Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Birth of Amazon.com

Philip Greenspun finds lots of interesting passages in Brad Stone’s The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon:

PowerPoint is a very imprecise communication mechanism,” says Jeff Holden, Bezos’s former D. E. Shaw colleague, who by that point had joined the S Team. “It is fantastically easy to hide between bullet points. You are never forced to express your thoughts completely.” Bezos announced that employees could no longer use such corporate crutches and would have to write their presentations in prose, in what he called narratives.

[…]

Bill Miller, the chief investment officer at Legg Mason Capital Management and a major Amazon shareholder, asked Bezos at the time about the profitability prospects for AWS. Bezos predicted they would be good over the long term but said that he didn’t want to repeat “Steve Jobs’s mistake” of pricing the iPhone in a way that was so fantastically profitable that the smartphone market became a magnet for competition. The comment reflected his distinctive business philosophy. Bezos believed that high margins justified rivals’ investments in research and development and attracted more competition, while low margins attracted customers and were more defensible.

1 Comment

"...asked Bezos at the time about the profitability prospects for AWS. Bezos predicted they would be good over the long term but said that he didn’t want to repeat “Steve Jobs’s mistake” of pricing the iPhone in a way that was so fantastically profitable that the smartphone market became a magnet for competition."

Smart dude.

Building platforms not by accident.

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A temporary employee in the Coffeyville, Kansas, fulfillment center showed up at the start of his shift and left at the end of it, but strangely, he was not logging any actual work in the hours in between. Amazon’s time clocks were not yet linked to the system that tracked productivity, so the discrepancy went unnoticed for at least a week. Finally someone uncovered the scheme. The worker had surreptitiously tunneled out a cavern inside an eight-foot-tall pile of empty wooden pallets in a far corner of the fulfillment center. Inside, completely blocked from view, he had created a cozy den and furnished it with items purloined from Amazon’s plentiful shelves. There was food, a comfortable bed, pictures ripped from books adorning the walls—and several pornographic calendars.

Paging Mike Judge...

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