Skip to main content

tv   After Words Brad Stone Amazon Unbound  CSPAN  July 8, 2021 8:03pm-9:01pm EDT

8:03 pm
her in-depth look in her new book, subtitled the rise and fall of the secret service. >> carol, on this episode of footnote live, was an act or wherever you get your podcast. ♪♪ >> now on book tvs "afterwards" program, bloomberg news brad stone reports on the growth and evolution of amazon and profiles its founder jeff face-offs interviewed by insiders chief correspondent eugene kim. >> i am excited to be here to interview you today for your t w book, amazon unbound. before we start, i want to tell you when i first started on amazon five years ago, the first thing i did was read your previous book about amazon, the everything sort. for me, it is a true honor to
8:04 pm
get this opportunity i'm looking forward to it. >> thanks, eugene. people probably don't know this but the fraternity of reporters who cover amazon is small and we all kind of know each other and have done tremendous work covering amazon so it is great to talk to someone who is in this secretive, bazaar, highly productive company like amazon. >> thanks. >> i think the first thing i would like to ask is the timing of the book, it ended up becoming incredibly the perfect time to publish a new book about amazon given just bezos stepping down in a couple of months but can you tell us what was your inking behind coming up with this book?
8:05 pm
>> of course i did not time it didn't have any idea just bezos would be ceo of amazon. i started this book really in the beginning of 2018 the list of things that i didn't know about, hq to maybe -- yes, i think it was just been announced and it played out in the early stages of my research. jeff's personal saga, his divorce from mckenzie, the whole tablet over his personal life, that haven't midway through my research and then i was writing it during the pandemic, this extraordinary time when amazon already a very rapidly growing company was basically given an injection of steroids and moved into the center of this acrimonious debate over how it treats its workers and the safety of warehouse orders during thehi covered so it was l
8:06 pm
a surprise. the reason i wrote the book and decided to do another amazon book which i'm sure you can appreciate, just being a total glutton for punishment is because i was proud of s the everything store and get, it occurred to me over the years that it was this sort of dated history, not dated history, it was part of the story, the beginning, the o origin, the rie of jeff bezos, the origin of amazon and get there was alexa and the growth of transportation network and the explosion in the amazon marketplace and so much happened 150 billion-dollar company have become the trillion dollar company, bezos with the wealthiest person in the world and i realized as a whole other chapter to this saga. >> i personally love intro of thee book like an opening scene of a movie and basically it starts at this celebrity event
8:07 pm
in 2019, bezos is at the center of attention and it set the tone for the entire book, what were you trying to capture or what does it say about the period of amazon trying to capture in this book?in mark the opening anecdote of the book, jeff bezos being inducted into the smithsonian gallery, this is the sanctified hall of the most famous americans throughout history, frederick douglas, abraham lincoln, george washington and bezos, along with half a dozen other people like lindeman while miranda are being conducted, their portraits are going to hang in the gallery and there he is at the opening ceremony, his son preston introduces him, he gives a speech surrounded by upper crust elites of american society, politicians, media and there
8:08 pm
were a number of things i liked about it but one thing he said in his speech, he commanded the artists for the portrait which is quite severe, i don't know if you have seen it but he looked scary in the portrait and he commends the artist for portraying him, stars and all. he says i've gathered a lot of scars the last 20 years leading amazon and that is one thing the portrait shows, a metaphorical scar so the book was going to be an account of his rise to power so to me, it represented the journey i would hopefully take this on. >> if had to sumey up. he wrote about, it is sort of like a sequel to your earlier book, i think i saw your tweet
8:09 pm
