tv After Words Brad Stone Amazon Unbound CSPAN May 30, 2021 12:01pm-1:01pm EDT
french groups and extremists within an agenda because the mainstream parties don't want to deal with these issues. it's too much watch the rest of this program for their website .org and search for ayaan hirsi ali or the title of a book pray using the search box at the top of the page. book tv on "c-span2", every weekend with the latest nonfiction books and authors funding for book tv comes from the television companies and more. including media calm. >> the world changed in an instant in the media calm was ready and internet traffic sorted we never slowed it down. schools and businesses went virtual and we powered it and new reality because media calm we are built to keep you ahead. media, along with these television company supports 20 on "c-span2" is a public service.
>> calendar tvs afterwards program, bloomberg news redstone reports on the growth and evolution of amazon and profiles is founder jeff bezos. he's interviewed by insiders chief techin correspondent eugee kim. >> i'm very excited to be here and interview you here today. three new book "amazon unbound". before we start, tell you when i first started it amazon about five years ago, the first thing that i did was to read your previous book about amazon the everything store, so for me it is a true honor to get this opportunity and i am looking forward to it. >> thank you eugene of people probably don't know this but my fraternity of reporters who cover amazon is a small one will kind of know each other and you have just done a tremendous work
covering amazon targeted. brad: test. talk to somebody who is steep in this secretive bizarre highly productive company like amazon. eugene: thank you. so i think that the first thing that i would like to ask is just the timing of the book. it ended up becoming incredibly precious, the perfect time to publish a new book about amazon and just given jeff bezos stepping down in a couple of months but can you kind of tell us what the catalyst or your thinking behind coming up with this book. eugene:a. brad: sure i did not time and i did not have any idea that jeff bezos would be leaving as ceo of amazon infected started this bookth and really the beginningf 2018. so the list of things that i didn't know about his s long.
hq two, i think maybe just being announced in a played out in the early stages of my research. so jeff's personal saga, his divorce from a candidate. the whole tabloid scrub over his personal life, than happen through midway through our research and then i was writing it during the pandemic, this extraordinary time when amazon it already been rapidly growing company was basically given an injection of steroids and also moved into the center of this acrimonious debate over how it treats its workers in the safety of warehouse workers during the age of covid-19. it is also price. the reason i wrote the book and decided to do another amazon book which i'm sure you can appreciate this like just being a total glutton for punishment is because i was really proud of the everything store. and had just occurred to me over the years that it was sort of dated history. well it was part of the story actually is the beginning the
origin andn the rise of jeff bezos and the origin of amazon and yet been there was alexia and the growth of the transportation network. in the explosion in the amazon marketplace in so much had happened in the 150 million-dollar company had become a trillion dollar company and basals the wealthiest person in the world and i realize it was a whole another chapter to this saga. eugene:re i personally love the intro, the first scene of the book. it is like an opening scene of a movie and basically it starts at the celebrity path event in 2019 and jeff bezos is at the center of attention. it sets the tone for the entire book. only trying to capture or what does that say about that. of amazon that you were trying to capture this book.
it. brad: it in opens with jeff bezos with the st. paul hall throughout frederick douglass, abraham lincoln, george washington, and jeff bezos along with half a dozen other people like lindeman well maranda, are being inducted in portraits are going to hang in the gallery. and there he is at the opening ceremony, his son preston introduces him and he gives a speech and he0 is surrounded by the upper crust in the american society and politicians and media. and there were a number of things that i really liked about it and one thing that he said in his speeches he commanded the artist from the portrait which is quite a surveyor. i don't know if you've seen it but he looks scary in this portrait. any commands the artists are kind of portraying him, scars
and all he says. and you can really he said that i've gathered a lot of scars over the last 20 years leaving amazon and that is one thing the portrait shows. metaphorical scars preselect that because the book is going to be an account of his works in all rise to power. he said to me it really just represented the journey that i was going to hopefully take the readers on. you had to sum up this time you brought about, sort of like a sequel to your earlier book. i think you i saw your tweet about comparing this to star wars. brad: this is the empire strikes back. eugene: so how does amazon of this new jeff bezos different from the one that you wrote about in your first book. brad: absolutely is different. there's number of things, the
first and most obvious is visibly, he is a different guy. the sort of awkward tech nerd from seattle always sort of unfashionable, the crazy laugh. the presentations were incredibly technical but the introduction of the fire phone, that is that jeff bezos of the everything store nevertheless five years, and first of all, kudos to his physical trainer. because, that is quite an exercise regimen. it is much more fashionable. it seems plausible that his partner lauren has boosted his fashion levels quite a bit and he's got the sunglasses, and the crisp suits. so that is one dimension of change. and i think another is that everything store is the portrait, but a brutal ceo is very punishing.
