Amazon A–Z: Explorers

Brad Stone, in his book The Everything Store, describes an internal memo drafted by Jeff Bezos in 2011, titled “” After years of rapid growth and a publicity crisis caused by accusations of tax evasion, it became crucial for executives to maintain the company’s positive image.

In the memo, Bezos divides other large corporations into “cool” and “not cool,” listing a set of contrasting traits that characterize them: “Rudeness is not cool; defeating tiny guys is not cool; Defeating bigger, unsympathetic guys is cool; hypocrisy is not cool; authenticity is cool; explorers are cool; conquerors are not cool,” and so on. Explorers invent something new without hurting anyone, unlike conquerors, who reach out by force for what they don’t deserve. It’s not hard to imagine which side according to Jeff Bezos Amazon should be on.

However, most of the qualities spelled out by Amazon’s former CEO are obvious, meant only to build the right image for the expanding corporation – so that it still seems to be a small company that came straight out of the garage of a suburban home. As Bezos himself puts it – “it’s always day one.” But when confronted with actual actions, such as the treatment of workers, the opaqueness of the financial structure or the impact on smaller vendors, the image doesn’t hold up and the curtain falls.


  1. Brad Stone, The Everything Store, Random House, 2013
  2. Helena Hunt (ed.), Jeff Bezos: In His Own Words, Agate Publishing, 2018