Culture

This 1997 Interview with Amazon's Jeff Bezos Shows Off His Astounding Vision

He was tracking you before anyone else was tracking you.
IMAGE AP + Ted S. Warren
Comments

Amazon acquired Whole Foods last week in a blockbuster deal that sent the online retail titan's market cap soaring by $9 billion and left its competitors into a tailspin. Time will tell if that movement is temporary, but one permanent fixture of Amazon's success is founder Jeff Bezos. The C.E.O. was working at a quant hedge fund in New York when he got the idea for an online book retailer that turned into a worldwide phenomenon, which he explained in this man-on-the-street style interview in 1997 that Digg dug up:

Bezos' early vision is astounding. He identified the web as an "infant technology" then with significant shortcomings that made traditional commerce more viable for most products. He realized an early e-commerce business could only thrive if it did something that could not be done offline. Amazon, which started out selling 3 million different books when bookstores offered a few thousand, nailed this.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

But his prescience goes beyond that. "Attention is the scarce commodity of the late 20th century," he said, as my eyes flicked to my phone to check Twitter, "and one of the ways you can do that—and it's the way we did it—is by doing something new and innovative, for the first time, which actually has real value for the customer." With that, he explained, growth comes naturally, as newspapers write about your product and news of its genuine value spreads by word-of-mouth. He also had a striking grasp of the role of tracking customers from their natural online activity through to a sale on his website—a model that has become ubiquitous in e-commerce, for better or worse.

You can see why Amazon has enjoyed some success over the years, even if it hasn't always sounded like the best place to work.

This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

Comments
View More Articles About:
Recommended Videos
About The Author
Jack Holmes
View Other Articles From Jack
Comments
Latest Feed
 
Share
Featuring designs from Tiffany Men's collection.
 
Share
Make your pick: free-to-air, pay TV, or digital.
 
Share
There could be a huge reunion of dead Jedis' Force Ghosts in Rise of Skywalker.
 
Share
It gives us a peek at what ocean life would look like on land.
 
Share
In a 2016 interview, he called superheroes “very much white supremacist dreams of the master race.”
 
Share
What happens when your favorite breakfast goes Asian?
 
Share
Taste success through Filipino or Western food concepts in the Philippines.
 
Share
 
Share
Whether for work or weekends, formal setup or plain gym time, sneakers have grown into the everyday man’s footwear of choice. 
 
Share
To some, he was a chaotic holdout. To others, he was a soldier who held on to his duty.
 
Share
And which day should you book to score the best deals?
Load More Articles
Connect With Us