“I knew if I have failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.”
Jeff Bezos the founder of the great company Amazon.com is a concise, energetic, inventive, cognitive, hi-tech computer legend, scientific thinker with an inbuilt chip of exploring new things from the world around. As he perceived that internet was growing at a very fast pace, he did enough analysis and came up with an idea of the .com company Amazon.com, now a multibillion company. He found and took up the reins of Amazon.com since 1994 handling different positions like president, chairperson and CEO. Amazon started out as a bookstore, but expanded rapidly to offer different and distinct products by acquiring several online retailers through years. In addition to offering literally millions of retail items from all over the world, Amazon has also developed in-house products such as the Kindle (an e-book reader), Amazon Fresh (online grocery shopping) and Amazon Prime (free shipping).
A decade ago, when Bezos was launching Amazon.com, people felt that 3, 00,000 titles would be plenty to start with. Nevertheless, Bezos took a bold step of stocking his shelves with a million titles, which turned around the company and brought about amazing change in his life. Today under the excellent direction of Bezos, the site sells 20 million products, including all 29 colors of the Kitchen Aid 5-quart mixer, with revenue of $6bn. Even the largest physical bookstores could not sell such huge obscure volumes. Today people around the world know the book company. It is all because of the focus laid by Bezos on the niche market and his obsession on high quality customer service and a customer-centric approach, Amazon.com went ahead in the right direction. As he expanded his company Jeff emphasized constantly on “Six Core Values: Customer obsession, Ownership, Bias for action, Frugality, High hiring bar and Innovation”. “Our vision”, Bezos said, “is the world’s most customer centric company”. Most of the analysts of the world praised the strategies Bezos took as “One of the smartest strategies in business history”. On the contrary, as compared to other great leaders, Bezos is known for his attention to business details and his notorious micromanagement. He was an executive who wants to know about everything from contract minutiae to how he is quoted in all Amazon press releases. This sounds a negative quality, but this is what showed Bezos total involvement in the company as a whole. This was one quality, which worked miracles and was a key to realize his ideas and dreams of how the company should be and how the company is going to be. Bezos forayed into different new territories of innovation and transformed Amazon from a simple bookselling company to a company that is capable of tackling any new venture. He has already revolutionized the way the world buys books. Currently Jeff is busy transforming the way world reads the books. His enormous efforts in transforming his ideas, plans and executing them and upgrading them to be useful for the world, provides an initiation to learning the leadership traits for the new generation entrepreneurs.
After Jeff graduated, he found his first job on Wall Street; computer science was on towering demand and was useful to study market trends. He worked at Fitel, a start up company, which was in mode of building a network to carry on international trade. He worked at D.E Shaw; a finance firm specialized in the application of computer science to stock markets, where he was hired for his overall talent to carry on a particular assignment. In Shaw, Jeff increased his responsibility to senior vice president and looked forward for a bright career in financial realm.
In early 1994, defense department used the internet to keep computer networks connected during any emergency like enemy attacks or natural disasters. Over the years, government and academic researchers used the computer networking to exchange necessary data and messages. Jeff Bezos observed that internet usage is sky rocketing at the rate of 2,300 percent per annum and was the best opportunity to exploit business, and immediately began exploring and researching the possibilities. In this context, he reviewed 20 mail order businesses in a typical methodical fashion. Finally, he arrived at a point that books were the only business commodity for which no comprehensive mail order catalogue existed. This business could be conducted efficiently over the internet rather than by any other traditional means and a vast database could be shared with limitless number of people.
The following day Bezos flew to Los Angeles to attend American Bookseller’s convention and learn everything about the book business. There he came to know that all the major book wholesalers already had a compiled electronic list of their books inventory and all that has to be done was that single location for internet, where the book buying public could search the available stock and place orders directly. Bezos has no other option than grabbing the opportunity to do the business all by himself sacrificing a good and secured position at New York City, as his employers were not prepared to proceed with such venture. However, Bezos and his wife decided to take up the business opportunity.
