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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2582

Divorce of Jeff Bezos: why do Bezoses need our prayers?

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the world’s richest man, is divorcing his wife of 25 years, citing the need for what the couple collectively called, ‘exploration of love’. When the whole world was wondering what exactly they meant, speculation was rife on the social media with quite a few theories.

This is not the first time when a famous couple let us, the mere mortals, speculate about their divorce proceedings, while encapsulating the details in exciting phrases; nor is it going to be the last.

When Gwyneth Paltrow, the Hollywood actress, and Chris Martin, the British singer, announced a similar split they said that they were going to consciously uncouple, which in turn left millions of fans of both stars scratching their heads in seeking a clarification.

Within 24 hours of the announcement of the split of Bezoses, an American tabloid broke the news that Mr Bezos had actually fallen for a younger woman of Mexican origin. Since there was no denial from the camp of Bezoses, it may have been a cause, if not the only cause for the break-up.

Of course, the divorce of two grown-up individuals is none of our business. Yet, the world is stubbornly refuses to let it be that way, because the man at the centre of this particular news item is no ordinary individual.

With Steve Jobs gone and Bill Gates in retirement, Jeff Bezos is one of the few visionaries left in the world of technology. Mr Bezos certainly has a few deputies below him in Amazon hierarchy and some may wonder that one of them would potentially replace him, if the former relinquished the mantle for one of his deputies, citing personal issues. It’s easier said than done; things don’t work that way. Just look at Apple without Jobs for a clue.

Mr Bezos, simply, is indispensable: he is a corporate genius without a match; he has given us so much in a matter of two decades, while keeping the customer at the centre of his vision, being fair by them as much as practicable, when the niceness is not for wanton abuse; on his watch, customers were not deceived to enter into contracts with dubious small print; Amazon promises and then delivers on them; he gave opportunities for millions of aspiring authors to publish books and make a living, for many of whom, finding an established publisher is next to impossible; with Kindle reader, he let buying a book of your choice – and start reading it – in a matter of minutes, while offering millions of them completely free; above all, he let millions of ordinary folks become successful traders through store fronts on Amazon platform, provided that they offer acceptable services.

Amazon let millions of ordinary customers to sell their own products second hand on store fronts and make money. Which company has set a precedent of this nature before?

In short, Amazon did grow and provided millions of people, where it operates in, to grow simultaneously as well, when the individuals in questions have a knack for doing businesses.

I became an Amazon customer in 1999, when the company did not even have a presence in the United Kingdom. I used to order books on computer programming online and most of the time they were delivered in time.

Much to my surprise, the books always came with the return slip, all the way from America. On two occasions, I was compelled to return the books and they were accepted without kicking a fuss - and refunds were quickly made.

In order to achieve his customer-centric dream, Mr Bezos suffered endless humiliations and ridicule at the hands of hyperactive analysts, who were hell-bent on predicting a spectacular failure, citing the fact that Amazon couldn’t make any profit for the first fourteen years since its inception in a garage.

Adding insult to the injury, the media complemented the doomsday scenario with supporting analyses. In these devastating circumstances, you need to be a stable genius to sustain the investor confidence, while keeping the catastrophic effect of the negative press at bay.

Not only did he prove his distractors wrong, but also gave his Amazon Empire an unassailable lead over the rivals in the realm of online shopping. When his innovative concepts revolutionized the purchasing experience of customers, his jealous rivals could only drop their jaws in bewilderment, while accusing the organisation that Mr Bezos leads of ‘abuse’.

He is certainly the world’s richest man with a wealth that is equivalent to almost 1.6 of the GDP of Sri Lanka. Like late Steve Jobs, he, however, may not have been a man, who embarked on this mission while keeping a constant eye on his bank balance. On the contrary, both men loved their companies, were proud of their products and services and knew the chain of functioning every step of the way.

Since Steve Jobs came up with the iPhone 12 years ago, there has not been the emergence of any major game changer. All we see is the thinner phones with curve edges with evolutionary cameras with increasing number of pixels. Most of additions are dubbed as gimmicks to impress the customers.

Steep fall in sales of iPhones – and a corresponding dip in share price of Apple – simply shows Apple without Jobs is not an oasis for innovation.

It’s the same for Amazon too: investors know it; customers know it. That’s why millions of people across the globe are worried about the bad patch that Bezoses are going through now.

It has been reported that the soon-to-be-ex -wife of Mr Bezos was the one who encouraged the latter to start an online book store in the mid-nineties, when they both worked for the same hedge fund. There may be a truth in the report; she is a successful writer in her own right and she may have had a passion for books.

She stood by him as a rock in his hour of need and without her, the success that Mr Bezos enjoyed may not have been the same – or complete. In this context, he may recognize her significance during a settlement, although the material gains may not heal her emotional scar that stemmed from the unfortunate split.

About two months ago, Mr Bezos said that Amazon is not too big to fail. At that time, we thought he was just picked up something from the history of big businesses that used to have a finite life span.

We can only hope - and pray – that the split is amicable and less painful in such a way that what he uttered in an unexpected moment will not be a harbinger of something unpleasant, because the position of Amazon at present provides the beleaguered technological sector with a robust scaffolding to lean on.

- Asian Tribune -

Divorce of Jeff Bezos: why do Bezoses need our prayers?
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