and since high standards and kind of lashes out that underlings who don't need standards and severity steve jobs like management style. any he's involved in that way as well. there he worked of those stories and amazon unveiled, "amazon unbound" in that respect, maybe is a little godfather to like that we are flushing back to tearing up documents and throwing them in employees and moaning painting in them in that way. he's got a more delicate touch now. he still has the founders magic says hi bars employs kind of scrambled to answer his question mark e-mails and to satisfy him. then the other ways different of the leslie and i think that is significantly different is that his focus has expanded so much. he was laserom focused for so lg on amazon and building this mechanism, the system of invention that could carry on and now andnd this is i think te
territory that "amazon unbound" covers, is washington post deeper and follow involvement in his face company blue origin in his philanthropy obviously his eyes have opened up to a much larger world andue think it's a little bit behind his resignation of ceo there is so much more that he is doing out, not just become the and is gone from being the iconic text ceo of thehe everything store into this global presence. of "amazon unbound". eugene: and also the company itself, the amazon that he is leading, his profile has completely changed from the first book until now. this conglomerate that is every business marketing that you can imagine. brad: we think back to amazon's battles with book publishers and how trivial the same now. in the larger scheme of things, not that those are they are
significant issues with book industry that amazon was fighting with bookll publishersf the 999 kindle price. the availability of the number of e-books in the kindle store. and stripping suppliers and of the search results they weren't satisfying amazon. it was because of business was so strategic and this was 2011 and also into 22 oh. in the book business obviously still very rep. of amazon and its image and lot of people probably do still think of amazon is a bookseller. if it that is a minor part of his business, as a company that truly is the everything store now. one of its most important markets is no longer the can voice-activated computer. it's investing millions of dollars in india and it has noble ambitions. and probably thinks more about hollywood and tv shows and movies in terms of important content in the books.
eugene: a follower talking about jeff bezos transformation. we did other amazon executives think about it and i think in your book you say, some senior leaders were happy about the increased autonomy and independence while some people were disappointed because jeff bezos basically has failed to meet his own high standards by becoming can't afford tabloid it.in brad: were talking with a tabloid, yes, first of t all we can both kind of acknowledge how difficult it is to get amazon executives to talk. particularly on the record about their boss it is sort of a radioactive topic. i think fortunately like this was a long-term project and the elephant in the room may be needed to be addressed.
i think that if you're asking how did they responded to the tabloid scandals out late 2018 and early 2019, i think like probably both of us would cut her astonishment like how could the world smartest and most disciplined amanda be part of this and get caught up in this in the national enquirer, at tabloid that has not really been relevant for many years splashing his personal life, the personal life have been intensely private person on this pages h and then jeff responding with that famous blog post on media accusing him having political and motives and maybe sunny example still to be better - amazon executives employees were absolutely astonished. and additionally her disappointment from many quarters that he allowed himself to be subjected to this. i think we have to acknowledge that jeff bezos played it
masterfully, media posts we can get into whether his accusations of political intrigue were true but the sympathy to his side. and i think the disappointment a lot of folks in amazon and around amazon is sort of grudgingly acknowledge that once again, jeff and one like he outmaneuvered his enemies. and now we look back and say is a really bizarre episode. it is . much in the past and jeff bezos as usual came out of top. summa did you talk to jeff bezos or mckenzie scott, his ex-wife or if you think you mentioned like to talkk to three or 400 executives. can you tell us about this. brad: first of all, you probably remember that when the everything sorted out, mckenzie, then she gave me a one star review. that is sort of brag it is the most famous book review ever.
it certainly sort ofk up there but would it reflected was a did not like the first book. they thought that there were a number of problems with it. and was not going for a portrait but an honest picture of a company that was challenging to work for them to work with but nevertheless risen it to be very powerful in our society. so it passes some of the memory from the first book. in the end amazon did cooperate. they authorized a couple of dozen interviews with top executives. and dave clark was one of them and now the ceo of the consumer business after jeff retired .and there has been only one interview with vogue magazine tied to a book launch but it tends to be intensely private person or so far avoided the media spotlight.
