Amazon in 4.500 Worten: Im Juli 2020 erklärt Jeff Bezos der US-Regierung (Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law) sein Unternehmen. Es ist eine Blaupause in Business Storytelling für Führungskräfte, Gründer, Produktmanager, nicht zu vergessen Marketing und PR. 

Vorab: Ich empfehle, den Text von Bezos in voller Länge zu lesen. Denn diese Art Text, dass ein Gründer und CEO sein Unternehmen so ausführlich und zugleich so auf den Punkt vorstellt, ist äußerst selten.

Jeder wird in dem Text seine ganz eigenen Lektionen finden, da bin ich sicher. Ganz gleich, ob Freund oder Feind von Amazon, jeder wird das große Bild des Unternehmens besser verstehen – die Herkunft, die Werte, die Mission, die Kunden, die Herausforderungen.

Mir fielen 11 positive Punkte auf, die ich in in diesem Beitrag aufliste. Vorab aber der Makel: Der Text verliert in seinem Verlauf an Echtheit und Fokus.

Der einzige Makel: Der Text verliert an Echtheit

Ganz sicher ist dieser Text über Amazon zu Beginn authentischer als ab der Mitte etwa. Zu Beginn ist es Story, da erzählt der Gründer. Da sind die Motive klar und die Entscheidungen. Später erschlägt dieser Text mit Zahlen und Daten und die als Belege dafür erzählten Success Storys wirken austauschbar.

Es lässt sich beobachten, was diese Überdosis an Informationen anrichtet – die Aufmerksamkeit lässt nach, die Nähe geht verloren. Die Balance zwischen Daten und Emotionen, darin besteht die Kunst des Storytellings. Die Daten ohne Story sind nichtssagend. Die Story ohne Daten ist unglaubwürdig. Beides gehört zusammen.

Schade, dass dieser im Kern sehr gelungene Text zum Ende genau das zu belegen scheint, was Amazon aufgrund seiner puren Größe angreifbar macht – es ist eine Krake, auch wenn das Unternehmen viele sympathische Züge haben mag und in Bezug auf seine Erfolgsgeschichte einmalig ist.

Das Datenthema gehört meiner Meinung nach zum Beispiel in diesen Text, weil sich gerade darin die unglaubliche Marktmacht des Unternehmens zeigt. Nicht nur das. Das Verhalten als Arbeitnehmer in den USA mag vorbildlich sein, wie im Text geschildert, in Deutschland gilt das schon nicht mehr.

Was sich aus diesem Text beispielhaft lernen lässt, ist die Art, ein Unternehmen in einem größeren Kontext und in einer größeren Story zu zeigen und es nahbar zu machen. 11 Dinge erscheinen mir bemerkenswert.

4.500 Worte Amazon: meine Learnings

  1. Erzähle von deiner Herkunft.

    My mom, Jackie, had me when she was a 17-year-old high school student in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Being pregnant in high school was not popular in Albuquerque in 1964. It was difficult for her … My dad’s name is Miguel. He adopted me when I was four years old. He was 16 when he came to the United States from Cuba as part of Operation Pedro Pan, shortly after Castro took over. My dad arrived in America alone. His parents felt he’d be safer here. His mom imagined America would be cold, so she made him a jacket sewn entirely out of cleaning cloths, the only material they had on hand. We still have that jacket; it hangs in my parents’ dining room …

    You learn different things from your grandparents than you do from your parents, and I had the opportunity to spend my summers from ages four to 16 on my grandparents’ ranch in Texas. My grandfather was a civil servant and a rancher—he worked on space technology and missile-defense systems in the 1950s and ‘60s for the Atomic Energy Commission—and he was self-reliant and resourceful … He taught me that you can take on hard problems. When you have a setback, you get back up and try again. You can invent your way to a better place. I took these lessons to heart as a teenager, and became a garage inventor …

    The concept for Amazon came to me in 1994. The idea of building an online bookstore with millions of titles—something that simply couldn’t exist in the physical world—was exciting to me. At the time, I was working at an investment firm in New York City.

