Today, in the Invent Like An Owner Podcast, Dave speaks with Joel Spiegel – the former VP of Engineering and VP of Auctions & Marketplace Businesses at Amazon – and currently a Trustee at Grinnell College. He is one of the leading figures in Amazon’s transition from a retail-centric business model to a marketplace-driven business model.
Joel worked at tech pioneers including Visicorp, HP, Apple and Microsoft before joining Amazon.com in 1997. He talks about his busy years after joining Amazon as well as the seemingly endless challenges of restructuring the company to cater to both buyers and sellers along with the technical aspects that made all these changes possible.
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Fun Photos and Memorabilia
What to Listen For:
- 00:00 Intro
- 01:52 How it all started for Joel
- 06:09 Other big contributors in the early days
- 07:34 What made Joel decide to join Amazon?
- 09:31 The first projects and early web development
- 11:32 Splitting database and different technical issues every month
- 14:27 How Amazon became a third-party seller marketplace
- 21:02 From a general manager to supervising the marketplace
- 21:49 Why Amazon Auctions were necessary
- 26:29 The introduction of the Best Seller List
- 28:32 Evolution of selling through Auctions and zShops to creating Amazon Marketplace
- 34:26 Convincing retail customers to try out Amazon Marketplace
- 38:43 Seller Central: building tools for sellers
- 41:54 Launching of Single Detail Page (SDP) made buying products from Marketplace Sellers work for Amazon shoppers
- 45:05 It wasn’t easy to get buyers and sellers in the early days
- 48:12 What future entrepreneurs can learn from Amazon’s transition to a Marketplace-driven business model
John Chenault says
I joined Amazon in August of 1997. I still remember an ‘All Engineering’ meeting that Joel held about the second week I was in the company.
It was in the ‘big’ conference room that held all 20 or so of the engineers.
Joel got up and said words to the effect of ” I just want to review for you our goals for the next three weeks so you all know what to do”
I felt at that moment that this was a special place.
Dave Schappell says
Nothing like long-term, 3-week hypergrowth planning, eh, John?
It wasn’t that, it was that Joel ( and Amazon ) trusted the engineer to know what to do if management clearly stated the business goals. That was somewhat rare in my experience.