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Old 08-19-2013, 04:21 AM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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How aspirin helped Amazon escape the jaws of doom

The NYTimes' widely read technology columnist, David Streitfeld, together with Christine Haughney, have devoted a refreshing article to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, tracing what he has accomplished and how he has been perceived.

Just don't expect to find anything revealing about the much anticipated upcoming Kindle devices.

Quote:
Even a number as basic, and presumably impressive, as how many Kindle e-readers the company sells is never released. There are no bold signs on its growing Seattle headquarters complex to identify what is contained within. And there are fewer leaks out of Amazon than the National Security Agency. [...]

“Every story you ever see about Amazon, it has that sentence: ‘An Amazon spokesman declined to comment,’ “ Mr. Marcus said.

Drew Herdener, an Amazon spokesman, declined to comment.
You can read the full article over here.

Last edited by Dr. Drib; 08-19-2013 at 08:55 AM. Reason: changed "Jezz" to "Jeff"
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Old 08-19-2013, 05:37 AM   #2
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Bezos' bio or autobio is something I'd like to read next. Any suggestions?
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Old 08-19-2013, 06:39 AM   #3
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I'd be more interested in reading the biographies of his warehouse workers.

I'm very happy that this article doesn't spare this out. The first part of the article deals with the flase glamour produced with a simple shopping webpage. The second part describes reality. Amazon doesn't install air-conditioning for their workers, the company arranges station ambulances for those workers that can't deal with the heat anymore since it's cheaper obviously.

But for me the last part of the article is the most interesting one, the fact that Amazon gave up professional reviews. Why should Amazon pay for reviews if customer can spam something for free? It doesn't matter for them. It doesn't matter what is true or not, it doesn't matter who is an expert or not, it doesn't even matter if someone is a real person or not. Write something, it sells the product.
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Old 08-19-2013, 07:17 AM   #4
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Do you trust a company when it endorses its own products? I think the move was made also because "real reviews" as opposed to "professional reviews" may be more appealing to customers. Here's another guy like me writing that he likes or doesnt like something. Not some fancy shmancy doctor in literature telling me what I have to like or not.

I don't believe that mom-and-best-buddy reviews are that hard to spot. If it's good, won't matter. If it's bad, the number of negative as opposed to that one good review will still help you make an informed decision. It's like wikipedia ... the system cleanses itself of spam and junk.

BTW, they did get ACs in the end.
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Old 08-19-2013, 07:39 AM   #5
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This was interesting:

Quote:
Mr. Marcus, now the executive editor of Harper’s Magazine, said it all made sense, kind of: “Bezos is fascinated by broken business models. And whatever else you think of newspapers, the business model is broken.”
The rest? Not so much.
Two recycled anecdotes and a lot of innuendo about *possible* conflicts of interest.
This, from an outfit that has a *clear* conflict of interest in reporting on its number one competitor.

If Bezos were to actually involve himself in the running of the WP--which he has said he won't be doing--and were to succeed in evolving a new, successful business model for big city newspapers he would then be increasing the competitive pressure on the rest of the business and they might, lemming-like, choose to follow suit. Especially if the new model applies the same oh-so-offensive criteria applied to the professional reviewers at Amazon; like, if nobody cares enough about what you write to actually read it, then maybe you shouldn't be spending money putting it out. (Which brand of cost-cutting, btw, the NYT and Chicago Sun Times are already engaging in, without Bezos' example.)

A lot of maybe's and if's and very few meaningful facts in this one.

Just a lot of undefined foreboding and hand-wringing from the staff of the "paper of record": the number two paper in the land just cozied up to a (presumed) sugar daddy with deep pockets at a time the fading number one is selling off pieces of its own empire at heavy discount. "If things are bad now, how much worse will they be when Bezos starts out-of-the-box'ing *us*?!! Oh, woe is us!!!" "Woe is the WP staff that will have to buy their own aspirin!"

Not impressed.
I've seen better at the NYT... but not this century.
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Old 08-19-2013, 07:54 AM   #6
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Well, I think the problem is that many people initially wouldn't mind a job where they package boxes all day. You don't have to deal with angry customers, and it's almost like being a secretary in a way, except you don't have the massive amounts of paperwork to do for your boss.

But what good is 1,000 workers if they're not up to the task of making your business more efficient? This isn't a place where you can just chit-chat with co-workers everyday. Nor is this the place where you can make a mistake without losing customers.

