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Open for Bezos-ness

Compelling, comprehensive biography chronicles career of 12th-richest American

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/12/2013 (1328 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

This riveting read perceptively details the meteoric rise of one of the world's most successful businesses.

Despite admirably exhaustive research by its author, American business writer Brad Stone, the biography has been criticized by Amazon itself for containing several errors.

Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press files


Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press files

Stone has promised to correct any errors that are pointed out to him but says that with the extensive interviews he conducted, he is able to accurately ascribe motives and feelings to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Regardless of the controversy surrounding the tome, it's well worth reading as a fascinating account of the career of one of the most powerful and transformative CEOs in recent history.

It is also a compelling tale of, which Stone describes as an "innovative, disruptive and often polarizing technology powerhouse, the company that was among the first to see the boundless promise of the Internet and that ended up forever changing the way we shop and read."

A gifted student from his early years, Jeff Bezos, the son of divorced teenage parents, is now the 12th wealthiest person in the United States with an estimated net worth of $25 billion.

Incredibly, Bezos's biological father, Ted Jorgensen, who owns a bike shop near Phoenix, Ariz., never knew that his son was one of the most successful entrepreneurs in history until Stone informed him of that fact when Stone tracked down Jorgensen for the writing of his book.

Bezos was raised by his mother and her second husband, who became his adoptive father when Bezos was four years old.

Jorgensen never even knew his son's name until Stone told him.

Amazon began in 1995 as an online bookseller and is now projected to be the "fastest retailer in history to surpass $100 billion," according to Stone. "Its 2012 sales cleared $61 billion."

Amazon, headquartered in Seattle, now sells everything from clothes to automotive parts. It recently earned headlines for experimenting with self-guided delivery drones.

Eric Schmidt, Google chairman, describes Amazon's success as being attributable to "a brilliant founder who personally drove the vision."

Bezos pioneered "one-click" ordering on the Internet, whereby consumers' shipping and credit card information is stored on Amazon, and with only one click, an order can be placed.

Stone's portrait of Bezos is that of a man who "has proved quite indifferent to the opinions of others."

Stone sees Bezos, who will turn 50 on Jan. 12, as an avid problem solver and a man who has a chess grandmaster's view of the competitive landscape.

"Bezos," writes Stone, "applies the focus of an obsessive compulsive to pleasing customers and providing services like free shipping."

Stone also opines that the Bezos, who grew up in Miami and received an electrical engineering degree at Princeton, wants to remake the media, which may be one of the reasons Bezos purchased the Washington Post in August of this year. Bezos is also responsible for the Kindle, an electronic reader that has forever altered the literary landscape.

When queried once about his relentless pursuit of success, Stone writes, Bezos explained that he is "very motivated by people counting on me. I like to be counted on."

Starting with its very thorough prologue, Stone's book is cerebral, comprehensive and revealing.

It provides a brilliant behind-the-scenes view of one of the most important and revolutionary businesses and business leaders of our time.

Brenlee Carrington, a Winnipeg lawyer and mediator, is the Law Society of Manitoba's equity ombudswoman.


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