Amazon sells its first book, Fluid Concepts & Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought by Douglass Hofstadter to customer John Wainright. Bezos on why the company decided to focus on selling books:
We had to first focus on the book business and grow that until we were comfortable with it.
Amazon opens its online retail website to third party merchants for a small fee. The company adds 500,000 new products to its inventory (about four times the offerings of the average Kmart). Bezos:
Sixteen months ago, we were a place we could come to find books. Tomorrow, we will be a place to find anything, with a capital A.
Merchants pay $9.99 a month to list their products on the site, and Amazon in turn learns more about the spending and purchasing habits of its customers.
Time Magazine names Bezos Person of the Year. At 35 years old, Bezos is the the fourth youngest recipient of the honor. He is preceded by Charles Lindbergh in 1927 who was 25; Queen Elizabeth II, who was 26 in 1952; and Martin Luther King Jr., who was 34 when he was selected in 1963. Bezos:
This is an incredible and humbling honor. The Internet holds the promise to improve lives and empower people. I feel very lucky to be involved in this time of rapid and amazing change.
Time names people for “better or worse” who have shaped the course of current events. Bezos was selected for putting forth a new economy of Internet commerce.
In an alliance with Greenlight.com, Amazon announces it will offer a car-selling service on its website. Amazon customers can choose a make and model from various trucks and cars available. After making an initial deposit with a credit card, the car is then purchased at a local dealership, or delivered to the new owner’s home. Jupiter Communications predicts online car sales will account for a third of “auto-buying transactions” by 2004. Greenlight.com has agreed to pay Amazon $82.5 million over a five year period. Bezos:
This is where car buying is going, and we have to be there. As people buy more and more online, they are going to keep coming back to the site that makes it easy and secure for them no matter what category.
Jeff Bezos introduces the Amazon Kindle, a portable e-reader device. The first generation Kindle has a 6-inch screen and can store 250MB of memory, which is expandable by a SD card. The Kindle sells for $399. It has free wireless cellular broadband from Sprint so readers can browse the web or download e-book purchases. The device can hold up to 200 books. Bezos says:
Anyone who is reading two, three, four books at the same time should have one of these.
… smaller, lighter, and faster, with 50 percent better contrast. Readers are going to do a double take when they see Kindle’s bright new screen and feel how remarkably light the smaller 8.7 ounce design feels in one hand.
Amazon says electronic books have surpassed traditional print book sales for the first time. The company accounts for about two thirds of e-book sales. The company reports that it sells 105 e-books for every 100 print books it sells, including books that do not have an electronic version. The figures include sales of Kindle Singles, short form content from magazine and newspaper articles. The company does not disclose its Kindle sales figures. Bezos:
We had high hopes that this would happen eventually, but we never imagined it would happen this quickly. We’ve been selling print books for 15 years and Kindle books for less than four years.
Amazon announces the first touch-screen Kindle. The Kindle Touch is without a keyboard but instead is equipped with an experimental web browser and an infrared screen. Consumers can purchase a Wi-Fi only model for $99 with ads or $139 with no ads, or with both Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity for $149 with ads or $189 with no ads.
Amazon introduces a free lending library exclusive to Amazon Prime members. Members can choose from a select list of books to borrow for free, with no due dates (limited to one book per month). Bezos:
Prime Members now have exclusive access to a huge library of books to read on any Kindle device at no additional cost and with no due dates.
Amazon releases the Kindle Paperwhite. With a backlit display, capacitive touch technology, and more pixel real estate, users can read text either inside or outside without glare. WiFi only models are $119, Wi-Fi + 3G are $179. Bezos explains the new Kindle is:
[what] we’ve always wanted to build — the technology didn’t exist to build a display with this level of contrast, resolution, brightness and battery life, so our engineers invented it …
Amazon introduces the second generation of Kindle Fire, its Android-powered color touchscreen tablet device. A 7″ device is $199, 8.9″ is $399, and the top line model with 4G wireless and 32 GB storage is $499. Along with the new Fire, the first generation stays on the shelf with a reduced price of $159. Asked about what makes the Fire stand out, Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, says:
We’re taking on the most popular price point for a tablet, $499, but doubling the storage and incredibly, adding ultra-fast 4G LTE wireless…
Bezos purchases the Washington Post, an American newspaper with a circulation of 474,767 subscribers. The $250,000,000 cash sale ends ownership of the paper by the Graham family. The paper has been in the family for the last four generations. Graham says:
Every member of my family started out with the same emotion — shock — in even thinking about [selling The Post] …. But when the idea of a transaction with Jeff Bezos came up, it altered my feelings.
Bezos will have sole ownership of the paper and the Post’s subsidiary properties. Bezos will remain in Seattle and continue to run the daily operations of Amazon. “I have a fantastic day job that I love,” he said.