comparing this to star wars. >> the empire strikes back. [laughter] >> so how is this amazon or news different from the one you wrote about in your first book? >> he absolutely is different and in a number of ways. the first most obvious is visibly he is a different guy. this awkward tech nerd from seattle, sort of unfashionable, crazy laughs, the presentations were incredibly technical like his introduction of the fire from from about the jeff bezos of the everything store and over the last five years, first of all kudos to his physical trainer, that is quite an exercise regiment and he is much more fashionable, it seems plausible lauren sanchez's
8:10 pm
partner boosted fashion levels quite a bit, he's got fun glasses and crisp so that is one dimension of change. i think another is the everything store is the portrait of white a brutal ceo whose very punishing and set high standards and lashes out and underlings who don't need a standard, jobs like this style and i think he evolved that way as well, many fewer of those stories and amazon unbound, there are some that respect, we are flashing back to jeff pairing up documents and throwing employees and motivating them that way, he got a more delicate touch now and get, he still has the founders magic, set high bars, employees scramble to answer his
8:11 pm
question e-mails and to satisfy him and then the other way is different, the last way significantly different is his focus expanded so much, he was laser focused for so long on amazon and building this mechanism from a system of inventions that could carry on i think this is the territory amazon unbound covers in his deeper involvement, his space company, his eyes opened up to a larger world and i think that is a little behind his resignation as ceo. there's so much he's doing now, he's not just -- he's gone from being the iconic text ceo of the everything store into this global present of amazon unbound. >> the company itself amazon he's leading the profile completely changed from the first book until now every
8:12 pm
business in runway to bring that home is when we think back to amazon's battles with the book publisher and how trivial it seems now in the larger scheme, not that they are significant issues for the book industry but amazon was fighting for the book publishers over the 999 kindle and availability of the number of e-books in the kindle store and it was stripping suppliers out of search result if they want satisfying amazon and it was because the book business was so strategic, this was 2011 -- 12 and now the book business obviously still very representative of amazon in an image i think probably a lot of people still think of amazon as our book celebrated some minor part of the business, this is a company that truly is the everything storere now, one of s
8:13 pm
most important market no longer is kindle but i alexa, voice activated computer, it is investing billions of dollars in india, global ambitions and probably thinks more about hollywood and tv shows and movies in terms of inborn concepts and books. >> while we are talking about bezos transformation, what did other amazon executives think about it in your book you say senior leaders were happy about the increased autonomy dependence while some were disappointed because bezos basically failed to meet his own high standardsez by cap like -- >> we are talking about the tabloid. first of all, we can both acknowledge how difficult itot s to get amazon executives to talk
8:14 pm
particularly on the record about their boss, it is a sorting of radioactive topic. i fortunately like this is a long-term project and it was the elephant in the room that needeo to be addressed, if you're asking how did they respond to the tabloid scandals of 2018, early 2019lo, i think mike probably both of us with utter astonishment, like how could the world's smartest and most discipline man be in this? the national inquirer, the tabloid hasn't really been 11 for n many years slashing his personal life, personal life of a private person on its pages jeff responded with that famous blog post on medium using the
8:15 pm
political motives and maybe a little international intrigue saying the example in sarnia, amazon executives and employees were absolutely astonished and i definitely hurt disappointment from many that he allowed himself to be subjected to this but i think we have to acknowledge that bezos played it masterfully, the medium post and we can get into other accusations of work it is his side and i think despite his apartment, a lot of books at amazon around amazon had to grudgingly acknowledge and once againlala, jeff had one mikey outmaneuvered his enemies and now we look back and say that was a bizarre episode but it pretty much in the past and bezos as usual, came out on top. >> did you talk toiz him or because he stopped, his ex-wife are i think you mentioned 400
8:16 pm
