Jeff Bezos takes the same approach to overseeing cloud infrastructure provider Amazon Web Services as he does Amazon.com, the giant online retail site.
Bezos thinks in terms of the long run, convinced that customers will come to appreciate his commitment to creating great products offered at low prices. The Amazon CEO made a rare public appearance Thursday, sitting down for a talk with Amazon.com CTO Werner Vogels at the Amazon re:Invent partner conference in Las Vegas.
Whether it's selling books online, selling Kindle e-readers or offering data hosting services at the largest cloud hosting company in the world, Bezos said a long-term commitment to quality, innovation, low costs and a willingness to exist on the margin drive his strategy.
"If we can arrange things in such a way where we can align with the customer, it will work out in the long term for both the customer and for Amazon," Bezos said.
Low margins, Bezos said, are ingrained in the company's character and go hand in hand with innovation.
"High margins cover a lot of sinners," Bezos said. "We've spent 18 years [operating with low margins] so it's deeply ingrained in our culture."
Since its start in 2002, AWS had instituted 24 price cuts, the latest coming Wednesday when it instituted a 25 percent reduction in the price of Amazon Simple Storage Service.
Bezos said he has never pursued high-margin returns for his products. And he values creativity and experimentation ahead of hard-charging business execution.
"Some people wake up every morning and say, 'What three companies can I kill this year?' That's a conqueror's mentality," Bezos said. "We want to attract people who want to innovate, who wake up and say, 'I want to build a great product.'
"Successful innovation is creating something customers care about," he added.
Bezos said AWS has continued the spirit of innovation started at Amazon.com. "AWS is one of those enablers that helps companies innovate faster," he said.
AWS has thousands of developers continually working to drive down costs and create new ways of tuning technology to offer more services. In 2012, it will offer 158 new features, the company said.
When it comes to the long-term view, Bezos may hold the record. He is working with a team in West Texas to create a 10,000-year clock.
"The symbol is important," he said. "If we take a long-term view we can accomplish things we wouldn't otherwise."
PUBLISHED NOV. 30, 2012