees last year. Most of the partygoers were local staffers and their guests.
The size of the Friday night crowd at CenturyLink was about the size of Amazon’s payroll in 2009. Nowadays the company employs more than 300,000 people worldwide, including 40,000 in Washington state.
Back in the late 1990s, the then fledgling e-commerce company held its parties at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel. Toward the end of the last decade, the increasingly large celebrations moved first to the EMP and then the Museum of Flight. The first Amazon post-holiday party at CenturyLink Field took place in 2012, with 6,000 in attendance.
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The giant bash is usually held in January because December is when Amazon, like other retailers, makes most of its money — and there’s no time to stop. Analysts expect Amazon to have brought home nearly $45 billion in sales in the fourth quarter, up 25 percent from the same period last year.
Friday’s event sprawled across the stadium’s entire structure. The main concourse seemed like a cross between a rave and a very large Montessori kindergarten, where Amazonians focused on making art with strings and plastic cylinders amid the thumping, deafening music.
People strolled under an exhibit of so-called “interesting finds,” weird items bought on the Amazon site, including giant inflatable pretzels, Sriracha-sauce-themed lunchboxes and kangaroo and tiger masks. An acrobat in tightfitting fluorescent clothing hung above the crowds, a spectacle straight out of an avant-garde circus.
There was a nocturnal incarnation of the banana stands that Amazon deploys downtown and in South Lake Union to give healthy snacks to passers-by — but this one distributed frozen bananas instead.
On the field, Amazon staffers and their guests played karaoke, gave a shot at comedy improv or tried to kick a football past the goal.
The main act was pop celebrity Joe Jonas and his band, DNCE.
“We have had an amazing year. You have had an amazing year,” said Beth Galetti, Amazon’s vice president for human resources. “We want you to celebrate. We want you to have fun.”