Now it is the turn of Brian Dumaine, with Bezonomics: How Amazon is Changing Our Lives, and What the World’s Companies Are Learning From It, which is the sort of incredibly long title that publishers only give books when they aren’t sure what the point of them is. Bezonomics is an easy and engaging read, but I’d hesitate to call it gripping. Quite often, though, it is eye-opening.
What makes this book a great read, however, is the way Dumaine shines a light on the man who has made Amazon such a success.
The first third of the book reveals Bezos’s special sauce. He is hard-driving and ruthless. He rips into executives in what staff call his “nutters”. His favourite insult is: “Are you lazy or just incompetent?” His pressure to succeed drives his staff “to near madness”. One tells Dumaine: “It’s a f*****-up place.”
This book is meticulously researched, and features many interviews with characters who have been part of the online behemoth’s journey, yet it never veers too far into dry details and is written engagingly, with the occasional, welcome wry comment. Dumaine notes that Amazon’s pillars of customer obsession, extreme innovation and long-term management, all supported by artificial intelligence, turn a virtuous-cycle “flywheel” – a concept that gets several mentions. According to Dumaine, Bezos has “created a new turbocharged way of thinking that will change the way successful businesses are run in the 21st century.” That said, this is no hagiography. As well as pivotal moves into areas like Prime and Alexa, the author also flags mis-fires such as the Fire Phone.