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Out of Our Minds
Tuesday, July 12, 2005 9:54 AM
Happy B-Day Amazon
Kevin Salwen on Business

10 years ago this week, a little company with mega-ambitions launched on the Web with the hype of 'Earth's Biggest Bookstore.' Amazon sold half a million dollars of books in its first six months, but then grew meteorically to $1.6 billion in revenue by the end of year 4. Since that time, the Amazon story has been one for the record books: Amazon borrowed a stunning $2 billion, continued its rocket growth, went through a round of layoffs -- and in 2003, at age 8, finally turned its first profit.

Two main things set Amazon apart from the other pacesetters in the dot-com world. Unlike eBay, Yahoo and Google, Amazon hasn't really created anything that wasn't in the physical world. You bought new products from stores before; you still do, except now it's online. (I guess you could argue that flea markets were plentiful in the physical world and that eBay simply tossed them into a centralized location, but I'd argue that eBay has changed the way many business are built.)

But the other significant difference with Amazon is that the founder, Jeff Bezos, is still running the show. Jerry Yang, Pierre Omidyar, Sergey Brin and the others have long since moved aside to allow professional managers to build their ideas from big businesses into massive ones. Not Jeff Bezos. Entrepreneurs are traditionally builders, creators, idea generators; they aren't nuts and bolts folks and often get too tied to their vision. Bezos has been able to do some things I have rarely seen entrepreneurs do (layoffs, for instance). But is he the right guy for Decade 2?

Norah Jones and Bob Dylan are the headliners at the company's 10th anniversary party. Should it be Bezos' swansong?


Jeffrey Cufaude - 7/13/2005 6:53:39 AM
Let's see. Jeff Bezos is passionate. Amazon has a clear sense of purpose. And the comnpany is increasingly profitable. Seems like to would be Worthwhile for him to stay on.
Chris Yeh - 7/12/2005 2:25:07 PM
Unlike any of the other aforementioned entrepreneurs, Jeff was a successful businessman before he founded Amazon.

It wouldn't make sense for him to step aside, since there clearly isn't anyone better qualified than him to run the company.

Who would you hire? The only more successful retailer in the world is Wal-Mart, and while Lee Scott is a great CEO, I can't seem him doing a better job than Jeff.
Grant Henninger - 7/12/2005 1:55:32 PM
Just because most entrepreneurs are lousy at actually running a business, it doesn't mean all are. Jeff Bezos has shown that he can run Amazon just as well as he built it. As long as Amazon continues to do well under Bezos' reign, he should continue to run the company. Hopefully at some point, Mr. Bezos will train somebody to replace him, and then step down instead of being forced out by investors. Because that would be the quickest way to destroy the company he has spent 10 years building.
Janet Auty-Carlisle - 7/12/2005 1:38:56 PM
Kevin, Why fix it if it ain't broke? We need more people who 'think outside the box' and Bezos is one of the best....Norah Jones and Bob Dylan...now that's a mix I would love to see. Living la vida fearless. Janet Auty-Carlisle www.tobeyourbest.net


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