Amazon. Jeff Bezos’ real false start

 Amazon.  Jeff Bezos' real false start

Unfortunately, this is not a page that turns. The departure of Jeff Bezos from the general management of Amazon does not clearly sign the end of his grip on his empire, he just leaves the daily management of the group to a faithful among the faithful, Andy Jassy, ​​who was until now at the head of the most profitable branch, Amazon Web Service. The main shareholder of the group, with 16% of the shares – he held 20% before his divorce – Bezos remains the executive chairman of the board of directors and can regain control of the management in the event of a glitch. Above all, he deeply imbued his company with his personality.

Icon of the “self-made-man”

Amazon is thus the creation of a banker who wanted to take himself for a technology magnate. Bezos started on Wall Street. In 1994, convinced that the beginnings of the World Wide Web and the first consumer interfaces for browsing the Internet would make it possible to earn billions, he left the New York investment fund that employed him and founded a site, cadabra.com, with financial help – $100,000 – from his parents. Even to become a self-made-man icon, it helps to be an heir. At first, he didn’t really know what to sell: clothes, software… Before stopping on books, with the idea that, faced with the dizzying size of the literary catalog, a site would necessarily have a huge advantage over physical shops in the limited stock. To do things in form, he rents a pavilion with garage. He transforms it into a game room, but with the idea that if his business worked, he could follow, twisting reality a little, in the footsteps of Apple and Google, of these big technological companies which started in a garage.

An ambition close to hubris

Bezos, despite his attraction to Silicon Valley, decides to settle in Seattle. Here again we find one of the founding pillars of Amazon: avoid tax at all costs. A 1992 Supreme Court decision stipulated that traders should only pay VAT for sales made to residents of the state in which the seller was physically present. To take advantage of this tax dumping, it is impossible to set up in the most populous state in the country, California. Conversely, Washington State, further north, is one of the least dense. And it’s bordered to the south by Oregon, home to one of the largest book warehouses in the United States. It was only much later that Amazon decided to open its own warehouses, and therefore to pay the VAT. The same logic presided over the establishment of the multinational in Europe, where its subsidiary was established in Luxembourg, offering viaticum towards massive tax optimization of its income. Bercy estimates that 98% of third-party sellers registered on the e-commerce site are not registered for VAT in France.

The very choice of the name Amazon – and the abandonment of cadabra – testifies to another personality trait of its creator: an enormous ambition that sometimes borders on pretentiousness, even hubris. “Not only is it the largest river in the world, but it is infinitely more imposing than the second in the ranking, it pulverizes all the other rivers”, explained Bezos to his biographer Brad Stone. He had also thought of “relentless”, implacable. But Amazon was better suited to its purpose: to create the biggest company in the world and become the richest man in the world. What he succeeded in.

Violent anti-union policy and disastrous carbon footprint

Lure of profit, refusal of tax, excessive ambition, it lacks cynicism and hypocrisy to perfect the portrait of the company and its inventor. Amazon boasts of being one of the biggest creators of admittedly precarious and underpaid jobs in the world. However, one of the group’s biggest investment items relates to research into automation to allow, in the short and medium term, the laying off of as many employees as possible. The company, to boast of its ecological conscience, makes videos to show that goats mow the lawn around the warehouses. At the same time, it bought 20,000 trucks and 11 new planes at the start of the year to bring its fleet, Amazon Prime Air, to more than 80 aircraft. Bezos leads a violent anti-union policy and promises to become “the best employer on earth”. Examples of this kind are legion. Thus, if Bezos returns to his primary vocation, the management of an investment fund, Amazon will remain Amazon.