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Amazon’s Bezos Relishes Competition And Risk

SEATTLE —In naming’s founder and CEO its 2012 Businessperson of the Year in November, Fortune Magazine described Jeff Bezos as “the ultimate disrupter: He has upended the book industry and displaced electronics merchants.” 

Bezos’ entrepreneurial spirit was in full view during a recent interview to mark the accolade on NBC’s “Today Show,” in which he noted that competition makes Amazon a better company, and one that’s willing to take big risks. 

“We’ve always been in a hypercompetitive industry,” Bezos said in response to a question about big-box chains testing same-day delivery. “E-commerce, even from its very beginning, has been hypercompetitive. That’s a good thing. That’s good for customers. It’s even good for companies that embrace that dynamic. 

“That’s what happens in business,” he continued. “Companies force each other to innovate, and so we have to evolve. And we are. We’re providing [a] better customer experience today than we ever have. People get their goods faster [and] we have lower prices than ever. We’re ready.” 

Bezos also acknowledged that Amazon is less concerned about short-term financial results than long-term competitive gains, citing Kindle Fire HD as a prime example. “It’s our No. 1 best-seller globally [and] we sell it at near break-even,” he said. “We pack a lot of technology into a $199 price point. We hope to make money over time as people use the device. They buy e-books, they buy MP3s, they buy games, and that’s a different approach [than Apple’s], and it’s working for us.

”He continued, “The fact is Amazon has a pioneering culture and so it’s a big team of people who are experimenters and innovators, and we’re willing to fail, we’re willing to try things. One of our characteristics is we’re willing to be patient, and patience is required if you’re going to invent.”