About Amazon’s Culture

If you haven’t read the NYT piece about Amazon’s tough culture, read it here.

Would it really be possible to succeed in a ruthless business such as online retailing without such a fierce culture? Maybe Jeff Bezos is standing on the shoulders of Sam Walton on this, who built a fierce, intense culture at Walmart as the only way to succeed in the razor-thin-margin business of retailing.

Amazon’s business is Walmart’s squared to the Nth power of complexity[1]: Competition for e-tail traffic is even fiercer, barriers to entry lower, and a constantly evolving landscape that allows for no catch-up breathers.

People often compare Amazon’s culture with Google’s. Google has such a collegiate environment; gourmet food is given away; you can bike your way around campus; blablabla.

But I pose this question to you: would Google’s high-school culture survive the retail business? And on a similar note, don’t you think that with a cash cow as Google’s search business, any culture would do? Even a lack of culture?

I mean, it’s such a great business, that you just can’t get it wrong. IMHO.

[1] You could argue, on the other hand, that having physical stores and a country of employees could make Walmart’s business comparably tough. Anyways, both are VERY tough, and that’s a fact.


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