It’s the equivalent of the groundhog coming out of his hole. For 12 months out of the year, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos is a bit of a recluse, avoiding the spotlight at nearly every turn.
But with the all-important holiday shopping season now upon us (yes, it has already started before this early Thanksgiving) Bezos is popping up in some unusual places.
In the past few days, Bezos has been interviewed by Charlie Rose — where the billionaire discussed the importance of invention at Amazon.com — and late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon — where Bezos talked about the differences between the online retailer and Apple (and declined to discuss the company’s smartphone plans).
He’s also on the cover of Fortune magazine as the 2012 Businessperson of the Year, and even popped by The Today Show to talk with Matt Lauer about the company’s innovative culture and, of course, the Kindle Fire. (He was put on the spot by Lauer when asked who he thought should be Time magazine’s Person of the Year).
Putting your top executive on the talk show circuit — especially one who doesn’t always grant interviews — can certainly be an effective way to sell product (especially at a time when Amazon is fighting everyone from Walmart to Apple to Google in what Bezos admits is a hyper-competitive market).
Of course, Bezos doesn’t see the world through the eyes of rivals, noting that they are much more focused on customers, not competitors.
No one can tell the story of Amazon.com, started in 1994 in a Bellevue garage and now boasting a $104 billion market value, like Bezos. He’s the ultimate spokesperson at a time when Americans are about to open their wallets for holiday shopping.
It certainly wasn’t lost on us that Bezos’ appearances came just a few days before its holiday blitz, with the company today unveiling its “Black Friday Lightning Deals” that will run through November 24th.
Other retailers don’t have the benefit of parading a Bezos-like character out on late-night TV or the early morning shows. (Can you name the CEOs of Best Buy, Target or Walmart for that matter?)
Bezos is actually quite charming in the interviews, with his boisterous laugh and even responding in a humorous manner to Lauer’s comment about People magazine bypassing Bezos for the “Sexiest Man Alive” honor. “I’m still recovering,” laughed Bezos.
“I’m very optimistic about this holiday shopping season,” notes Bezos in the interview with Lauer. “… I think it is going to be a record season for us, knock on wood.”