Amazon is a dividing topic. Fantastic company in terms of accomplishments, and then stories of employees bad treatment. Efficient management, but also gridding people. From the 14 principles, how does it end up with Jeff Bezos buying a mega yacht, him, the prince of frugality.
The book is split in three main parts describing three main steps in Amazon last decade.
The first part of the book is named “Invention”, and tackles subjects like how the Alexa platform was created. It’s interesting to see how hands on Bezos was and the amount of work he expects from his team. Remember, that a core principle of Amazon is frugality, which applies to wages as well. So that means that you get paid very low for very long hours, and they had to deliver. They bought companies, then fired people because the technology was not adequate. At the same time, we see a Bezos fighting for the Washington Post, pushing it in the next century, which is a noble goal. We also see how money was thrown into Amazon Prime Video, not sure how I would describe it, a mix of successes and heavy failures (Tomorrow War, I’m looking at you).
The second part, Leverage, shows how Amazon started to become the monstrous destroyer that it is now. We see what drove the MarketPlace to what it is now, the will to compete with platforms that were not really competitors, the race to the bottom. Despite everything they could say, that was what transpired to the public. The fact that Bezos started getting further from his original ethics and principles didn’t help.
The last part, Amazon’s invincibility, shows how it placed its pawns so that we couldn’t escape it, especially with this pandemic. We also see the final divorce between Bezos and what he was supposed to be. The posture that he has between his company that crushes people physically in warehouses and mentally everywhere, and his yacht, his requirement for NASA giving him money to destroy more the environment, can be surely defined at least as hypocrisy.
There are some aspects of Amazon that I likes. Customer focus, efficiency, these are good values if they are balanced with empathy and care for your own. Unfortunately, the book shows that these are not the core values of the now ex-CEO of Amazon. The book is an eye-opener for people that still think that this way of managing a company works.