When Jeff Bezos decided to start Amazon (originally an online bookstore), he openly estimated a 70% chance of failure. Now it is one of the most famous transnational corporations in the world. One of its key features is the encouragement of inventions and innovations among employees at all levels. This trend is set by the founder of the company, who, despite his entrepreneurial employment, finds time for his own developments.
The urge to invent
In an interview with Bezos saidthat even as a child he was a “garage inventor”. He really invented a lot, and his mother had to regularly take her son to the radio store to purchase parts. Jeff made an alarm system for his room from older brothers and sisters, automatic gates from car tires and other devices. He dreamed of becoming exactly the inventor, what was Thomas Edison.
In shaping Bezos’ inventive mind, an important role belongs to his grandfather, Lawrence Preston. He worked on space and rocket technology for the DARPA military program (perhaps this influenced Jeff’s future interest in space), then headed a division of the US Atomic Energy Commission. Bezos from 4 to 16 years old spent the summer with his grandfather, when the latter was already retired.
Preston’s ranch was very far from civilization, which forced him to make something himself more often than to buy. For example, he independently made medical needles for treating livestock, a crane for loading heavy parts. Grandfather taught Bezos to use resourcefulness and ingenuity to get out of difficult situations.
In high school, Jeff converted a garage into a lab. At one point, he began to skip classes at school after lunch, as he found a professor who was ready to give him the opportunity to experiment.
The traits laid down in childhood were preserved by Bezos for life. Amazon Worldwide Consumer CEO saidthat “Inventing the new is the fuel for Bezos, the fuel for his intellect.” According to him, a truly joyful Bezos can only be seen when getting acquainted with a quality invention or idea.
The pursuit of space
The idea of conquering space has also been with Bezos since childhood. At his graduation, he made a speech that humanity should move to other planets, and make something like a reserve out of the Earth.
In 2000, Jeff founded Blue Origin. In 2021, he himself flew into space as part of a test flight. This flight over the Karman line broke four Guinness records at once. Business model for Bezos consists of to sell a billion dollars worth of Amazon stock annually to fund Blue Origin. Interest in the space industry is associated not only with startups. In 2012, Bezos took part in the restoration of the Apollo 11 engines, which included lifting parts from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
Patents and developments of Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos patents developments both for Amazon (this company is indicated as the assignee) and for other areas (for example, Blue Origin). For 2018 Bezos was indicated Inventor on 154 Amazon patents, being the sole author on 11 of them, and being the main developer on 35 more. On diagram below is Bezos’ patent activity. It is interesting that he found time for invention in the tenth years, when he had to pay a lot of attention and time to the development of the company. In 2009, Bezos was listed as the author of 28% of all Amazon patents.
The diagram below shows the distribution of Bezos’ interests by areas of invention. For the most part, the topics of patents coincide with the interests of Amazon. These are e-commerce, digital content, etc. Bezos’ patents related to unmanned aerial vehicles are interesting. Later companies was issued patent for PrimeAir drone delivery system. Device testing was conducted in Canada.
Among countries, the United States is the leading place for patent registration, followed by Japan, Europe, China and India.
Bezos’ sole inventions are predominantly related to electronic devices. The non-Amazon patents include space applications. In particular, the method of sea landing of booster rockets.
In the TOP 10 Bezos patents by citation frequency are included:
US7433832B1 (cited including Microsoft and IBM) – describes how transactions are processed.
US8736228B1 – a robotic device for charging electronic devices and more.
US20030055729A1 – a system for determining the optimal place for displaying ads for the user.
US7743001B1 — method and system of dynamic pricing.
US8423431B1 — a system with laser-based display devices for the provision and use of data.
US7478054B1 – a means of exchanging information about purchases.
US7552365B1 – a system for detecting failures on the site and interacting with users about this.
US8700392B1 — interfaces of speech-enabled devices.
US7356507B2 – payment service.
US7778890B1 — a system for the dissemination of information.
Amazon now has project, in which their Amazon Go stores go to the point of automatic customer service that you do not even need to use the self-checkout. There are many high-precision cameras and sensors under the ceiling, machine learning and computer vision are used so that the buyer can simply take the goods and leave. The system automatically detects the selected products and sends a check to the phone.
Invention in company management and corporate culture
The high value of inventions, innovations and ideas is strongly reflected in the corporate culture of Amazon and the principles within the company. Bezos strives to automate routine work as much as possible so that employees have more opportunities for ideas and inventions. His subordinates express their ideas on 6 pages, describe the idea in detail at the meeting, answer a flurry of questions. If in the end the idea is recognized as successful, then Bezos supplies the person with resources and a team for implementation.
Bezos’ philosophy is that now innovation has become a necessity, not an addition. When introducing new things has become a relatively easy task for large companies from a financial point of view, and ideas are very easy to adopt or steal, you should always offer something new. Continuous development is the key to survival in the modern world.
It is believed that at Amazon, Bezos forces a person to be both a thinker and a performer. The idea of each should be thought out at all stages, and after that the author of the original plan will be responsible for its implementation. As a result, everyone is literally forced to think and do.
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