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Apr 23, 2018

Amazing Amazon

You can criticize Amazon in many ways, but there's an angle to this company where you have to be in awe - the angle is how strategic, long-term, against-your-traditional-wisdom and innovative the company is being led. Here are three things that I love, and maybe you didn't know all of them.

1. Ever since 1997, I have used Bezos' shareholder letters in presentations and talks. They are well known and the first one is an eternal classic. I think the 2018 one is also wonderful. Besides talking about milestones and how customers are "divinely discontent", you also learn a few inspiring things about the company:

"We don't do PowerPoint (or any other slide-oriented) presentations at Amazon. Instead, we write narratively six-page memos. We silently read one at the beginning of each meeting in a kind of "study hall". Not surprisingly, the quality of these memos varies widely. Some have the clarity of angels singing. They are brilliant and thoughtful and set up the meeting for high-quality discussions. Sometimes they come in at the other end of the spectrum [...] by tradition at Amazon, authors' names never appear on the memos - the memo is from the whole team."

Read the current (and 1997) letter here: 

2. They have an annual, ultra-exclusive, invitation-only, super secretive conference (MARS) where anyone who is an important contributor to our future, from science, business, philosophy, politics etc. (except people from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, for obvious reasons) come together and discuss, play, explore. Not only listening to talks - but really participating.

More about Mars here:

3. They invested the ridicolous amount of 22.6 billion USD in R&D in 2017

That's 41% more than in 2016. Google's parent company Alphabet came in second with 16.6bn, Alibaba is estimated at 15 bn (source here). Facebook spends more than Pfizer or Daimler on R&D - with 7.8bn. And that's roughly a third of what Amazon invests in innovation, research and development. Amazing.