amazon executives but can you tell us about that? >> sure, first of all, you probably remember when the everything store came out, mckenzie, ben mckenzie bezos gave me a one star review and i sort of break is the most famous book review ever, it's certainly up there but what it reflected that they didn't like the first book. they thought it was, there were a number of problems with it and i wasn't going for portrait, but an honest picture of a company that was challenging to work for and with but nevertheless it had risen to be very powerful in our society so i had to get past some of the memories from the first book. in the end, amazon did cooperate a couple interviews like andy and jeff and clark, ceo of the
8:17 pm
consumer business after he retired. bezos whatnot and mckenzie scott, as far as i can tell hasn't done one interview with vogue magazine years ago tied to a book launch but tends to be an intensely private prison who has avoided the media so far. >> maybe we can start with the first chapter of the book, there is a lot of great anecdotes about bezos role coming up with alexa and echo and i think a common thread is that bezos set the bar really high, he pushed to aim for almost irrational goals, i think one quote was serious about making its product
8:18 pm
so how important was bezos for coming up with this device that's arguing the most successful device amazon came up with? >> where probably going to talk about amazon as a potential monopolist, domine force in america so i don't mind in this is why i start the book this way giving amazon credit and jeff basis credit as an innovative company and bezos as an inventor and that's like how he describes himself, and inventor. when i dug into the history of alexa, it was surprising because the real story hadng not bee told. the idea for alexa springs out of jeff's mind and an e-mail in 2010 he sent a note to greg hart to the technical assistant at the time ando chief of staff, in friede, steve and he says when we build $20 whose brains are in the cloud that uses aws which is
8:19 pm
completely controlled by your voice and that was a radical notion to say most of these speech recognition systems at the time you spoke right into and that makes it really easy since speaking to a device across the room would be a technical challenge event there is a challenge of having it understand you and respond, that requires advanced artificial intelligence but he was doing a couple of things, he is looking for ways to exploit amazon's early lead in amazon web services and he was looking for ways to move amazon into everyday use in people's lives so to answer your question, he puts greg hart as chief of staff in charge of the event he is the project manager, that's kind of what he call. he meets with the team and picks
8:20 pm
the employees and makes decisions what features and fresh wrestles with the team for the whether it would be practical stuff, he wanted to beat the computer, artificial intelligence and then set the bar high. he wanted to watch and six months, which is impossible, it takes three years. he authorized probably the biggest impact hem has, he is willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on it and says greg hart who hired a.i. folks, there should not be any limit. he gets them to go higher any smart a.i. or speech present available and when the s ceo is behind something like that particularly the founder, that gives any company that gives a project a lot of momentum. >> with bezos as the key product
8:21 pm
manager, that creates this culture of fear where people are afraid to argue against different ideas or say it is not a good idea against bezos, did that affect alexa's roadmap for result in any way? >> i think the big illustration of that fire -- i nestled the fire phone idea jeff had this idea you could have a 3d screen and premium handset differentiate from the iphone and nobody on the team thought it was a good idea they said disagree and commit, amazon think stood for we got to do this but we don't agree with that product roadmap and it didn't seemed like it stood out
8:22 pm
to jeff's vision. in terms of alexa, sure. there were features that launched with the original echo, there to obscure to even name butau probably broadly say no oe is willing to stand up i don't think it's right. there are good conductors discussions in these meetings but i think he is the founder, and incredible record of success and that brings as lot of credibility sometimes people disagree. o he insists. >> looking back at his track record as a product manager, there's only like a handful projects he was directly engaged in, the fire phone from alexa, amazon go, sort of a mixed record so far.
