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addabook - The Everything Store
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The Everything Store
Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
Brad Stone
read on October 1, 2013

Mike Daisey's book on Amazon was horrible, so when I saw Brad Stone had one coming out (and previewed in a great Bloomberg article), I knew this was my shot at a great Amazon book, and wasn't disappointed. This book drove home the following few points:

  • Amazon is built in Jeff's image. The leadership principals, management style, pace, and culture all reflect his personality and priorities. These are things that I had been experiencing for the last few years (in terms of culture, metrics I'm held against, etc), and it was interesting to see how much Jeff himself drove them.
  • Jeff is brilliant. He is almost always right. And when he's wrong, he realizes it quickly and flips his position completely. This was something Steve Jobs was famous for, but it's always mentioned negatively, as though it's a character flaw. Steve (and Jeff, apparently) would passionately argue his position, screaming at people why they were wrong - and then, when finally convinced otherwise, Steve would flip 100%, and start yelling at people about how this idea (and by that point, "his" idea) was the correct one. Jeff once made a fantastic comment about this attribute, and highlighted that while it's an incredibly powerful trait to have (to quickly realize your mistakes and switch your position) it's one that politicians can never make, or their career would be over. I thought that was really insightful and interesting. The potentially best character trait that allows a leader to effectively lead an organization in a dynamic environment is exactly the trait that we select against in the people we elect to run our country. Crazy.

Anyway, great book - very interesting and the narrative moves fast. The only negative I could give it is that it's clear that this story hasn't ended, Amazon (and Jeff) are just now hitting their stride, so it feels like the book ends abruptly. I'd love to read a followup by Stone in ten or twenty more years.

I like the cover quite a bit, it encapsulates the book really well. Jeff is hidden back there behind the scenes looking intimidating, while the Amazon brand is front and center, all smiles. Well done.

Author Bio:

Brad Stone is the author, most recently, of The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley are Changing the World, published by Little, Brown & Co. in January, 2017. In 2013, he published The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. The book, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, was translated into 26 languages and won the 2013 Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award. Brad is senior executive editor for technology at Bloomberg News, where he oversees a team of 50 reporters and editors that cover high-tech companies, startups and internet trends around the world. Over the last few years, as a writer for Bloomberg Businessweek, he’s authored over two dozen cover stories on companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook and the Chinese internet juggernauts Didi, Tencent and Baidu. When he’s not attempting to deconstruct the high-tech firms charting our future, he has written about beleaguered domestic airlines, weaponized drone warplanes, the retail giant Costo, and traced the deceptions of an international con-artist and alleged murderer. Brad joined Businessweek from the New York Times, where he had been a reporter since 2006. Brad also co-hosts a weekly Bloomberg podcast, Decrypted (iPhone users can sign up here; Android users here,) and contributes to a morning email newsletter on technology, Fully Charged (subscribe here.) He is the author of one previous work of non-fiction, Gearheads: the Turbulent Rise of Robotic Sports. The book was a BookSense 76 pick and the San Francisco Chronicle selected it as one of the best books of 2003. It covers the emergence of what was then the new breed of robot hobbyists and hardware hackers. Brad graduated from Columbia University in 1993 and is originally from Cleveland, Ohio. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.