eugene: so maybe we can start with the first chapter of the book. there is a lot of great anecdotes about jeff bezos' roll in coming up with alexa in the echo. and i think the common thread is that jeff bezos set the bar really high. he pushed the team to aim for almost rational goals. i think one quote was you guys are not serious about making this product. so how important was jeff bezos for coming up with this device that arguably the most successful personal device that amazon has come up with. brad: are probably going to talk about amazon as a potential monopoly and as a dominating force in american business so i
don't mind. this why the tri-star the book of this way, giving amazon credit and jeff bezos credit as an inventive native company and an inventor. that's how he likes to describe himself, as an inventor and when i dug into the history of alexa, it was surprising because the real story had not been told. and essentially, the idea for alexa springs right out of jeff's mind in an e-mail in a 2010 and hee sends a note to his technical assistance at the time kind of the chief of staff. and a few others and he said, why do we build a 20-dollar computer whose brains are p in e cloud that uses aws which is completely controlled by your voice. it was kind of a radical notion, this idea that most speech recognition systems at the time, he spoke right into. that makes it really easy. so speaking to device across the room was going to be a technical challenge and then there's the
challenge of having it understand you and responded required in advance in artificial intelligence but jeff bezos is doing a couple of things, looking for ways to exploit amazon's early lead and thee web services and he was looking for ways to kind of move amazon into everyday use in people's lives so to answer your question, he conceives the project and he puts great heart's chief of staff and charge of it then he is the goober project manager in this he drives the, vision and meets with the team and sometimes several times a week any pics alexis voice and he makes decisions about what features it has me wrestles with the team about whether alexis is going to basically be doing practical stuff like playing music, he wanted to be that star trek computer sort of the artificial intelligence and he says the bar high. first he said he wanted to launch in six months which is
impossible, takes three years but he constantly drives the team any authorizes probably the biggest impact he had. he's willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars at one places great heart, higher all of the ai folks you can. this should not be any limit . gives them a launch to go and hire any smart speech or ai person available in the market. when the ceo was behind something uncomfortably that founder, that gives in any company that's going to give a project a lot of momentum. eugene: with jeff bezos roll as this key product manager and it's really interesting in your book. it's also this cultural fear where people are too afraid to argue against him are bringing up different ideas and saying that it's not a good idea against jeff bezos. does that affect alexis roadmap
for this in any way. brad: i think a big illustration of that is the fire zone. there was another idea the nestled that story in the alexa chapter. jeff had this idea that you could have a three d screen ando premium handset differentiate from the i iphone. nobody in the team thought it was a good idea. they had dog tags made the sent disagreed commit. in amazon thing which stood for, like we have got to do this but we don't agree with the product roadmap. and it didn't seem like anybody really stood up to him. and to answer your question, terms of alexa, there were features that launched with the original echo rated there's too obscure even to name but the launch because jeff wanted it. but to probably broadly say no
and willingly stand up to him is not right. think there's a good contentious discussions in some of these meetings but i think that he is the founder and00 he's got an incredible record of success. that brings a lot of credibility. and sometimes if people disagree, if he insists, it will happen. eugene: looking back at jeff bezos track record as a product manager, is only a few, handful of big projects that he was directly engaged in the fire phone, alexa, maybe amazon go, studios, there's sort of this mixed record so far. what is his legacy as a product manager. do you think he still like the steve jobs type of visionary. brad: without a doubt. nobody spanning average is going to be a thousand and when you think about that he has remade a number of industries and is not just e-commerce but is computing
and aws as he had some of the original insights for that and then you look at the candle, a vision and a product he drove and really changed the bookselling. and alexa and a string in the age of voice computing printed think the jury is still out on long term how alexa could be. but it certainly has inspired competing products. i think it's an extraordinary record of success. we can talk about some of the downsides because there a lot of things that jeff created their help to create like the amazon i got to a certain size and then instead of being the uber project manager he said you manage it independently, so great it's probable i don't want to be that involved anymore. it appears of course it ends up impacting and potentially hurting a lot of people. they think the overall record is ian inventor is parceling. it's not just that at amazon,