Jeff had a clear business plan and the couple drove to Seattle in search of pool of computer talent for his new enterprise, where they could access the book wholesaler Ingram. The company was named Amazon, after the South American seeming endless river with its numerous branches. There a shop was set up in two-bedroom house. Jeff wrote a code and set up three Sun microstations on the tables purchased from home depot for less than $60 each and the extension cords run into the garage. The test site was fully prepared; and was run under the supervision of 300 friends and acquaintances of Jeff. The code developed by Bezos worked seamlessly across different computer platforms and on July 16, 1995, Jeff opened the site for the whole world and instructed all his 300 beta testers to spread the word. Within first 30 days, Amazon sold books in all 50 states of USA and 45 other countries. The sales reached $20,000 a week. Bezos and his team were involved in improving the site and adding new and unique features like one-click shopping, customer reviews, and e-mail order verification. In one way, this was a safe bet on Internet and Jeff.
The business grew unimaginably faster and the company went public in 1997. The start-up bookseller company maintained its position equally with the big traditional book companies like Barnes and Nobles, Borders etc. Two years later the market share of Amazon was greater than that of its two biggest retail competitors combined. Borders was trying to strike a deal with Amazon to handle the internet traffic. By the end of the decade, six percent of owners of Amazon were billionaires and after many years Bezos family held as many as a third of the shares of the company.
Bezos has a dream of making Amazon from “Earth’s biggest book store” to the “Earth’s biggest anything store”. Right from the beginning, Bezos worked on increase in market share as quickly as possible, at the expense of the profits. The company was expanded, and was recognized as the place where people come to find and discover anything they want to buy online. Amazon moved into music CD’s, videos, toys, electronics and more. Amazon re-structured and posted profits, when the internet stock market bubble burst and all the dot-com start-ups vanished.
In FY 2002 October, the firm added clothing sales to its line up, through partnerships with hundreds of retailers like Gap, Nordstrom, Land’s End etc. Amazon also shares its expertise in customer service and online order fulfillment with other vendors like Toys ‘R’ Us, Borders through its co-branded sites and Amazon service subsidiary. In 2003, Amazon unveiled formation of A9, a new venture aimed at developing commercial search engine that focuses on e-commerce web sites. At the same time, Amazon launched an online sporting goods store, offering 3,000 different brand names. The great success of Amazon made Bezos to explore his longtime interest in space travel, which made him find an aerospace company called “Blue origin” in 2004. The company is based on 26-acre research campus outside Seattle. The company maintains a private rocket launching facility in West Texas. The company receives funding from NASA and is indulged in testing Shepard, a multi-passenger rocket-propelled vehicle designed to travel to and from suborbital space at competitive prices. Blue Origin’s ultimate goal is enduring human presence in outer space. By the end of FY 2006 Amazon ended with annual sales of 10.7bn. As of today Amazon is the largest American online retailer with nearly 3 times the sales of its nearest competitors
With many innovative ideas in mind, Bezos of Amazon introduced a handheld electronics device called “Kindle” in 2007. The device operates with E-link technology to render print like appearance to the text, which considerably reduces eyestrain as compared to television and computer screens. The adjustable font size option enhances the ease in reading unlike other electronic reading devices. Kindle enables a reader to purchase, download and read the complete books and other documents at any place and any time, as it is incorporated with internet. Kindle is capable of storing hundreds of books and classics can be downloaded at a very small amount of $2.
Amazon captured almost 95% of U.S markets for the e-books, with the introduction of Kindle, the best purpose-built device for reading. Kindle achieved supremacy and gained competitive edge as compared to iPad, a reading device introduced in 2010 by Apple. The reason for this being, Bezos responded aggressively cutting retail price of Kindle, adding new features, with one model working with WiFi and the second model working with G-3 mobile technology. The gadget is thinner and lighter with faster page-turning capability and longer battery-life, easier to read in sunlight and the price is hundreds of dollars less than that of the iPad.
In 2010, Amazon signed a controversial deal with the Wylie Agency, in which Amazon was given digital rights to the works of many authors it represents, bypassing the original publishers all together. Amazon’s practice of selling e-books at a relatively low price far below the same title in hardcover, annoyed several publishers and authors as their royalty rates were threatened. However, this was complemented by the advent of reading device that resulted in overall sales growth of the books, which benefited readers and authors equally. By the mid of 2010, Kindle and e-book sales reached to $2.38bn, with e-book sales increasing by 200% a year. Bezos predicted that e-books will out beat the paperbacks and become company’s best selling format within a year. Thus, Jeff Bezos transformed Amazon with innovation and creativity.
More about Jeff Bezos
Born : Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen
January 12, 1964 (age 47)
Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.