  2. Erzähle von deinen großen Entscheidungen.

    When I told my boss I was leaving, he took me on a long walk in Central Park. After a lot of listening, he finally said, “You know what, Jeff, I think this is a good idea, but it would be a better idea for somebody who didn’t already have a good job.” He convinced me to think about it for two days before making a final decision. It was a decision I made with my heart and not my head.

    When I’m 80 and reflecting back, I want to have minimized the number of regrets that I have in my life. And most of our regrets are acts of omission—the things we didn’t try, the paths untraveled. Those are the things that haunt us. And I decided that if I didn’t at least give it my best shot, I was going to regret not trying to participate in this thing called the internet that I thought was going to be a big deal.

  3. Erzähle von deinem Umfeld.

    It’s not a coincidence that Amazon was born in this country. More than any other place on Earth, new companies can start, grow, and thrive here in the U.S. Our country embraces resourcefulness and self-reliance, and it embraces builders who start from scratch. We nurture entrepreneurs and start-ups with stable rule of law, the finest university system in the world, the freedom of democracy, and a deeply accepted culture of risk-taking. Of course, this great nation of ours is far from perfect. Even as we remember Congressman John Lewis and honor his legacy, we’re in the middle of a much-needed race reckoning. We also face the challenges of climate change and income inequality, and we’re stumbling through the crisis of a global pandemic.

    Still, the rest of the world would love even the tiniest sip of the elixir we have here in the U.S. Immigrants like my dad see what a treasure this country is—they have perspective and can often see it even more clearly than those of us who were lucky enough to be born here. It’s still Day One for this country, and even in the face of today’s humbling challenges, I have never been more optimistic about our future.

  4. Erzähle von deinen Herausforderungen und deinen dunklen Momenten.

    Investing in Amazon early on was a very risky proposition. From our founding through the end of 2001, our business had cumulative losses of nearly $3 billion, and we did not have a profitable quarter until the fourth quarter of that year … In 1999, after we’d been in business for nearly five years, Barron’s headlined a story about our impending demise “Amazon.bomb.” My annual shareholder letter for 2000 started with a one-word sentence: “Ouch.” At the pinnacle of the internet bubble our stock price peaked at $116, and then after the bubble burst our stock went down to $6. Experts and pundits thought we were going out of business. It took a lot of smart people with a willingness to take a risk with me, and a willingness to stick to our convictions, for Amazon to survive and ultimately to succeed.

  5. Erzähle von deiner Mission.

    Thank you, Chairman Cicilline, Ranking Member Sensenbrenner, and members of the Subcommittee. I’m Jeff Bezos. I founded Amazon 26 years ago with the long-term mission of making it Earth’s most customer-centric company.

  6. Erzähle von deinen Werten.

    In addition to good luck and great people, we have been able to succeed as a company only because we have continued to take big risks. To invent you have to experiment, and if you know in advance that it’s going to work, it’s not an experiment. Outsized returns come from betting against conventional wisdom, but conventional wisdom is usually right. A lot of observers characterized Amazon Web Services as a risky distraction when we started.

    “What does selling compute and storage have to do with selling books?” they wondered. No one asked for AWS. It turned out the world was ready and hungry for cloud computing but didn’t know it yet. We were right about AWS, but the truth is we’ve also taken plenty of risks that didn’t pan out. In fact, Amazon has made billions of dollars of failures. Failure inevitably comes along with invention and risk-taking, which is why we try to make Amazon the best place in the world to fail.

