Everyone uses Amazon (AMZN: NASDAQ) and knows about its CEO, Jeff Bezos. But what do you know about Bezos’ leadership and how he built a juggernaut?
Growing up, Bezos wanted to be an astronaut and studied hard. He was valedictorian at his school. But in the summers, he loved fixing machinery at his grandfather’s farm in Texas. He could both focus on a vision and apply himself to the practical.
In 1994, while working in Wall Street, Bezos saw the future of the internet. He left his investment firm, where he was VP, and started Amazon in his garage. In his first annual newsletter to shareholders, he wrote:
“Our vision is to use this platform to build Earth’s most customer-centric company. A place where consumers can come to find and discover anything and everything they might want to buy online.”
Bezos’ vision of the A to Z “everything store” where customers come first has been realized and continues to drive the company forward. “Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy.” He did not rest on his bookselling business’s success but moved into CDs, DVDs, and then into electronics, clothes, groceries, web services (AWS), and even TV shows. Even the book business was expanded to include Kindle and Audible.
In terms of his vision of a customer-centric company, he works at all the margins to lower prices, speed up delivery, and improve the customer experience.
“It is difficult for us to imagine that ten years from now, customers will want higher prices, less selection, or slower delivery.”
Jeff Bezos emphasizes doing more with less (frugality) and crusades against waste (“muda”) at Amazon. No one flies first class at Amazon, no one gets Prime membership free, and unlike other tech companies, there is no free food and soda. Development teams are kept small and nimble (must be small enough to be fed with two pizzas). Every action is also tested and measured against metrics. Managers must know every detail and demand efficiency.
Bezos has been relentless in his pursuit of faster and cheaper delivery for the customer, from 2-3 days to same-day in 2009, and to 1-2 hours with Prime Now. To achieve this, he keeps Amazon at the cutting edge of technology. Bezos has invested in AI and robots to automate inventory (Kiva), has bought into autonomous vehicles (Zoox), and continues to work on drone delivery (Prime Air). He has also sped up delivery and reduced costs by slowly turning Amazon into a shipping company by acquiring Colis Prive in 2016.
To say that Jeff Bezos’ pursuit of his vision has led to a very successful company is, of course, an understatement. Revenue continues to increase every year and is eight times larger than in 2010. The share price also continues to climb and is up almost 21 times larger than its 2010 level.
Profit-taking last week can be seen in the bearish engulfing candlestick for last week. But the long top and bottom wicks also give the appearance of a spinning top. This suggests that there is still a lot of uncertainty about the price and that the profit-taking may have been a pause. So far, the stock has not had two consecutive weekly price decreases since March.