Early member of Amazon Kindle team shares lessons learned from working with Jeff Bezos

(Amazon Photo)

Learn and adapt. Cannibalize yourself. Just because something ain’t broke, doesn’t mean you can’t make it better.

These are some lessons learned from Jeff Bezos as the Amazon CEO helped launch the company’s groundbreaking Kindle device.

Former Amazon exec Dan Rose shared stories from his time working under Bezos as an early member of the Kindle team at Amazon.

Rose, who later spent 12 years at Facebook and now runs a VC firm called Coatue Management, said he learned “a ton” from his interactions with the Amazon founder. Rose tweeted about the lessons just days before Bezos testifies before Congress on antitrust issues.

A few of the takeaways:

  • Rose noted how Amazon’s second-largest business — CD sales — was crushed by Apple. So Bezos took lessons from the iPod and iTunes and applied them to the Kindle.
  • Even though books generated more than half of Amazon’s cash flow, Bezos moved Amazon media exec Steve Kessel to the Kindle team and assigned a mission: “destroy his old business.”
  • Nothing was wrong with physical books. But Bezos insisted that the reading experience could be better — “just because it ain’t broke, doesn’t mean you can’t make it better.”

Rose also referenced Bezos’ near-death experience in a helicopter back in 2003. “If he hadn’t survived, the world would look very different,” Rose wrote.

See the full tweetstream here.

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