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Jeff Bezos Interview on Data and Privacy and Regulation

From Audio: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos

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This Is Success
Duration: 09:38
Join Axel Springer CEO, Dr. Mathias Dopfner, as he interviews the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, on the topic of how Amazon deals with scrutiny.
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Join Axel Springer CEO, Dr. Mathias Dopfner, as he interviews the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, on the topic of how Amazon deals with scrutiny.
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very other reasons. First of all is this scenario of a break of something that you take seriously or you think it's just a fantasy for me again, this is one of the things where, you know, I focus on and ask our teams to focus on what we can control. And I expect whether it's, you know, the current US administration or any other government agency anywhere in the world amazon is now a large corporation and I expect us to be scrutinized, we should be scrutinized. I think all large institutions should be scrutinized and examined. It's it's reasonable. And what's, you know, one thing to note about us is that we have, uh, We have we have gotten big in absolute terms only very recently. So we've always been growing fast in percentage terms, but in in in 2010, just eight years ago We had 30,000 employees. So in the last eight years we've gone from 30,000 employees to 560,000 employees. So for us it's kind of, you know, in my mind, I'm still delivering the packages to the post office myself. You see what I'm saying? I still, I still have all the memories of, you know, hoping that one day we could afford a forklift. And so obviously that's my, my intellectual brain knows that's just not the case anymore. We have 560,000 employees all over the world and and I know we should be scrutinized. And I think it's true, a big government institutions should be scrutinized. Big nonprofit institutions should be scrutinized. Big universities should be scrutinized. It just makes sense. It's a, and that's by the way why the work that the Washington post and the other great newspapers around the world do is so important because they're often the ones doing that initial scrutiny even before the government agencies do. But in a way the general sentiment taught the big innovative tech companies has changed. I mean, facebook google apple amazon, they used to be seen as the nice guys in t shirts that are saving the world and now they are sometimes portrait as the kind of evil of the world. Um, and the debate about the Big Four or the Big Five, the economist is suggesting split up, uh, other powerful people like josh sorrows are giving speeches in Davos. Um, you commission is taking pretty tough positions here. Do you think that there is a change in mindset in the society and what should the, the big tech companies, what should amazon learn from that to do with it? I think I do sense. I mean, I think, again, I think it's a natural instinct. I think we humans, especially in the Western world and especially inside democracies are wired to be uh, skeptical and mindful of large institutions of any kind were skeptical. I'm sure were skeptical of our government always in the United States State governments, local governments assume it's similar in Germany, it's healthy because they're big powerful institutions, you know, the police, the military, whatever it is, it doesn't mean that you don't trust them or that they're bad or evil or anything like that. They're just they have we have a lot of power and control and so you want to inspect them, maybe that's a better word. You kind of want to always be inspecting them. And I think if you look at the big tech companies, they have gotten large enough that they need, they're going to be inspected and by the way it's not personal, I think were some of the, you can go astray on this if you're the founder of a company, one of these big tech companies or any other big institution, if you, if you go straight on this, you might start to take it personally. Like what, why, why are you inspecting me? Um, you know, and I think that, you know, I wish that that people would just say yes, it's fine. The whole attitude towards data protection and privacy has always been different between europe and the United States, but it's also at the moment in the context of Cambridge Analytica changing in the United States. Um what are the consequences for a company like amazon? Um I don't, you know, my view on on this for for amazon, is it his his hysterical or is it No, no, I asked, I think this is one of the great questions of our age, you know, we have, I think of the internet, so the internet is this big, new powerful technology. It's horizontal, it affects every industry. And then if you think of even more broadly tech and machine learning and big data and all these these kinds of things, these are big horizontal powerful technologies. And in my view, so we've been at scale, the internet is quite old at this point. It's been around a long time, but at scale, it's really only been around, you know, 10 or 15 years. So it's because, you know, go back in time, 20 years, it was tiny and so at scale the interests of around only 10 or 15 years and we haven't learned as a civilization, as a human species, we haven't learned how to operate it yet. So we're still we're we as a as a civilization, are still figuring that out and sew. It has fantastic, gives us fantastic capabilities. I mean, you know, the fact that I can look up almost anything on Wikipedia in five seconds is an unbelievable Capability that just simply didn't exist 20 years ago and and so on and so on and so on. There's some good things. But we're also finding out that that these powerful tools enable some very bad things to like uh, you know, letting authoritarian governments interfere in free democratic elections around the world. This is incredibly scary thing, advocating a balance of let's say, entrepreneurs who are really moving their businesses forward, politicians and regulators who are defining a certain framework, Society journalists who are asking questions so that the system amazon's role in this? Which is what you asked me is? I think first of all we have a duty on behalf of of, of society to try and help educate any regulators. You know, give them our point of view on this sincerely without any cynicism or skepticism. This is what we believe and then, um, but it's not ultimately our decisions. So we will uh, we'll work with any set of regulations that were given. Ultimately, that society decides that we will follow those rules regardless of the impact they have on our business. And we will find a new way if need be to delight customers. So we will always be again, some of these things which have to worry about is the problem. What I would not want to see happen is that is you don't want to block invention and innovation. So that's always the, the one of the things, one of the unintended consequences often of regulation is that it really favors the incumbents now amazon at this point is an incumbent. So maybe I should be happy about that, but but I wouldn't be because I think for society you really want to see continued progress you really want to see. So to the degree that we have regulation, you want to be sure that it is uh consenting innovation and not blocking it while at the same time particularly, but data security privacy encryption, how do you how do you safeguard people's physical safety against terrorists and bad actors all over the world and how do you balance that against privacy? These are very challenging questions and we are running out of time but we're not going to answer them and you know even a few years I mean I think it's going to be an ongoing thing for but data security and privacy is going to be a competitive advantage for companies or disadvantages not respectful with That. I 100% agree with this and I think you know with customers, one of the reasons we have been able to extend into new business areas and first new product categories are going way back. We just sold books and then we heard some music and Dvds and electronics and toys and so on. And then we have extended into electronic reading with Kindle. The reason customers have been receptive in large part to our new initiatives is because we have worked hard to earn trust with them. Earning trust with customers is is valuable business asset and if you mistreat their data they will know they will figure it out. Customers are very smart. You should never underestimate customers. People are getting hungry. But if some brief questions left you are preparing a second headquarters is going to be in the US, why didn't you consider to do it in europe? I wanted it in time zone either. And we looked at Canada Us and Mexico, um, and we still Toronto decision. It's not, I'm glad to hear that. When you, when you bought the post, uh, there were people saying, well, that's just a personal toy. He wants to have some political influence. Other people thought that.
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