8:23 pm
what is his legacy as a product manager, you still think he's a visionary or -- >> without a doubt. no one's batting average was going to be 1000 and when you think about, he has remade a number of industries and it's not just e-commerce but as enterprise computing and aws, he had some of the original insights for that and look at kendall, a vision in the product he drove and now alexa the age of voice computing, i think the jury is still out on long-term how alexa could be but it certainly hashe had inspired competing products. i think it is an extraordinary record of success and we can talk about some of the downsides because there were a lot of things jeff created or helped create like the amazon marketplacewn got to a certain
8:24 pm
size and vent instead of being the uber product manager, he took a step back and says you manage this independently, it's profitable, it is doing great, i want to be that involved anymore and it veers off course and ends up impacting and potentially hurting a lot of people but i think the overall record as an inventor is starving and not just amazon the turnaround of the washington post spent waasthma. >> interesting . i think it's a good time to talk about stepping down and maybe aws and his successor, maybe you little bit jack's he is, why it's so important to amazon the past ten years. >> a lot of people over the years when we have the discussion about might be bezos us successor, first we set jeff
8:25 pm
bezos will be ceo forever but if we really need to go to the exercise, is either going to be auntie or jeff and both of them unfortunately, a lot of the senior leadership up until recently has been very male at amazon for both of them joined in the late 90s and helped bezos steer amazon and build it to what itt is jeff wilkie ran the consumer business and retired and anti- jackson was chief of staff early on amazon's lifespan a this idea of aws or cloud computing. some might remember, it's kind of a relic of the past, amazon for a long time was a very unprofitable company lost money and investors had not a lot of patience but i but aws was the sparkly done in the portfolio because the operating margins and net income was high end of
8:26 pm
this is cloud something somewhat difficult to understand to a layperson but you think a company that used to have a data center in the back wall off, humming with air conditioning, servers blinking, no longer has that, there computing power is on the internet and amazon or google or microsoft, that is cloud computing. bezos back in the early 2000, it is a huge business now, $50 billion run ratee annually and jack speak with a lot of independence, he feared that so it's a remarkable success for amazon and jeff is now basically handing the company over to him. a couple things to note, jeff is executive chairman so he plans to remain involved and wants to focus on new things. for jack, he's focused on aws and operative part of the business, consumer parts but my
8:27 pm
sense what was pivotal last year that you probably remember the hearing in the antitrust committee, bezos, tim cook and mark zuckerberg work required to testify and the whole thing was a political circus and who have against asking about suppression of gop voices and democrats were asking about antitrust andar bes sat there from seattle in his office and mike sent probably thought, why am i spending my time on this? andy will be in that seat now and he will have to answer the questions and jeff will get to do what he likes to do is work on new things. >> since you mentioned jeff, jack's counterpart or the other right-hand man of bezos must features compared to other executives, was that intentional or just a result of your reporting any thoughts on the
8:28 pm
timing of his retirement which coincided with this transition? >> it wasn't intentional, i think he's more featured in the everything start because he was a guy who forgot how to make the warehouse work he graduated as head of the consumer business. he is certainly in there quite a bit but you're right, there is more of a focus on the up and coming executives like david clark, wilkie's protégé running a different business or doug harrington, a major force in amazon's emergence as a grocer. wilkie told bezos he wanted to step aside early 2020 and often the pandemic it and jeff wilkie said he would stick around to navigate amazon through it. he said he did not know bezos was planning to step aside and anoint him so maybe he is being
8:29 pm
disingenuous saw the writing on the wall and thought okay, i've lost the political battle, i have no evidence for that, he just says time at amazon is done. i think we can acknowledge though you wrote a good story aboutwl this on business insider that turn over while amazon has always been somewhat known for having high turnover. the velocity of people moving into and out of the centers and lower ranks of the company is extreme. they voice said the loyalty is extreme and people stickr around in fact has changed. more people are leaving. i heard a joke people are calling it the jet, so many people named jeff have left. jeff blackburn, another senior executive whether that's because stock price has gone up so high and enormously wealthy or is it
8:30 pm
that they see it's become a big unmanageable company in the bureaucracy of fear? or this is a hypothetical where they disappointed in the tabloid media from 2019 and lost a bit of faith? i don't know but we have to acknowledge the old-timers at amazon are largely moving aside that will be a challenge for the company because it is a difficult and weird company to navigate and there are a lot of newcomers in positions of influence so that will be interesting. >> one of the figures affect transition is park, the new retail ceo place jeff wilkie this year end you get into him a lot in the book, how would you describe him? he kind of comes off as a
8:31 pm
hfiercely competitive, not afrd to throw people under the bus, best man at his wedding got demoted. >> that's right.ed [laughter] someone mentioned to me they thought it wasn't a very flattering portrait of and i sort of objected to that because at the heart of a story of a guy took a warehouse network of a couple of dozen fulfillment centers which today, step back and say dave clark for a long time ran amazon operations better than fulfillment distribution centers, the fans driving our streets, airplanes with s prime air emblazoned on e side, everything moving packages from a to b to your front door was overseen by david clark and when he took the job, he's been at amazon for a long time but when he took the job, there were a couple dozen buildings and other are hundreds.