Alma mater :Princeton University (BS)
Occupation :Chairman and CEO of Amazon.com
Marital Status :Married
Jeffrey. P. Bezos, the founder of a great and well-known company like Amazon.com, was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on January12, 1964. When Jeff was born, his mother was in teens and her marriage did not last more than a year. Later when Jeff was four years old, she remarried Mike Bezos, Jeff’s stepfather. Mike Bezos was born in Cuba, but escaped to United States all alone at a very tender age of 15 years, but could manage to attend University of Albuquerque. Post marriage the family moved to Houston, where Mike worked as an engineer at Exxon. Jeff’s maternal relations had roots in Texas over generations and acquired a land of 25,000 acre ranch at Cotulla. Jeff’s grandfather worked as a regional director of the Atomic Energy Commission in Albuquerque. In his youth Jeff spent most of his summers working with his grandfather at the family ranch. There he worked on multiple and varied tasks like fixing windmills, castrating cattle, laying pipes and repairing pumps which helped him in his future operations. Jeff’s grandfather was the big figure in influencing Jeff, who sparked and indulged Jeff’s fascination with educational games and toys, assisting him with the Heath kits and the other paraphernalia that Jeff constantly hauled home to the family garage.
Young Jeff at his grandfather’s Ranch
Right from his very early age Jeff was a baby mechanic with high engineering skills. One such skill he displayed while he was a toddler was; he dismantled his crib with a screwdriver, this is unbelievable but true. He depicted all the qualities of a scientist with immense interest of trying different new things. He always kept his younger siblings away from his room rigging an electric alarm. The garage of his parents was converted into a full-fledged science laboratory to carry on his projects. When Jeff was in teens, his family moved to Miami, Florida where Jeff fell in deep love with computers while he was at Miami Palmetto Senior High School.
He was a scholarly student with an outstanding performance in his academics. Besides securing the valedictorian's title, Bezos was also, one of three members of his graduating class awarded a Silver Knight Award, a prestigious academic honor in south Florida high schools, sponsored by Knight Ridder's Miami Herald. He planned to graduate in physics. However, his immense love towards computers made him to earn a degree in computer science and electrical engineering at Princeton University. Jeff met his wife Mackenzie who was also a Princeton graduate, got married in 1993, while working at Shaw, a company specialized in application of computer science to the stock market. Mackenzie and Jeff, who have lived until now in a one-bedroom rental in downtown Seattle, recently bought a $10mn rustic mansion alongside Lake Washington in a neighborhood with Microsoft millionaires. Today, Jeff Bezos and Mackenzie live north of Seattle and are increasingly concerned with philanthropic activities. "Giving away money takes as much attention as building a successful company," Jeff Bezos has said. Jeff Bezos has four children adopted from China.
Is Jeff Bezos the New Steve Jobs?
This is the recently titled article which was under debate, but most of the techies agree Jeff Bezos= Steve Jobs. However, it is very tough to compare. But, why people compared Jeff with Jobs? The key reason would be Bezos also demonstrates a Jobs-like demanding, micro-managing style of command. To pave Amazon's path into cloud computing, he issued a ruthless edict: Every department head had to redesign all software interfaces in a way to allow outsiders access to them in a secure way, or they would be fired. One more thing that strikes common in Bezos and Steve Jobs is Bezos paced the stage and showed commercials to publicize their products-just like Steve Jobs. Moreover, the attire with blue jeans and black necked tee looked the same. Whether or not Bezos comes to be as regarded, feared and admired, as the former Apple CEO is immaterial. What matters is whether Amazon is poised to become the next Apple. The comparisons go this way:
Steve Jobs was passionate about creating amazing new computer products right from the beginning of his career. At the beginning of his career, Bezos wanted to be an extraordinarily successful entrepreneur. He found his path in 1994 when he began researching the Internet and discovered that its phenomenal growth was like nothing he had seen before Bezos settled as book retailer, as it was a huge business, which could be done easily online. All the people are aware of books and there is no need to worry on product quality. There are comprehensive electronic lists of virtually every book available and distributors who can deliver them. They all work as promised.
His success was an extraordinary feat, accomplished with an unwavering focus on how to best serve his customers, from the design of the site to discount pricing and even a willingness to let people write bad reviews of books. He then leveraged that success to sell other products, navigated through the dot-com crash and thrived where almost all others failed.
