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Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos (PBS FRONTLINE)


At the bottom of this page is a documentary about Amazon, described as: “An inside look at how Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos built one of the largest and most influential economic forces in the world — and the cost of Amazon’s convenience.” (PBS FRONTLINE, YouTube, 18 Feb 2020)

Amazon is credited for being one of the biggest job creators in America, yet Amazon has also brought about the demise of many businesses across the country. So, the jobs being ‘created’ by Amazon are likely just jobs being shifted from companies that Amazon has put out of business.

Because of Amazon’s efficiencies, it’s likely that Amazon is delivering the same services with fewer employees than traditional small town brick and mortar stores or small online retailers. Presumably Amazon’s impact on the U.S. job market is a net negative result.

Millions of American consumers didn’t just suddenly start buying products that they never purchased before – “What are these things called shoes? Maybe I’ll try them.” They are buying the same products, but now they are buying them from Amazon instead of a local store. It’s like Walmart but on a larger scale. Amazon is efficient, profitable, and dominating the market.

As a high school student, Jeff Bezos was concerned about overpopulation on earth. He was quoted in an article saying the following: “The earth is finite, and if the world economy and population is to keep expanding, space is the only way to go.” As a “space entrepreneur” he would “construct solar power satellites that would make the world peaceful and affluent through abundant, cheap energy.”

Bezos apparently never considered developing low-cost simple initiatives that would help solve the overpopulation problem he’d identified. Instead, he immediately thought “Space Ships!” That’s perhaps the gift of the entrepreneurial mindset: “How can I turn this problem into something profitable?” Rather than actually solving the problem, leave the problem in place and build a business model around it.

The goals of reducing world population and having an ever expanding world economy are generally considered at odds. However, if habitable earth stations could be created, then workers and consumers could expand into space. Imagine having Amazon Prime members living on space stations and having their groceries delivered by rockets and robots. With a declining quality of life on earth, people would certainly pay a premium to live in a habitable earth station with clean air, clean water, no wars, no crime, no pollution.

For those who embrace the “We’ll just live in space” solution to overpopulation, there need not be any concerns about the condition of the planet or quality of life on earth.

As world population increases, we will eventually reach a ceiling. Think of it like a tooth ache. We don’t do the proactive things to prevent the tooth ache. Eventually the tooth starts hurting, but we put off going to the dentist. Eventually when the pain is unbearable, we go to the dentist. Then it’s too late for a simple inexpensive remedy. It’s the same with world population. We’re not going to address the issue until the pain is great enough – not just with news reports of natural disasters, water scarcity wars, refugees, or starvation in far off lands. Change probably won’t happen until the problems reach everyone’s doorstep. Eventually, however, a realization about the earth’s limited ability to sustain an ever growing population will result in some self-imposed restraints or other mechanism to reduce population growth.

In about two hours, the documentary below broadly examines the creation and growth of Amazon as well as other issues related to Amazon’s empire which is now on the verge of being a dominant global provider of all products and services. The documentary also explores how Amazon is increasingly becoming invasive by having cameras and microphones everywhere: at your front door, inside your home, on your body.

Jeff Bezos – The “Amazon.Love” Memo

Below are excerpts from the “Amazon.Love” memo referred to in the documentary above. The following is an excerpt from a Business Insider article about the memo.

In the memo, the Amazon CEO tried to deconstruct why some companies are loved by their customers, and others aren’t, as a way of figuring out how Amazon can make sure it’s loved by its own customers.

“Some big companies develop ardent fan bases, are widely loved by their customers, and are even perceived as cool,” he wrote.

Examples of companies not well-liked by their customers, as Bezos viewed it, included Walmart, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs and ExxonMobil.

Examples of companies that category, in Bezos’ assessment, were Apple, Nike, Disney, Google, Whole Foods and UPS.

He went on to list a series of attributes that led to companies being loved, concluding that it was important to be polite, reliable, risk-taking and customer-obsessed, but also to be perceived as inventive — an “explorer not a conquerer,” as Stone summarized it.

Bezos wrote, “I actually believe the four ‘unloved’ companies are inventive as a matter of substance. But they are not perceived as inventors and pioneers. It is not enough to be inventive — that pioneering spirit must also come across and be perceivable by the customer base.”

The following is an excerpt from a Geekwire article where the “Amazon.Love” memo list of points was published.

  • Rudeness is not cool.
  • Defeating tiny guys is not cool.
  • Close-following is not cool.
  • Young is cool.
  • Risk taking is cool.
  • Winning is cool.
  • Polite is cool.
  • Defeating bigger, unsympathetic guys is cool.
  • Inventing is cool.
  • Explorers are cool.
  • Conquerors are not cool.
  • Obsessing over competitors is not cool.
  • Empowering others is cool.
  • Capturing all the value only for the company is not cool.
  • Leadership is cool.
  • Conviction is cool.
  • Straightforwardness is cool.
  • Pandering to the crowd is not cool.
  • Hypocrisy is not cool.
  • Authenticity is cool.
  • Thinking big is cool.
  • The unexpected is cool.
  • Missionaries are cool.
  • Mercenaries are not cool.

[Published: 20200219]

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com

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