Jason Del Rey

Recent Posts by Jason Del Rey

Jeff Bezos Doesn’t Want to Hear About Your Headache

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Jeff Bezos runs one tight ship.

Back in 1999, according to a New York Times feature article published this weekend, Bezos was intent on cutting costs in an effort to appease Wall Street.

“Just about the only thing that workers received free was aspirin,” the Times reports. “So the aspirin went.”

The article, which spans about 2,800 words, also highlights the rigid and secretive nature with which Amazon still operates. Bezos rarely speaks to the press, and his communications department follows that lead.

“Every story you ever see about Amazon, it has that sentence: ‘An Amazon spokesman declined to comment,’” [an early Amazon employee] said.

Drew Herdener, an Amazon spokesman, declined to comment.

Wall Street, for one, doesn’t seem to mind that approach. Amazon’s stock recently soared to an all-time high of $313 a share. It has since retreated about 10 percent, but Bezos still has Wall Street largely on his side, despite the continued focus on growth over profit.

And if his employees have an issue with his style, it sure wasn’t on display during my recent visit to Amazon headquarters. There were — gasp! — smiles all around, but perhaps that had something to do with the outdoor festival for employee dogs going on in the middle of the company campus. But, as the Times pointed out, some of its warehouse employees might have a different opinion.

Beyond observations about Bezos’s management approach, the Times feature contains some other interesting nuggets from the Amazon time machine, including this oft-overlooked one: Before customer reviews became prevalent on Amazon.com, the company employed an editorial team to write its own book reviews.

So what does this all mean for Bezos’s new asset, the Washington Post? At the end of the long article, this is the only thing that’s clear: Pretty much no one, except maybe Bezos himself, knows what he has planned for the paper.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work