Self-service platforms unlock innovation
Jeff Bezos letter to shareholders 2011
KEY MESSAGE 14/22
Jeff Bezos has been writing a letter to shareholders since 1997 and looking at all if them gives an insight to the organisation and a masterclass in leadership. This is a series of short blogs that gives you a snap shot / key takes outs of each letter, along with links to them all.
“I am emphasizing the self-service nature of these platforms because it’s important for a reason I think is somewhat non-obvious: even well-meaning gatekeepers slow innovation. When a platform is self-service, even the improbable ideas can get tried.”
A platform that other people can use to generate value will always be more powerful than a controlled, walled garden that you control and populate with your own content.
Incentivize people to use your self-service platform, and you can build a much larger business than you could even as a well-meaning gatekeeper.
The main impediment to platform creation today is technology. Companies that do not invest in technology that can turn their work into a platform are going to fall behind.
Amazon has disrupted traditional publishing similarly to how it disrupted traditional retail: by building a platform for other people to use to sell their wares.
In publishing, agents and editors decide what is quality and what’s not. They only have the resources to produce and market a certain number of books every year, so they can’t publish everything that comes across their desks.
With Kindle Direct Publishing, authors can set their own list prices for written work, control their rights, and get their books in front of readers around the world in less than 48 hours. No gatekeeper needed.
Amazon provides the same type of self-service platform for internet companies through AWS and merchants via Fulfillment by Amazon. “These innovative, large-scale platforms are not zero-sum — they create win-win situations and create significant value for developers, entrepreneurs, customers, authors, and readers,” and of course, Amazon.
link to all letters to shareholders
- 1997: Bring on shareholders who align with your values
- 1998: Stay terrified of your customers
- 1999: Build on top of infrastructure that’s improving on its own
- 2000: In lean times, build a cash moat
- 2001: Measure your company by your free cash flow
- 2002: Build your business on your fixed costs
- 2003: Long-term thinking is rooted in ownership
- 2004: Free cash flow enables more innovation
- 2005: Don’t get fixated on short-term numbers
- 2006: Nurture your seedlings to build big lines of business
- 2007: Missionaries build better products
- 2008: Work backwards from customer needs to know what to build next
- 2009: Focus on inputs — the outputs will take care of themselves
- 2010: R&D should pervade every department
- 2011: Self-service platforms unlock innovation
- 2012: Surprise and delight your customers to build long-term trust
- 2013: Decentralize decision-making to generate innovation
- 2014: Bet on ideas that have unlimited upside
- 2015: Don’t deliberate over easily reversible decisions
- 2016: Move fast and focus on outcomes
- 2017: Build high standards into company culture
- 2018: Wandering is an essential counterbalance to efficiencyJeff Bezos Letter to Shareholders 2018