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Jeff Bezos to employees: 'One day, Amazon will fail' but our job is to delay it as long as possible

Jeff Bezos to employees: 'One day, Amazon will fail' but our job is to delay it as long as possible

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Contributions

  • If there’s one recurring trend as to why large companies are 30+ years and not 100+, I would say this: The 30+ years companies are typically the ones who ignored or refused to adapt to the changing needs and attitudes of their consumers.

    This brings to Jeff Bezos’s statement about not looking inward

    If there’s one recurring trend as to why large companies are 30+ years and not 100+, I would say this: The 30+ years companies are typically the ones who ignored or refused to adapt to the changing needs and attitudes of their consumers.

    This brings to Jeff Bezos’s statement about not looking inward. Consumers evolve, and one day they will collectively think about the value they’re contributing to, or take away from, society and local communities for every dollar they spend on Amazon. When that day comes and the “obsessing over customers” mantra is simply not enough, will Amazon finally look inward?

  • This is the kind of leadership that makes Amazon such a valuable company. His humility to realize that he is not invincible and his laser focus on customers is something every corporate leader should follow.

  • I love that he wants to not be bundled with other tech companies — that he wants to stand apart. Smart.

    Yes it’s true we know of many iconic companies who are gone or are today a shadow of what they once were.

    I’m not betting that this in amazons future just yet. Their laser focus on the customer

    I love that he wants to not be bundled with other tech companies — that he wants to stand apart. Smart.

    Yes it’s true we know of many iconic companies who are gone or are today a shadow of what they once were.

    I’m not betting that this in amazons future just yet. Their laser focus on the customer is amazing. And it will in part come down to the executive team and how they function. How these folks are incentivized makes a difference in how they behave.

    So hopefully they will continue to put the customer first and defy the odds.

    “The key to prolonging that demise, Bezos continued, is for the company to "obsess over customers" and to avoid looking inward, worrying about itself.”

  • At one level, I appreciate the realism of this perspective; too many leaders cannot even conceive of this reality. This, combined with Amazon’s willingness to try new things is impressive. At another level, I think there could be even more enlightened thinking about the purpose of the enterprise, from

    At one level, I appreciate the realism of this perspective; too many leaders cannot even conceive of this reality. This, combined with Amazon’s willingness to try new things is impressive. At another level, I think there could be even more enlightened thinking about the purpose of the enterprise, from more than a shareholder value perspective. Amazon has the opportunity to prolong its existence and maximize its long-term value by being not just focused on their performance and their customers, but also on the larger context in which they operate and how they operate. These broader goals, plus even more experimentation (and possibly self-imposed creative destruction) could enable Amazon to thrive over a longer term.

    This brings to mind a nice piece Lynn Paine and Joseph Bower (both of Harvard Business School) wrote in 2017 about the failings of shareholder maximization/agency theory and how boards already have the power to govern in a better way. (https://hbr.org/2017/05/managing-for-the-long-term#the-error-at-the-heart-of-corporate-leadership) In particular, they note that “Corporations perform many functions in society,” and these should inform decision-making. Especially for the largest and most powerful companies, thinking about how to optimize or maximize their survival is not enough.

  • Having followed Internet companies for over a decade and a half, I have seen the realism in his view - AOL, MySpace, Yahoo, InfoSpace, Ask Jeeves, eBay (Meg Whitman - "a monkey can run this train"), and many, many others. I also recall short sellers telling me Amazon's stock is a zero. Key is how one

    Having followed Internet companies for over a decade and a half, I have seen the realism in his view - AOL, MySpace, Yahoo, InfoSpace, Ask Jeeves, eBay (Meg Whitman - "a monkey can run this train"), and many, many others. I also recall short sellers telling me Amazon's stock is a zero. Key is how one invests, how many big bets they take, the vision one has, how one is willing to change, and how one is willing to fail. I can argue that the above companies, except Amazon, lacked all of the above as core traits. I know because I covered the public ones as an Analyst. There were several times I saw Amazon challenged, but the culture Bezos created allowed the company to plow through those challenges. I believe what Bezos sees now is that Amazon's retail competitive advantage is being chipped away at by the traditional retailers who have gotten religious about expanding online. Took them long enough, but they are getting close to matching the customer value proposition that has made Amazon the amazing disruptor that it is.

  • Companies need to look inward, too, so I wouldn't be so sure about this statement: "The key to prolonging that demise, Bezos continued, is for the company to "obsess over customers" and to avoid looking inward, worrying about itself." Having happy employees who take pride in their work, especially in

    Companies need to look inward, too, so I wouldn't be so sure about this statement: "The key to prolonging that demise, Bezos continued, is for the company to "obsess over customers" and to avoid looking inward, worrying about itself." Having happy employees who take pride in their work, especially in your warehouses and in your distribution network is very important to the customer experience. Whatever visions exist for eventual drone deliveries or autonomous vehicles will not make up for poor customer service. Amazon needs to become more than just a commoditized delivery network if they want to survive, though they do have first mover advantage and scale on their side for now.

  • Despite enormous data proving that most companies dont survive past 30-40 years, most executives I've met believe their company will be the one to survive. I believe psychologists call this Exceptionalism Fallacy. Bezos' statement was hyperbole but also very rational.

  • But Amazons business model is built on the concept that one day all its competitors will die, and then the real cash starts pouring in

  • And develop a new tech that opens up opportunities at the same time.

  • It’s reasonable insight when you think of companies that you would’ve once expected to be consistently successful. Even social networks as obscure as MySpace, ones that had this persistent spike in user traffic, see their demise when new options are made available. Looking at Facebook now, it’s clear

    It’s reasonable insight when you think of companies that you would’ve once expected to be consistently successful. Even social networks as obscure as MySpace, ones that had this persistent spike in user traffic, see their demise when new options are made available. Looking at Facebook now, it’s clear that a company can’t be too big to fail. Mark Zuckerberg is worth some serious money, but his reputation is in the trash and it’ll be the demise of his creation. In some cases, companies just...die. Or become stagnant in their numbers. eBay is nowhere near as big as it was when it first made an appearance. Everything has a life span.

  • It’s really great foresight I mean he is right everything eventually ends so it rightfully is their goal to delay that as long as they can

  • Amazon will fail because it’s still treating its blue collar workforce so very badly. If any one company could inspire the return of Unions its Boss Bezos