Amazon.com holds a special place in my life. Not only has it defined my working career and developed some of my closest personal relationships, but it’s also the environment where I was empowered to explore my personal limits. While I wasn’t the earliest of early employees, I did join in May 1998 as a product manager, when Amazon was just a bookstore. I was one of the approximate first 100 headquarter-based employees, and I my official employee number was 996 (because Amazon already had many warehouse and customer service employees in various facilities). My first work was on the to-be-launched Music store where I helped define pricing rules and other functionality based on customer wishes and competitive realities, and I went on to help launch many stores and services over more than 11 years at Amazon.
I left Amazon in 2016 and since then I’ve heard many people tell stories about Amazon, and there are some good books including The Everything Store, Think Like Amazon (from my friend John Rossman) and most recently Working Backwards (from my friends Colin Bryar and Bill Carr).
But I personally think that a better way to archive the stories behind more than 25 years of innovation is to hear from the people who actually led the product launches. Partially, it’s because I have no desire (or ability 🙂 ) to write a book, but moreso because I love the longer-form podcast interview format, and I’m just personally interested to hear the details. And I think you will too.
Before I start, I’d like to reiterate that this effort is just to document what went on behind the scenes, to share stories that should be of interest to aspiring entrepreneurs, business students and anyone interested in business history. I’m hoping to leave commentary on broader social issues to the many outlets that enjoy covering those topics. As we all know, there’s an arc for almost every large company that spans ‘Darling of the Media’ to ‘Curse on Society’. Personally, I think that the truth for most all of these companies is much more grey, and my own experience is that Amazon was, and is, comprised of some of the best people I have ever met. But let’s face it, things tend to get messy once you hire your millionth employee 🙂
So, let’s document what happened. If nothing else, after 50-150 episodes, we’ll have a bunch of interviews with fascinating people, and I’ll just pay the hosting fees for as long as my credit card still works.
As ever, please Contact Me if you have corrections, ideas for guests, or just to say hello.