Jobs created Ferraris, top-performing and expensive products that set a gold standard. Bezos is more utilitarian. His devices, like everything, are designed for the masses: cheap, high-volume products created more for their ability to act as receptacles for other Amazon products, such as its e-books and the streaming videos that Bezos now offers as an alternative to Netflix.
Bezos had wide knowledge of computer networks; he might have come up with Kindle much earlier than he did. However, the Kindle was unveiled six years after Steve Jobs pioneered a similar download service for music, with iTunes and the iPod. Jeff Bezos is no Steve Jobs-but Amazon could be next apple.
Managerial Style of Jeff Bezos
Jeff is great at both providing strategic vision and talking through execution. He listens carefully to your ideas and zeros in incredibly rapidly on what's important. He encourages innovation and experimentation, anchored in concrete measurement. He may take a while to make a decision, but moves quickly and aggressively once it's made. On a personal level, he’s down to earth, straightforward and approachable.
Recognition for Bezos
Bezos outstanding efforts to bring up his company and connect with people, making them buy and read books they wanted at a click from home through Amazon.com brought him recognition worldwide. Few are mentioned below:
- He was recognized as Time magazine's Person of the Year in 1999.
- U.S. News & World Report elected Bezos as one of America's best leaders in 2008.
- Bezos was awarded an honorary doctorate in Science and Technology from Carnegie Mellon University in 2008.
- He is also a member of the Bilderberg Group and attended the Swiss 2011 Bilderberg conference in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Inspiring quotes by Jeff Bezos
- "If there’s one reason we have done better than of our peers in the Internet space over the last six years, it is because we have focused like a laser on customer experience and that really does matter, I think, in any business. It certainly matters online, where word of mouth is so very, very powerful."
- "If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful."
- "We have so many customers who treat us so well, and we have the right kind of culture that obsesses over the customer."
- "We see our customers as invited guests to a party and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better."
- "We watch our competitors, learn from them, see the things that they were doing for customers and copy those things as much as we can."
- "You have to use your judgment. In cases like that, we say, let’s be simple minded. We know this is a feature that’s good for customers. Let’s do it.’"
- "You can do the math 15 different ways, and every time the math tells you that you shouldn’t lower prices because you’re going to make less money. That’s undoubtedly true in the current quarter, in the current year. But it’s probably not true over a 10-year period, when the benefit is going to increase the frequency with which your customers shop with you, the fraction of their purchases they do with you as opposed to other places. Their overall satisfaction is going to go up."
- "You know, if you make a customer unhappy they won't tell five friends, they'll tell 5,000 friends. So we are at a point now where we have all of the things we need to build an important and lasting company, and if we don't, it will be shame on us."
- "If you think about the long term then you can really make good life decisions that you won’t regret later."
- “There are two kinds of companies, those that work to try to charge more and those that work to charge less”
- “If you invent frequently and are willing to fail, then you never get to that point where you really need to bet the whole company”.
- “I think one thing I find very motivating -- and I think this is probably a very common form of motivation or cause of motivation is, I love people counting on me, and so, you know, today it's so easy to be motivated, because we have millions of customers counting on us at Amazon.com. We've got thousands of investors counting on us. Moreover, we're a team of thousands of employees all counting on each other. That's fun”.
- “I remember, just to show you how stupid I can be -- my only defense is that it was late. We were packing these things, everybody in the company and I had this brainstorm as I said to the person next to me, "This packing is killing me! My back hurts, this is killing my knees on this hard cement floor" and this person said, "Yeah, I know what you mean." And I said, "You know what we need?" my brilliant insight, "We need knee pads!" I was very serious, and this person looked at me like I was the stupidest person they'd ever seen. I'm working for this person. This is great. "What we need is packing tables." I looked this person and I thought that was the smartest idea I had ever heard. The next day we got packing tables and I think we doubled our productivity. That early stage, by the way of amazon.com, when we were so unprepared is probably one of the luckiest things that ever happened to us because it formed a culture of customer service in every department of the company”.
- “I'm not saying that advertising is going away. However, the balance is shifting. If today, the successful recipe is to put 70 percent of your energy into shouting about your service and 30 percent into making it great, over the next 20 years I think that's going to invert”.
- “If you're not stubborn, you'll give up on experiments too soon. And if you're not flexible, you'll pound your head against the wall and you won't see a different solution to a problem you're trying to solve”.