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Why Jeff Bezos keeps a ‘reminder’ that AWS was once only a ‘dangerous bet’


Some people have framed diplomas. Others have framed photos with celebrities. Jeff Bezos has a framed 16-year-old copy of Businessweek magazine.

On Wednesday, the Amazon founder tweeted a photograph of the November 2006 magazine’s cover, which featured a photograph of Bezos at age 42 behind the text, “Amazon’s Dangerous Bet.” The cover story was about why Wall Street executives doubted that Amazon Web Services, then a brand-new on-demand cloud computing service, would ever succeed.

“I even have this old 2006 BusinessWeek framed as a reminder,” Bezos, now 58, wrote within the tweet. “The ‘dangerous bet’ that Wall Street disliked was AWS, which generated revenue of greater than $62 billion last 12 months.”

In 2006, Amazon was only value a mere $10 billion, in accordance with Businessweek – and investors and analysts were “losing confidence in Bezos’ guarantees.” The article called out Bezos for happening an ill-timed spending “binge,” noting that his investments in recent technologies like cloud computing were up 52% since January of that 12 months, while Amazon’s stock was down 20%.

Specifically, Businessweek deemed Amazon Web Services as “Bezos’ biggest bet since he and his wife, MacKenzie, drove west in 1994 to hunt fame and fortune on the Net.”

Today, the cloud computing platform is understood for helping revolutionize the world of online marketplaces, and is a large factor behind Amazon’s current market capitalization of $1.08 trillion, as of Friday afternoon.

Last 12 months, Amazon Web Services made $62.2 billion in revenue, in accordance with the company’s annual filing. An earnings statement earlier this 12 months shows that the platform been largely liable for keeping Amazon profitable thus far in 2022: AWS made $6.52 billion in operating income during Q1 of 2022, far outpacing Amazon’s total operating income of roughly $3.7 billion.

Businessweek’s evaluation wasn’t entirely fallacious. Amazon has built a fame through the years for making big bets on recent technologies, and using the profits from its successes to subsidize its failures.

In 2014, Amazon took a $170 million loss for unsold Firephones. In 2019, the corporate closed 87 pop-up stores and shut down its restaurant delivery service. Last 12 months, it discontinued Dash Buttons, one-click buttons meant to be mounted around users’ homes for frequent reorders of products.

The failures don’t appear to phase Bezos, who often says that risks – and defeats – are the value of admission to success.

“We want big failures if we will move the needle — billion-dollar scale failures,” Bezos said at Amazon’s re:Mars conference in 2019. “And if we’re not, we’re not swinging hard enough.”

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