Today, in the Invent Like An Owner Podcast, Dave speaks with Alex Edelman. They talk about how an English Major from the University of Pennsylvania joined Amazon as the company’s first dedicated “HTML Wizard”, why the V3 project (in 1997) was mainly about obsession over Customer Experience, the thrilling yet exhausting experience during Launch Nights, and how a boating accident led to shared Ownership through pager rotation.
Alex Edelman is an internet veteran. He was Amazon.com’s first web developer, and has decades of experience building and scaling innovative web sites, mobile apps, and web service APIs. Lately, his focus is on serving his family’s community, often leading in school fundraising and event planning.
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Memorable Quotes from the Interview, with a focus on the problems faced by entrepreneurs:"Young technologies don’t have great tooling. It’s like they’re made of stone. You need to be willing to work with stone tools. Over time, the quality of the tools translates into a competitive advantage." — Alex Edelman Click To Tweet "This wasn’t just a job. We were all on a mission to serve customers best, to help them find the right product for them. It meant a lot to us that they were using the site right away, on launch night." — Alex Edelman Click To Tweet "Bias for Action is a really important Amazon Leadership Principle. Everywhere I looked I saw builders. Bias for Action matters." — Alex Edelman Click To Tweet
Fun Photos and Memorabilia
Alex mentioned these mockups and photos during his interview. I hope you enjoy your trip down Amazon memory lane 🙂
What to Listen For:
- 00:00 Intro
- 02:16 How did you get to Amazon?
- 06:07 Amazon set its eyes on the growing internet presence
- 07:04 Hired under the site development and editorial team
- 08:10 First major project after joining Amazon
- 13:11 Reason why relational databases weren’t an option before
- 14:20 Pushing for the customer recommendations feature
- 15:19 The difficulties of developing Amazon V3
- 17:12 Engineers built basic templating system for editorial team to use
- 19:33 Launch Nites of big projects
- 24:32 It’s a collective mission to serve the customers
- 25:47 Product images and developing an image server
- 29:29 The Pager Story
- 33:01 From books to launching new products
- 37:18 Macro templates and expansion of UI features
- 39:53 What is brutal triage?
- 41:52 Young technologies don’t have great tooling
- 43:26 Winning the Just Do It award (3 times)
- 46:43 Interface programming has come a long way