It's not that they're punishing people for choosing the job, they just want you to work and not waste their time and money.
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Old 08-19-2013, 08:05 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jessica Lares View Post
Well, I think the problem is that many people initially wouldn't mind a job where they package boxes all day. You don't have to deal with angry customers, and it's almost like being a secretary in a way, except you don't have the massive amounts of paperwork to do for your boss.

But what good is 1,000 workers if they're not up to the task of making your business more efficient? This isn't a place where you can just chit-chat with co-workers everyday. Nor is this the place where you can make a mistake without losing customers.

It's not that they're punishing people for choosing the job, they just want you to work and not waste their time and money.
Exactly. It is not as if they are forcing people to work there. If those workers can do so much better elsewhere, why don't they just quit? Amazon can only pay them as much as their labor brings in for the company.
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Old 08-19-2013, 10:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
You can read the full article over here.

“Every story you ever see about Amazon, it has that sentence: ‘An Amazon spokesman declined to comment,’ “ Mr. Marcus said.

Drew Herdener, an Amazon spokesman, declined to comment.
Now that has got to be a cushy job.
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Old 08-19-2013, 11:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mores View Post
Do you trust a company when it endorses its own products? I think the move was made also because "real reviews" as opposed to "professional reviews" may be more appealing to customers. Here's another guy like me writing that he likes or doesnt like something. Not some fancy shmancy doctor in literature telling me what I have to like or not.

I don't believe that mom-and-best-buddy reviews are that hard to spot. If it's good, won't matter. If it's bad, the number of negative as opposed to that one good review will still help you make an informed decision. It's like wikipedia ... the system cleanses itself of spam and junk.

BTW, they did get ACs in the end.
Actually I think part of the reason they gave up on pro reviews was because some of the pro reviewers started taking payment (Kirkus as well as what is the other big one. Publisher's Weekly.)

As for the warehousing issues, they are still way better than in a lot of third world countries--and when caught out they made improvements. It doesn't entirely excuse them, but a company is in business to make money and to keep costs down.

Now personally I think he interviews quite well. I'd love to have 20 minutes of his time to ask him how many solar panels and windmills he has. And does he have rain barrels? It's always something I want to ask these rich guys. You have it all. You could provide all this stuff for yourself--the technology is there. Do you use it????
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Old 08-19-2013, 11:32 AM   #10
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I think it comes down to the idea of praising the little guy who makes good but then when he gets to a certain size it's time to start trying to tear him down. Not that it isn't deserved at least some of the time I'm sure. But it seems to be a standard model of behavior. If you're a little guy and manage to get ahead you're an example of the American Dream come true, but then others start to envy you your success and suddenly you're a tyrant. Not that it doesn't happen I imagine at times. But of course the model for a small business and a big corp. are often quite different I'd think too as it is the difference between one store and many.
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Old 08-19-2013, 12:41 PM   #11
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I repeat my question ... can anyone recommend a good biography on Bezos?
Because I think he's one of the few people, like Jobs and Gates and Woz, who stay true to their ideals. They're probably hard to be friends with and even harder to do business with, but they won't bullshit you or pretend or weasel their way out of things.
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Old 08-19-2013, 12:43 PM   #12
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I repeat my question ... can anyone recommend a good biography on Bezos?
Because I think he's one of the few people, like Jobs and Gates and Woz, who stay true to their ideals. They're probably hard to be friends with and even harder to do business with, but they won't bullshit you or pretend or weasel their way out of things.
I don't know of one.
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Old 08-19-2013, 01:03 PM   #13
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Exactly. It is not as if they are forcing people to work there. If those workers can do so much better elsewhere, why don't they just quit? Amazon can only pay them as much as their labor brings in for the company.
Amazon pays about 50% *above* the US federal minimum wage and they provide a variety of employee perks including paying for upward mobility training/education.
There is no question they are cheapskates but they are hardly serf-lords.

Amusingly, their compensation packages are way superior to the typical B&M bookstore employee.

Last edited by fjtorres; 08-19-2013 at 01:05 PM.
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Old 08-19-2013, 01:22 PM   #14
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For those that haven't heard the story of the "Amazon Door Desks":
http://askville.amazon.com/Jeff-Bezo...estId=43240113
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Old 08-19-2013, 01:56 PM   #15
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Exactly. It is not as if they are forcing people to work there. If those workers can do so much better elsewhere, why don't they just quit? Amazon can only pay them as much as their labor brings in for the company.
I'd guess Amazon pays their staff somewhat less than their labour brings in for the company. That's how capitalism works.
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