Jeff Bezos is an American entrepreneur who was very influential in the growth of e-commerce. He is the chief executive and founder of Amazon.com, Inc., a company that began as an online merchant of books before it expanded to a wide variety of products. Amazon.com is the largest retailer on the internet and the model for internet sales. According to Drexler (2007), Bezos began his early career in house school. He developed the Dream institute which promoted creative thinking among the young students. He graduated in 1986 from Princeton University with two degrees, computer science and electrical engineering. In 1990, he joined D.E Shaw & Co. where he became the vice president. In 1994, he quit the company and opened a virtual bookstore in Seattle, Washington. He worked from his garage for a while as he developed the software for his site which he named Amazon.com.
The greatest challenge for the company came in 1995, when Bezos needed money to launch his company. He needed $1 million to keep the company running for at least 2 years. It was very challenging because he needed the whole $1 million at once. According to him, this was a time when the company could have collapsed even before it got started. It was difficult for investors to fund his idea because they were skeptical about the potential of the internet. Ultimately, he managed to raise the whole amount from about 20 angel investors. Another challenge was convincing people to buy products via the internet when they could make a special order from retailers and get the product at their door step. In addition, every retailer streamed online (Drexler, 2007). Because of the competition, the company’s market capital dropped from $32.1 billion to $8.9 billion in six years. Some people even called it “Amazon.org” because it seemed like a non-profit company.
Bezos is eager to maintain the success of his business for many years. Kendrick & Vershinina (2010) assert that he created an excellent brand that strives on adapting to the evolving business environment and constant growth. He believes that if customers get a great experience from a retailer, they will definitely tell others about it. Therefore, the word of mouth is a great marketing tool. He has been described by many as a laughable and goofy individual, a personality that is carried to the work environment. He keeps the employees happy but ensures that they accomplish the company’s goals. However, his word is always final. As much as everyone is allowed to be innovative, the final decision comes from Bezos. This kind of leadership limits what the executives can do but that is the culture at Amazon. One of the former employees alleged that Amazon.com is to some extend run as a sole proprietorship (Kendrick & Vershinina, 2010).
The culture of Amazon promotes openness among all employees. The top management, including Bezos, supports this culture and every other employee adheres to it. It has allowed everyone to share any innovations and different ideas that would make the company better. Because of the advance, a customer can use his previous payment information to buy other products, through the one-click ordering technology. Bezos management style is customer-centric (Marques, 2007). The company understands that it is all about providing what the customer wants.
According to Daft & Marcic (2010), Bezos’ management style also ensures that the leaders keep their egos in check. The needs of the company come before the management’s whims. Nonetheless, he also ensures that the management works together to improve the brand and leadership style. Weekly management meetings are held for four hours. The executives are expected to make presentations regarding new products, pricing strategies, technologies, or cost-control measures in the company. He then asks questions to his satisfaction. Therefore he is very strict and precise on what should be done. He asks for every possible form of evidence or data on the problem being tackled.
As a leader, he is also persevering and hardworking. Despite all the struggles he went through to begin his company. He persevered and worked hard to remain competitive. In fact, he argues that most investors give up too quickly. If he had given up, he would not have managed to raise $1million to launch his company. Moreover, he believes that ownership matters when building a good company (Marques, 2007). The owner of a company thinks long-term unlike an employee who thinks in terms of his salary. Therefore, the owner is able to plead passionately to ensure that his ideas and projects succeed.
His hiring bar is raised higher. When hiring, he looks for people he can admire and learn from. Therefore, he looks for the best employees and does not compromise on the right skills and quality of work. However, Bezos asserts that Amazon is not always keen on what will happen in the next quarter. The company is willing to invest in an employee and wait to reap the benefits in future. Furthermore, he only spends money on the issues that matter. For the company’s headquarters in 1990s was located on Seattle’s skid row. Even when the company was worth about $500 million, the company was still located in the same building. Bezos believes in spending money on things that matter (Daft & Marcic, 2010).
Nonetheless, there is the ‘Just Do It’ award that is given to employees who come up with positive innovations for the company (Thompson, 2011). It encourages employees to be creative. He also encourages innovation by hosting monthly lectures from renowned scientists. The lectures are aimed to spark new ideas in the employees that could revolutionize the company. However, he also decides whether or not an employee can pursue a new idea. The company also has special days where employees can come to work with their children. There is a special room where children can play games as their parents work.
He uses the top-to-bottom management style. In some instances, he personally manages a project to make sure that it is done to his specifications. He believes that every manager or leader has to spend some time in the trenches. Therefore, it is his responsibility to oversee activities in the company, ones in a while. In fact, every year he spends a week at each of the company’s warehouses checking on how things are run and looking for better ways to improve the company and make more profit. Ideally the working environment at Amazon is dominated by Bezos (Thompson, 2011).
According to Goethals et al. (2004), the partnership strategy at Amazon has also been very successful. The company partnered with various companies like Drugstore.com, Pets.com, Kozmo.com and living.com among others by buying an equity stake in the companies to share their prosperity. Additionally, it charged them placement fees on the site to promote the sites. Therefore partnerships have helped the company to make more profits and attract more customers.
Bezos has greatly impacted the business world because of his wisdom and innovation. He was intelligent enough to quiet a good paying job to start his own from scratch. Although he began with selling books, he now dominates the internet with his company, Amazon.com. He also revolutionized shopping. Currently, every item, from a toothbrush to a car can be bought online because of his innovations. He is also known for contributing towards politics. For instance, in 2008, he contributed towards $100,000 to the Democrats to ensure that the income tax initiative in Washington was defeated.
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The World’s Billionaires. (2013). Retrieved June 16, 2013, from http://www.forbes.com/profile/jeff-bezos/