Mathias Dopfner, the CEO of Business Insider’s parent company, Axel Springer, recently sat down with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to talk about the early days of creating Amazon, what he’s learned since then, how he funds his rocket company, Blue Origin, and what it’s like when the president of the United States is your biggest critic.
Jeff Bezos Talks Amazon, Blue Origin, Family, And Wealth
I think I always wanted to do it even since I was a kid had the idea. Well the people who every time I look at something it looks like it could be improved. You know there's something wrong with it. So you go through it like wow how could this restaurant be better. How could you know. And so I've always had that kind of idea. By the way before you get into this the how about this amazing production that you and your team have put together. This is truly incredible. It's originality like these boxes that you were filming live. That's just crazy cool. So think you like it it's incredible. But I think the great thing about humans in general is we're always improving things. And so entrepreneurs and inventors and you know they follow their curiosity and they follow their passions and they figure something out and then they figure out how to make it better and they're never satisfied. And you need to harness that and my view you need to harness that energy primarily on your customers instead of on your competitors. And so where I see I sometimes see companies and even young small startup companies entrepreneurs go awry as they start to pay more attention to their competition than they do to their customers. And I think that that. I think the big mature industries that can be that might be a winning approach in some cases kind of close following let other people be the pioneers and you know go down the blind alley is that it is many things that a new inventive company tries won't work.
And so those mistakes and errors and failures do cost real money. And so maybe in a mature industry that were growth rates are slow and change is very slow. But as you see in the world more and more there aren't very many mature industries. Change is happening everywhere. You know we see it in the automobile industry with self driving cars. But you could go right down the line of every industry and you would see it. But do you have any idea where your ambition really comes from. What was driving you. I really don't know. You know my I've been passionate about certain things forever. And I fell in love with computers in fourth grade. I got very lucky. My elementary school had a teletype that got connected to a mainframe computer that some business in downtown Houston donated a little bit of computer time to this. You can picture these teletypes they had the punched tape and they had a 300 baud modem you would dial up the phone put it in the cradle. And so we had some timesharing on that mainframe computer and none of the teachers knew how to use it. So me and two other kids stayed after school and sort of figured out how to do it and figured out and kind of Tollar sells programming from books. I think one thing that is I got very lucky early in my child. Look we all get gifts that we get certain things are a life that are that we're very lucky about. And one of the most powerful one is who your early role models are.
You know it was your friend's grandfather. It was in a big sense. My mom and dad but my grandfather too. And you know I had my mom had me when she was 17 years old and she was still in high school in Albuquerque New Mexico. And this is in 1964 I can assure you that being a pregnant teenager in high school was not cool. In Albuquerque New Mexico at that time and so. So it was very difficult for her. My grandfather went to bat for her. They tried to kick her out of school and you know they're incredible.