8:32 pm
the whole transportation is under his watch and he helped build it, airplanes, success has been remarkable so in a sense, that chapter asks the question, who is capable of building something like this and are the costs accrued along the way? one cost is when it came to personal relationships the work was more important and he had a longtime friend and i write about this in the book, another amazon executive, arthur who was originally his boss, best man at his wedding and went he ultimately went to target, dave never talked to him again which is for a lot of us is remarkable but shows how seriously they take their rivalries and another aspect i think is that they built in a very tech company grace, here bezos moves fast and break things.
8:33 pm
amazon is in the physical world and they built transportation capabilities very much like witf fedex, we're not going to employ for drivers, we want to hire contractors who will put them in an amazon band but we don't manage them because god forbid, we don't want that headache or the unions troubles that might accompany it and what happened the next couple of years, there were stories of packages flying in the gardens and drivers spoiling people's front yards and in some cases, worse, accidents and even death and i write about that that was at least temporary impacts of moving fast and building transportation capabilities. amazon has strategic reasons to do that, they could never count on local servers or ups but they moved quickly and it was a bit of a troubled rollout. there's a lot of litigation and they have had to pay some settlement as a result but today
8:34 pm
you look in amazon is delivering 70% of its own packages dave clark promoted his running now all of amazon retail so it is a remarkable story of innovation and mastery of operations but in some sense, the true cost when companies move quickly without a lot of caution or appreciation for some of the unanticipated consequences might be. >> with park, it seems like he has a bit of a different reputation compared to jack or jeff wilkie or universally liked or respected, clark has more of a track record of even creating enemies among the way, i think he calls himself the simpler fire in your book, some people i think is nickname was sniper for firing people but what is his
8:35 pm
reputation like? going to work well in his new role? >> one thing people could look at his his twitter stream because he is the unusual ceo who will get offer and create blows with people and he's got this ongoing thing about the ceo of fedex takes shot at him. he tends to critique coverage of amazon, have you ever been the subject of a dave clark tweet? he'll start throwing elbows and he is sort of like maybe even refreshingly kind of combative because on most amazon executives would just sit quietly and he says what he believes. reputation, even w among, and i talked to a ton of amazon operation folks putting together portrait. even people who felt discarded
8:36 pm
or trampled upon who said his bedside manner was not good which was quite a number of people, there was an aberration, maybe even just astonishment like wow, this guy is huge network, he has the gold jeff bezos' dream, controlling the amazon package on the fulfillment center to the customer's front door but that allows so much control over the customer experience. when you see amazon say the package will be there 9:00 to 11:00 and follow-up e-mail may be t delayed, sometime early afternoon, that's because amazon controls its supply chain. that could not have happened ten years ago. when amazon says it will move from today to one day delivery for prime members and the pandemic hit and they are going back to today delivery, these are all things possible because of what he built so i think it is a portrait of the executive,
8:37 pm
it is harsh and unrelenting and that has allowed him to meet the goals of his boss as found in the of the company. >> it will be interesting to see how plays with the new ceo, this is completely different dynamic compared to bezos, wilkie and jack. >> i think you are right there is a natural impulse like everyone want -- everyone probably thinks they can continue to do their old job at their new job so while he has room to run and to maneuver, will bezos give jack the room to be ceo? then with dave clark, he is not the boss of former peers, will
8:38 pm
doug harrington or any of the other executives who run divisions like advertising the divisive business and alexa business, one of their peers is now boss in fact create an uncomfortable dynamic as well. >> i think we should spend time talkingho about donald trump clearly a big piece of amazon's narrative the past four or five years from this mutual animosity between bezos and trump, you get into it in the book. was it a good thing that happened or was bezos fault, did he lose anything for not fostering a better lit relationship? what is the assessment? >> those are really good questions. i think when i finished the
