Jason Del Rey

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Afraid Amazon Will Crush Your Small Business? “Complaining Is Not a Strategy,” Says CEO Jeff Bezos.

jeff bezos with Kindle Fire HDX

Yes, all anyone really wants to discuss about Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s appearance on CBS’s “60 Minutes” last night are the delivery drones.

But if you’re a small bookseller or retail shop struggling under the pressure of Amazon’s low prices, you were probably more interested in a different part of Charlie Rose’s Q&A with Bezos.

Following a line of questioning about Amazon’s thin or nonexistent margins and long-term view on investments, Rose approached the subject of competition. If you’re looking for some sympathy or compassion from Bezos, look away.

Charlie Rose: A lot of small book publishers and other smaller companies worry that the power of Amazon gives them no chance.

Jeff Bezos: You got to earn your keep in this world. When you invent something new, if customers come to the party, it’s disruptive to the old way.

Rose: Yeah, but I mean, there are areas where your power’s so great, and your margin — you’re prepared to make it so thin — that you can drive people out of business. And you have that kind of strength, and people worry: Is Amazon ruthless in their pursuit of market share?

Bezos: The Internet is disrupting every media industry, Charlie. You know, people can complain about that, but complaining is not a strategy. Amazon is not happening to book selling; the future is happening to book selling.

Later in the segment, Bezos acknowledged Amazon’s own mortality, which could explain his determination to stomp out competition.

“Companies have short life spans,” he said. “And Amazon will be disrupted one day.”

“The companies that are the shiniest and most important of any era … you wait a few decades and they’re gone,” he added.

But the acknowledgement makes Bezos’ lack of compassion toward fading businesses that much more striking, since Amazon may someday find itself in the same position.

The full “60 Minutes” segment is below, with the “no complaining” exchange starting around the 8:40 mark.


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