The Everything Store
is a biography book about iconic American company Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos. Half of the book recounts the birth, the rise, the near-death, then revival and the success of Amazon in the past two decades. Intertwined in the other half is basically a tale about Jeff Bezos’s family and his personal life. According to an article
in BusinessInsider on January 27, 2016, Jeff Bezo’s net worth is $56.6 billion, being ranked as the third richest person in the world, right after Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. However Amazon’s stock price skyrocketed to more than $800 per share in the third quarter of this year, and I don’t know if that makes him surpass Gates or Buffett already, or it will in the near future. Amazon started in 1994 as an online book seller. It went to public three years later in May 1997. Within the last two decades, it has grown from selling books, electronics, clothes, toys, furniture, grocery, to providing a platform called AWS (Amazon Web services) to small businesses, and to being a technology company. Bezos’s long term goal and grand vision is to sell everything, everywhere, from being “an everything store” to “an everything company” ultimately.
What makes Bezos one of the greatest businessmen in the world? Could it be his vision, his relentless pursuit of his feverish dream, or his luck, or this Internet Age, or the combination of all these? It is hard to ascertain. But one thing that set him apart is his core vision of long term focus on customer- first and long term growth via customer satisfaction, and his ability to stick to it and actually do it. As of June 30, 2016, Amazon has 63 million Amazon Prime membership.
It is worth mentioning here the business philosophy that Bezos believes in. That is “missionary versus mercenary” illustrated in a book called The Monk and the Riddle. “Bezos … claimed that Amazon was a missionary company, not a mercenary one. Missionaries have righteous goals and are trying to make the world a better place. Mercenaries are out for money and power and will run over anyone who gets in the way. Bezos liked to say. “I would take a missionary over a mercenary any day.” “One of those great paradoxes is that it’s usually the missionaries who end up making more money anyway.”
The author Brad Stone is a senior writer for Bloomberg Business week, who was given an unprecedented access to interview Amazon’s employees. In his book, Jeff Bezos is described as a person of many contradictions, a polarized figure, who is very talented, innovative, adventurous,visionary, bold and disciplined, but meanwhile very demanding, stingy, ruthless and brutal. It is a good read for me to have a glimpse of Jeff Bezos’s childhood, his family, his rise, and what makes a great man great, in addition to knowing how under his entrepreneurship Amazon survives, thrives and eventually dominates the world.
I would like to copy the last two paragraphs of the book (end of Chapter 11) to conclude this book summary: “Amazon may be the most beguiling company that ever existed, and it is just getting started. It is both missionary and mercenary, and throughout the history of business and other human affairs, that has always been a potent combination. “We don’t have a single big advantage,” Jeff once told an old adversary,…” So we have to weave a rope of many small advantages.”
“Amazon is still weaving that rope. That is its future, to keep weaving and growing, manifesting the constitutional relentlessness of its founder and his vision. And it will continue to expand until either Jeff Bezos exits the scene or no one is left to stand in his way.”