Amazon Unbound


Brad Stone

Amazon Unbound is the second book by Brad Stone about the unbridled growth of this interesting high-growth organization.  Stone addresses the last several years of Amazon’s growth.  He walks us through the formulation of new products and acquisitions, regulatory challenges and scandals.  It’s an amazing story of a company with a leader that is constantly challenging the status quo.  If you like to stay on top of not only what Amazon is doing but why it is doing something, then this is a good book to read.

My biggest complaint with the book is that Stone paints certain characteristics, actions or practices as if they are outliers in business or bad ideas.  For example, Bezos is described as a narcissistic leader.  As we know, many leaders who have fought against the grain have this characteristic to some degree so it doesn’t mean that Bezos is bad or good.  In another example, Stone was baffled by a traditional management practice called “span of control”, a practice routinely used by companies to ensure they do not get too bloated administratively.  Finally Stone paints a tough culture with leaders that lack empathy and that seems to be the case.  However, people clamor to work at this company so it must have some appeal. Also, his interviews are primarily with people who left the company, many of whom were disgruntled.

I am not an advocate for Amazon per se but I am an advocate for companies that are focused on addressing and solving issues for customers.  I think Amazon Unbound is a good book to read.  I just caution the reader to keep an open mind as to where Amazon has truly stepped over the line versus where it has angered incumbents by refusing to accept the status quo.