2015 was a good year for Jeff Bezos. His personal net worth is now nearly $60 Billion, making him the 15th richest person on the planet.
Going into the holiday season, AMZN reached a market cap of over $300 billon.
But it wasn’t always this way.
10 years ago Amazon was just a $20b online retailer with low margins and a relatively normal growth curve.
20 years ago, it was just Jeff Bezos and a few hackers crowded into his Seattle home.
So what led to Amazon’s meteoric rise?
In hindsight, it's easy to dissect Amazon’s success like a case study.
You could say that Amazon entered a niche market and captured a majority share before expanding (a strategy recommended in crossing the chasm). Then it released new and innovative products like one-click purchase, Amazon prime, and the Kindle, using methodologies similar to those proselytized by Steve Blank and Eric Reis.
But I think the answer may be much simpler.
The foundation of Amazon’s growth might come down to just 4 core philosophies outlined by Bezos in 2009.
If you have 8 minutes to spare, I would highly recommend watching the full video on youtube here.
Here Bezos says that he basically only knows 4 things:
1. Obsess Over Customers
"It's the only reason that Amazon exists today in any form." - Jeff Bezos
From the very beginning, above all else, Amazon focused on the needs of their customers.
Amazon’s relentless drive to improve the customer experience allowed them to slowly build an ecommerce empire. Now, many customers, like myself, are willing to pay more for products sold on Amazon simply because they know it will be a seamless experience.
Awesome customer experience establishes trust, which makes it much easier to sell customers new and innovative products.
Bezos recognized early on that surviving in the rapidly evolving tech world would require invention.
Rather than focusing on driving his financial bottom line, Bezos looked to the future and started inventing.
Not everything he invented was a commercial success. In fact, many were failures. But that's the nature of invention.
The Kindle reader was a long term success. The phone was a spectacular failure. One click purchase was a great success. WebPay was a flop.
You can be wrong most of the time and still win big when you're right.
3. Think Long Term
Most companies are driven by short-term metrics. They tend to only plan a year or two in advance and are often driven to meet quarterly, and even monthly, goals.
Bezos saw an opportunity to take a longer term approach.
Rather than investing a year into the future, he invested up to 10 years out. He told Wall Street that yes, Amazon would be loosing money on many of it’s investments for many years, but eventually the future would catch up. And it did.
It all came together with Amazon Cloud.
Bezos quietly moved into cloud computing while it was still in it’s infancy. He used his strong brand trust and adoption in the tech community to onboard developers who knew they would have a better experience with Amazon than with traditional software sales organizations.
Amazon web services (AWS) rose from the ground up, starting with software developers seeking a better customer experience. Soon those developers were using AWS for work projects. They started going around the IT department and eventually pushed the product up to management.
The move into cloud computing was a clear example of Amazon taking an inventive, long-term, customer-focused approach.
In April, Amazon released the first public AWS numbers.
It turns out the cloud is Amazon's fastest growing marketing segment. AWS is now the leader in global cloud infrastructure.
Amazon built a growth culture
In the growth field, it’s easy to get wrapped up in tactics and implementation. We spend our time analyzing, testing, and building. But sometimes we forget to take a step back and take a hard look at our culture.
Ultimately it’s the culture that drives a company to meteoric growth. And at the the core of a company’s culture is its philosophy.
Great leaders like Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs recognized that to shape the future they needed to think in the future. They decided to listen to their customers, and not their share holders. And ultimately they built some of the greatest companies of our time.
I'll leave you with last thing Jeff Bezos claims to know. I think this one is self explanatory.