8:39 pm
book, i might havee thought they so's, he got off on the wrong foot and i have these e-mails in the book, the end of 2015, donald trump is campaigning to be president, he's taking shots at everyone and bezos enters with an e-mail that basically send donald to space. we are saving a seat on the blue origin rocket. jay and others were asking jeff not to send the e-mails sort of insisted and i don't know if he was just being protective of the post, i suspect that was it but maybe there's a little bit of ego there like everyone else is getting into it with this guy, i want my turn, to taking a shot at it and then trump one seems like a lifetime ago but i guess it five years ago bezos get hammered. he probably would have been hammered anyway, the post does a
8:40 pm
great job covering for trump administration but the ramification of that bitterness from amazon loses the contract, $10 billion, a huge leg up and i portion of the clock business catering to the government, public institutions, huge problems with the post office and a lot of publicity around drums bitterness toward the post and bezos in particular. a lot of what trump wanted to do never happened. he talked about raising corporate taxes and asked why that were made claims about was but jesus will do amazon should be able to continue to protest that decision which was microsoft raising the possibility the podium going
8:41 pm
back and rethink that whole process it is possible now with the little bit of time and reflection that amazon just didn't lose much terms of their ongoing fight with the trump administration. public they would have preferred to fly a little under the radar but the ownership of the washington post will probably be opposed. >> i t think e-mail threat bezos and jay on how to respond to trump, that was my personal favorite part of the book so it was very good but how unusual is this a business leader to have the public tension with presence, there has to be discussions on how did this slowdowns the business and how
8:42 pm
to respond, anything else? i suspect it's not unusual for the owners and catherine graham, famously tingled with the nixon administration entered something bezos took onti in 2013 when he brought the post we can look at the four years of trump and say amazon had an extraordinary rate of growth. talking about one of the most for tile. for any american business in history and part of that was the pandemic in the last years of the trump administration but certainly t doesn't seem to be amazon at all. you could argue perversely probably trump fondling in this, which arguably expensive it, it helped amazon because the pandemic has been almost grotesque to its bottom line at a time when people were scared of shopping in stores.
8:43 pm
>> you bring up the washington post dedicate a whole chapter on that topic but i'm still trying to understand why bezos brought the washington post, maybe he believes in a free press but at the same time for someone who believes in free press, he is very unfriendly with the press, two. >> isn't that a funny little paragraph? so what is the true reason for this box. >> well, first of all john graham was looking to self washington post of 2013, a perpetual decline, they didn't have the finances newspaper and he went looking for a savior. he had a personal relationship with bezos so a lot of it was simply circumstance i think yes,
8:44 pm
jeff appreciated and saw the post and opportunity for what it wast, they beat the back of his mind, having the post on amazon's trajectory, that will be important but this article, one of c his interest in pension for creating a system, one of the mechanisms meeting, the rituals that encourages businesses to do things to grow, he had been successful creating a system, not at all successful creating at origin, we could talk about with the post and were not document and by his to a valuable american institution and help turn it around and he
8:45 pm
has done that. the coast of the marty now his successor has been into this invention work really well we should probably hollywood and i think the book you bezos abolished the limelight, there's a part where mckenzie was having a good time at the parties bezos is having a great time, was this a good decision on bezos? it ultimately led to a lot of personal issues and tabloid in all ofon this, move into hollywd instigated that but what are your thoughts? >> i think it's easier to look at these things, cannot look back and ask theoo big question, why did jeff bezos hollywood?