  7. Erzähle von deinen Kunden.

    Since our founding, we have strived to maintain a “Day One” mentality at the company. By that I mean approaching everything we do with the energy and entrepreneurial spirit of Day One. Even though Amazon is a large company, I have always believed that if we commit ourselves to maintaining a Day One mentality as a critical part of our DNA, we can have both the scope and capabilities of a large company and the spirit and heart of a small one. In my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the best way to achieve and maintain Day One vitality. Why? Because customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and a constant desire to delight customers drives us to constantly invent on their behalf …

    Customer trust is hard to win and easy to lose. When you let customers make your business what it is, then they will be loyal to you—right up to the second that someone else offers them better service … You earn trust slowly, over time, by doing hard things well—delivering on time; offering everyday low prices; making promises and keeping them; making principled decisions, even when they’re unpopular; and giving customers more time to spend with their families by inventing more convenient ways of shopping, reading, and automating their homes.

  8. Erzähle von deinen Mitarbeitern.

    When customers shop on Amazon, they are helping to create jobs in their local communities. As a result, Amazon directly employs a million people, many of them entry-level and paid by the hour. We don’t just employ highly educated computer scientists and MBAs in Seattle and Silicon Valley. We hire and train hundreds of thousands of people in states across the country such as West Virginia, Tennessee, Kansas, and Idaho. These employees are package stowers, mechanics, and plant managers. For many, it’s their first job. For some, these jobs are a stepping stone to other careers, and we are proud to help them with that.

    We are spending more than $700 million to give more than 100,000 Amazon employees access to training programs in fields such as healthcare, transportation, machine learning, and cloud computing. That program is called Career Choice, and we pay 95% of tuition and fees toward a certificate or diploma for in-demand, high-paying fields, regardless of whether it’s relevant to a career at Amazon. Patricia Soto, one of our associates, is a Career Choice success story.

    Patricia always wanted to pursue a career in the medical field to help care for others, but with only a high school diploma and facing the costs of post-secondary education, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to accomplish that goal. After earning her medical certification through Career Choice, Patricia left Amazon to start her new career as a medical assistant at Sutter Gould Medical Foundation, supporting a pulmonary medicine doctor. Career Choice has given Patricia and so many others a shot at a second career that once seemed out of reach.

  9. Erzähle von aktuellen Herausforderungen.

    During the COVID-19 crisis, we hired an additional 175,000 employees, including many laid off from other jobs during the economic shutdown. We spent more than $4 billion in the second quarter alone to get essential products to customers and keep our employees safe during the COVID-19 crisis. And a dedicated team of Amazon employees from across the company has created a program to regularly test our workers for COVID-19. We look forward to sharing our learnings with other interested companies and government partners.

  10. Erzähle von deinem Markt.

    The global retail market we compete in is strikingly large and extraordinarily competitive. Amazon accounts for less than 1% of the $25 trillion global retail market and less than 4% of retail in the U.S. Unlike industries that are winner-take-all, there’s room in retail for many winners. For example, more than 80 retailers in the U.S. alone earn over $1 billion in annual revenue. Like any retailer, we know that the success of our store depends entirely on customers’ satisfaction with their experience in our store. Every day, Amazon competes against large, established players like Target, Costco, Kroger, and, of course, Walmart—a company more than twice Amazon’s size.

  11. Erzähle von der Zukunft.

    At Amazon, customer obsession has made us what we are, and allowed us to do ever greater things. I know what Amazon could do when we were 10 people. I know what we could do when we were 1,000 people, and when we were 10,000 people. And I know what we can do today when we’re nearly a million. I love garage entrepreneurs—I was one. But, just like the world needs small companies, it also needs large ones. There are things small companies simply can’t do. I don’t care how good an entrepreneur you are, you’re not going to build an all-fiber Boeing 787 in your garage …

    Our scale allows us to make a meaningful impact on important societal issues. The Climate Pledge is a commitment made by Amazon and joined by other companies to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement 10 years early and be net zero carbon by 2040. We plan to meet the pledge, in part, by purchasing 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian—a Michigan-based producer of electric vehicles … And last month, Amazon introduced The Climate Pledge Fund, started with $2 billion in funding from Amazon. The Fund will support the development of sustainable technologies and services that in turn will enable Amazon and other companies to meet The Climate Pledge. The Fund will invest in visionary entrepreneurs and innovators who are building products and services to help companies reduce their carbon impact and operate more sustainably.