A company doesn’t get as big as Amazon as quickly as it has without the CEO thinking a little differently to everyone else, and in the case of Jeff Bezos, that thinking extends to predicting when his company will fail.
As CNBC reports, during an all-hands meeting held last Thursday in Seattle, Bezos was asked if he had learned anything from the recent bankruptcy of Sears and others. His response is not what anyone would expect from the CEO of Amazon, or CEO of any company for that matter.
Bezos is quoted as saying, “Amazon is not too big to fail … In fact, I predict one day Amazon will fail. Amazon will go bankrupt. If you look at large companies, their lifespans tend to be 30-plus years, not a hundred-plus years.”
While initially, that sounds very negative, Bezos went on to suggest that the lesson from other big companies that go bankrupt is to not “focus on ourselves, and instead focus on our customers.” For now, that’s something Amazon is clearly doing very well as it bumps up against becoming a trillion-dollar company just like Apple.
CNBC managed to speak to some Amazon employees on condition of anonymity to find out what the biggest future concerns are for the company. Government regulation and antitrust violations top the list as the greatest risks, which squares up nicely against Bezos’ desire to remain focused on the customer. If the focus moved to put the company first, then the chance of Amazon being looked on negatively by consumers goes up and so the calls for regulation would most likely increase.
Would anyone bet against Amazon still being here in 30 years? Jeff Bezos will be 84 by then, Donald Trump’s presidency will be a distant memory, and we may have headphone jacks back on our smartphones. If a company wants to last over a hundred years, Bezos stated at the same all-hands meeting that he believes alcohol is key, “Most of the companies that are multi-hundred-year-old companies are breweries…It’s very interesting — I’m not sure what that says about society.”