Government and Commercial Customers: How Public-Commerce Policies Can Benefit Amazon
Amazon Corporation and Jeff Bezos are in an interesting situation. On one hand, President-elect Trump is a big fan of Amazon and is reportedly considering creating his own media conglomerate from the behemoth. On the other hand, Bezos is an entrepreneur who founded Blue Origin, one of the biggest spaceflight companies in history, and owns The Washington Post. So, what do these two have in common?
The two CEOs are outspoken opponents of the current administration’s regulatory policies regarding businesses. They are outspoken opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Both are big supporters of free-market capitalism and believe in an open society with limited government. However, they also clearly have different visions for the company they lead. Trump is looking to revamp the corporate tax code, roll back regulations on Wall Street, and make businesses more competitive by outsourcing overseas. Meanwhile, Bezos is focused on expanding Amazon’s international footprint and pursuing a massive satellite project in the outer space.
Is there room for discord between these two powerful forces in the business world? Not, if you look at their personal styles. While Trump is loose and improvisational and often controversial, Bezos is rather formal and focused. In fact, he’s described his leadership style as “cooperatively engaged” – and that’s precisely the type of leader he’d want to run the Amazon corporation.
It’s impossible to have a good conversation with either one of them without getting some kind of reaction. When I read Amazon’s quarterly earnings report, for example, I’m impressed with their focus on expanding in Asia. It’s a good thing, of course, given the slowing Chinese economy. But when I look at their core business in Australia, which services the U.S. military and works with private aircraft and defense contractors, I see that they are focused on expanding their geographic presence rather than focusing on increasing profitability.
The fact is, when you talk about the leadership styles of two such powerful companies, the comparisons don’t stop being superficial. In fact, it’s become such a commonplace argument that it hardly elicits any comments at all from the Trump administration. And yet, those who have been involved in and benefited from the growth of Amazon realize very well what the company’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, and his fellow board members have been doing. They recognized early on that establishing an online e-commerce platform combined with a comprehensive online government and security services provider could be a huge advantage for Amazon, and they seized it.
Now, Amazon has a clear advantage over its competitors, both directly and through the government. As a result of its size and tremendous leverage, coupled with its enormous competitive advantage, Amazon can afford to be aggressive in pursuing either of these objectives, depending on how it sees fit. And right now, it appears that Jeff Bezos and the rest of the board are simply trying to take advantage of a uniquely advantageous business situation.