Thursday, October 11, 2012

Amazon and Google

Amazon is getting into the loans business.  Google has self-driving cars.  What do these two things have in common?  My pet theory is that both of these companies were built to help fund the true enthusiasms of their founders and that their genius allowed them to build enormous businesses as tools to get there.  Their success in retail and search has obscured what I hope are their underlying motivations.

Amazon moved from books (among the easiest of goods to sell on-line because of almost zero concerns of customers of fraud, mishandling, etc.), to general retail, to cloud computing, and now to loans.  I've come to think that its real goal is to dominate what was quaintly called B2B.  By developing a deep understanding of retail, customer service, and branding, Amazon has built up the expertise to begin providing services to business.  Taking a few pennies here and there but across the entire value chain.  And it started with general retail because you need a big arena if your business exists to make money on the margins.  And, with the enormous scale of Amazon, it can enter into markets that seem impenetrable or daunting because of the capital demands.  And (another and), become the largest company on earth.

Google is doing something slightly different but similar in tone.  Here, the founders built a search engine, now advertising company, not because they love marketing or search but because the gold mine of google affords the freedom to try capital intensive projects.  Again, similar to the way Amazon grew based on the value created through retail.

All complete speculation but a way to explain why some very smart people seem to be so unfocused - I think the presumed focus is merely a means to reach the true goal.

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