Jeff Bezos’ 2016 letter to shareowners

Jeff Bezos’ 2016 letter to shareowners

Every year, Amazon CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Jeff Bezos writes a letter to shareowners of the company. It’s available through the SEC (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission)…here is this year’s:

These letters tend to be well-written, high levels thoughts, more on the philosophy and culture of Amazon, rather than specific numbers on production.

This year is no exception. 🙂

A lot of it is about how Amazon will inevitably face risks.

I find that refreshing, and I think it’s a wise thing to do.

I’m a former actor, and there is a theatrical tradition that can surprise outsiders if they observe it.

You’ve all heard of people saying, “Break a leg,” which is a way to wish someone a good performance.

It’s really partially about not “jinxing” it. 🙂

Similarly, there is usually a night during preparations for a play, the night when the set is first up, where the actors walk around the stage…and talk about bad things that might happen.

“Somebody could fall stepping from that set piece to that one.”

“That tower could tip over and fall on someone.”

“The curtain’s probably going to catch that wheel when that wall gets pushed out.”

Now, that might just sound negative, but it has a practical purpose.

When the actors are doing that, the stage crew is also there.  The crew doesn’t talk…they just listen.

This is done soon enough so that changes can be made.

That doesn’t mean that everything every actor says results in a change. The stage crew may know that what the actor says is not going to happen…that it’s already been anticipated and remedied.

By the way, that reminds me of something many people seem to…misunderstand.

That’s “Murphy’s Law”.

Many people can quote that: “If anything can go wrong, it will.”

They use that as an excuse…to say there was nothing that could have been done.

As I recall, though, there actually was a Murphy. My recollection is that Murphy worked at the White Sands missile testing base, but I’m not going to look it up first. 🙂 I’ll probably look it up afterwards, but I like my recollection.

As  I remember it, the actual “law” is, “If anything can go wrong, it will…so fix it now.”

It’s the second part people don’t seem to know. 🙂

The point is, if there is a one percent chance something will go wrong, you can’t just ignore it because there is such a small chance…you need to get as  close as you can to a zero percent chance, since if that one percent event can happen, you have to act as though it will happen.

So, I like that Jeff Bezos recognizes that there are risks to success.

I would say this was my favorite line this year:

“I believe we are the best place in the world to fail (we have plenty of practice!), and failure and invention are inseparable twins.”

There aren’t any real clear indicators of Amazon’s plans, and Bezos doesn’t even mention the Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) or new models of Kindles/or Fires…even though we expect new Kindles to be announced next week.

I recommend you read the letter…and compare it to the 1997 letter, which, as usual, is included.

Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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*When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.



6 Responses to “Jeff Bezos’ 2016 letter to shareowners”

  1. Phink Says:

    I am curious and surprised we have not heard from you on the Echo Dot and Tap. I even looked at the web site itself to make sure that somehow I just did not get the latest post delivered properly. I’m sure there is a reason and have been reluctant to even ask about it because I don’t want to come across as complaining in anyway. After all, there is a reason this is the only blog I follow. Have I missed it somewhere? Please let me know if I have. Thank you.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      I have mentioned them a couple of times on this blog, however, most of my Alexa coverage is in The Measured Circle blog. I did do a “first impressions” post there:

      Very high on my list is to write a post on my experience taking my Tap to work (it’s been surprisingly good). However, I have been super busy lately. We are very short-handed at work (a situation which may start to be resolved in May), and I’ve been doing a lot of work on The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project:

      That will get down to a much more manageable level once I get done “retrofitting” the bolus of events I created originally…and then changed my approach.

      A few quick comments:

      The Dot is probably the best way to go for most people. The sound is tinny, like an old transistor radio. However, pairing a Dot with a Bluetooth speaker can be less expensive than the Echo.

      I thought the Tap would be more of a novelty, a gadget for special occasions, but I’ve been bringing it to work every day lately. The battery easily lasts all day (I probably only use it for a solid hour of audio, but that’s still good). I don’t even bring a charger. I move around a lot, so being able to just sit it wherever I am is great. It’s also allowed me to demonstrate it to a number of other people.

      I doubt I’ll get my “Out and About with the Amazon Tap” post done today…maybe, but maybe this weekend. I still haven’t done the taxes yet, so that’s a pretty high priority, too. 🙂

  2. Jim Says:

    Link seems broken. “We’re sorry, but the page you’re looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable.”

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Jim!

      I really appreciate you letting me know!

      I think I’ve fixed it…try it again.

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