It's good to be Jeff Bezos. The Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) founder and CEO has seen his personal fortune balloon in tandem with the rise in his company's stock. His $67 billion net worth makes him the fourth richest person in the world today.
Bezos is also regarded as one of the most inspirational and quotable business leaders today. Here are just a handful of some his wisest words on success, business, technology, leadership, and life.
Jeff Bezos on business
Much of Bezos' success can be attributed to his untraditional views on business and strategy, views that he embedded in Amazon from day one. In his 1997 letter to shareholders, Bezos laid bare his intentions for Amazon:
We believe that a fundamental measure of our success will be the shareholder value we create over the long term. This value will be a direct result of our ability to extend and solidify our current market leadership position. The stronger our market leadership, the more powerful our economic model. Market leadership can translate directly to higher revenue, higher profitability, greater capital velocity, and correspondingly stronger returns on invested capital. Our decisions have consistently reflected this focus.
Bezos -- and Amazon, by extension -- is also unique in his customer-centric business philosophy. Here's how Bezos characterizes his and Amazon's approach to winning and keeping customers:
We never think of ourselves as tied to any specific technologies or skill sets. We think of ourselves as tied to our customers, and we're trying to work backwards from their needs, and we'll learn whatever skills we need to service our customers.
Jeff Bezos on failure
Bezos' brilliance shines through in his attitude toward failure. In fact, he describes Amazon to prospective employees as "the best place in the world to fail." In his most recent letter to shareholders, Bezos summarized his thinking toward failure this way:
Failure and invention are inseparable twins. To invent you have to experiment, and if you know in advance that it's going to work, it's not an experiment.
Jeff Bezos on technology and innovation
With interests in cloud computing, e-commerce, space exploration, and more, Bezos has a front-row seat to many of the fastest-growing areas of technology. In an entertaining interview from this year's Code Conference, Bezos seemed particularly fixated on the potential of artificial intelligence. When host Walt Mossberg asked him about the state of AI, Bezos said:
This is probably hard to overstate how big of an impact it's going to have on society over the next 20 years.
... It has been a dream ever since people started, in the early days of science fiction, to have a computer you can talk to in a natural way and actually have a conversation with and ask it to do things for you, and that is coming true.
... The combination of new and better algorithms, vastly superior computing power, and the ability to harness huge amounts of training data, those three things are coming together to solve some previously unsolvable problems, and they're going to drive a tremendous amount of utility for customers, and customers are going to adopt those things.
... And there's so much more to come. It's just the tip of the iceberg of what you can do for these kinds of technologies. ... It's the first inning. It might even be the first guy's up at bat. It's really early, and I think we're on the edge of a golden era.
Mossberg's questions also turned to Bezos' efforts in expanding Blue Origin and his motivation to help develop the budding private space flight industry:
When it comes to space ... I'm using my resources to put in place heavy lifting infrastructure so that the next generation of people can have a dynamic, entrepreneurial explosion into space. And I think that's possible, and I believe I know what you need to do to put that infrastructure in place. ... I want thousands of entrepreneurs doing amazing things in space. And to do that, you have to dramatically lower the cost of access to space.
Jeff Bezos on life
Bezos' unique perspective on life has also garnered plenty of attention over the years. Indeed, his thought process led him to leave his lucrative job at the quantitative hedge fund D.E. Shaw to found Amazon. Here's what he said in an interview with 60 Minutes:
The way I decided to leave Wall Street and do this ... this'll sound geeky to you -- but it was a regret minimization framework. ... I wanted to have lived my life in such a way that when I'm 80 years old I have minimized the number of regrets that I have. ... I actually think a lot of people do that, even if they don't call it something as dorky as "regret minimization framework."
Bezos also made waves when he bought The Washington Post in 2013 and moved his personal efforts into the news media. In light of the controversy surrounding Gawker's bankruptcy at the hands of another tech billionaire, Peter Thiel, Bezos has fielded a lot of questions on his views of the media. One of his answers, while dealing with Gawker and Thiel specifically, also contains a sizable dollop of worldly wisdom:
As a public figure, the best defense to speech that you don't like as yourself as a public figure is to develop a thick skin. It's really the only effective defense. If you're doing anything interesting in the world, you're going to have critics. If you absolutely can't tolerate critics, then don't do anything new or interesting.