the turnaround in the washington post has been amazing as well. eugene: interesting. something maybe is a good time to talk about him stepping down and maybe aws and his successor andy chassis, maybe you can explain little bit about who he is and why ws is so important to amazon for the past ten years. brad: a lot of people over the years when we had the discussion about who might be jeff bezos successor. first we said well jeff bezos will be ceo forever but if we really go through the exercises, is either going to be andy or jeff wilkie and both of those guys, unfortunately, a lot of the senior leadership up until recently has been very mail items on both of those guys joined in the late '90s and helped jeff bezos steer amazon through the .com bust really
build into what it is today and jeff okay, he ran the consumer business in the actually retired this year. and andy was a shadow, the chief of staff early on in amazon's lifespan. and he then took over this id for a ws or computing. some people might remember, relic of the past, amazon longtime was a very unprofitable company kind of lost money and investors have a lot of patience for it. but aws was always the sparkling gem in the portfolio because the operating margins of the net income was high and this was cloud computing, little difficult to understand to the layperson but think about the company that used to have a data center in the back, walled off and humming with air conditioning and service they're sitting there blinking. they no longer have that. there computing power is on the
internet and amazon's data center for the google's microsoft and that his client computing to the chassis help conceded that in the early 2000 is huge business now, 50 trillion annually and with a lot of independence, has steered that. it's g been a remarkable success and profit engine for amazon. and jeff is now basically ending the company over to him . couple things to notice jeff is executive chairman. he plansan to remain involved in focusing on the things. and he is focused on aws, homecoming to the other parts of the business, the consumer parts. my sense is what was difficult as last year and you probably remember the hearing in the house antitrust committee where jeff bezos and tim cook and mark zuckerberg were required to testify the whole thing was a political circus. and republicans were asking about suppression of gop voices.
democrats were asking about antitrust and jeff bezos sat there from seattle ine his offie in my sense is probably got i am i spending my time on this. so andy will be in that house he now and he will have to answer the hard questions and jeff will get to do what he likes to do which is reprinted things. eugene: since you mentioned jeff wilkie who is basically chassisd counterpart of the other right-hand man for jeff bezos. if you like in your book that he was thus featured compared to other executives. was that intentional breach the resulting reporting any thoughts on the timing of his retirement which kind of t coincided with this transition. brad: wasn't intentional, i thank you so more featured in the everything store because he was the guy he really figured out how to make the warehouses work printed and is ahead of the consumer business he graduates,
and he is certainly an appointment be right, there's more of a focus and some of the up-and-coming executives like dave clark who is wilkie's protégé and now running consumer business or doug harrington who really is a major force in the amazon's emergence as a pressure. wilkie told jeff bezos that he wanted to step aside and early 2020 then the pandemic it. and jeff wilkie, y'all call him john said he would stick around to help navigate amazon through it and he says that he did not know the jeff bezos is putting to step aside and naming him as successor so maybe he's being disingenuous and saw the writing on the wall and thought okay, i'd love some sort of political battle in my time zone. i have no evidence for that. he just says his time and amazon was done. i think we can acknowledge and actually eugene you run a big good story about this, business insider, the turnover amazon is
always been somewhat known for having high turnover. the velocity of people moving into and out of the fulfillment centers in the lower ranks of the company is extreme. they have always said it in the upper echelons of the loyalty is extreme and people stick around at that house changer. more people are living and i heard a joke that people are calling it so many people and jeff have left, just jeff bezos and blackburn and other senior executives. and whether that is because the stock price has gone up so high in their enormously wealthy or is it that they see that this has become a big and somewhat unimaginable company bureaucracy is severe or and this is a hypothetical with a disappointed in the tabloid media scribe of 2019 and they lost faith. i don't know who we have to
acknowledge that the old-timers at amazon are largely moving aside. that will be a challenge for the company because it is eight difficult and weird company to navigate and there are a lot of newcomers now in positions of influence. so that will bef interesting. eugene: yes in one of the key figures of the transition is obviously dave clark, the new retail ceo to replace jeff wilkie this year printed and even into him allotted the book. how would you describe him. he comes off as he's kind of a fiercely competitive and not afraid to throw people under the bus. best man and his wedding. brad: somebody mentioned to me than they thought it was not very flattering of david clark and i sort of objected to that.
