Blog Post

Bill and Steve — and Jeff (Bezos)

Earlier this year, when Bill Gates retired from Microsoft, I wrote a post explaining why no one was going to replace Bill and Steve (Jobs) as leaders of the technology. The only person I thought was within striking distance of being the likely replacement was Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon (AMZN).

Amazon has proved to be a proxy for future trends of web and technology; cloud computing and Kindle being the most recent examples. Today, when I read this quote from him in the New York Times

“Our willingness to be misunderstood, our long-term orientation and our willingness to repeatedly fail are the three parts of our culture that make doing this kind of thing possible”

…I realized that Amazon would keep pushing the envelope and coming up with interesting ideas and that should make Bezos a lock for the inheritor to Bill and Steve’s crown. His company’s “willingness to repeatedly fail” and focus on the long term is what makes him and Amazon different from others.

P.S. Check out my video interview with Jeff Bezos

10 Responses to “Bill and Steve — and Jeff (Bezos)”

  1. Here was my comment last June when I posted a $55 price to buy Amazon (it was $80 then):

    “I think Amazon’s management — most visibly CEO Jeff Bezos and CFO Tom Szkutak — pulled off a spectacular coup in the last several years. They spent three years investing in the infrastructure and new businesses necessary to position Amazon for accelerated global growth. They had a superb vision, they executed on a very difficult plan, and they were rewarded in 2007 with a double in cash flow, a double in cash on the balance sheet, and a double in the Amazon stock price.”

    So, yeah I’m a fan of Bezos. The stock is now down to that $55 price, and I’m buying some tomorrow morning.

  2. I was just recently thinking about how markets respond to companies with these charismatic and irreplaceable CEOs. Guys like Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett have created so much value for their companies and have become even the soul of their companies. When people think Berkshire Hathaway, they think Warren Buffett. When they think Apple, they think Steve Jobs. What happens when these guys have to retire or God forbid, fall ill, and are no longer able to run their companies?

  3. From a strategic perspective, the willingness to fail, makes the Amazon model very difficult to imitate or compete with. By nature, most company managers are incentivized not to fail.


  4. no question – Bezos is there with them. He is in many cases very under rated. Amazon’s positions on cloud computing and willingness to push beyond books (going back a ways here) is why this company should be watched with as much zeal as Microsoft and Apple. Amen on this one OM!

  5. Coleman Foley

    amazon is innovative. throw in recommendations, user reviews, and subscribe & save, where you can have deodorant or detergent or something delivered once a month.