November 15, 2018

Jeff Bezos’ Next Conquest

“Unlike America’s other tech giants, Amazon doesn’t have a traditional campus. The 45,000 or so employees and executives in Seattle, out of 575,000 worldwide, fan across numerous high-rises downtown and in the South Lake Union neighborhood. Amazon’s “headquarters” defaults to where Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder and CEO, happens to be, currently Day 1 Tower. Its name comes from a perpetual Bezos maxim: that, relatively, we’re still at “day one” of the internet—and, by extension, that Amazon is just getting started.

That’s getting harder to say with a straight face, with sales, profits and the stock price all soaring, the latter up 270% over three years and 103% in the past 12 months. Amazon is closing in on Apple to become the world’s most valuable company, and Bezos, whose personal net worth approaches $160 billion, has in the process become the planet’s richest person, by far.

Nevertheless, Bezos talks about Amazon like it’s a giddy startup that just closed its Series A. “For all practical purposes, the market size is unconstrained,” says Bezos, his rolled-up sleeves showing off Popeye-like forearms, the product of midlife weight training that has produced buzzed-about results for the 54-year-old. His growth rationale comes from a “super-lucky” confluence: The retail market, Amazon’s original quarry, is “many trillions,” as is, he says, the cloud market that Amazon Web Services (AWS) pioneered. “There are different businesses where the market is limited,” adds the man whose company should hit $210 billion in revenue this year. “But we just don’t have that issue.”

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