We did it the right way, Amazon.com's chief insists

Never mind two billion dollars of debt and massive losses, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says that "get big fast" was the right strategy for the e-tailing giant.

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By  David Ingham Published  December 5, 2000

It continues to lose money hand over fist, but Amazon.com chief, Jeff Bezos, insists he wouldn’t have done anything differently. In an interview with c/net news.com, Bezos describes Amazon's status as world's 48th best known brand and its 25 million customers as "awe inspiring."

Anybody who would have predicted that five years ago, he says, would have been "immediately institutionalised." When asked what his biggest disappointment is, Bezos replies: "It's pretty hard to be very disappointed when we as a company have won this huge lottery."

Bezos also defends Amazon's much maligned strategy of, "get big fast," a strategy that has resulted in over $2 billion of losses so far. "If we hadn't pursued that strategy, you would not be interviewing me right now. It wouldn't be worth your time," Bezos insists.

The massive spending on warehousing, distribution and technology that have sent Amazon into huge debt were necessary, Bezos insists. "[Otherwise] …we probably wouldn't have gotten the scale that we need to be a lasting e-commerce business," he says.

Looking forward, Amazon's chief believes all the omens are good. "Even today, when our model is not showing its full strength because we're still honing it, we still have twice the sales per employee of even the very best mass merchants that have been honing their model for decades," Bezos says.

Leading analyst Gartner Group is starting to share some of Bezos' optimism. Following Amazon's most recent quarter, when it reported much lower year on year losses of loss of $68 million, Gartner said profitability was now a realistic possibility, probably by the first quarter of 2002.

"Both pure-play dot-coms and 'click-and-mortar' enterprises should view the improved financial picture for Amazon as evidence of increasing sales, and ultimate profitability, in the online business-to-consumer space," said analysts Charles Abrams, Kevin Murphy and Geri Spieler.

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