A resurfaced clip of Jeff Bezos talking about the future of online shopping in 1999 is eerily accurate
Youtube / CNBC

Jeff Bezos has announced he will be stepping down as CEO of Amazon after more than 25 years at the helm of the online retail giant, which has turned him into the richest man on the Forbes Real Time Billionaires list with a personal wealth of $196.5bn.

He started Amazon back in the 90 as a book delivery service that was expanding fast. Now, it’s probably one of the most ubiquitous companies in the world, with a mission to make everything available to deliver – right to your doorstep.

A clip from a documentary about him has resurfaced recently after over two decades. In it, Bezos explains that he was interested in running his business on a global scale, and shows how he seems to have predicted how shopping would work in the future.

In the video, he said:

There’s no guarantee that Amazon.com can be a successful company. What we’re trying to do is very complicated.

Scale is important to us and we’re going to go after that kind of scale.

He admitted that there is long term uncertainty about what kinds of success a business like Amazon can reasonably expect, and that it is definitely hard to predict.

He then went on to say:

If you focus obsessively enough on customer experience, selection, ease of use, low prices, more information to make purchase decisions with. If you can give customers all that plus great customer service – then you have a good choice.

Bezos even added:

It doesn’t matter to me whether we’re a pure internet play – what matters to me is that we provide the best customer service. Internet schminternet.

He also went on to point out the difference between the growing Amazon model – which is distribution centres, where everything you could possibly want is shipped out from – and retail space, which was still the dominant way of shopping up until very recently.

But many other companies – including a whole industry, called dropshipping – have started up in much the same way, cutting down costs on physical space to prioritise getting people what they want as soon as they want it.

For Bezos at least, that risk paid off.

He’s grown richer during the Covid-119 pandemic, as more and more people confined to their homes order items online with Amazon and Amazon Prime.

Last July, he added £10bn to his wealth in one day, making him the world’s richest man with £189bn to his name.

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