With 2259 ratings
By: Brad Stone, Pete Larkin, et al.
Purchased At: $18.00
Audie Award Finalist, Business/Educational, 2014
The definitive story of Amazon.com, one of the most successful companies in the world, and of its driven, brilliant founder, Jeff Bezos.
Amazon.com started off delivering books through the mail. But its visionary founder, Jeff Bezos, wasn't content with being a bookseller. He wanted Amazon to become the everything store, offering limitless selection and seductive convenience at disruptively low prices. To do so, he developed a corporate culture of relentless ambition and secrecy that's never been cracked. Until now.
Brad Stone enjoyed unprecedented access to current and former Amazon employees and Bezos family members, giving listeners the first in-depth, fly-on-the-wall account of life at Amazon. Compared to tech's other elite innovators - Jobs, Gates, Zuckerberg - Bezos is a private man. But he stands out for his restless pursuit of new markets, leading Amazon into risky new ventures like the Kindle and cloud computing, and transforming retail in the same way Henry Ford revolutionized manufacturing.
The Everything Store will be the revealing, definitive biography of the company that placed one of the first and largest bets on the Internet and forever changed the way we shop and read.
Like other people have mentioned, this book paints Jeff in a little bit of a strange light, only focusing on his ruthless approach to business and e-commerce and spending little time talking about the fact that he is indeed human and has a wide range of emotions and isn't actually Darth Vader incarnate.
All in all, I enjoyed the book thoroughly. The pacing is quick, but not thin, and the author spends just enough time explaining situations to provide context without risking crafting a dense editorial. The language is smart, but not aloof, and the progression of the writing makes it easy to continue reading for long stretches of time unlike a lot of other books like this one.
I enjoyed reading this book; I learned a lot about Amazon’s history and culture. I always find the “backstories” interesting. Of course, I think you have to take any single article or book with a grain of salt; we humans tend to be subjective, myopic, and one-sided, even if our intentions are good. And, I don’t think the author actually interviewed Mr. Bezos, so that seems like a significant miss to me. But all in all, I don’t think the book comes across as either for or against Amazon, and it is a very easy read. If you’re trying to learn about Amazon, don’t limit yourself to this book, or any other single source of information. I’d particularly recommend reading the book's reviews written by Mackenzie Bezos and Andy Jassy.
One really interesting tidbit was the story about Jeff having an open seat in meetings, where the “customer” is seated. Some people may think it a bit silly, but I don’t. I can’t think of a better constant reminder. I’ve found that I actually seem to have a lot of the same quirks and philosophies as Mr. Bezos, which is kind of cool. Like, frugality is one of my mantras too. It’s hard to find fault with much of anything, when Amazon has been so successful.
Brad Stone did a great job of writing The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. He captured the business incredibly, from its extremely successful start, to its struggles in the beginning of the 2000's. This book was very insightful, and, after reading it, I look at the company as more than just a convenient, "Everything Store."
We have all heard of them - it's more than likely that you have bought something from them - but do you know how Jeff Bezos created this giant of a business?
He started in a garage with an idea, books, and desks made from cheap doors.
After starting out in the garage, Jeff and his associates quickly had to buy an official office space, as well as a warehouse. They grew so quickly that, on May 15, 1997, the company reported a 900% growth in annual sales.
Jeff's idea was extremely successful up until 2000, when the company's stock made a complete U-turn. Its share value would continue to drop in value for 21 months. Jeff Bezos has been up against incredible challenges, and this book has taught me how he came through each of them.
During a meeting in the earlier years of his company's lifetime, Jeff and the other attendees came up with six terms that described what they wanted to be. These terms are:
1. Customer Obsession
3. Bias for Action
5. High Bar for Talent
After being hit by his business's decline in 2000, Bezos came up with three more terms to add to that list:
9. Eliminating waste
If you want to learn more about one of the most successful CEO's, or if you are dying to know how his company recovered from their 21 month slump, I highly recommend that you buy The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon.
