Bookmarked Is Amazon Unstoppable? (The New Yorker)

Politicians want to rein in the retail giant. But Jeff Bezos, the master of cutthroat capitalism, is ready to fight back.

Charles Duhigg takes a deep dive into the world of Amazon. Central to all of this is the notion of the flywheel and the relentless push for growth and development. An important aspect to this is sticking to your ideas:

Bezos explained, “If you have a really good idea, stick to it, but be flexible on how you get there. Be stubborn on your vision but flexible on the details.” Executives at other companies tended to lay out definitive plans. But Bezos urged his people to be adaptable. “People who are right a lot change their mind,” he once said. “They have the same data set that they had at the beginning, but they wake up, and they re-analyze things all the time, and they come to a new conclusion, and then they change their mind.”

This is something that reminds me of Angus Hervey’s call to ‘Hold on tightly and let go lightly’.

In addition to this, there is a ‘Day One Thinking’ when it comes to leadership:

A willingness to treat every morning as if it were the first day of business, to constantly reëxamine even the most closely held beliefs. “Day Two is stasis,” Bezos wrote, in a 2017 letter to shareholders. “Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day One.”

An example of such relentless mentality is where the failure of the Fire Phone is pivoted to the success of the Echo voice activated devices.

On the flipside of all this is the reality of working within it, especially as a warehouse worker or a delivery driver. As well as the problem of ‘process’ with the many of the challenges that come with this:

Amazon is the shopping mall now, and, normally, if you open a store in a shopping mall, you can expect certain things—like the mall operator will clean the hallways, and they’ll make sure Foot Locker isn’t right next door to Payless, and if someone sets up a kiosk in front of your store and starts selling fake Air Jordans, they’ll kick them off the property.” He continued, “But Amazon is the Wild West. There’s hardly any rules, except everyone has to pay Amazon a percentage, and you have to swallow what they give you and you can’t complain.”

One criticism is that the company is able to track which products are successful and is then produces copies sold under the Amazon Prime brand. They also fail to properly regulate manufacturers selling forgeries.

This seems to be all coming to head, with many questioning the current anti-trust laws. For Duhigg, this is similar to rise of General Motors in the 1930’s and the challenges that they also faced. However, the company is pushing back.

Interestingly, although the piece mentions Amazon Web Services, there is little mention of ICE or home surveillance. However, it offers a great starting point for considering the place of Amazon in our lives today.