so at its heart it is a story of a guy who took a warehouse network a couple of dozen fulfillment centers. whicho today sorry we should say that dave clark for a long time ran the amazon operations, the fulfillment centers the distribution centerse and that fans driving restraints and the airplanes with prime air. everything that moves packages from a to b. ... ... that chapter is asked the question, who -- who is capable of building something like this? and what are the costs accrued and one cost is he -- win it came to personal relationships
the work was more important and he had a longtime friend, and write about this -- another amazon executive nailed a thunder valdez who was his boss, best man at his wedding and when valdez went to target, dave never talked to him again. and which is for a lot of us is remarkable but shows how seriously they take these rivalries. and then another aspect i think is that they built in a very tech company way -- we hear about facebook, move fast and break things. amazon in the physical world and built this transportation capability very much like with a fedex or dhl model and said we're not going employ the driver is. we'll hire contractors, put them in amazon man but don't manage them because god forbid we don't want that headache or the union troubles, and what happened over the next couple of years is
there were stories of packages flying into gardens and drivers bespoiling people's front yards and some cases much worse, accidents and even deaths, and i write about that, and that was the at least the temporary impact of moving fast and building this transportation capability. amazon had strategic reins to do it. could no longer count of the postal service 0 ups but the moved quickly and it was trouble el rollout. there's been a lot of bit gages and lad to pay some -- litigation and had to pay some settlements but you look today and amazon is delivering 70% of its own packages packages and dk is running all of amazon retail so it's remarkable story of innovation, and the mastery of operations but in some sense the true costs when tech companies move quickly without a lot of
caution or appreciation for what some of the unanticipated consequences might be. >> and with clark, it seemed like he has a bit of a different reputation compared to jeff wilky who are almost afterly liked or respected. clark has more of a track record of even creating enemies along the way. i think he calls himself the simplifier in your book. some people who i think his nick name was the sniper for firing people, but what is his reputation? is it going to work well? in this new world? >> well, i mean, one thing that people can look at it his twitter stream. he has the unusual amazon ceo who will get up there and start trading blows with people. and he has this ongoing thing but fred smith the ceo of fedex and takes shots at
him. tends to critique coverage of amazon. have you ever been the subject of a dave clark tweet? he -- not yet. >> he'll start throwing elbows. and he is sort of like maybe even refreshingly kind of combative bus most amazon executives will probably just say that stuff quietly, and he says what he believes. i think the reputation even among -- i talk to a ton of amazon operations folks in putting together my portrait, and even people that felt discard or trampled upon who said his bed zoos manner was not good, which was quite a number of people, there was a admiration, maybe a grudgings amer race or astonishment, wow, this guy built this huge network, he has fulfilled jeff bezos' dream of controlling the amazon package from the
fulfillment center to the customer's front door. what that allows is so much control over the customer experience. when you see amazon say, your package will bell there frock 9:00 to 11:00 and the followup e-mail says we're delayed, going to be sometime early afternoon, that is because amazon controls its supply chain. that couldn't have happened ten years ago. when amazon says it moves from two-day delivery to one day deliver 0y temperature prime maybes and then the pandemic hits and says it's going back to two-day delivery, these are all things that are possible because of what clark built, and i think it's a portrait of an effective executive who is harsh and unrelenting and nat has allowed him to meet the harsh and unrelenting goals of his boss, the founder of the company.
