Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Explains Why We Love Some Companies And Fear Others

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Explains Why We Love Some Companies And Fear Others

MAX NISEN OCT. 24, 2013, 3:33 PM 1,953 1

Amazon has grown rapidly from e-commerce pioneer and bookseller to a behemoth that sells just about anything you can think of. And considering Amazon Web Services, which helps run everything from Netflix to DropBox, there are more services than most people would imagine. According to Brad Stone’s new book “The Everything Store,”  that omnipresence made its CEO Jeff Bezos wonder how Amazon could avoid becoming one of those companies that people hate for its size and power. The company had already been criticized for how it pays sales tax, eBook pricing, certain acquisitions, and ill-thought out marketing efforts, like an aggressive price comparison app. He wanted to know how the company could be “loved, not feared.” Bezos wrote a memo called “,” which Stone was able to obtain, that he distributed to his “S-team” of top executives. In it, he highlighted the fact that some multibillion-dollar companies have managed to remain beloved, or at least thought of as “cool” by customers. Think Apple, Whole Foods, Costco, Nike, and Google. Others get piled on, rather than defended, if things go badly. Think Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil, and Wal-Mart. Both sets of companies do very well. But the core of Amazon’s ethos and culture is that the customer always comes first. Because the customer loses trust if they fear that you’re out to take advantage of them, Amazon’s sheer size makes that a worry. Bezos laid out the core differences between the two types of businesses in the memo. It’s a playbook for any business that aspires to be loved, instead of feared. Via “The Everything Store”:

  • Rudeness is not cool.
  • Defeating tiny guys is not cool.
  • Close-following is not cool.
  • Young is cool.
  • Risk taking is cool.
  • Winning is cool.
  • Polite is cool.
  • Defeating bigger, unsympathetic guys is cool.
  • Inventing is cool.
  • Explorers are cool.
  • Conquerors are not cool.
  • Obsessing over competitors is not cool.
  • Empowering others is cool.
  • Capturing all the value only for the company is not cool.
  • Leadership is cool.
  • Conviction is cool.
  • Straightforwardness is cool.
  • Pandering to the crowd is not cool.
  • Hypocrisy is not cool.
  • Authenticity is cool.
  • Thinking big is cool.
  • The unexpected is cool.
  • Missionaries are cool.
  • Mercenaries are not cool.

After ranking companies on those attributes, Bezos concluded that customer focus alone isn’t enough. Being inventive isn’t enough, either. Beloved companies manage to make what he describes as “that pioneering spirit” perceived and felt by their customers. When customers believe the company has a vision of the future that they want to be a part of and trust it can deliver on that vision, then they are more likely to support it.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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