Speaking to young graduates, including eight new Amazon.com hires, at Carnegie Mellon University's commencement ceremonies on Sunday, Jeff Bezos admitted that he's a nerd who does "a mean interpretation of Captain Picard," but is not a sexless monk. That classification was suggested by Amazon board member John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins. Citing Bezos as an example, Doerr said the perfect founder "is undistracted because he has no sex life." Bezos intends to remind the sex-negative venture capitalist of his many children at Amazon's next board meeting. John, if you need a retort, just exclaim how "resourceful" Mackenzie Bezos is.
Kongregate, a sort of YouTube for Flash games backed by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos as well as Greylock Partners, will adapt some of its 4,500 games to Facebook's platform this week, Kongregate CEO Jim Greer told Inside Social Games. Kongregate makes money, or tries to, through advertising it shares with third-party game developers. Facebook doesn't need more gimmicky games, but with other widgetmakers like RockYou and Slide asking for (and getting) nine-figure valuations, don't expect the deluge to let up any time soon.
"Who knew that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos chose his wife in part because he felt she could, if necessary, get him out of a third-world prison?" Portfolio scribe Kevin Maney asked at the start of a Q&A for the magazine. The answer: Any 13-year-old who's read Jeff Bezos: The Founder of Amazon.com. Bezos goes on to explain to Maney that his criterion was really a proxy for resourcefulness.
Less than a week after Forbes sang the praises of his "modest $82,000 annual base salary," Jeff Bezos cashed in another 2.15 million shares of his Amazon.com stock, adding another $168 million to an earlier $135 million sale to boost his take for the last three months to a cool $300 million-plus. Not forgetting those less fortunate, Jeff also set aside 252 Amazon shares, or about .01 percent of last week's sales, for donation to a nonprofit.
(Photo by Zhang Yong/ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)
Jeff Bezos can safely unclench his legs. Amazon.com reported first-quarter earnings of $143 million, up 29 percent from the same quarter last year, on sales of $4.14 billion, up 37 percent. Wall Street dithered over the forecast, sending shares down in after-hours trading, but the underlying reality is this: Amazon.com, already large, is growing at a prodigious rate at a time in its life when most expected it to slow down. And the growth had little to do with digital sales or Web services. No, people are simply buying more online, more often. CFO Tom Szkutak said the company saw no signs of a recession in U.S. shoppers' buying behavior. How can that be, as other companies complain of economic woes?
Wired spent 13 columns of fine print detailing the birth of Amazon Web Services, Jeff Bezos's scheme to rent out his online store's Web infrastructure to startups. The magazine stayed carefully on message; if you attended Bezos's talk at last Saturday's Startup School, you'll find the story extremely familiar. "You don't generate your own electricity," Bezos asks, rhetorically. "Why generate your own computing?" This is the same line Bezos has been peddling for years. Aside from the rehashed quotes, Wired did squeeze a few numbers out of a reluctant Bezos. The facts about Amazon Web Services, stripped of the hype, amount to roughly 100 words:
Over the years, Charlie Rose has hosted Silicon Valley titans like Wired editor Chris Anderson, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, and Google cofounder Sergey Brin on his late-night public television interview show. When Facebook launched its Beacon advertising program in New York, Rose played master of ceremonies. But not until now, with the discovery of this clip titled "'Charlie Rose' by Samuel Beckett," has Rose effectively explicated the industry.
There is only one story ever written about Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos: That he has defied the skeptics, has had the last laugh, and is now looking to the future. Fortune's latest iteration of the formula is no exception. It begins with an obligatory near-death experience — in this case, a not-quite-fatal helicopter ride near Bezos's West Texas spaceport. And then, Christlike, the escape from death, the resurrection, and the glory. The glory: A stock price driven up not by technical innovations like Amazon's Web services, but by expanding profit margins, the result of tightened R&D spending. Wall Street, not Bezos, has the last laugh, but that conclusion doesn't fit the formula.
Sorry, Thom Yorke. it appears a critically acclaimed career as Radiohead's front man isn't enough to outsell Eliot Spitzer's call girl on the Web. Ashley Alexandra Dupré, also known as "Kristen," considers herself something of an R&B artist. She sells her music on Amie Street, a New York-based music site in which Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos took a personal interest and later had his company invest in. It sets its pricing based on the principles of supply and demand. The more a song sells, the faster its price rises. So when Amie Street flack Zane Groshelle confirmed that Dupré's single, "What We Want" rose to 98 cents "just as quickly if not more quickly" than Barenaked Ladies and Thom Yorke, the market's message is clear: She knows what we want.
Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos didn't seem too attentive in the "Top Ten Lessons Learned in E-Commerce" panel earlier today at the South by Southwest conference in Austin. While Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh presented his ten lessons — "don't compete on price" and "don't worry about competitors" among them — Bezos spent most of the time on his BlackBerry. Captions in the comments, please.
Jeff Bezos likes to say he's in the business of delighting customers. And then he delivers that howling, hooting laugh. The latest guffaw-provoker: Amazon EC2, a service which lets startups run their programs on servers housed in Amazon.com's datacenters. When it launched, Amazon promised "the equivalent of a 1.7GHz x86 processor" — in other words, a fairly low-powered server, but at the cost of a dime an hour. Ted Dziuba, the acid-tongued former editor of Uncov, found that Amazon actually delivered half that performance. Why haven't you heard more about this? Likely because most of the me-too, slapdash websites making use of Amazon's EC2 aren't running anything more processor-intensive than an index-hit SQL select.
For the first time since 2004, Jeff Bezos has sold shares of Amazon.com. His $135 million sale brings his holdings down to a mere 99 million. In total, Bezos and other insiders have sold nearly 2 million shares of Amazon.com in just a few weeks. Profit-taking, since the stock is riding high? Or do they know something about Kindle sales that they haven't told us yet?
When Jeff Bezos and company reported Amazon.com's earnings at the end of last quarter, they swore the Kindle was flying off the shelves. But I've never seen one in the wild. Or even heard of a sighting. Until today when I saw, thanks to Silicon Alley Insider, a photo of a girl reading a Kindle on the New York subway. Take that, Kindle-hater Steve Jobs. Have you ever seen anyone using a Newton on the subway?
Under Jeff Bezos, Amazon has ever played the chameleon, morphing from bookstore to discounter to supermarket. Most recently, it's tried, through the guise of its Amazon Web Services arm, to get people to think of it as a supercomputer to rent. Amazon's earnings were financially solid: The company raked in $1.4 billion in operating cash flow, and by more conventional measures, it earned $207 million on $5.7 billion in revenues. You won't read about that in the blogs, though, because Amazon earned that money the old-fashioned way — by shipping books and other physical goods to customers.
Remember the comparisons between Amazon's Kindle and the iPod? Don't try them on Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The Kindle was a bad idea, Jobs told the New York Times after yesterday's Macworld keynote. "It doesn't matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don't read anymore," he said. "Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don't read anymore." Mmhmm, Mr. Jobs. And whose fault is that?
Amazon will pay the equivalent of $1,500 per day in fines and continue to offer free shipping in France in defiance of a recently imposed court order. The high-minded and socialist-leaning French government passed the 1981 Lang law, which prevents selling books at a discount, to protect small booksellers from the predation of discount supermarkets. How visionary those legislators were to anticipate the coming of Amazon. Hoping to overturn the law, Bezos is trying to muster the support of French cheap-book lovers. But Amazon is unlikely to prevail even with the people's support. The High Court of Versailles is unlikely to appreciate the online book retailer's sense of revolution. Off with their savings!
The herd of day traders is debating whether to buy Apple before Steve Jobs's keynote at Macworld Expo. But following the herd is a strategy that generally leads to getting trampled. Eric Savitz of Barron's spots a smarter strategy: Buy Amazon.com, and sell — or at least avoid — Barry Diller's IAC. Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney says IAC has "few countercyclical hedges to protect against a potentially material economic slowdown in the U.S." What does that mean?
Amazon.com is moving its headquarters out of an aging hospital and into a shiny new corporate campus north of downtown developed by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen. One of the main draws? "Great access to public transportation," company spokeswoman Patty Smith tells the Seattle Times. Ah yes, that would be the South Lake Union trolley — known locally by the acronym "SLUT." Just think: 6,000-some Amazon workers riding the Slut. All in a day's work. (Photo by Andy Rogers/Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Those not initiated in the mysteries of databases, i.e. most of us, may think that Amazon.com's new SimpleDB service is competition for established databases from Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM. It's not. Nor is it, in the lofty language of Web-computing evangelists, a "cloud-based" alternative to large Web databases. But it's probably a perfect match for your stupid Web 2.0 startup, which makes it a genius move by Amazon.