Even though we’ve never met, may I call you Jeffy? I’d like this letter to feel like it’s from a friend since, in an imaginative sort of way, it is. I’m a big fan of what you created with Amazon and I’m constitutionally inclined to friendliness. So, even though I don’t at all like how you are behaving, I still consider myself a friend to you. Feel free to do the same for me.
As a friend, may I say that you‘re blowing it big-time. Everyone I know hates you. Many people feel so strongly that they won’t even use Amazon. But unlike many who condemn you without deeper reflection, I suspect that all you need are just some loving words from someone close to you.
In writing and art critiques, I always like to start with what I like, and I’ll do the same with you. I am truly stunned and impressed by your vision. Like everyone, when I first heard that you were planning to sell tube socks on Amazon, I thought you were nuts. Who would go to the bookstore for a humidifier or guitar cable? Turns out, I would. You saw this long before anyone, and you made it happen despite the skepticism. Bravo! Steve Jobs has nothing on you.
Your implementation of customer reviews is another brilliant and revolutionary concept. Maybe you swiped the idea from somewhere else, but I hadn’t seen it. I use it all the time, both on Amazon and every other site that has followed your lead.
Amazon is easy to use with super-fast delivery, amazing customer service, that very clever pre-paid annual shipping thing, and a return policy that lets me try things I’m unsure about. I’m not supposed to admit it, but I love your site.
And yet, I am unsure about you. You are totally shanking a slam dunk opportunity to be one of the greatest humans that ever lived. Sure, you’re already in a bunch of boring business books, but can that compare to the title of Greatest Human Ever? I think not.
If you would stop squeezing your employees for your own benefit, you’d be well on your way. Overpay them instead. Make their jobs not just tolerable, but fun. Reduce worker productivity to encourage camaraderie and satisfaction. Give everyone lots of breaks. Provide amazing health plans. Set up a ping pong table. Make your employees resolutely proud to work for what could become the greatest company ever.
As a friend, I’ve gotta say that anything less than this shows an uncharacteristically short-sighted lack of vision.
I know you live in a world defined by wealth. I can understand why you continue to push so hard to be richer, even during the mass suffering of the pandemic, and even though you couldn’t possibly gain any additional benefit from it. I get how one can get caught up in the collective share price mania.
But this is exactly where your vision comes in. Transforming Amazon would lift you out of the boring metric of wealthiest person and drop you on top of the list of most loved, admired, and important human beings that ever lived, ever.
You’ve already beaten your fellow billionaires in the race to the top. I can’t imagine that becoming the first trillionaire will give you much of an additional lift. I can’t even imagine that winning was all that satisfying in the first place, even though it’s obviously an accomplishment (kudos). What you need is a new challenge now. A new vision to realize.
In making the choice to do right, you could lead other corporations and billionaires to do the same. You could actually transform the world. Possibly save it. Not many people can say or do that. But you are in a unique, highly visible position to create a movement toward the kind of satisfying, peaceful, and safe world we all want. Most billionaires have to resign themselves to the helpless fate of our doomed planet. But you’re not most billionaires, are you?
Everyone wants to be loved and admired. Other leaders will immediately be jealous of the adoration you’ll be getting and will follow suit. Starting such a movement could reverse the direction of the self-serving bucket to hell we are all riding. It could set a standard of decency, compassion, and respect that could replace the festering stress and anger. It could be the catalyst that allows us to return to our community-focused humanity in a way that influences everything everyone does. But to get it rolling, we need another helping of your visionary brilliance.
I realize that you may be planning to escape to Mars or the Moon, but you gotta know that the reality is that, while it sounds cool, it’s gonna suck. Suck worse than a bomb shelter. You may well survive, but wish you hadn’t. Why live forever trapped inside with stale air in harsh conditions when we’ve already got the greatest planet anyone has ever seen?
And here’s the crazy thing. This could all be yours for some excess profit and wealth that you wouldn’t be able to spend in a hundred and seventy lifetimes. In exchange, you can get ALL of the honor, respect, and glory due you. Far more than money alone could ever buy. Far more than you have now. Plus, you could still be wildly rich. Rich and universally loved. A hero to all of humanity. A fricken savior. And stinkin’ rich. Come on, dude. Think about it.
As a friend, I hate to see your talents eclipsed by a confused preoccupation with a pointless competition that brings little joy. That would be such a waste.
Give me a shout if you wanna talk it over. I’m here for you.