Dubbing him the “ultimate disrupter,” Fortune magazine has chosen Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos as its Businessperson of the Year. The profile that accompanies the honor, written expertly by senior editor Adam Lashinsky, delves into everything from Amazon’s memo-based culture to Bezos’ love of science fiction to the company’s legendary focus on the customer.
Quoted throughout the piece are legendary technologists such as Marc Andreessen, the Netscape co-founder and venture capitalist who notes Bezos’ amazing “staying power and willingness to withstand beatings.” (Interestingly, Andreessen’s venture capital firm just bankrolled Zulily to the tune of $85 million, a potentially rival to Amazon in the battle over how moms spend their money online).
Jeff Bezos has always done things his own way, whether he’s ignoring Wall Street’s pleas for consistent earnings growth or requiring his top people to construct artfully written missives or launching seemingly disparate businesses — all at razor-thin margins. Only there’s nothing random about Bezos’s strategy. Indeed, like the memos he makes his managers write, his moves are driven by clear thinking and a cohesive vision, even if it takes a while for rivals to figure out Amazon’s motives — at which point it may be too late.
Bezos also granted a rare interview to Fortune, even explaining the company’s penny-pinching culture.
“We pay very low cash compensation relative to most companies,” Bezos says. “We also have no incentive compensation of any kind. And the reason we don’t is because it is detrimental to teamwork.” The piece also quotes ex-Amazon managers like Dave Cotter and Nadia Shouraboura about their experiences.
The profile is definitely worth a read for those who are close followers of Amazon, a company which keeps a tight rein on its culture and employees. Fortune also released its list of the top business people of the year, recognizing Apple’s Tim Cook, eBay’s John Donahoe and Google’s Larry Page in the top 10. Starbucks’ Howard Schultz also made the list at No. 23 and Ford’s Alan Mulaly No. 45.
On Thursday, GeekWire recognized Bezos as one of our Newsmakers of 2012, noting Amazon’s expansion into areas such as wine and fashion as well as its continued push into the tablet market.
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