8:46 pm
why is amazon funding these to follow the chain of events. so amazon biggest category of sales in the 2000 mediocrity books, movie and music. music goes away because of the ipod and itunes and online music, they rush to kendall to make sure it doesn't happen in the books but dvd sales are going down so that a 20 year trend and netflix is rising so what does amazon do? it creates a video store where you can download movies and tv shows. that models starting to pray and not streaming and you have to pay billions of dollars to license "seinfeld". that's competitive, netflix and amazon are enriching the movie studios, how do you get out of this battle for paying for content? you make your own.
8:47 pm
it cheaper and it's going back to hbo and showtime, everyone has figured this out and it cheaper and more effective and you have more of a hold on your customers when you make your own programs and set of just licensing fence or amazon gets into that business and bezos loving it, he's surrounded by celebrities and goes to parties and athletic and here's the crazy thing, youda have a big tt full of stars and everyone is orbiting around him because 2015/16, one of the people in the world is an icon, he represent american innovation and ingenuity human i think he enjoyed that says we don't know if this contribute to the end of their marriage but certainly mckenzie didn't enjoy it as much. just love going to work shows jimmy kimmel start making fun of him, he loves it. he's talking so not only was it
8:48 pm
a strategic threat and aligned nicely with his personal, signs and rappaport of the rings, who knows if it's going to be good or not but he loves the attention in his eyes open into this larger world beyond lasting, it was a republican prime members. today crime is still just shipping all it is prone too or one-day there is a fulfillment center of san francisco, if that anyway 7000 prime video into the bundle and all sorts of other things join, amazon music and photos if they are not competing head-to-head with netflix anymore prime video almost $19
8:49 pm
annual prime membership amazon has a seat at the table in this revolution so it was smart and strategic inventor had consequences for jeff in his personal life. >> you bring a lot of characters to life in this book, people i've only read about one of the interesting executives, doug harrington roth marketplace i think this internal report you found titled amazon's future is crab harrington urges the executive teams to look into selling groceries in fact inspired bezos to ultimately by whole foods they thought it was interesting that bezos that this one made me think so can you
8:50 pm
talk about that process, harrington and groceries? >> let me give a bit of context. the paper here are talking about is an executive retreat and i think this is another mechanism in the bezos system of invention. they are required to bring papers presenting a new idea and then they sit there in silence reading them and then "afterwards" jeff picks up doug and says amazon's future is crab and said this one made me think. the more history, doug comes from the that try to deliver groceries that went out of business and didn't work but he always thought it was good and he joined amazon and they started amazon fresh in 2007 and went along for a couple of years and bezos never really invested in it, he thought things like alexa and the fire phone china and india were more important so in 2012, doug brings this paper
8:51 pm
that argues, i'm going to summarize, people are buying things from amazon once a week, once every other week that walmart or gruber, they are going back multiple times week to buy food in fact customer relationship even though profitable, can't realize a profit or low margin creates a strong bond with the customer and if the retailers ever get into the amazon business andve figure out how to do e-commerce, it could be dangerous jeff says, this made me think and he begins to authorize more ambitious investments, larger investments, more ambitious projects in groceries so the extent amazon fresh, it doesn't quite work, they try prime now, to our delivery service in new york that expands but always lost money and they introduced the go store, cashier was stricter and
8:52 pm
they go on a journey and bezos thinks about things like land brushes and long-term opportunities and always thought groceries was more of a long-term opportunity in a couple of things happen, googlee introduces express, insta cart gets popular and finally he realizes this is a land rush, he has to get fierce about it, whole foods was in trouble is being attacked by activist investors and then they make that purchase and not amazon is opening up its own supermarkets all over the place and partly thanks to the pandemic, i think all my grocery shopping really hasn't caught on. i think by virtue of his experience, his war wound at webb band was integral helping amazon catch up in that category. >> i want to spend some time on blue origin because that's where
8:53 pm
