My wife and I (and even some of our young children) watched Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos recently. It’s a slick documentary that raises some important questions and concerns about the increasingly monopolistic company that keeps prices low (instead of raising them like past monopolies).
The movie wasn’t enough to make me ditch my Amazon Prime or Alexa accounts, especially given how much time and money Amazon has saved my family over the last two decades. That could change, but for now I’ll say: so far, so good. In fact, I’d rather convert to Android and stay with Amazon than stay with Apple and ditch Amazon—I like them that much.
For its slick production and warranted scrutiny, I award it ★★★★☆.
Fun fact: Walmart made twice as much money as Amazon did last year ($512 billion versus $233 billion).
As a long-time tech journalist, I’ve noticed an interesting trend over the years. Companies who aren’t really tech companies will call themselves that anyway.
This is because “tech” is a lot like “new,” “free,” or “sale.” These words get people’s attention. So a lot of companies say they’re “tech” for the free publicity.
One such company is WeWork, a real-estate company that leases short and long-term office space stocked with free beer, cool lighting, and a community-for-hire for remote workers like myself. Continue reading…
After Sears filed for bankruptcy (and likely its ultimate demise) last month, a part of my childhood died with it.
Long before I was born, Sears served as America’s first Amazon, allowing the entire country (especially rural parts of it) to mail order just about anything from a fat catalog. They didn’t offer two day shipping, but they delivered at a time when no one else did. Continue reading…
“The reality is that calling a business a ‘tech company’ is a ploy to make it sound exciting to potential consumers and investors, not a method of assigning greater meaning,” aruges David Yanofsky for Quartz. “The moniker says nothing about what type of company it actually is, only that it is a business that uses at least one technology to provide its product or service.”
He goes on, “The era of tech companies is over. To stay competitive in today’s marketplaces, every company, by the current standard, could be called a tech company, which of course, is another way of saying that none of them should be.”
Writes Bryce in his 5/5 star review:
“Log Off is chock full of delicious nuggets of behavioral wisdom. Concise and engaging, Snow lays bare a decade worth of personal experience, research, and experimentation. This personal journey is tied to, and sometimes driven by, recognized scientific study, and does not sugar coat any of the author’s personal struggles or failings. This honesty and frank vulnerability creates a narrative that is both relatable and inspiring, and I highly recommend this read to any connected individual seeking more meaning and focus in their life.”
Thank you, Bryce. I can tell by your writing that your read a lot, so it means a lot that you liked my book as well as you stated. High five!
For one reason or another—both personally and professionally—these companies can do almost no wrong in my eyes:
- Dell. I built my first computer as a freshman in high school. Overclocked it, modified it, loved it. Later on, I built several more for family members. And then made-to-order Dell took over the world by the late ’90s. I enthusiastically appreciated their customization, affordability, and no-nonsense style. A decade later, Dell officials hired me as a contract writer for three consecutive years. That engagement largely paid for the downpayment on my first and only house. Although they’ve changed significantly since the ’90s and I now compute on a Macintosh, I still admire them. Continue reading…
I’m an enthusiastic Amazon, Apple, Uber, and Google user because they make my life easier. I don’t think twice before upping my Prime membership. In fact, I like these companies so much, I’ve even willing to pay a little extra for the convenience they offer.
But obsessive brand loyalty will ultimately hurt us, argue two ivy-league economists for USA Today. “Each of us can do our part to make sure Amazon and others never get to the point of ubiquitous domination. It might introduce a bit of hassle and inconvenience into your life, but only a tiny bit. But by taking on this challenge, you’ll be doing the job that antitrust authorities, in an ideal world, might take care of on our behalf – ensuring that consumers and workers, rather than the owners of capital and algorithms – get a piece of the surplus that’s created by new business ideas.”
Make no mistake, I’m a proud American capitalist. But I like it even more when companies compete for my business. “Think about those credit card teasers we all get,” the authors add. “As long as we keep businesses thinking they need to chase after us to try to lock us in, they’ll keep on handing us value rather than using it to pad their bottom line.”
If you agree, consider shopping with competing companies and platforms from time to time to keep your favorite companies on their toes, hungry for your business, and willing to let you keep a greater share of the value.
