While Jeff Bezos’ wife, McKenzie, only gave Brad Stone’s new book about Amazon one star, most critics have been much more generous about the “engrossing” The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. In the vein of Walter Isaacson’s study of Steve Jobs and Steven Levy’s history of Google, Stone may well have written the definitive study of both Bezos and Amazon. Acknowledging that he wanted to write the “the great Amazon book” with The Everything Store, Stone told me that Amazon is the classic story of “three guys in a garage” whose innovations changed the world. But of those three guys, Stone readily admits, it’s Jeff Bezos who dominates the Amazon story – making him the one contemporary technology entrepreneur comparable with Steve Jobs.
What, I asked Stone, can start-up entrepreneurs most learn from Bezos. The first lesson, Stone says, is “stick to your vision”. Even in Amazon’s darkest days, back in 2001 when the company’s business model was openly questioned by analysts, Bezos stuck to his core principles. Secondly, Stone notes, in contrast with some web giants like Yahoo and eBay, Bezos and Amazon have never stopped innovating. From the Kindle to Amazon Web Services, Amazon refuses to stand still and rest on its laurels.
But what about the future? Stone is unabashedly bullish about both the future of both Amazon and Bezos. He even believes that this quintessentially disruptive company can even compete with Google and Amazon in the dogfight to dominate our digital screens.
So could Brad Stone be right – is the best still to come from Amazon and Jeff Bezos?