bezos spent a lot of his time going forward. it sounds like based on your book there are some hiccups or mismanagement, some rivalry with elon musk, jealousy played into it, what was your assessment, the track record. >> so far, they don't have a lot to show for it. jeff is selling $1 billion in amazon stock every year, investing a lot of that into blue origin, a 20-year-old company - they haven't met any other goals yet. we are speaking during a week when origin might so tickets to the suborbital spacecraft but meanwhile spacex mantras markets into orbit to the international space station seemingly every week and to put it simply, just thought it could go slow, beaver
8:54 pm
tortoise, not the hair, that is the model and when conservative guy at the poker table and you have a strategy, that strategy sometimes is blown up when the ambitious and maybe reckless guy shows up and starts betting on everything elon shows up, skips to go into orbit with his rockets and it works and the government starts basically paying him giving him big contracts to build his company and jeff is presently running and i don't know if it's jealousy but i do think rivalry is an accurate word, he's personally sending all the money and you want is getting paid to practice so he changes the orientation of blue origin and hires a lot more people and sets ambitious goals and step-by-step, a lot of
8:55 pm
overlapping initiatives and i do think that it is helped to feed a dysfunctional culture there, they are still trying to figure it out. maybe later this year they will send tourism into suborbital, with success but so far i don't think he has a lot to show for it. >> before we run out of time, i guess this will be one of the last questions but what is bezos is legacy stepping down he still going to be engaged, how will history remember bezos as amazon's ceo? >> that is a good one. i'm tempted to ask you to go first. a lot of it might at the play
8:56 pm
out, we will see antitrust case against amazon in the years ahead, i think we will see a regulation as governments try to grapple some of the paradoxes of the amazon model, the fact that it's a platform for sellers and for seller the fact that it sells private label products in competition with sometimes using the data of independent sellers, the stories of tellers telling about amazon are not uniformly good, there's a lot of consummation there and we look back and look at rockefeller and fattest colored olympic by government action but let's acknowledge that and say legacy is still not yet completed and might have an actor next to it but we will put that aside and give jeff b credit say likely wh
8:57 pm
the passage of time that a lot of the negativity is going to fade and we'll be left thinking about someone revolutionized business and in 20 years built a company that's changed the world number of ways not just online shopping but reading invoice computing and enterprise computing, the way governments operate in companies and research institutions and i do think the only comparison steve jobs in terms of number of industries he's changed and who knows, he might end up doing more with respect to space and blue origin, that would be a tremendous accomplishment if that company is successful but i think as an innovator and business builder, there's lots of room to criticize amazon but in those respects, i think he will stand as one of the great business leaders of our time. >> great, i think that isr all the questions we have and thanks
8:58 pm
again for your time. learned a lot, it's a great book and looking forward to more conversations. >> thanks, good to talk to you. ♪♪ >> weekends on c-span2, intellectual seat. every saturday american history tv documents american stories and sunday, book tv brings the latest nonfiction books and authors. funding for c-span2 comes from these television companies and more including charter communications. >> broadband is a four sport empowerment and boxlike charter invested billions, building infrastructure, operating technology, and parent opportunity in communities big and small. charter is connecting us. >> charter communication along with these television companies support c-span2 as a public
8:59 pm
service. friday on book tv, author of the book recognizing and other biographies of the 40th resident and we will talk with former congresswoman jane about her book, arguing the united states failing to confront difficult national security problems. also, a conversation of the author of the book breaking news, exposing the establishment revealed in secret corruption. book tv friday night starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2. ♪♪ >> weekends on c-span2 brings the best in american history and nonfiction books. saturday, american history tv explores the nations past. coming up saturday 3:00 p.m. eastern on oral history, iraq war veteran michael recalls his expenses on the were including the day his vehicle was hit by an ied in his road to recovery. then 8:00 p.m. eastern on lectures in history, the
9:00 pm
university professor felix, ufo conspiracy theories have in shaping american culture to discuss changes in public opinion about extraterrestrial often perilous suicidal anxiety. office discussing their latest books on sunday booktv 8:00 p.m. eastern. ...


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on