Inside the innovative mind of Amazon

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Jeff Bezos photo by Jurvetson (flickr)

It is hard to believe that Amazon was once a fledgling website in a sea of many.  Amazon is not only one of the few web-based companies to survive the dot-com boom, but it is now one of the most influential companies in the world.  How did a one-time book retailer turn into a web giant; selling everything from consumer electronics, streaming video services, and web hosting?

Companies like Apple and Microsoft get a lot of media attention.  They host glitzy events and star-studded product unveilings.  While Amazon did release the Kindle Fire at a special event, it is typically low-key in operation. They have strayed from this paradigm when they hosted their first annual Amazon Web Services re: Invent Customer and Partner conference.

The conference mostly touts the benefits of—you guessed it—Amazon Web Services, but a “fireside chat” between Founder/CEO Jeff Bezos and CTO Werner Vogels gives a lot of insight into Amazon’s thinking in general.  Their chat is 45 minutes long and a must for Amazon fans or anyone interested in business on the web.  If you don’t have nearly an hour to listen—fear not.  I have select points for you to glance over at your leisure.


Amazon does not operate solely based on what will change in the future, but rather what will stay the same.  Certain concepts are constant.  In 10 years customers will still want low prices and efficiency

Bezos stated that experimentation is necessary for those who wish to truly invent.  Failure is inevitable, but success more likely with constant experimentation.  Amazon does not waste time with things that customers will not want to use.

The balance of power is shifting to the consumers.  Customers have access to a wealth of information.  It is not a surprise that many customers check Amazon and other sites while at big box stores.

Any Amazon customer service rep can have a product pulled from the website.  I’ve never heard of anything like this before.

Netflix and Amazon Retail are run on Amazon Web Services.  Amazon and Netflix are also competitors in the streaming video space.  Bezos stated that Amazon Retail does not get special treatment.  Hard to believe for many, I think, but we should take his word for it unless proved otherwise.

Bezos has two “pet projects” if you will.  One is the Ten Thousand Year Clock and the other Blue Origin.

The Ten Thousand Year Clock is literally a clock meant to run 10,000 years.  It will have 5 anniversary chambers that have animations go off every one, ten, hundred, thousand, and ten-thousand years.  People will be able to tour the completed clock.  It is in the side of a mountain, which presumably protects it from our mutually assured destruction.

Blue Origin is a space-tourism endeavor headed by Bezos.  Its goal is to create a vessel that takes off and lands vertically (Bezos referred to Buck Rogers). Reusability and low cost are objectives.  Like other space tourism companies, they want to democratize space travel.

Amazon practices long-term thinking in a time of instant gratification.  This is why they are so successful.  For all we know, the Kindle Fire and Instant Video could’ve been thought of a decade ago.  Here’s to the next decade, Amazon.

Via [AWS re: Invent]

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