~Jeff Bezos (Founder, Amazon)
This book is a twisted tale of how an unkillable technology business was built, sustained & transformed into the "everything company" juggernaut it is today.
It's been easy for me to disagree, from a personal belief standpoint, certain business decisions that Amazon took, over the years, to provide the best experience to customers - be it its philosophies of exhaustive work ethic, beating its competition and unfair stakeholder deals, I now marvel at the genius that had to make these tough calls to ensure that the company endured.
If anything, I've learnt a couple of things about building a lasting company from the book, and here, I'm summarizing the best thoughts I came across.
On building a company
Each meeting begins with everyone silently reading the document
This, I felt was a brilliant move to ensure all participants in a meeting had an in depth understanding of the discussion since documented points stick for longer & inspire much more intricate examinations & debates.
It's one thing to have a good idea but it's another to have confidence in a person to execute it.
'Accountability'. The one necessity we all want in our co-workers. Changes the way your work moves & how well you gel with each other on such a fundamental bond of trust
He embraces the truth. A lot of people talk about the truth, but they don't engage their decision making around the best truth at the time
Amazon CTO Verner Wogel shed light on why Jeff was point blank in his opinions. Also, he was brave enough to accept the truth when things were turbulent and keep the company afloat, by making hard decisions, be it cutting costs or killing highly-funded experiments
Bezos teaches a very balanced decision making framework, that's logical & emotional. Basically, make conscious moves today such that when you're reminiscing your choices around 40 years from now, you have as less regrets as possible.
One day, you'll understand that it's harder to be kind than clever
Bezos' grandfather adviced a teenage Jeff on this - to always be respectful and compassionate instead of being coldly smart and analytical. We even carry the impact of what we say, on others.
I have realized about myself that I'm very motivated by people counting on me. I like to be counted on
An good leader, I feel, likes the trait of being responsible and carries the load of several others' concerns.
Companies need to think not just what they can get for themselves from new technologies but how they can enable others
We tried to imagine a student in a dorm room who would have at his or her disposal the same infrastructure as the largest companies in the world. It would be a great playing-field leveler for startups & smaller companies to have the same cost structure as big companies
This was the stark vision for Amazon Web Services. The most lasting products are the ones that win, when the overall society wins.
'Amazon isn't what's happending to the book business, the future is happening to the book business'
A good thought nugget and a alarming reminder suggesting the inevitable perishability of the current forms of most products that seem everlasting.
High margins justified rivals' investments in R&D and attracted more competition, while low margins attracted customers and were more defensible
Snippet on how Amazon created a highly defensible business by always keeping the lowest costs possible. This helped it overturn monopolies and undercut incumbents
I absolutely know it's very hard. We'll learn how to do it
The words with which, Jeff Bezos announced the Kindle project
It is not enough to be inventive - that pioneering spirit must also come across and be perceivable by the customer base.
An overarching impression of the company should not just be internally valued within the team, but also admired by each user of its services, since they too are valuable stakeholders
Defects that are invisible to the knowledgeable may be obvious to the newcomers. The simples solutions are the best.
Why the odds of an underdog are slightly strong in any given domain.
Great companies fail, not because they want to avoid disruptive change but because they are reluctant to embrace promising new markets that might undermine their traditional businesses and that do not appear to satisfy their short term growth requirements.
Jeff on why after a point, companies that don't adapt, sink.
Profit margin is finite. Better financial terms with suppliers translate directly into a healthier bottom line - and create the foundation on which everyday low prices become possible
Acquire other firms only when they had fully mastered their virtuous circles and then 'as an accelerator of fly-wheel momentum, not a creator of it
Words on when & why exactly should you acquire another company
Dyson pulled its vacuums from Amazon in 2011, though some models are still sold on the Amazon Marketplace by approved third-party merchants
Sellers know they should not be taking the heroin, but they can't stop taking the heroin
Just some excerpts on the power of network effect that marketplace platforms weild. How they've hooked both sides of the network into an irresistible experience
They force you to look at the numbers & answer every single question about why specific things happened
Data driven approach
Frugality breeds resourcefulness, self-sufficiency & invention. There are no extra points for headcount, budget size or fixed expense
Values molded through 2 decades of surviving in the thin atmosphere of low profit margins & fierce skepticism from the outside world.
How the parsiminous, undying principles of a company that survived 2 market crashes were forged
"It's almost like he fired an arrow & then followed that arc" - ability to keep leaping gorward vs protecting existing ground
Do we create something that is good, or just that seems good & might get us acquired or funded ?
Amazon bet on the internet & built its legacy. Right from a 'duct tape and WD40 engineered' website (thanks to early engineer - Shel Kaphan), to a behemoth masquerading as a missionary and a mercenary at the same time, that all traces back to the vision of building - "an everything store".