The best CEO of 2013 is Jeff Bezos, the founder and impresario at Amazon.
This company is in the midst of a super-growth cycle fuelled by innovation, extraordinary customer focus and a long-term outlook that is highly unusual in a world of quarterly earnings pressure. Yet Bezos has sold Wall Street on his long-term play, barely booking any net income while watching Amazon’s market cap increase by around 50% in 2013.
What is Amazon? A cross between package delivery company UPS, the local library and a giant warehouse, Bezos has created a company that should be boring but is anything but. Amazon is a cool brand with exceptionally low prices — an unusual combination. Wal-Mart only boasts one of these attributes.
The Bezos innovation formula is continuous. From selling books to selling just about everything, to creating new products and services like Kindle, Amazon Prime, original content creation, a giant cloud business, and the plumbing behind thousands of e-commerce operations, Amazon is ubiquitous.
He is unafraid to experiment, and is especially fond of targeting industries wedded to history, which includes much of retail. He seems to have a sixth sense for which businesses are ripe for disruption, one of the most recent being the apparel industry. Bezos deserves credit for building a giant company that is as nimble as a start-up.
Bezos is that most unusual of business leaders who combine one part entrepreneurship, one part cutthroat competitor and one part McKinsey-like focus on execution. Like Apple’s Steve Jobs before him, Bezos is the one everyone else watches to see what he’ll do next. Whether it’s promoting drone delivery of packages on the day before Cyber Monday — clearly the PR scoop of the year — or delaying state sales tax collections on online purchases in exchange for completing in-state distribution centres, Bezos and Amazon find new ways to win.
The biggest companies are usually the slowest and most vulnerable. Bezos has built Amazon into a giant company that is quicker and smarter than others.
Jeff Bezos, the best CEO of 2013.
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