Tells the story of the rise of Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos. The company was founded in 1994 when Bezos realized the potential of the internet, and quit his hedge fund job to start an online bookstore. He chose books as his starting point because they were commodities (quality wasn’t important) and there was a lot of variety that physical stores had trouble handling.
The company grew quickly and in the early days, they struggled to keep up with the demand, especially during the holiday seasons. They quickly IPO’ed in 1997 and expanded into other categories like toys. During the dot-com bust, Wall Street analysts were skeptical since they were losing money on every sale, but they became profitable in 2002, proving the analysts wrong.
During the 2000s, Amazon innovated in their distribution systems, technology (launching Amazon Web Services), and the Kindle e-book reader. Throughout its history, they used hardball negotiation tactics to squeeze their business partners, suppliers, and competitors by undercutting prices, pulling products out of the store if their suppliers demanded too much, etc. Their mission was to put the customer first and get the lowest prices to customers, and didn’t mind causing a lot of misery to their employees and business partners. Using aggressive pricing strategies, they managed to force acquisitions of several competitors during the financial crisis.
There is a bit about Jeff Bezos’s personal history too. His father abandoned him when he was 3, and his mother remarried. Throughout childhood, Bezos was interested in science and engineering, and was willing to work extremely hard to get what he wanted. One of his motivations for wanting to be rich was to found space exploration and he started a space company called Blue Origin, similar to SpaceX.
Is Amazon a good or evil company? Bezos pondered this question of what differentiates good vs evil companies, but didn’t come to any clear answer. The company frequently appears in the news for its harsh treatment of warehouse workers, but people also happily spend billions on its online shopping and AWS services, so it’s hard to say.