and then with dave clark, he is now the boss of some of his former peers. doug harrington or any of the other executives who run divisions like advertising and devices business and the alexa business. one of the peer is is now their boss and that can create an uncomfortable dynamic as well. >> and so, i think we should spend some time talking about donald trump. clear lay big piece of amazon's narrative over the past four or five years. just mutual animosity between bezos and trump. you get into it a lot in the book. was it a good thing that this happened? was it bezos' fat for -- dishead
do lose anything for not fostering a better relationship with trump? what's your assessment. >> those are really good questions. i think when i fish inned the book i to -- i mouth have thought that bezos -- he got up on the wrong foot. and i -- it's the end of 2015. donald trump is campaigning to be president. he has taken shots at everyone. and bezos enters the fray with an e-mail that sends out the space. we're saving the in the blue origin rocky and pr executives at amazon were asking jeff not to send the e-mails and he inexist don't know if he was just being protective of the posts but maybe there was a little ego there, like everyone else is getting into it with this guy, i want my turn, too, taking a shot at him. and then trump won, which is --
seems like lifetime ago but i guess it's five years ago, and bezos gets hammered. now he probably would have gotten hammered anyway because thes on the "washington post," he the post does a great job covering the trump administration but the ramifications of the that bitterness or that amazon loses the jedi contract, $10 billion. a huge leg up and the portion of the cloud business that caters to the governments and public institutions. huge problems with post office. and a lot of publicity around just trump's bitterness towards the post and bezos in particular. now, a lot of what trump wanted to do never happened. he talked about raising corporate taxes and that's why amazon was paying so few taxes. made redick class claims about the post being a lobbyist for amazon. none of that was true. so recently the judge and the
jedi case ruled that amazon should -- should be able to continue to protest that position, which was award teed microsoft. raising the possible depending on goes back and rethinks the whole process. so it's possible now, with the space of a little bit of time and reflection, that amazon and jeff didn't lose much in terms of their ongoing fight with the trump administration. probably they would have preferred to be able to fly a little under the radar but with jeffs ownership of the "washington post" that was going to be impossible. >> i think that whole e-mail threat between bezos and jay carney and how to respond to trump, that was my personal favorite part of the book. so that was very good. how unusual is it for business leader to have a very public tension with the sitting
president. there has to -- some -- a lot of discussions on how to slow down the business or how to respond to this, anything else -- >> i suspect it's not unusual for the owners of papers and katherine graham, famously tangled with the nixon administration ask this is something that bezos took on in 2013 when he bought the post. we can look in the 40 areas of trump and do-40 years of trump and say amazon had an extraordinary rate of growing. talk about one of the america fer tile -- fertile periods for any american business in history and part of that was the pandemic and the last year over the trump administration but certainly didn't seem to have slowed amazon down at all. and you can argue perversely probably that trump's bundling and mismanagement of the pandemic, which arguably
extended it, helped amazon, because the pandemic has been almost a grotesque boost to its bottom line at a time when people were scared of shopping in stores. >> and the "washington post," and you -- the chapter on that topic, too, but i'm still trying to understand why bezos bought the "washington post"? maybe it's -- really believes in the free press but at the same time for someone who believe nets free press he is very unfriendly to the press, too. >> isn't at a funny little paradox? >> yeah. so, why -- what is the true reason for this? why does he want it so bad? >> right. well, i mean, first of all it was circumstance. don graham was looking to sell the "washington post" in 2013. the paper was in a kind of perpetual decline. they didn't have the finances to truly make a national newspaper and he went out looking for a
savior. he had a personal relationship with bezos so a lot of it was simply circumstance, but i think -- and, yes, i think jeff appreciated and saw the post and the opportunity for what it was, maybe in the back of his mind thought about the influence in having the post and amazon's future trajectory, that would be important. but i also think -- hopefully this comes out in the book -- that one of his talents, one of his interests is not just adventure but it's creating a system of adventure. one of the mechanisms in the meetings and be paper expose the rituals that can encourage businesses to do new things and to grow. and he had been very successful in creating a system of convention at amazon. not at all successful creating one at blue origin. but i think that with the post he saw a kind of broken institution where he could come in and work his magic,
documents, meetings, bring me new things and applied his thinking to a really valuable american institution and help turn it around. and he did that. but i think that with the post he saw a kind of broken institution -- >> we should probably talk about hollywood. i think in your book you make clear that bezos relished the limelight. there's a part where mckenzie was having a good time at the parties bus bezos was having a great time, and was this a good decision on bezos? ultimately led to a lot of personal issues and tabloid and all these kind of -- the move into hollywood -- instigated
that. >> it's easier to look at the things not to look back and ask the big question, why did jeff bezos go to hollywood, why is amazon funding tv shows but to knoll chain of events. quickly, amazon's biggest category of sales in the 2000s is media. books, movies and music. the music goes away because therefore oipod and itunes and now on my music, they see that and the rush out to kindle to make sure it doesn't happen in books. well, the dvd sales are going down. so that is a 20-year trend, and netflix is rising. so what does amazon do? credits a video store where you can download movies and tv shows. that model starts to fray and now it's streaming. you have to pay billions of dollars to license "friends" or
"seinfeld." that its competitive and netflix and amazon are co-beating. how do you get out the battle for just paying for content? you make your own. it's cheaper and this is going back to the dives hbo and showtime, everyone figured this out. it's cheaper and more effective and you have more of a hold on your customers when you make your own programs instead of just licensing them. and so amazon gets into that business and bezos loves it. surrounds by celebrities and goes to parties with matt daman and ben affleck and here's the crazy thing. a big tent full of stars and everyone is orbiting around him. because of 2015-2016 he is one of wealthiest people in the world,ing a icon. steve jobs passed away help represents american innovation and ingenuity and he is human and i think he really enjoyed that. and make the opinionout dough meant to if this contributioned to the end of their marriage but
mckenzie did not enjoy it as much. jeff loved going ware shows and jimmy kimmel starts making fun of him and he loves it, laughing so not only was it's strategic and aligned nicely with his personal geekiness, science fiction and fantasy, he is -- bought "the lord of the rings," who knows its that will be good or not but he loved the attention, and it's his -- his eyes open along with the post into this larger world beyond amazon and the last quick thing is it was also smart to bundle it in as a benefit for prime members. if we think that today prime is still just shipping, that's all it is, two day or one day shipping? there's a fulfillment center outside of san francisco that probably get that stuff to us in one or two days anyway, and so bezos brings prime video into the bundle of amazon perks and then other things join its.
