Amazon hired nearly 130,000 employees around the world in 2017.
The company on Thursday also said it now employs over 17,500 veterans and military spouses across the United States It plans to hire more than 10,000 more by 2021. All told, Amazon has 566,000 employees.
And Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant, is surpassing Amazon’s expectations.
“Our 2017 projections for Alexa were very optimistic, and we far exceeded them,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement with Amazon’s latest quarterly earnings report. “We don’t see positive surprises of this magnitude very often — expect us to double down.”
Amazon said other companies and developers are ramping up adoption of Alexa. Third-party developers have written programs allowing Alexa to execute more than 30,000 skills, including podcasts and games. Customers can use Alexa to control more than 4,000 smart home devices from 1,200 different brands.
Amazon Prime — its $99 membership program that includes free two-day shipping — continues to be a strong point. In 2017, more than 5 billion items were shipped with Prime around the world. More new members joined Prime last year in the United States and worldwide than in any prior year.
The recent quarter was the first that fully accounts for Amazon’s 2017 acquisition of Whole Foods, which contributed $4.52 billion to sales.
Amazon stock rose 6% after the report.
Earlier this week, Amazon said it’s partnering with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase to try to tackle soaring health care costs.
The three firms unveiled a yet-to-be-named company to give their U.S. workers and families a better health insurance option. The new company will be “free from profit-making incentives and constraints,” according to a statement.
Amazon is also in the process of searching for a second headquarters. Last month, it unveiled the 20 metro areas still in the running for the site, which will cost $5 billion to build and operate. It will employ as many as 50,000 workers.
Contenders on the short list include Atlanta, Austin, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York City, Newark, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. Amazon will make a decision this year.