SNS Subscriber Edition
Volume 21, Issue 5
Week of February 1, 2016
In This Issue
- No Warehouse, No Inventory, No Way
- A Quick Reprise
- Amazon Web Services
- The Phone Hole
- Amazon Echo
- Amazon Prime
- Distribution: Drones, Trucks, Planes, Ships
Quotes Of The Week
- AMZN’s Stock
Upgrades & Numbers
- Amazon’s Current Physical Offices Around the World
I remember the day I learned that my good friend Larry Tesler had been quietly hired by Jeff Bezos to work on a top-secret Amazon project. Larry is one of the best programmers in the world, one of the wizards – as well as having been Apple chief scientist under Steve Jobs and creating the Compel language. He later licensed the Cocoa language, upon which he co-founded Stagecast.
Since Amazon seemed pretty pedestrian in its programming at the time, I was curious: what could Jeff want with Larry? My recollection is that a couple of years passed during which Larry commuted back and forth between Seattle and Palo Alto, and then he decided to call it quits. During that time, there was no outward manifestation of his work; for all I knew, he could have been curating the corporate art collection.
Except, of course, he was Larry.
In a future issue, I’m going to write about the unbelievable amount of power single individuals have over today’s technological terrain; for the time being, let’s just note that there are a very limited number of wizards on the planet, and Larry is one of them.
I still do not know, today, what secret project he ran under some tight nondisclosure agreement. But I do know that: a) the world-famous “Amazon comparison engine” was launched soon after he signed up (“If you like this, you might also like that”), with something called Amazon Web Services (AWS) started in stealth a bit later.
But the real lesson, at least from my perspective, was simpler: Jeff Bezos was focused on the back end of his empire, adding new hardware, software, and computer algorithms as a competitive advantage, while most folks were focused on price and delivery time. Jeff was smart enough to see the meta-picture of what he was building: it wasn’t a shopping site; it was a massive basket of complex and personalized customer services he could offer other sites and sellers, framed by the additional hard work of making it look as simple as One Click shopping, big red buttons, and clean white pages.
Jeff had found the key to the difference between his lifelong dream of wanting to be bigger than Walmart and knowing how to do it.