amazon music and photos, and they're not competing head to head with netflix anymore. prime video, you almost thing of it as free but it's bunked the $119 prime membership, and amazon has seat at the table in this revolution in media. so it's very smart, very strategic, and then have all sorts of consequences for jeff and his personal life as well. >> and you read -- brought a lot of clarks to life. people that i i'd only red about and -- read about and one of the interesting executives was doug harrington, and he runs the marketplace and deals with the sellers, and i think it's internal report you found titled amazon's future is crap and harrington kind of urges the executive teams to look into selling groceries and that kind
of inspired bezos to buy whole foods. can you talk about that whole process and the mo into groceries. >> let me giving context. the paper you're talking about is at an executive retreat and i 2012 and this is another mechanism in the bezos system of invention, all required to bring papers pitching a new idea and then they sit there in silence reading them, and. the afterward gentlemen ones doug's and says amazon's future is crap and it made him think. doug comes from web band, the famous dom come that ---he joined amazon, they started amazon fresh in 2007, it limped along for a couple years and
base sew never really invested it in. he thought other things like alexa and at the fire phone and china and india were more important. so then in 2012 dug brings a papp and its argues that people are buying things from anson once a week are every other week but at walmart or kroger, they're going there plummet times a -- multiple times a week to buy food and that customer relationship even though it's -- crap stands for can't realize a profit -- creates a strong bond if we customers and their he retailingers get into the amazon business and figure out erick commerce it could be dangerous and disruptive. and jeff says this made me think and begins to authorize more ambitious investments in groceries and so they expand amazon fresh. doesn't quite work. they try prime now, kind of
two-hour delivery service in murk. it expands but my sense was it always lost money, and they introduced the go store, the cash hereless grocery store and go on a journey, and bezos tends to think about things as land rushes, and kind of long-term opportunities. he always thought groceries was more of a long-term opportunity, and then a couple things start to happen. google introduces googling express. instacart gets popular and finally he realizes this is a land rush and has to get serious. whole foods in 2017 was in trouble, being attacked by activist investors and he made inside purchase and now amazon's opening up its own supermarkets all over the place, and partly thanks to the pandemic, i think online grocery shopping has caught on. so, yes, doug -- i think by virtue of his experience, his war wounds at web band was pretty integral in helping
amazon catch up. >> i want to take some time of blue origin since that is where bezos presumably is going to spend time going forward. it sounds like based on your book there were some hiccups or mismanagement, some rivalry we elon elan elon musk, jelly played into it. what's his -- >> so far, they don't have a lot to show for it. jeff is investing -- selling a billion dollars in amazon stock every year, investing a lot of that into blue origin. it's a 20-year-old company and they haven't met any of their goals yet. we're speaking during a week when blue origin might start selling tickets to new shepherd, the sub orbital spacecraft. and mean while spacex is
launching rockets into orbits into the international space station every week, and to put it succinctly, jury thought he could go slow. be the he tortoise and not the hair. step by step ferociously. that's the motto of blue origin who when oreo a conservative guy at the poker table and when the reckless guyship and starts betting on everything and elon shows up, he skips sub or bittal to go into orbits with his rockets and it works and the government starts basically paying him to -- giving him big contracts to build his company, and jeff is personally funding it, and i don't if it's jealousy but i think rivalry is an accurate word. personally spending money and elon is getting, quote, paid to
practice and he changes orientation of blue origin, starts hiring more people start,ing setting ambition goings and instead of step by step ferociously, a lot of overlapping initiatives and i think and my sense is and i think it's in the book, it's helped to seed a little dysfunctional culture there and they're still trying to figure it out. maybe later this year they'll start sending tourists into suborbital space it and will be a success but so far he doesn't have a lot to show for it. >> and before we run out of time, what's dish guess this is the last question but what is bezos' legacy, since he is stepping down, still engaged, not retiring, but how will history remember bezos as amazon's ceo crowe.
