Peter Kafka

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Henry Blodget Helps Jeff Bezos Out With Some Writing

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos just invested millions in Henry Blodget’s Business Insider. And look what he got in return! Free investor relations help.

Here’s Bezos, four paragraphs into his annual letter to shareholders, released this morning:

We build automated systems that look for occasions when we’ve provided a customer experience that isn’t up to our standards, and those systems then proactively refund customers. One industry observer recently received an automated email from us that said, “We noticed that you experienced poor video playback while watching the following rental on Amazon Video On Demand: Casablanca. We’re sorry for the inconvenience and have issued you a refund for the following amount: $2.99. We hope to see you again soon.” Surprised by the proactive refund, he ended up writing about the experience: “Amazon ‘noticed that I experienced poor video playback …’ And they decided to give me a refund because of that? Wow … Talk about putting customers first.”

I don’t know why Bezos didn’t want to identify Blodget as “the industry observer” by name. But you can’t accuse him of quoting Blodget out of context.

Here’s the title of the post Bezos is citing: “Just The Latest Example Of Why Amazon Is One Of The Most Successful Companies In The World,” which Blodget posted on Dec. 9, 2012, presumably as he was finishing up his negotiations with Bezos (and researching another post).

If he wanted to, Bezos could have kept quoting Blodget. Here’s the “nut graph” of Blodget’s post: “Amazon is obsessed with making its customers happy. Unlike many other companies, Amazon will instantly trade off short-term profits for the chance to engender long-term customer loyalty.”

You also can’t accuse Blodget of praising Bezos solely to help secure an investment in his website (where I am also an investor, but much, much farther down the cap table). Blodget has famously been an Amazon bull for a long, long time.

And I’m reasonably sure that Bezos didn’t consult Blodget before he wrote today’s letter: Via IM, I just asked Blodget if he’d seen Bezos’s letter.

His response: “WHOA!”

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus