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CEO Bezos Discusses Amazon

By Marissa Vogt

STAFF REPORTER

Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, spoke to members of the MIT community last night about using technology to distinguish his company.

Bezos, who graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, made a dramatic entrance on his Segway Human Transporter. When Segway HTs first go on sale, they will be available only through Amazon.com

Bezos talked about the importance of technology to his company. Amazon.com’s vision, Bezos said, is “to be the Earth’s most customer-centric company, to be the place to find, discover, and buy anything you want online, and to use technology to drive innovation.”

Personalization helps site grow

The company has grown tremendously since it was launched in 1995, and Bezos credited this to a combination of invention, innovation, and personalization.

“You can’t really run a business of any kind if you’re not going to listen to your customers,” he said. “We’ve done a tremendous amount of invention and our goal is to build a place where each individual customer has his or her own Web site.”

Robert A. Frederick ’96, manager of Amazon.com’s Web services and mobile device access group, also addressed the audience and demonstrated various ways of accessing Amazon.com’s services from other Web sites.

Frederick said his goal is to define a capability to interact with Amazon.com and get search results from outside sources.

“The more people that are interacting with our products, the more products we’ll sell,” Frederick said. “We try to understand what our customers are doing, where they’re coming from.”

Frederick demonstrated different tools that their software developers have created to enable people to link to products on Amazon.com. Among these were Amazon Lite, a method of linking Amazon search results to other Web site; Mockerybird, which lists products from book watch, Google, and Amazon; and “Yes bar,” a tool that displays the song that is currently playing on the radio on any station and has links for people to buy the music on Amazon.com.

Variety of products help business

Bezos also credited the company’s success to “incredibly eclectic” line of products available on Amazon.com and the variety of product recommendations.

Customers find the personal recommendations and reviews particularly useful, and often quite humorous, Bezos said.

“We do sometimes have people write spoof reviews. We’ve had God review the Bible, and last year somebody started posting customer reviews pretending to be Emily Bronte, saying ‘I hate Jane Austen,’” Bezos said.

The talk, entitled “Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company: Differentiating with Technology,” was sponsored by the MIT Association for Computing Machinery and the MIT chapter of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers.