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Why Competing with Amazon and Netflix is Impossible

27 October 2017

24 Comments to “Why Competing with Amazon and Netflix is Impossible”

  1. Ashe Elton Parker

    Competing may be impossible, but these companies got to where they are by innovating. The company that “wins” the competition war with them will innovate in ways Netflix and Amazon haven’t come up with.

    • +1 If Amazon or Netflix believes Barry Diller when he says they can’t be beat, they are making the same mistake every dinosaur eventually makes.

      • Ashe Elton Parker

        I honestly don’t expect Amazon to remain a innovative company much beyond Bezos’ death or abdication. He’s willing to take chances shareholders wouldn’t put up with from an average CEO, mainly because he’s proven his “instincts” so well. He won’t have an easy time finding someone even a little like himself, who’d be willing to stand up to the shareholders and continue innovating, and if he manages to do so before he steps down or dies, I’ll be surprised. Bezos is a trailblazer, and there aren’t many people like him around; I imagine they’re much more interested in running their own businesses than they would be in taking up the reins of Amazon. Without Bezos, I think Amazon will atrophy; maybe it won’t happen right away, but I seriously think that he’s absolutely essential to Amazon remaining innovative and flexible.

        • I tend to agree, but there are examples of companies that have continued. IBM comes to mind. They seem to be sagging a little now, but they have been an amazing company for a century. I know a lot of IBM engineers and they are as sharp and innovative as they get. Microsoft has surprised me– they’ve been stepping up remarkably well since Satya Nadella took over; I understand they spiked their numbers for 1Q18 yesterday. But I don’t have much hope for Apple under Cook.

          • Ashe Elton Parker

            It’s just that, from what I’m seeing, so much of Amazon’s innovativeness and flexibility seems to depend upon Bezos’ willingness to do things another CEO may balk at doing. Take for instance that “disagree and commit” philosophy we read about a few days ago. Most (not all) CEO’s would require at least some sort of intensive research supporting an idea in order to commit to something they disagree with; others would simply shoot down an idea they didn’t think would succeed, without even giving the proposal a chance. I think Bezos’–and by extension his upper management’s (under his guidance, at least)–willingness to commit to something they disagree with is one of Amazon’s strengths, and I’m not sure he’d be able to find someone who’d be willing to do that on a consistent enough basis to keep Amazon from losing ground.

            But I could well be wrong. 🙂 It, in my mind, depends largely upon the type of person who takes over after Bezos dies or abdicates–and how determined they are to cling to his philosophies, continue Amazon’s commitment to customer service, and stand up to outside forces that will more than likely seek to restrain Amazon’s innovative nature and flexibility out of fear of its failure. It’s not impossible, but I think it’ll be very difficult, even though I do think the people he has now are probably the best candidates he could possibly get at this time.

          • Democritus Jr, IBM surged when Tom Watson took over. No other business leader like him comes to mind. Iacocca, maybe? Maybe not.

            Ford Motors remains a family-run business. That is the key to its durability.

            Cook is no Jobs. That is both a blessing and a curse. I think Apple would do well to bring Woz back in some capacity — Guru Emeritus? — but they won’t. More and more Apple’s competition is not Microsoft, nor Dell. It’s Samsung.

        • He’s willing to take chances shareholders wouldn’t put up with from an average CEO, mainly because he’s proven his “instincts” so well.

          Shareholders will put up with a dancing bear if he can deliver the kind of stock appreciation they have seen.

          Bezos would have been long gone without that appreciation. Follow the money.

  2. I’ve known a number of people who worked for Bezos over the years. The impression I get is that his primary characteristic is merciless unbending will. This is all from the developers’ perspective, but when Bezos decides Amazon will do something, he never lets up until it is so. That’s not quite the image he publicly projects, but it came through loud and clear from my acquaintances.

    Many developers like that kind of attitude. Development projects fail sometimes because the leadership gives up too soon, which is very frustrating when you’ve been giving yourself mental hernias making it so for 18 months and then the guys with fancy hair pull the plug because they are tired of waiting.

