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The Atlantic has a long piece about Amazon founder/CEO Jeff Bezos that ponders what his "master plan" is.

Bezos, the story says, has compiled an amazing portfolio:

"Today, Bezos controls nearly 40 percent of all e-commerce in the United States. More product searches are conducted on Amazon than on Google, which has allowed Bezos to build an advertising business as valuable as the entirety of IBM. One estimate has Amazon Web Services controlling almost half of the cloud-computing industry — institutions as varied as General Electric, Unilever, and even the CIA rely on its servers. Forty-two percent of paper book sales and a third of the market for streaming video are controlled by the company; Twitch, its video platform popular among gamers, attracts 15 million users a day. Add The Washington Post to this portfolio and Bezos is, at a minimum, a rival to the likes of Disney’s Bob Iger or the suits at AT&T, and arguably the most powerful man in American culture."

Here are four excerpts from the story, which is totally worth reading in its entirety:

• "To the U.S. president, he is a nemesis. To many Americans, he is a beneficent wizard of convenience and abundance. Over the course of just this past year, Amazon has announced the following endeavors: It will match potential home buyers with real-estate agents and integrate their new homes with Amazon devices; it will enable its voice assistant, Alexa, to access health-care data, such as the status of a prescription or a blood-sugar reading; it will build a 3-million-square-foot cargo airport outside Cincinnati; it will make next-day delivery standard for members of its Prime service; it will start a new chain of grocery stores, in addition to Whole Foods, which it already owns; it will stream Major League Baseball games; it will launch more than 3,000 satellites into orbit to supply the world with high-speed internet."

• "Bezos loves the word relentless — it appears again and again in his closely read annual letters to shareholders — and I had always assumed that his aim was domination for its own sake. In an era that celebrates corporate gigantism, he seemed determined to be the biggest of them all. But to say that Bezos’s ultimate goal is dominion over the planet is to misunderstand him. His ambitions are not bound by the gravitational pull of the Earth … Bezos worries that in the coming generations the planet’s growing energy demands will outstrip its limited supply. 'We have to go to space to save Earth,' he says."

• "Relentless might be the most Amazonian word, but Bezos also talks about the virtues of wandering. 'Wandering is an essential counterbalance to efficiency,' he wrote in a letter to shareholders this year. When I spoke with workers based at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, they said what they appreciated most about their employer was the sense of intellectual autonomy it allowed. Once they had clearly articulated a mission in an approved six-pager, they typically had wide latitude to make it happen, without having to fight through multiple layers of approval. The wandering mentality has also helped Amazon continually expand into adjacent businesses — or businesses that seem, at first, unrelated. Assisted by the ever growing consumer and supplier data it collects, and the insights into human needs and human behavior it is constantly uncovering, the company keeps finding new opportunities for growth."

• "In the end, all that is admirable and fearsome about Amazon converges. Every item can be found on its site, which makes it the greatest shopping experience ever conceived. Every item can be found on its site, which means market power is dangerously concentrated in one company. Amazon’s smart speakers have the magical power to translate the spoken word into electronic action; Amazon’s doorbell cameras have the capacity to send video to the police, expanding the surveillance state. With its unique management structure and crystalline articulation of values and comprehensive collection of data, Amazon effortlessly scales into new businesses, a reason to marvel and cower. Jeff Bezos has won capitalism. The question for the democracy is, are we okay with that?"

You can read the piece here.

And … the New York Times has a story about him this morning that looks at how Bezos' image and behavior have changed in recent years, turning him a geek into tabloid fodder. Here is an excerpt:

"When Jeff Bezos and his former wife, MacKenzie, celebrated what would be their last anniversary together around Labor Day 2018, they arrived at a Miami nightclub with no fanfare. His table was booked online, which is 'totally what tourists do' and 'totally dorky,' the club’s celebrity liaison said in an interview at the time.

"Almost a year later, Mr. Bezos arrived at a hot Miami seafood restaurant in grander fashion, on a 90-foot-long Leopard superyacht in what The Miami Herald called 'the most extravagant entrance ever'."

Make of it what you will. You can read the story here.
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