Bezos’ Iconic Laugh

From the ENCORE awards, where I enjoyed dinner with Bezos….

 

I’ll start with my favorite dialog of the evening:

 

Q: What makes you lose sleep at night?

“I happen to sleep very well at night, but I tell our investors that should not be a signal of solace. I mainly worry about details, like the in-stock levels for this Holiday season. The big issue for me is How do we maintain our culture as we continue to grow? I see a big company in our neighborhood losing its culture, and the people are mystified by it.

 

Executives value social cohesion more than truth. From our evolution, I don’t think we are truth-seeking animals but social cohesion animals. In the primitive tribe, it can be dangerous to be right. Jealous others may kill you in the night. It is easier to propagate your genes if you are easy to get along with. But when you are under attack, and survival is at stake, then people prefer the truth.”

 

“If forced to choose between a retailer and a tech company, I’d say we are a tech company. We like to invent and think long term.”

 

“AWS and Kindle are like bookends on our strategy. AWS takes our skill set moving forward. Kindle takes customer needs backward. And that is much scarier. We have to learn new skills, like how to build a hardware device. Kindle was three years in development. We hired smart people to help us, but you also need what I call an ‘institutional skill’ to make it gel.”

 

“There are so many institutional no’s. I ask why not? For our roadmap conversations each year, we have three filters: it is differentiated, with a good ROIC, and the scale is large. It doesn’t have to work though. But if it does, will it meet the three criteria.”

 

Q: What impact will the iPad have?

“People often think about the Kindle when asking that question, but I think about our $30B of retail sales. Window shopping laying on the sofa is easier on the iPad than a laptop. As I think about people laying down on the sofa and shopping, I may hyperventilate. I think people are going to have a lot of screens. They will be lightweight and thin. When you travel, you will bring them all. When you go on a date, you’ll just bring the smart phone… or you won’t have a second date!”

 

Q: How is China going?

“The metrics are improving, such as customer contacts per unit sold. Each country is different. We ship using bicycles and take cash on delivery with portable counterfeit detection machines.

 

Jack Ma told me ‘Why do so many U.S. companies fail in China? The Chinese country manager is trying to keep the U.S. boss happy not the Chinese customers happy.’ So when I go to China, I always ask who is happy, and I am told “yes, yes, not you. The Chinese customer.”

 

Q: Did you ever think you would be this successful?

“$30B is crazy. It took a lot of luck in scaling. In 1997-98, we thought we might become worth $5B, and maybe $10B if we had enough beer.

 

I remember during our quiet period, B&N sued us and then announced that they were going to hold a press event announcing their online store. All this during our IPO quiet period when they knew we couldn’t respond. So I thought we should attend their event all dressed as mimes. We would be quiet, but our presence would remind people about us. Well, just about everyone tried to talk me out of it. Even if you have not had a drink for a year, if five people say you’re drunk, you still should lie down.”

-fCh-, Brian Glanz and 14 more people faved this
  • -fCh- 5y

    I look forward to any story that goes with this photo. What a character, remarkable!
  • Steve Jurvetson 5y

    Another classic glance…
    IMG_9687

    If you want to see him in action, I nominated his 12-minute Princeton commencement speech to be a TED Talk. Worth a listen if you have not heard it already.
  • -fCh- 5y

    I'm not sure (yet) about kindle, but I like the guy and to some extent even Amazon. I'll take your suggestion--I've followed his many public appartitions, mostly at Charlie Rose, and he's very economical with the ingredients of his success, so that's why I asked if there was some sort of another angle.
  • solerena 5y

    cool portraits and notes, especially like the classic glance...funny:)
  • Epp 5y

    Wonderful portrait!!!!!! Seems like quite the interesting character.

    I thought that social cohesion made it more possible to approach truth - thanks to multple perspectives... i.e. not mutually exclusive... I had thought that we had evolved beyond the primitives. But as long as the "program" for working together has not been installed (ex. cooperation and consultation skills fostered) and people are continued to be programmed to compete and fear the jealous others... well... we just continue to run on that program, don't we? (Just my first immediate thought. Hope I don't sound negative. My intention is the opposite.)
  • Daniel D'Auria 5y

    Great portrait.
  • Tomi Tapio K 5y

    He's too happy to be the next Lex Luthor!
  • Simon Webster 3y

    Lovely happy portrait
  • Steve Jurvetson 3y

    March 28, 2012
    "I'm excited to report that, using state-of-the-art deep sea sonar, the team has found the Apollo 11 engines lying 14,000 feet below the surface, and we're making plans to attempt to raise one or more of them from the ocean floor.

    NASA is one of the few institutions I know that can inspire five-year-olds. It sure inspired me, and with this endeavor, maybe we can inspire a few more youth to invent and explore."
    From Bezos Expeditions
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Taken on October 27, 2010
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