>> that's a good un, eugene. i think that a lot of it might actually be yet to play out. we'll see some kind of antitrust case against amazon in years ahead. i think we'll see a regulation as governments try to grapple with the paradoxes of the amazon mod little. the fact it's a platform for sellers and a seller, the fact that it sells private label products in competition with and sometimes using the data of its independent sellers. the stories that sellers are telling now about amazons not uniformly good. there's a lot of consternation there and we look back and look at a rockefeller -- that's colored a little bit by the government action, but let's acknowledge that and say -- acknowledge the legacy, it's still not yet completed and
white have the asterisks next to its so put that aside and give jeff credit and say that it's likely with the passage of time, that a lot of the negativity is going to fade and it will be left thinking about someone who revolutionized business and in the span of 20 years bit a company that has changed the world in a number of ways, not just online shopping but reading and voice computing and enterprise computing, the way governments operate and companies and research institutions, and i think -- he really think the only comparison is steve jobs in terms of the number of industries the has changed, and who knows, he might end up doing more with respect to space and blue origin. that would be a tremendous accomplishment but i think as an innovator a business builder there's a lot of room to criticize jeff and amazon but
the those respect head'll stand as one of the great business leaders of our time. >> great. well, i think that's all the questions i have, and thanks again for your time. appreciate it. learned a lot. it's a great book. but looking forward to continue our conversation. >> thanks, eugene, good to talk to you. >> booktv on c-span2. funds for booktv comes from these television companies and more.
including buckeye broadband. >> here are some programs to look out for this memorial day weekend on booktv. tonight on our weekly author interview program, "after words," "wall street journal" jason riley talks bow the work of economist tom moss sowell, and. then tomorrow it's an extra day of booktv, featured programs including an encore presentation of our "in depth" interview with
historian and ronald reagan biographying, and then how memory works and author discussions on military history with malcolm gladwell. >> here's a look at some publishing industry news. publishers weekly surveyed 31 independent book stores but the cdc's updated guidelines. they report that 47% of book stores said the new information was unclear and unhelpful. while' 33% responded queens have no effect on stores operations. the survey also found that two-thirds of the book sellers would continue to mandate that masks be worn inside their stores. the 104-year-old drama back shop in mat than tan will re-open on
june 10th under new ownership. the ownership team purchased the store at the end of 2019 but had to delay resuming operations due to the covid-19 pandemic inch other news book scan reports that print book sales were up 9% for the week ending may 15th 15th and calls about scholars to publish an unclean manuscript by john steinbeck. the bye strikes as a mystery novel was written by steinbeck at the beginning of his career, and rebuffed by publishers in 1930. it has been stored in the archives of the harry ransom center. stanford university literature professor gavin jones who argued for the book's publication says it's not stein become the realist but steinbeck the naturalist. interested in human nature. a horror pot boiler which is why readers would find i more
interesting unanimous a more typical steinbeck. booktv will bring you'll new programs and publishing news. you can watch our past programs anytime at booktv.org. >> tonight on booktv in primetime, historian john perily looks at the tactical decisions that secured the continental army's victory in the revolutionary war. university chicago professor reports on sexual harassment and assault in the field of sport, entertainment and judiciary 'er, and jason while where discusses the life and career of thomas sowel. and a look at the covid-19 pandemic and the trump administration's response to outbreak, and generation founder nicole lynn lewis talks about existing programs and policies related to teen pregnant simple. all begins tonight at 7:00 eastern and you can find more information at booktv.org or con suggester program guide.