Warren Buffett’s annual letter to shareholders is considered by many in the investing world (myself included) as an annual must-read. As he weaves his wisdom with funny anecdotes and examples all the way through, one can’t help but feel like they’ve actually just finished talking to the man himself.
Another excellent letter to shareholders that doesn’t garner the same amount of press as Buffett’s is Jeff Bezos’ letter to Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) shareholders. Since 1997, he has published these missives, and while they aren’t as lengthy as Buffett’s letters, they are chock-full of hints and clues as to how Bezos thinks and where his priorities lie.
I consider Bezos to be one of the great forward-thinkers of our time, and to call him a risk-taker is an understatement. I truly enjoy reading and rereading these letters and have compiled 10 quotes that have stood out to me through the years. I hope you enjoy.
From 1997: “We will continue to make investment decisions in light of long-term market leadership considerations rather than short-term profitability considerations or short-term Wall Street reactions.”
From 2012: “We want to make money when people use our devices — not when people buy our devices. We think this aligns us better with customers. For example, we don’t need our customers to be on the upgrade treadmill. We can be very happy to see people still using four-year-old Kindles!”
From 1998: “I constantly remind our employees to be afraid, to wake up every morning terrified. Not of our competition, but of our customers. Our customers have made our business what it is, they are the ones with whom we have a relationship, and they are the ones to whom we owe a great obligation.”
From 2000: “As the famed investor Benjamin Graham said, ‘In the short term, the stock market is a voting machine; in the long term, it’s a weighing machine.’ Clearly there was a lot of voting going on in the boom year of ’99 — and much less weighing. We’re a company that wants to be weighed, and over time, we will be — over the long term, all companies are. In the meantime, we have our heads down working to build a heavier and heavier company.”
From 2011: “Invention comes in many forms and at many scales. The most radical and transformative of inventions are often those that empower others to unleash their creativity — to pursue their dreams. That’s a big part of what’s going on with Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) Web Services, Fulfillment by Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), and Kindle Direct Publishing.”