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    • Chris
      Chris MacAskill

      I've watched Amazon since it announced and became Yahoo Cool Site of the Day 3 days later. There were already 100 online bookstores online. Books.com (Book Stacks) had a good reputation and a selection of 250,000 books. The biggest Barnes & Noble stores at the time had 170,000 and that was considered amazing since Walmart only had 65,000 items in its biggest stores.

      I had left my job just a few days earlier to start a bookstore, Fatbrain.com, and I couldn't understand how Amazon could make it. The 1 million books they listed were from a Books in Print list, they didn't actually have them nor could get half of them if you placed an order.

      I thought that was dumb so we built a warehouse in Kentucky next door to the UPS hub. Having the books and promising they could ship same day launched us from $0 to $100 million in sales in 4 years, and we had a good public offering on the NASDAQ. A few years later during the .com stock collapse Barnes & Noble bought us because they were considered a real business with stores. Amazon couldn't buy us because their stock had collapsed too.

      But John Doerr on Amazon's board had made a genius move that saw Amazon through the time that put a lot of Internet companies out of business: he hired a logistics guy from Walmart and raised over a billion dollars for Amazon to see them through their sea of losses. Without that, Amazon doesn't exists.

      Warren Buffet just said, during his investor conference, ""The truth is that I've watched Amazon from the start and I think what Jeff Bezos has done is something close to a miracle, and the problem is if I think something is going to be a miracle I tend not to bet on it."

    • DanSolarMan

      Amazon has been a lifesaver for us. They charge crazy amounts IMO. We used Smart Warehouse for several years, the damage rate used up any savings over Amazon.

      Returns although we have very few have worked out well with Amazon. Any damage to the packaging at all they reimburse us full price. Can’t even imaging the logistics yet their error rate has been near zero.

      Living in the future is sure exciting.

    • Pu

      As an engineer in the robotics and factory automation field, I'd love to tour one of their distribution centers. They've done something right. It would be particularly interesting to see how they've implemented the interaction between humans and robots. Unlike Elon Musk, they seem to realize that humans do some things very well and it's important to know when to automate, when not to, and how to design the machine/human interaction.

    • wx

      When I read the headline for the first time, it didn't suprise me. I have no business nous, mind you. But years ago it stuck in my mind when I read that Amazon wasn't aiming for short-tem profits, but instead was constantly investing in itself with a lucrative future in mind.

      I did a quickie Google to see if I'd remembered correctly and I found this: "Bezos needs to assure investors that he's playing a longer game here, one where money spent on infrastructure and customer loyalty now cements Amazon's position as the universal retailer of first resort for the foreseeable future, a license to print money next year and beyond."

      That was written in 2013. Arguably, five years later Bezos has created that license to print money and is now in the tourism rocketship business.

    • cabbey

      it’s not super surprising when you think about the price structure difference between the two. Amazon aims to just barely beat break even on each item, so they can sell a lot of items. Apple is fine with selling fewer items, if they can charge a premium price for each one. They are two very different models. While both companies may turn roughly similar revenue, the profit they get to take home is going to be radically different.

    • Chris
      Chris MacAskill

      I just listened to a fascinating interview with the CEO of Pategonia who doesn’t sell through Amazon. She said you do see Pategonia listings but they are gray market. The reason they don’t is amazon continually pushes them for lower prices and the algorithm continually favors cheaper clones, commoditizing them.

      She listed other brands that don’t sell through Amazon. I’ve seen Pategonia stuff at Costco.

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