How can you tell when a bullfighter ղեկավար the micro-manager who trusts his intuition is just a nut և when he is a nut but right?
That’s one question I got from reading Amazon Unbound after reading Bezos եզ after reading a new book about the last decade written by Brad Stone, my former journalist colleague.
According to Stone, Bezos is a font of great ideas, he’s doing badly to the staff, he looks at details, he is ready to spend time and money to make his visions come true. This has often resulted in new, more efficient technologies, such as the voice-free Go Cashier’s convenience stores.
But on Amazon, other things failed or were established because Bezos pursued his ideas relentlessly. That trend was plagued by Amazon’s now-extinguished Fire smartphone, a shadow of its Prime Video streaming service, minced beef made from just one cow. (Don’t worry, I’ll be back).
The company likes to say that at Amazon it all starts with what the customer wants և to work with. But an unavoidable conclusion from reading Amazon Unbound is the extent to which Amazon is the product of Bezos’ will – its responses to competitive challenges or criticism.
And it does not have to be easy to diagnose when it’s good for Amazon, its customers, its employees և the world և when Bezos’ own faith seems to have stalled. It will be interesting to see what happens now that Bezos is about to step down as CEO.
Stone delves deep into the origins of Alexa և Echo speakers. 10 years ago. In a post, Bezos told his lieutenants that Amazon “should create a $ 20 device in its brain cloud that is completely controlled by your voice.” He refused to give up his vision for this product, even when it took a lot of development, և audio technology was bad for years. In addition to the $ 20 price tag, the Echo և Alexa are as Bezos imagined.
At other times, Bezos’ visions led Amazon astray. The Fire phone was a bad idea at the wrong time, and its failure was mainly Bezos’s fault. In detail, Stone writes that one of the staff members had to assure Bezos that, yes, people were using digital calendars on their phones. He claimed to have created 3D cameras for the device, which were prone to flattery.
The same thing happened with that ground beef. After reading a 2015 Washington Post article about why hamburger makers often make fabric from 100 or more cow mixes, Bezos was obsessed with making one cow burger that people could only buy from Amazon Fresh.
Amazon Fresh sold burgers with single cows. They do not exist now, but it was not a world-changing idea, as Bezos hoped. Like the Fire Phone, it may have been a waste of time and energy.
I asked Stone two questions. When did Bezos’s ideas and his tirelessness to remove them come in handy, and when did those same qualities mislead Amazon? And has it been good or bad for Amazon to be guided by one person and his obsessions?
Stone told me that Bezos believes that Amazon is in a unique position to do hard, expensive, big things, that it wants to suppress the natural resistance of workers to hard changes. His instincts are not infallible, but Bezos did the right thing, he said.
“The counterpart,” Stone said, “is that the richest man in the world” does not really live in us anymore. His personal taste in burger և technology does not always represent the overall taste. ”
Bezos often said that failures are inevitable, even welcome. They show that Amazon is not afraid to try bold things.
But as I read Stone, I wondered if Amazon’s failures were not always the result of honest swings of big ideas, but sometimes of blind spots.
Stone writes that many employees working on the Fire phone had serious doubts about it, but it seemed that no one was ready to fight with the boss. Stone’s book tells the story of many executives who were fired from Amazon, including those who challenged Bezos or the company.
There may be an alternative to Amazon that depends less on Bezos’ vision and self-confidence. It can be worse, or it can be an even more successful company that is better for its customers, its employees և the world. And with the new CEO, maybe we can find out. But I doubt Amazon will continue to be a Bezos show.