    But this is just gossip. I’ve never worked for Amazon or even met Bezos, so I don’t really know but I actually don’t think Amazon is quite as technically innovative as Google or has level of quality discipline as some of the old line tech companies like IBM or HP. The AWS interfaces are a little slapdash for my taste, but Amazon understands the application of technical innovation to business better than anyone. As far as I am concerned, Amazon invented cloud computing to fill specific needs of their own online businesses. The same applies to their logistic apparatus and their algorithm-driven sales sites. Behind that, I see the Bezos’ iron will.

    • The impression I get is that his primary characteristic is merciless unbending will.

      Stubborn succeeds where intelligence fails.

      • Is it stubbornness or persistence?

        Eye of the beholder and all that.

        I do agree with the sentiment that he is one of a kind and that once he is no longer in charge, his replacement won’t keep Amazon on top for too long.

        Amazon is Bezos’ baby. The next person to step in will only see dollar signs and do what’s best for HIS/HER pocketbook. The focus won’t be on long term growth, only what they can get while they can get it.

        • The next person to step in will only see dollar signs and do what’s best for HIS/HER pocketbook.

          On Friday, Bezos’ pocketbook became the world’s richest.

        • the other Diana

          It is one of those irregular adjectives. I am persistent. You are stubborn. He’s bloody pig-headed.

  3. With an attitude like that, it won’t happen. Fortunately, someone will come along who gives Amazon and Neflix the finger, and does it, despite all the doom and gloom predictions.

    It could happen tomorrow, or next year, but it will happen. When a company gets too big, like the two named, they start to lose their edge. When that happens, there’s room for a savvy competitor to step in and take their bacon.

  4. Ive met Bezos. He’s manic in energy and has focus, which are usually not a pair. He is as Democritus says, unbending once his mind is set.

    He is also the owner of the Wapo, which has surged under his leadership, including putting out massive amounts of investigative reporting. The Graham family had held wapo for decades, and you are right Ashe Elton, they didnt have anyone to take the last heiress’s place with the same decorum and insider washDC ways. So came the roughneck Bezos, who although without the elegance of graham family, shared with them, keen business sense for this time, as they had until the last few years of their regime, for their time.

    As a longtime shareholder, I’d speculate that many of us who came in at incredibly low prices compared to today, as gamblers hopefully with some intelligence, back in the day, if bezos’ undersell and etc, failed, we would not have been out much… even if one owned ten shares, or hundreds of shares or more. The market is a risk. That understood, a lot of people saw bezos as no saviour, but as a curiousity, an eccentric and were kind of rooting for him.

    And you are right, he is impossible to replace. As is jobs, and buffet and prob old sergei and gates and others. Like publishing, I am positive pretty much that when you see rise of certain persons/companies/authors/musicians etc…. it is yes, talent, but as much ‘the times’ were ready, and lady luck was rising like a screaming banshee alongside.

  5. One thing I have admired about Bezos, and what sets him apart from Diller and most others, is that he hasn’t alienated half his customer base with extremist politics, yet. See Target, Kellogs, ESPN, etc.

    I realize he bought the WaPo, but they have merely continued their biases, not ramped them up several notches as I expected.

  6. Amazon has grown so much that I think it’s become unmanageable. There are signs of weakness. Ex. the flood of fake products and fake ebooks.

    I know that as a customer, I’m a lot more discerning when I buy things. I used to trust in the vendors on Amazon but not anymore.

    The only thing that’s saving them is their awesome customer service. I know that if there is a problem, they will take care of it. Otherwise I wouldn’t shop there.

    • Amazon is a conglomerate and big conglomerates are a bit easier to manage than equal-sized unitary companies because the units are different enough to minimize internal politics.

      It may very well be that Amazon’s HQ2 effort is a pre-emptive move to address span of control issues.

    • Same here, Diana. I’m very cautious now when I buy on Amazon.

    • Amazon has grown so much that I think it’s become unmanageable.

      I don’t think we see a company that is not being managed. All indications are that it is being very well managed. The recent financials indicate an extremely well-managed company.

      It may not satisfy everyone, but a company doesn’t have to meet my needs to be well managed.

  7. Anyone trying to follow will need a vision, and the drive to convince those they need to follow them.

  8. You don’t compete with a cutting-edge company in the primary position by trying to be what they are right now – by the time you ramp up a competitor, they’ll already have out-innovated you and be offering something better.

    Instead, focus on their weaknesses – what are they not doing that you can? What don’t customers like about them, that you can do better? That’s your opportunity.

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