My Rating of “Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire” by Brad Stone: 8 / 10
He wasn’t a genius in inventing but a genius in inventing a system of invention.
This quote was written by Graham Moore in reference to Thomas Edison. It also is the first line in this book. It ultimately sets the scene (and theme) on what the reader is to expect. Amazon Unbound does cover all things Amazon. However, it fundamentally is a book about Jeff Bezos and the impact he has made through his various ventures and innovations.
All the topics and areas you’d expect are covered in this book. Brad Stone picks up from where he left off with The Everything Store and web articles. For example he covers key S-Team strategic initiatives, product faux pas, geo-political tensions, regulation tension, divorce, partnerships, acquisitions and of course many other topics. Amazon Unbound also describes some of the very recent changes such as COVID-19 and Bezos’ decision to step down as CEO. What I particularly enjoyed was the outside in approach to this book. This is due to my recent read of Working Backwards by Colin Bryar & Bill Carr (my review is here) which is an inside out view of Amazon. I feel like I have a good balance of who Amazon (and Bezos) really is and can piece together the external perceptions and internal realities.
Brad Stone’s writing style is gripping and will keep you focused throughout the book. His level of detail along with his many connection help shape many of the stories and incidents that revolve around Bezos. These include but are not limited to Bezos’ recent changes in his relationship, philanthropy and non-Amazon ventures (e.g. Blue Origin and The Washington Post). It’s a great read and highly recommend it in order to understand a man who really has systematised the art of innovation.
Three key takeaways from the book:
- Focus on lowering your cost structure. It is better to have lower costs and charge in order to maximise value. The alternative is charging to cover your costs.
- The true purchasing price of The Washington post wasn’t $250 million but more likely $10 billion. This is due to the negative publicity from Trump over the four years of his presidency. It impacted more so on Amazon itself than Bezos.
- Averages are bad values… they are lazy. I’ve read this many times however never written it down. It’s worth thinking about.