Q&A With Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

In an interview, Bezos talks about selling IT services by the sip, E-commerce, the advantages of VoIP, and why he's interested in space travel.

Thomas Claburn, Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

November 11, 2006

2 Min Read

Amazon CEO Jeff BezosAmazon CEO Jeff Bezos wants to sell what he calls "muck"--computing infrastructure, for whatever use, that companies pay for by the sip. Here's an edited conversation with editor at large Thomas Claburn from the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco (a full transcript and podcast are available at informationweek.com):

InformationWeek: Is Amazon Web Services better suited for a small company, or could you just as well move YouTube's or Visa's internal operations over tomorrow?

Bezos: ... You could move large pieces of infrastructure, and we do have large clients using it in different ways. Xerox Global Services is an example of a very large customer with very spiky utilization, so it's an ideal service for them, because of the spikiness. It's the kind of company where they will have a customer that says, "I have five acres of filing cabinets, and I need to digitize it all, OCR it all, and then make it all searchable." ... With the right amount of due diligence, and the right amount of care and thoughtfulness, very large services could move onto this kind of infrastructure.

InformationWeek: Is search a missing piece that's going to hinder Amazon's ability to compete in the software-as-a-service platform war shaping up with Google and Microsoft?

Bezos: ... Industries generally succeed or fail. And generally there are a lot of winners when an industry succeeds. So it's not exactly like a sports metaphor where there are winners and losers and the conflict is very clear. I believe that Web services, and the kind of infrastructure services that we're building, is going to be an important industry. It's going to be a meaningful third business for Amazon.com. But I think there will be multiple winners.

InformationWeek: What are the new barriers to entry going to be in a world where all these companies operate on your undifferentiated infrastructure?

Bezos: There will still be whatever it is that the individual companies are doing. ... Is it a photo sharing Web site? So SmugMug is a user of our services. They are a very good photo-sharing Web site. And they will create differentiation on the part of their business that really matters to their customers.

InformationWeek: Will you create more competition for yourself?

Bezos: I will be disappointed if we don't. (Laughs.)

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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