In most of corporate America, you write the press release when your creation is finished. But at Amazon, you write it before you’ve even begun.
“If you were pitching something to Jeff Bezos or other senior managers below Jeff, the first thing you did was write a press release for it — as if it were a product that you were putting out into the world,” says Chris Brown, who spent more than three years at the company and remembers joining at least two pitch meetings with Bezos, the company’s founder and CEO.
These Bezosian press releases are designed to focus pitches squarely on the needs of company’s customers, and they illustrate a much broader force that drives the Amazon machine. “That’s one of the things that impressed me,” Brown remembers. “If someone came up with an interesting idea — if they said: ‘Wow, I would find this useful’ — the next follow-on question was: ‘Are there customers who would find this useful?’”
This is how Chris Brown explains why Amazon — of all companies — created the Elastic Compute Cloud, an internet service that has completely changed the face of computing since it debuted a little over six years ago, providing instant access not to an online store or a search engine or an e-mail account, but to a virtually unlimited collection of computing power. Brown was among the many who helped gestate the idea, and he was part of the small team of engineers that built the service at an Amazon satellite office in Cape Town, South Africa.
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