This review was originally posted on my blog, along with other biographies, classics, and insipiring nonfiction.
After reading the biography of ELON MUSK and now this, I can now safely say that, you need to be low on empathy if you want to run a bold and thriving business. (Correct me if I am wrong & recommend a contradictory biography )
The author, Brad Stone, is a well respected US journalist with a strong pedigree in this arena, and with The Everything Store he really delivers. The book appears well researched with lots of rich history, from the amusing to the serious technical details, and introduces the reader to a lot of the key players in the business.
As a longtime Amazon user I thought I knew a lot about it, but it turns out that Amazon is like an iceberg and we only see a small percentage of the real company on the surface, the rest of the behemoth is under the surface, away from view.
This book is very readable, Stone has turned what could have been a quite dry subject into a fascinating read that keeps you turning the page. Some books in this genre are heavy going, but this one has just enough story-telling weaved through the cold facts to keep you interested to the end.
If you're interested in Amazon or the way that billion dollar businesses are built and run this will make for a great read which I highly recommend.
Yet one of the most memorable stories in Brad Stone's account of how Jeff Bezos made such a success of Amazon is just such an encounter with a senior manager. They were giving answers that Bezos did not believe about the speed with which the phones were being answered by the customer service team. So in the middle of a meeting with senior managers, Bezos put a phone on loudspeaker, dialed Amazon's customer service number and started ostentatiously timing how long it took to be answered. He'd been told that calls were being answered in less than a minute, but the meeting had to sit in excruciating silence as the minutes ticked up before finally the phone was answered.
A devastatingly effective way of making a point, true. But how do you combine such a brutish attitude at times with an ability to recruit, retain and motivate the sort of brilliant staff you need, especially when Amazon wasn't paying high wages? The mystery is deepened by the grimly humorous collection of stories of other technology CEOs and their abrasive behaviour that Brad Stone presents in the book.
As with Steve Jobs, reading about Jeff Bezos and all his quirks in dealing with other human beings (not to mention Amazon's huge sums spent on failed takeovers) leaves you wondering for much of the time if you're reading an account of a brilliant success or a tragic failure. Clearly the path Amazon has taken shows he - like Jobs - is the former.
But whilst Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs does answer the question of how Jobs and Apple ended up so successful despite his manner, in the case of Bezos and Amazon, Brad Stone leaves that question only partly answered. Early on in the book Amazon is but one amongst many online book selling startups. Stone explains well why traditional bookselling firms found it difficult to move into the online business, constrained as they were by their heavy investment in offline stores. Why, though, did Amazon triumph from all those different online startups? That Stone doesn't tell us.
The more successful Amazon gets, the better Stone's book does explain its gathering momentum, especially thanks to Bezos's insistence on using Amazon's scale to drive prices as low as possible. There are two types of company, Bezos says. Those that looks to charge as high a price as possible (think Apple) and those that look to charge as low a price as possible (think Amazon). Amazon's low prices may have kept its profits down, but they have hugely boosted its size and, while Apple's high margins have attracted big competitors eating into its market, Amazon's low margins have kept competitors out of the market, leaving more space for it to grow even further.
It's a shame though that the initial crucial breakthrough remains unexplained even by the end of an enjoyable book.
Clearly in all the above, Amazon has been massively successful. Yet it has faced criticism over tax and some of its employee policies, and as Brad Stone, and many past employees point out, Amazon has no culture of work-life balance and different teams working together: Bezos appears to believe that creative tension creates progress and drives up standards. There is a powerful feeling across the political divide in the US that Amazon has got too big and is exercising a distorting effect on many markets (though some of this is caused by political jealousy, for example Trump's dislike of the liberal Washington Post newspaper, also owned by Bezos). Brad Stone is apparently writing an updated version of this book, which should be an interesting read. Certainly, barring some unforeseen catastrophe, Amazon's capacity for forward-looking thinking and not resting on its laurels seems set to ensure it continues to evolve and play a key role in online retail for many years to come.
There is no doubt that Amazon is a wonderful company from the consumer's point of view. However it has used its immense power in the marketplace to reduce what creative individuals, small companies and employees can earn for their hard work.
This book does not have much information on what it is like to work in an Amazon warehouse. This topic has been covered extensively and its absence makes the book incomplete. As a society, we need to question whether it is right for any company to treat employees badly, and to do so we need good information about the reality of the workplace.
Jeff Bezos was adopted by his stepfather, and until fairly recently he did not have any contact with his biological father. The author of this book decided to track down his biological father, who did not know that the son he fathered grew up to be Jeff Bezos, and to reveal this information to him. I consider the author's interference in the Bezos family relationships to be unethical. Journalists are meant to report a story, not alter the story to make their book more 'interesting'.
It talks about the beginning of the small internet bookstore and how it became the biggest internet ecommerce company in the world, its leadership, philosophy of its founder. You can learn a lot how to setup up and run a successful business. It explains why Amazon was destined for success.
It is a must read if you want to understand how Amazon became the biggest company and Jeff B one of the most powerful men on the planet.
I circled new words, and reviewed the circled words at the end of the book. I would have preferred to have spent my review time on concepts, rather than deciphering rare words.
I recommend it anyway, as it goes into good detail about a whole range of subjects.
Made for very interesting reading, and gives a real insight into the cut throat and dog-eat-dog world of American corporations. You have to hand it to Bezos - he's made a giant of a company, but it's very interesting to read how he did it with an unwavering attitude and drive to provide Amazon customers the best possible price, but at times bullying tactics once his company became a market force.
The book is fairly well researched, but does suffer from chronology problems. I think this is due to the selection of the chapters. The end result is that there is quite bit of repetition and is sluggish in parts. The storyline does dovetail broadly over the firm's life but is insufficiently linear to build a good rhythm and momentum for the reader. That said, for someone of limited knowledge on the subject (like me) it was tolerable. For Amazon buffs, this may be a problem.
I found the criticism to be fairly balanced in also highlighting quirky management styles, testosterone, ruthless negotiating, threats to staff that left of their own free will and the financial stinginess. Bezos, was depicted as an intelligent, eccentric, driven, relentless innovator, with enormous dreams. His ego too is not spared criticism, yet the Writer's terms both missionary and mercenary seem most apt.
I would have liked more insights into the thinking and the strategy of the technical heads regards their development and evolving of their information strategy and data mining. (if possible of course) The brains trust that created a computer software network that was sold or rented to big clients intrigues me. Also, the 'scorched earth' style pricing strategy to clear competition and win market supremacy is controversial and would have created many enemies.
Only passing paragraphs are given to companies bought, sold and dumped. Many mistakes were made on the way and the shareholders were notoriously forgiving. Bezos certainly was mooted to have the Midas touch even when losses were relentless.
The book is not sordid or tacky, venting needless gossip. It also doesn't go into depth, as I mentioned earlier, so as a first step into finding out about Bezos, the consumer strategist - this is a book I liked and recommend.
I highly recommend this book for any entrepreneur or business person looking to formulate strategies to launch innovative products and differentiate their company from the rest. Amazon has transformed commerce in this age, and regardless of the good or bad that this has brought, it is definitely worth a look to better understand what has made it into the company it is today.
It takes you back to the days even before Amazon was born, all the challenges faced, it shows the genius of Jeff Bezos and the culture created at Amazon.
It's amazing to get to know the story of the biggest company in the world.
Although dry in places and with a tendency, from time to time, to feel like nothing more than a list of events, overall this is a fascinating account of a remarkable journey. It's the story of how, as with Apple and, to an extent, Microsoft, a global company can be propelled to break the mould by the genius, strength and personality of one person. I wouldn't want to work there, though...