Sunday, December 14, 2014

Favorite business writing linked to - on Amazon (including Zappos)

With my having done half a dozen posts over the past few weeks on favorite business writing I've linked to, with each post containing links grouped under the subjects of writing on health care, venture capitalmanufacturing and/or resource utilizationpower generation and managementTesla Motors / electric carsGoogle (including Nest), this post is on great writing come across about another influential company in Amazon (including Zappos, which Amazon acquired in 2009):

"The Everything Book: Reading in the Age of Amazon" by Casey Newton for The Verge in Dec 2014 – on the company, it’s Lab126 in Northern California, the Kindle and Amazon’s influence on reading and books. Really a fascinating story that echoed points from the 2013 Brad Stone book The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, in particular that Amazon still begins meetings by having someone read a six-page narrative of what the meeting to discuss. Just such an interesting concept utilized at Amazon.

"Amazon's Drone Fleet Delivers What Bezos Wants: An Image of Ingenuity" by Brad Stone for Businessweek in Dec 2013.

"The Secrets of Bezos: How Amazon Became the Everything Store" by Brad Stone by Businessweek in Oct 2013 – excerpted from his book The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon.

"Amazonfresh is Jeff Bezos' Last Mile Quest for Total Retail Domination" by J.J. McCorvey for Fast Company in Aug 2013 – on the company and its efforts around the connected areas of same-day delivery and groceries. As McCorvey wrote in the piece, "it's the so-called last-mile problem--you can ship trucks' worth of packages from a warehouse easily enough, but getting an individual package to wind its way through a single neighborhood and arrive at a single consumer's door isn't easy. The volume of freight and frequency of delivery must outweigh the costs of fuel and time, or else this last mile is wildly expensive." Amazon has already been moving forward in this effort, with huge investments in warehouses (and willingness to no longer fight state sales taxes that typically get incurred with warehouse presence a state) as well as local delivery options that complete with existing carriers. As I read the piece by McCorvey, it looks as if Amazon building a hyper-efficient network around fulfillment of goods, just as they built networks around the cloud and running the websites of other companies with Amazon Web Services and networks around self-publishing with Kindle Direct Publishing.

"Why the Amazon Naysayers Should Be Scared" by Brad Stone for Businessweek in Apr 2012 – looks at the recent excellent financial results from the retailer, with improving margins while at the same time making large investments in infrastructure (facilities and people). Pretty interesting stuff from Stone that also makes reference to Amazon focusing efforts on publishing and the Kindle with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently saying that "16 of our top 100 bestselling titles are exclusive to our store."

"Amazon vs. Publishers: The Book Battle Continues" by Brad Stone for Businessweek in Apr 2012 – on Amazon wanting to move towards print-on-demand publishing and the traditional publishing houses fighting them.

"Las Vegas: Startup City" by Brad Stone for Businessweek in Feb 2012 – on Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and his backing of development efforts in the area around headquarters for the Amazon division. It’s an interesting look at personal for-profit efforts that also have an altruistic bent.

"Amazon's Hit Man" by Brad Stone for Businessweek in Jan 2012 – details the new in-house publishing imprint at the web retail giant, with the concept having Amazon hold tighter control over book pricing and distribution by cutting out traditional publishing houses and signing agreements with the authors themselves. It’s an interesting approach led within Amazon by Larry Kirshbaum, the former head of Time Warner Book Group and has already resulted in agreements with Tim Ferriss, James Franco and Penny Marshall.

"Amazon, the Company That Ate the World" by Brad Stone for Businessweek in Sept 2011 – on the company's tablet entry, the Kindle Fire. The company as a whole has done a lot right over the years and early indications are that they've created a compelling offering.

"Why I Sold Zappos" by Tony Hsieh for Inc. in June 2010 – excerpted from his book Delivering Happiness and contains some fascinating info about the requirements of investors. This idea of running a company for shareholders brought to mind two different posts that I wrote which were less about stories I came across and more about my views, one I wrote in 2010 about running a public company (and which links to this piece by Hsieh) and one I wrote in 2012 about stock valuation.