My curiosity to find out what runs Amazon, its philosophy, vision and roots resulted me in picking “One Click” Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com. The book provided some interesting insights, rise/fall, good/bad part of early days of Amazon and particularly Jeff Bezos vision and leadership.
These are some notes from the book I found interesting/valuable:
- The first step in building a company is to find good people.
- Always put the customer first, even if it appears to require a decision that would decrease revenues. It’s a winning strategy in the long run. By late 1996 Amazon had 110 employees, fourteen of them dedicated to answering emails from customers.
- Utilizing the power of word-2-mouth early days of business. In first hour Amazon, it had an order of one hundred books. Word kept spreading, despite the fact that the company did no advertising its first year—although Bezos did hire mobile billboards to cruise by Barnes & Noble stores.
- Pick company name wisely. Amazon was always near the top of the lists because the lists were mostly alphabetical—exactly why Bezos chose a name that began with an A.
- Pick right offer and be less greedy. Although Amazon might have gotten a better valuation from General Atlantic, Bezos felt that Doerr’s name was worth the extra $10 million he might have gotten in valuation.
- Open for feedback from almost everyone. Enabling comments reviews was one such request which became integral part of Amazon from early on, it came from one of the buyers.
- Discount was big reason for killing competitors and attracting customers in early days of Amazon book business.
- Keen intellect, a drive to succeed, and an innate stubbornness to the point of absurdity helps. These are all signs of a born entrepreneur.
- To get something new done you have to be stubborn and focused, to the point that others might find unreasonable.
- One of the things [Jeff] learned is that there really aren’t any problems without solutions. Obstacles are only obstacles if you think they’re obstacles. Otherwise, they’re opportunities.
- Life’s too short to hang out with people who aren’t resourceful.
- Talent rather than experience [in-hiring], when trying to do something new, and experience with legacy software could be more of a hindrance than a help.
- Do not re invent the wheel. Start-up executives often make the mistake of assuming no outsiders can build software as well as their own programmers. They end up wasting time and money building what they could have easily bought from a vendor that had already worked out the bugs and refined its programs.
- In order to keep costs down, they[Amazon] relied heavily on open source software.
- If you want to be successful in the short-to-medium term, you can only do things that offer incredibly strong value propositions to customers relative to the value of doing things in more traditional ways. [Bezos]
- Bezos’s philosophy was to get to market quickly to get a lead on the competition, and fix problems and improve the site as people started using it. It was now a race: Whoever captured market share first would establish the pole position and would be difficult to pass. The mandate now was, “Get big fast.”
- Keep burn rate low: The company was strictly a cut-rate operation. Any printing or copying was done at a Print Mart shop a few blocks away. Business meetings were held at a local coffee shop—ironically, one inside a Barnes & Noble bookstore.
- Amazon’s Six Core Values: customer obsession, ownership, bias for action, frugality, high hiring bar and innovation.