Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder, CEO and unintentional Paul Reubens lookalike, recently sat down with Sidespin for an interview about workplace conditions at his company and the overall future of Amazon. The entire interview, featuring some key insights from Bezos, is below.
Sidespin: Your company, Amazon, is one of the most successful tech companies of the 21st century, yet it’s relatively unprofitable compared to other large tech companies such as Google or eBay. Do you think that refusal to streamline your business model is eroding profits?
Bezos: Thank you, yes, first of all. I welcome the opportunity to answer the media, and I assure you that Amazon is highly committed to profitability.
Sidespin: (awkward silence)
Sidespin: Well now, Jeff, you haven’t, uh, exactly answered the question.
Bezos: I’m getting some cold pricklies from you. Are you sure you wouldn’t rather have warm fuzzies?
Sidespin: I beg your pardon?
Bezos: We try to give our customers warm fuzzies by giving them a positive experience on Amazon instead of cold pricklies so they’ll use Amazon again.
Sidespin: So there’s an emphasis on customer service.
Sidespin: But you still haven’t answered the question.
Bezos: Well, so it’s all a question of data, right? I believe data is incredibly empowering—my employees report on one another to their supervisors, my customers supply feedback about my customer service agents, and we use data to determine our inventory, pricing, and shipping practices.
Sidespin: Sure, information is a powerful asset. But—
Bezos: And that’s why our employees are trained to evaluate one another by providing anonymous feedback that affects performance reviews. Because life is simply a series of metrics! How much money will this person spend at Amazon, how much will they spend at competitors, what prices or selection we could offer that would likely persuade them to buy from us, how often they’ll buy from us in the future, whether they’re likely to use Amazon with friends or loved ones, how long they’ll live, what they’ll die of, what their corpse is worth, everything.
Bezos: Well, so let me give you an example.
Bezos: No really, a cadaver can—
Bezos: I really don’t think you’re being very open-minded.
Sidespin: Please don’t talk to me anymore about what dead bodies are worth.
Bezos: My mother, for example—
Bezos: (murmuring)...a certain beauty in rotting human flesh, is all.
Sidespin: OK, data. Let’s talk about data. Do you think your company is too preoccupied at all with a culture of assessment at the expense of emphasizing business fundamentals?
Bezos: Fundamentals? I really don’t see what you mean.
Sidespin: Like profitability, for one. The purpose of a business is to earn more money than it spends.
Bezos: We’ve done that.
Sidespin: (making circular gesture with hand)
Bezos: I mean I really don’t see why you’re harping on this as a fundamental. There are other fundamentals too, like culture and vision. They determine where our business will be in five, ten, fifteen years.
Sidespin: ...Marginally profitable?
Bezos: I really don’t think you’re being fair with the focus of your question.
Sidespin: A specific element of data?
Bezos: Well yes, but, data only tells so much of the story. Like for example, when I was 10 I wanted to convince my mother to quit smoking, so I calculated that from all the smoking she’d done, she’d shortened her life by nine years. So she quit.
Sidespin: Good for you. And her.
Bezos: And you can’t make money if you’re dead.
Bezos: That’s why our employees have to push through their problems. Health issues, vacations, personal issues, stillborn children—they’re major obstacles to making Amazon a successful company.
Sidespin: OK, wait—while there’s definitely something to be said for perseverance, do you really—
Bezos: There sure is! Perseverance got me everything I have in life today! My company, my family, my home, my sexual prowess, everything.
Bezos: Look, you know not every man can be born with an adequate penis. That’s why I’m a big fan of using “the motion of the ocean,” if you know what I mean.
Bezos: ‘Cause I got a pretty small boat, let me tell you! Oh man, I barely wanna call it a “dinghy,” if you know what I mean!
Sidespin: Jeff, can we—
Bezos: But is it really that small? I can see it, I can hold it, I can use it to pee—it’s totally normal! It’s just not that big. (pause) It’s pretty small, in all honesty.
Sidespin: OK, Jeff, I wanna definitely thank you for your time today, and—
Bezos: Oh yes, definitely! I hope we do this again some tiny. Time. Time. Not tiny. You know what? Not even sub-average. Huge. You know what I mean. Remember, Amazon is the future! It’s nub or never! Now. Now. “Now” or never. OK, I gotta go.
Sidespin: (staring blankly at note cards)
Pictured: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, sizing himself up.