A Look At Amazon's Growth From Books To Everything - Book Review

Jun. 23, 2017 7:35 AM ETAMZN, NFLX8 Comments

Summary

  • Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods is just the latest notch in the belt of the company, which seems to be taking over the world.
  • I've been reading and watching a lot of Bezos's speeches and letters, and recently read Brad Stone's The Everything Store, about Bezos.
  • There's a lot to learn from the depiction of Bezos for both investors and anyone working in business.
  • But does greatness necessarily require harshness and sanded-down people skills? I don't know, but I left the book wondering about that.

Jeff Bezos and Amazon (AMZN) have fully ascended, and I’m not talking about the stock price, though $1000 is a nice round number. Amazon has become an everyday presence in our lives as customers, as a looming threat to just about any business you can think of, and a company increasingly seen as one of the most (if not the most) innovative in the world. And then it bought Whole Foods Market (WFM) last week.

(Credit: Reuters)

Jeff Bezos, meanwhile, has stepped into Steve Jobs's lineage, the tech genius of the moment who has survived controversy and turmoil to become triumphant. (Perhaps Elon Musk will survive to be the next one in the lineage; perhaps Mark Zuckerberg is already on his way). Throw in the Washington Post's re-emergence on the current media scene, and Bezos becomes nearly inescapable.

I’ve been thinking about Bezos a lot recently. I read his 2016 shareholder letter and was impressed by a number of ideas – the concept of ‘disagree and commit’ to avoid bogging down in contentious decision-making processes, the avoidance of proxies that take one away from the true focus of the business, and of course Amazon’s understanding of its customer obsession. A colleague shared this video interview with Bezos, which had interesting nuggets about AMZN - 3rd party sales = 50% of the business - and about Amazon's long-term approach. This article gets at the nature of Amazon’s strength as a company well. As both an investor and a worker in a tech company, I've been interested in seeing what else I can learn from Bezos and Amazon.

For a road trip a couple weekends ago, I downloaded an audio book version of The Everything Store, Brad Stone’s 2013 book. (Downloaded as part of a free trial on Audible, an Amazon company, that I subsequently

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My active contributor account going forward is https://seekingalpha.com/author/daniel-shvartsman#regular_articles. I worked as director of our Marketplace and support in a few other areas on the site. I also co-hosted Behind the Idea, our podcast on single stock analysis, and The Razor's Edge, a podcast dedicated to deep-dive ideas with a focus on the tech space. I'm always happy to hear from readers and contributors, whether to help with questions, hear your feedback, or learn how you're using the site. I've been working at SA since September 2012, and previously focused on our SA PRO+ product.I've been investing since 2011. I used to write articles for Seeking Alpha before becoming an editor  - my work is on this account - and resumed doing so in 2020. I would rate the 2012 pieces well-written and benefiting from bull market timing, but still somewhat of a beginner's work as far as analyzing companies and stocks. I am hoping the 2020 and beyond articles will be a little more grounded :).  I am probably one of SA's most frequent users, and have learned an immense amount from contributors, readers, and SA employees.Beyond the market, I like reading, voyaging, writing, playing/writing/listening to music, and learning languages. Probably most relevant to ask me about SA, but you're welcome to get in touch on anything else as well.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: A friend working at Amazon asked me whether she should sell shares to make a mortgage payment; “It’s never a bad time to sell Amazon shares”, I said. This was somewhere between 2012-2014, between $200-$400/share. I hope she didn’t listen to me.

That friend also got me an interview at Amazon for a data intern role in 2011. I interviewed well but then failed a pivot table test and didn’t get the job. I bear a grudge only to pivot tables, and am happy to have ended up at Seeking Alpha instead, though it was not a self-esteem building 9-12 months in between, working primarily at an afterschool day care for 4-8 year olds.

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