Book review and summary: The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

Book read in: March 2017

Book format: Kindle e-book

The everything store is a book on how Jeff Bezos quit a lucrative job on wall-street and went on to found one of the most successful companies in the world (as of writing).

The book starts with an introduction to Jeff Bezos’s life, how his parents immigrated to the United States, his childhood, the early display of his talent and idiosyncrasies and so on. It goes on to describe his early career and how he thrives at D.E. Shaw, and then learns about the Internet phenomenon, quits his lucrative job to start an online bookstore.

The author interweaves Jeff Bezos’s life with that of Amazon and describes how Bezos’s family believes in his idea, invests a significant amount of money in the start up. The author goes on to describe how Bezos wins the investments of other VCs, overcomes a lot of hurdles, stays lean, keeps the company expenses very low by staying frugal, builds the company around the customer by focusing on customer happiness and to finally sees Amazon through an IPO. The author also talks about Amazon’s survival through the dot com boom and subsequent collapse, how it thrived against all odds, by constantly innovating and pivoting where needed.

The book also describes in detail, Amazon’s spectactular foray into selling other products and services, including the Amazon web services cloud platform, a game changer, that propelled Amazon into the ‘Big 4’ of Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook.

Good things aside, the Author takes an objective approach and talks about how Amazon bullied the book publishers to accept their terms, by not letting them sell their books on Amazon platform, and later forced them to sell books via Kindle e-book platform, even if they did not want to. The author also mentions how Amazon bots scan through the web for cheaper prices and then adjust the pricing of the items accordingly, some times for loss, and later use this as a forceful tactic to acquire companies that are of strategic interest to Amazon (like Zappos). The author, however weaves all this back to Bezos’s vision of making Amazon the most customer centric company in the world.

The Author concludes the book by revealing how he got in touch with Bezos’s biological father, who was apologetic for leaving Bezos during his childhood, but feels that, it was the right thing to do for Bezos’s well being. The author also mentions Bezos’s father got back in touch with Bezos, apologizing for not treating Bezos, as well as he should have.

Key takeaways:

  1. Bezos was an eccentric genius right from his childhood days. His teachers recognized his genius and talents right in school.
  2. Bezos left a highly lucrative job at D.E. Shaw in wall street, to found an Internet bookstore he fancied creating.
  3. In the early Amazon days, Bezos had setup a bell that would ring every time an order was placed on amazon.com, he later got it removed when the bell started ringing very often.
  4. Amazon’s face off with Barnes & Nobles, and how it overcame the challenge and won the battle to be the leading book seller.
  5. Bezos always leaves one chair in every meeting empty, the chair represents the customer.
  6. Amazon negotiating deals with UPS and fedex, to reduce its shipping prices, and its later foray into its own shipping.
  7. Amazon’s legendary price bots, which scan the Internet and change the price of the items to crush competition.
  8. How Amazon expanded to sell items from other categories than books, and later into other services like Amazon web services.
  9. How Amazon bullies competitors to sell their companies, book publishers and sellers to sell products at ultra cheap prices.
  10. Jeff Bezos’s fascination with space exploration and his plans and past activities to venture into the field.

P.S: Comments are welcome

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