Investors, executives, and anyone who merely wants to be good at their job hang on the words of Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com. He published 1,782 of them Wednesday in his annual letter to Amazon’s shareholders. I recommend reading each one of them.
Bezos’s pearls of wisdom are repetitive, by design. He discusses similar concepts year after year, tweaking them for new realities. Delighting customers is a constant. The importance of being willing to reverse direction is another hearty Bezos perennial.
I particularly liked two of his themes this year that constitute fresh material in the Bezos oeuvre. The first is his insistence that managers monitor and adopt important external trends. “These big trends are not that hard to spot (they get talked and written about a lot), but they can be strangely hard for large organizations to embrace,” he writes. “We’re in the middle of an obvious one right now: machine learning and artificial intelligence.” He goes on to discuss the visible and less obvious ways Amazon is utilizing machine learning and AI. But his notion that the important trends aren’t hard to spot is non-trivial. Too many organizations spend too much debating if something is going to be big. If you’ve spent that much time debating it, it’s probably too late.
Bezos also shared his thinking on how high-performance teams should work together—including with their bosses and also when they disagree with each other. “Recognize true misalignment issues early and escalate them immediately,” he writes. “Sometimes teams have different objectives and fundamentally different views. They are not aligned. No amount of discussion, no number of meetings will resolve that deep misalignment. Without escalation, the default dispute resolution mechanism for this scenario is exhaustion. Whoever has more stamina carries the decision.”
For escalation to work, of course, a team’s manager has to be good and also has to be willing to be overruled. Bezos gives an example of his being overruled, though one senses his example is the exemption rather than the rule.
The point is that he demands fast action and quick resolution when people disagree. Exhaustion with disagreement is something anyone who works in a large organization can understand all too well.
Have a good weekend.
BITS AND BYTES
It looks like Apple is interested in Toshiba’s chip business, too. The iPhone maker may team up with its biggest supplier, Foxconn, on an offer for the Japanese conglomerate, reports Japan’s largest broadcasting network. SoftBank may or may not be involved. Apple wouldn’t be all-in. One idea is for it to take a minority ownership stake in the business, along with another company or two, in a scenario that would leave local Toshiba executives in control. (Reuters, Bloomberg)
GM plans to hire way more self-driving car engineers. The biggest U.S. automaker is investing more than $14 million in a San Francisco research and development facility and plans to create at least 1,100 more jobs there over the next five years. GM is already testing a fleet of about 50 automated Chevrolet Bolt vehicles in San Francisco, Detroit, and Scottsdale, Ariz. (Reuters, New York Times)
Yes, some businesses still run Microsoft Vista. Around 10% still have at least one computer running the 10-year-old operating system. So Microsoft’s decision to end support, while not a surprise, will definitely be an inconvenience. (Fortune)
Up next for Tesla, an electric truck. The company’s founder Elon Musk expects to introduce a semi in the September timeframe, with a pickup model planned for about two years from now. Tesla’s much-anticipated Model 3, a competitor to the Chevy Bolt, should be available in limited production this summer. (Fortune, Fortune)
Uber could suspend services in Italy and Denmark next week. The company said last month it plans to cease Danish operations because it won’t comply with new regulations, and that day is coming next Tuesday. Its fate in Italy is also uncertain: it could be off the road there by Monday after losing a lawsuit by drivers that alleges Uber violates local laws related to competition in the taxi business. (Wall Street Journal)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
What the Snapchat Lawsuit Means for Snap Stock Investors, by Jen Wieczner
Expectations for Apple Watch and Fitbit Are Still Dropping, by Aaron Pressman
The Engineer Who Blogged About Sexism at Uber Has a New Gig, by Polina Marinova
Here’s When You Can Expect Microsoft to Unveil the New Xbox, by Jonathan Vanian
ONE MORE THING
If you want a classic Nintendo console, you better move quickly. The video gaming giant is discontinuing the “retro” product that it introduced last fall, despite its unexpected popularity. It looks like its newest system, Switch, will do just fine when it comes to picking up the slack. Nintendo sold more than 900,000 of the consoles in the United States last month, far more than analysts had projected. (Fortune)
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
MuleSoft Connect: Connect apps, data and devices. (April 18-20; San Francisco)
F8: Facebook’s developer conference. (April 18-19; San Jose, Calif.)
Marketing Nation Summit: Marketo’s annual event for digital marketers. (April 23-26; San Francisco)
JiveWorld: Strategies and technologies for workplace collaboration. (May 1-3; Las Vegas)
Data Citizens: Strategies for data governance. (May 2-3; New York)
Apttus Accelerate: Perspectives on automating the “quote-to-cash” process. (May 2-4; San Francisco)
Collision: A tech conference created by the organizers of Europe’s Web Summit. (May 2-4; New Orleans)
Red Hat Summit: The premier open source technology event. (May 2-4; Boston)
Knowledge17: ServiceNow’s annual customer gathering. (May 7-11; Orlando, Fla.)
Gartner IT Operations Strategies & Solutions Summit: How to accommodate cloud services and other “digital” technologies. (May 8-10; Orlando, Fla.)
Gartner Digital Marketing Conference: Actionable advice about martech. (May 10-12: San Diego)
Outperform: The PROS annual conference about omnichannel commerce technology. (May 10-12; Chicago)
Build: Microsoft’s annual conference for software developers. (May 10-12; Seattle)
MarkLogic World: Enterprise database strategies and insights. (May 16-17; Chicago)
Google I/O: Alphabet’s annual developer conference. (May 17-19; Mountain View, California)
Epicor Insights: Strategies for retail and resource planning. (May 22-25; Nashville)
Signal: Twilio’s annual developer confab. (May 24-25; San Francisco)
Apple Worldwide Developer Conference: An annual gathering of iOS, macOS, and watchOS coders. (June 5-9; San Francisco)
Zuora Subscribed: A conference dedicated to the subscription economy. (June 5-7; San Francisco).
Pure//Accelerate: The future of data storage. (June 12-14; San Francisco)
MongoDB World: A gathering of the world’s fastest-growing database community. (June 20-21; Chicago)
Cisco Live: Education for technology innovators. (June 25-29; Las Vegas)
.NEXT: Nutanix’s conference on the future of enterprise cloud services. (June 28-30; Washington, D.C.)
Fortune Brainstorm Tech: An invitation-only summer retreat for business leaders. (July 17-19, Aspen, Colo.)
Microsoft Ignite: Hands-on learning and industry insights for business leaders. (Sept. 25-29; Orlando, Florida)