INNOVATION HUB
3:01 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Jeff Bezos and Extreme Competition

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Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is the subject of a new book by journalist Brad Stone.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is the subject of a new book by journalist Brad Stone.
Credit Steve Jurvetson / Wikimedia Commons

Guest:

Time for a little experiment. Open a new tab in your browser and type in the URL “Relentless.com.” It’ll take you to a surprising and probably familiar place: the homepage of Amazon.com. As Brad Stone, author of the new and controversial book “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon” notes, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos considered “relentless” a fair characterization of the company he wanted to build. But, truth be told, it’s also a fair characterization of the man behind the company.

Bezos’s drive and ambition were obvious, even as a child. “When he decided he wanted to be valedictorian of the class,” Stone says, “everyone knew the race was on for second place.” Since then, Bezos has been a famously demanding entrepreneur and employer. In Amazon’s early days, for example, when the company had trouble filling the avalanche of orders it received, Bezos shipped white-collar executives to distribution plants to work on the lines.

Working in such a competitive environment can be both a blessing and a curse. Stone notes that many employees considered themselves to be the most productive in their careers while they worked at Amazon. But, according to Stone, Bezos is also a famously prickly employer prone to publicly embarrassing employees if they don't meet his high standards.

What’s next for Amazon? The retail giant appears to be poised to take on every competitor in its path – from big-box stores like Target and Wal-Mart to high-tech gadget providers like Google. “The ambition is to build the world’s largest retailer, maybe even the world’s largest company,” says Stone. 

Just as we were wrapping up this week’s program, we got some unexpected news: MacKenzie Bezos, Jeff’s wife, had written a scathing review of Stone’s bookand posted it to (where else?) Amazon. So we called Stone back up and asked him to respond to some of MacKenzie’s criticisms. What did he have to say? Take a listen.

Still curious?

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