Amazon: One Slip, One Lesson

Many are saying that Jeff Bezos and Amazon “slipped up” in New York.

But, as Jay Greene writes in the Wall Street Journal, it is unlikely that Amazon will suffer much, if at all, from this incident.

Mr. Greene quotes, appropriately, Erik Brynjolfsson, MIT professor, Amazon’s expansion “is a long game that will play out over decades.”

Furthermore, Amazon is not the only one playing the game.

This is a new era. The era of the “new” Modern Corporation, the era of platforms and networks, the era of intellectual capital, a time when information and knowledge spreads even more rapidly through the world.

As Mr. Greene writes, ‘The fight for technology workers isn’t just among Silicon Valley peers. From auto makers to insurance to health care, companies are duking it out for people with expertise in software development and other fields.”

One of the lessons that should be learned from the “New York” experience, however, is that “new” Modern Corporations, like Amazon, are going to have to “play” their expansions differently from the way they “played” this last cord.

The “new” Modern Corporation is expanding… and, learning as they go.

As I have written about many times now, the “new” Modern Corporation thrives on scale. The “new” Modern Corporation does not have a “linear” business model where the line of business is directly from the customer to the company and back again.

How they present this picture of the world to new communities and regions is going to be very important.

Dan Gallagher, also writing in the Wall Street Journal, “Big Tech's Welcome Mat Is Fraying.”

“The simple fact is that Big Tech’s public image has taken a beating nationally, due in part to a growing understanding that the industry’s prominence and influence in the everyday lives of so many of the world’s citizens hasn’t always been a net positive.”

Mr. Gallagher is stating an obvious fact. The rest of the world must also adapt to the changing world.

In most respects, the fruits of the evolving technology are absorbed with great enthusiasm by most of the modern world.

But, this evolving technology is also creating tensions. The scale alone is causing concerns. The threat to privacy is another problem. And, we are also now seeing how a changing culture and a changing economy can upset communities.

Historically, this always happens when vast changes take place within an economy.

Change is accepted by many, but, there are aspects of change, especially when it happens to how people live their lives, how “normal” or “traditional” patterns of life are impacted, and when the “people in a neighborhood” have to face new kinds of people, new economic pressures, and new cultures.

This is particularly relevant in these days with the rise of “populism” in the world. In fact, the changes in technology and the changes in the structure of societies are now impacting our world in many, many different areas and in many different ways.

With respect to the changes that the new, modern technologies are bringing to the world, Brayden King, professor of management at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, is quoted in the Wall Street Journal:“There are two very energetic forms of populism in the U. S. right now, one on the left and one on the right, and neither likes Amazon that much. For both, Amazon is becoming the whipping boy.”

The only consolation that, I believe, can be given to Amazon right now is that, historically, this seems to happen whenever there are major changes to the structure of industry and society. The world wants to change, and, the world doesn’t want to change

A new “elite” gets built up in the changing environment, and others suffer because of the changes that are engulfing their society.

Revolt or revolution always seems to be in the air, in one way or another.

Yet, as in all these cases, the future wins. As I have written about many times, the evolving world is a function of information growing and spreading. It is a function of how the world “self-organizes” and new forms and new patterns “emerge” to form the next generation.

Jeff Bezos and Amazon are learning. Others are learning as well.

The issue that always seems to trail this pattern is how should the “excluded” be brought into the picture. Displacement and dislocation always happens. How can the pain these cause be lessened?

But, this response is not one that we should expect just from Mr. Bezos or from just Amazon. Politicians also must play a positive role in this transition. So must other members of the community and organizations. It is a difficult thing to do, but this is the only way the burden of the transitions can be lightened.

The bottom line of all this is that not buying into the future and working to achieve this future ends up hurting the “populists” the most. This is the unintended consequence of standing up to stop the changes.

The growth and spread of information is going to take place. If people try and slow this progress down to protect others, it seems like it is always the “others” that end up the biggest losers.

Thus, the actions that people in New York took to “protect” the people of New York were successful, but, in my mind, at the ultimate expense of those they were trying to protect.

On the positive side, the articles I have cited above all include the fact that Amazon will still continue to expand in New York, and in other places around the United States, even though “big hubs” are not built in these areas.

Amazon is expanding and needs locations in the bigger cities all over the nation. Thus, Amazon is coming to a neighbor near you. It just won’t cause a very big splash. And, it will contribute amazing things to the region.

This is the future! Lesson learned?

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.