Calling it the sixth generation Kindle, Amazon announces the new Paperwhite — a faster e-reader than the original Paperwhite. Bezos:
Kindle is the best-selling e-reader in the world for six years running. No one is investing on behalf of readers or pushing the boundaries of hardware, software and content for readers like this team: the new Kindle Paperwhite has brand-new display technology, the next generation of our built-in light, a faster processor, plus all of the exclusive benefits of the Kindle ecosystem …
Amazon introduces the third generation of its Kindle Fire tablets, in both 7″ and 8.9 inch versions. A 7″ models are $229 (Wi-Fi only) and $329 (Wi-Fi + 4G); 8.9″ are $379 (Wi-Fi only) and $479 (Wi-Fi + 4G). Bezos explains:
It’s been just two years since we introduced the first Kindle Fire, and the team is innovating at an unbelievable speed ….We’ve worked hard to pack this much hardware, innovation, and customer obsession into these prices.
It won’t work for everything. We’re not going to deliver kayaks or table saws this way.
When launched, customers will be able to order selected products and have them delivered to their doorsteps by a flying autonomous drone charted by exact GPS coordinates. According to Bezos, the drones will have been programmed with redundancies and reliability checks to prevent them from accidentally landing on someone’s head. Amazon says it will take the company “some number of years” to get the technology off the ground and gain FAA approval.
Amazon launches Fire TV, a tiny black box that plugs into a HDTV television. The device streams Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, and Showtime. Amazon also allows users to rent video from its instant video store. Bezos:
Tiny box, huge specs, tons of content, incredible price—people are going to love Fire TV ….
Fire TV (priced at $99) is meant to be a competitor to Roku and Apple TV, expands Amazon’s hardware, including its Kindle and Kindle Fire products.
Amazon releases a teaser video on its Youtube channel of the new hardware device it plans to announce on June 14, 2014 at a scheduled media event in Seattle hosted by Jeff Bezos. With the device off screen, the video depicts a series of responses by people using Amazon’s new device:
It moves with me. … How does it do that? … That’s pretty damn intuitive … That’s really cool … Amazing … It’s very really life and incomparable to anything I’ve ever seen.
A woman moves her head from side to side while using the device, and another man while apparently holding it in his hands exclaims, “Oh wow.” At the end of the video a man asks, “Do I have to give this back?”
At an Amazon press conference in Seattle, Jeff Bezos unveils the Fire Phone, the company’s inaugural hardware contribution to the smartphone marketplace. Bezos:
Fire Phone puts everything you love about Amazon in the palm of your hand—instant access to Amazon’s vast content ecosystem and exclusive features like the Mayday button, ASAP, Second Screen, X-Ray, free unlimited photo storage, and more.
The 32GB smartphone sells for $199.00 – $649.00 with an exclusive contract with AT&T.
Bezos is nominated by Satya Nadella for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and nominates William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, and George Takei.
Amazon acquires Twitch, the live stream video gaming site, for over $1 billion after Google withdraws from the purchase. The deal includes a cash pay of $970 million, nearly 20 percent of Amazon’s reserve revealed in the latest quarterly report. Amazon now owns a “YouTube” type platform with the ability to reach the young men. During 2013, over half of the total viewership watched video game playing for 20 hours weekly. Bezos:
Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon and Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of games each month.
Bezos sells more than 1 million shares of Amazon amounting to $532 million. It is his largest stock sale ever. He still owns nearly 83 million Amazon shares, or about 18% of the company.
Bezos sends an internal mail to all Amazon employees discussing the New York Times article.
Here’s why I’m writing you. The NYT article prominently features anecdotes describing shockingly callous management practices, including people being treated without empathy while enduring family tragedies and serious health problems. The article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day. But if you know of any stories like those reported, I want you to escalate to HR. You can also email me directly at [email protected] Even if it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero…The article goes further than reporting isolated anecdotes. It claims that our intentional approach is to create a soulless, dystopian workplace where no fun is had and no laughter heard. Again, I don’t recognize this Amazon and I very much hope you don’t, either. More broadly, I don’t think any company adopting the approach portrayed could survive, much less thrive, in today’s highly competitive tech hiring market. The people we hire here are the best of the best. You are recruited every day by other world-class companies, and you can work anywhere you want.
I strongly believe that anyone working in a company that really is like the one described in the NYT would be crazy to stay. I know I would leave such a company. But hopefully, you don’t recognize the company described. Hopefully, you’re having fun working with a bunch of brilliant teammates, helping invent the future, and laughing along the way.
Thank you, Jeff
Trump and Pence meet with tech industry leaders at Trump Tower. Trump:
This is a truly amazing group of people. I won’t tell you the hundreds of calls we’ve had asking to come to this meeting. I’m here to help you folks do well. And you’re doing well right now and I’m very honored by the bounce. They’re all talking about the bounce. So right now everybody in this room has to like me — at least a little bit — but we’re going to try and have that bounce continue.