One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com

... Bezos personifies a new breed of executive that arose with the emergence of the game-changing technologies in the 1980s and 1990s ... a 'productive narcissist'. ... These executives have big enough egos to make up seemingly random rules of business leadership. However, unlike other narcissists, they get the job done.

His goal (Bezos's)was not just to make browsing for books easy, but an enjoyable experience. “People don’t just buy books because they need books,” he has said. “There are products like that. Pharmaceuticals are that way. Nobody enjoys browsing the Preparation H counter. But people will gladly spend hours in a bookstore, so you have to make the shopping experience fun and engaging.

His mother echoed that sentiment. “You become really self-sufficient when you work with the land,” she said. “One of the things [Jeff] learned is that there really aren’t any problems without solutions. Obstacles are only obstacles if you think they’re obstacles. Otherwise, they’re opportunities.

I'd disagree with the characterisations of him as competitive (which I think was just misinterpretation of his ambition) or secretive (which I think is more about wanting to protect his team and his customers). Jeff [Bezos] could much more accurately be described as a naively optimistic geek than a calculating megalomaniac.

I didn't think he was a very 'nice' person,' says Chichilnisky [about Jeff Bezos]. 'I liked him, but he was not warm. I'm not criticising him, not a bit. It was like he could be a Martian for all I knew. A well-meaning, nice Martian.

In June 2008, Amazon.com filed for a new patent with a Microsoft Kinect–like feature for making purchases with body movements. Anticipating computers and other devices that can track a user’s movements, the new Amazon patent is titled “Movement recognition as input mechanism.” Forget keypads and mice, you may soon be able to make a purchase simply by nodding your head at your computer, Kindle, or cell phone. Industry wags have dubbed it the “1-Nod patent.

In school, you’re getting a grade. Whenever you’re getting a grade for something, you always feel slightly pressured.

It’s a philosophy promoted by Silicon Valley start-ups that the best people are those who don’t know that something “can’t be done,” and therefore will figure out how to do it.

One of the things that you learn in a rural area like that is self-reliance,” he said. “People do everything themselves. That kind of self-reliance is something you can learn, and my grandfather was a huge role model for me: If something is broken, let’s fix it. To get something new done you have to be stubborn and focused, to the point that others might find unreasonable.

Perhaps it is his goofy laugh and silly grin that made people underestimate him; certainly his playfulness contributed to that perception. At their wedding reception, Jeff [Bezos] and MacKenzie provided an outdoor adult play area that included water balloons.

... physical bookstores will become ever-nicer places to be. They are going to have more sofas, better lattes, nicer people working there. Good bookstores are the community centres of the 20th century.

That’s actually a very liberating expectation, expecting to fail,” he has said.

The Amazon.com system helped meet Bezos’s goal of creating a good experience for customers.

The focus should be on the customer, not on the Web site. It’s pretty obvious that a simple Web site is easier to use than one with of a bunch of fancy gadgets. He was adamant about that.

The general strategy was to be conservative when estimating when a book would be shipped, so that surprises would be positive—shipped sooner than the customer expected—rather than negative.

The site had to be simple, fast, and intuitive.

We used to joke that the ideal Amazon site would not show a search box, navigation links, or lists of things you could buy. Instead, it would just display a giant picture of one book, the next book you want to buy.   —Greg

... working at Amazon was not just a job - it was part of a visionary quest, something to give higher meaning to their lives.