I’m always writing down blog ideas. At the time of writing, I have 535 unpublished saved drafts. Most of these will never see the light of day. But some of them are worth sharing. In an effort to whittle that number down as fast as humanly possible, here are five things that have crossed my mind recently: Continue reading…
Ev Williams believes the internet is “a giant machine designed to give people what they want.” In a speech reported by Wired, the co-inventor of Blogger and Twitter added, “We often think the internet enables us to do new things, but people just want to do the same things.”
For instance, we want to socialize, entertain ourselves, learn, and make work easier. The internet does all four better than any other convenience of the last century.
It does this in two ways, Williams explains. “Big hits on the internet (think Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon) are masters at making things fast and not making people think… But the internet is not a utopian world. It’s like a lot of other technological revolutions.” Continue reading…
Warner Bros. / Blake Snow
My stomach turns anytime I witness waste, lavishness, or squandering. I smile whenever I see thrift, frugality, or resourcefulness. (See also: The difference between cheap and frugal)
In fact, the latter is a life-long pursuit of mine: To be resourceful in everything I do, including my personal and business endeavorers.
Which is why I relate to Amazon’s leadership principle on frugality, explained like this Continue reading…
This is good, embedded journalism about “the everything store” from which my family buys a sizable portion of merchandise:
There have always been rubbish jobs. Ian Brinkley, the director of the Work Foundation, calls Amazon’s employment practices “old wine in new bottles”. Restaurants and kebab shops have done the same sort of thing for years. But Amazon is not a kebab shop. It’s the future. Which may or may not be something to think about as you click “add to basket”.
I’ll think about it, but I’ll still click. I can honestly say Amazon has improved my life over the last decade. Whatever long-term cost I may end up paying for the cut-rate convenience is too murky to fear. At least right now.
See also: Amazon looks to the future
Amazon has been my favorite store (and website) for nearly a decade.
As I’ve said many times before, they are the greatest store known to man. They have saved me thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of time spent shopping. They do unto customers as they would do unto themselves. They are my movie store. My book store. My music store that auto syncs with iTunes. They are a treasure trove of user data, helping me reach for products that are consumer approved and well rated so I get burned less often. They ship free and often return free.
Plus it’s just fun getting brown cardboard boxes wrapped up in shipping tape. Heck, their boxes even have a smile on them. For that, I unabashedly love Amazon.
And then they go and do something like this, as if I needed any more reason to shout my love for them from the rooftops with free word of mouth advertising: Continue reading…
… you like poetry, melody making, love songs, and stripped down but moving production. Listen on Spotify first. Then buy it on Amazon for $4 if you haven’t already.
An Amazon warehouse(s). It really is the greatest store known to man. The only thing I don’t buy from them — at least not yet — is groceries, a car, or a house.
“There are two types of companies: those that work hard to charge customers more, and those that work hard to charge customers less. Both approaches can work. We are firmly in the second camp.”—Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of the Seattle-based Amazon.com, now going on seven consecutive years as my favorite website.
It’s called When Animals Stare by The Black Ghosts. It’s like Black Keys + Band of Skulls + Magnet. Which is awesome. And it doesn’t fade halfway through like most albums. Double Awesome.
Thanks for sharing, David.
A year and a half ago, I ignorantly called e-readers The Emperor’s New Clothes.
Today, it is I who stands naked before you.
To be fair, I still buy printed books. But only because I’m a cheap skate and I like being able to pass my favorite books on to friends and family—can’t do that with my Kindle.
That said, e-readers are a great way to own hundreds of classics for free, not to mention the occasional contemporary book bought on discount. Not only that, but Kindle is a wonderful way to read literature.
New prediction: E-readers, will in fact, replace the majority of books (but not all, they will stay niche like pencils).
Here’s why, announced today:
Seriously, Amazon’s website and value-rich products are crazy good. +1 for streaming Mister Rogers.
“Buy once, use anywhere.” In that case, here’s all my business. Thanks, Amazon!
An Amazon.com warehouse. Storefront of course being their awesome website. Via The Big Picture.
Flamingo, the debut solo album of Killers frontman Brandon Flowers. Better yet, it’s only $5 on Amazon. Runner up: Junior by RÃ¶yksopp. Although released last year, it’s leagues better than the duos’ follow-up release last month.
See also: 5+ bands I’m digging right now