This week, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, announced he will be stepping down as CEO of the world’s largest ecommerce firm.
Bezos, who started Amazon as an online bookstore in 1994, is the second richest person in the world, worth $182 billion.
Amazon has been one of the biggest winners of the pandemic, with $386 billion in revenue last year–a 38% yearly increase. More impressively, net profit increased by 84% in 2020, driven mainly by contributions from Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Very few people in the developed world have never dealt with Amazon. Over 140 million people have Amazon Prime accounts–which provide access to award-winning original streaming content, in addition to free shipping. AWS owns over 1/3 of the cloud computing market–more than the next three competitors combined.
So is there really a way any of us can move beyond Amazon? Look at what happened to Sears Roebuck–at one time the largest retailer in the world. Sears owned the direct-to-consumer business for decades. If you think Amazon offers a diverse set of products, consider that between 1908 and 1940, Sears sold over 70,000 mail order houses: the plans and all the pieces showed up at your door, to be assembled by the homeowner and friends.
Being the biggest and best at what you do makes it nearly impossible to have the foresight to invent what will replace your business. Sears couldn’t become Amazon, any more than the previous generation of retailers could have become Sears.
Somewhere out there, the next Jeff Bezos is lurking. We just don’t know who that is yet.
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