Jeff Bezos and the great project
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com bought the Washington Post yesterday for $250 million. This is an interesting development, far more interesting then when Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal because of Bezos and what he has achieved.
Two learnings from Bezos:
One is about experimentation and invention and knowing your customer. In the social change space, it is no different.
Two, is about thinking long term and not worrying about profits.
From Kohler in Business Spectator:
I think the key to the difference between them — to what happened over the past 15 years — is contained in Jeff Bezos’s letteryesterday to his new employees at The Washington Post.
He wrote: “There is no map, and charting a path ahead will not be easy. We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment. Our touchstone will be readers, understanding what they care about…”
And: “The paper’s duty will remain to its readers and not to the private interests of its owners.”
Newspaper companies have never known who their readers were: the customers were newsagents who then sold the products to theircustomers. It’s hard to care about people you don’t know, so newspaper executives and staff have tended to focus on themselves, and on serving society as a whole.
Also large companies labour under the tyranny of the Powerpoint: directors and owners want to be reassured that management know what the future holds, and require presentations showing five-year forecasts of revenue and profits, to which they may be held.
The internet requires constant invention and experimentation: it simply isn’t possible to know what’s going to happen. Forecasts beyond a few months are meaningless and the most important skill is coping with, and learning from, failure.