Monday, December 02, 2013

The spotlight on Jeff Bezos and Amazon

I surveyed my freshmen students this term, asking if they knew who Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Larry Page, Sergei Brin, Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs were.

They all knew who Gates and Jobs were, but had never heard of any of the others.

It seems that some tech entrepreneurs are public figures and others are not and it looks like Jeff Bezos has decided to go public.

A book on Amazon was recently published and Terry Gross interviewed the author, Jeff Stone, on Fresh Air. The interview covers Bezos' intention to make Amazon an "everything store" from the very start, his foregoing of quick profit to build customer loyalty and long-run profit, working conditions in Amazon warehouses, Bezos' management style and his purchase of The Washington Post.

Last night, Sixty Minutes also did a segment on Bezos and Amazon. You get to know Bezos and get a good look at the operation of the fullfilment centers they are building all around the country. The highlight is video of a research prototype -- autonomous drones delivering packages to homes. Bezos warned that this was early research, but expects that his drones will by flying in four or five years.

Links to some Sixty Minute videos on Amazon (with commercials):

If you only watch one video, make it this one from 1999 when Amazon was just a book and music store:



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Update 12/2/2013

I've selected 11 still images from these videos, creating. They illustrate Amazon's policy of investing only in things that enhance the customer experience and create loyalty, the improved density and efficiency of their warehouse/fulfillment centers and experiments with 30-minute delivery of orders by autonomous drones.

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Update 8/31/2014

Google has had a delivery drone project for two years according to the Atlantic Monthly. Drones from either company will face many non-technical challenges.