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Jeff Bezos keeps a 16-year-old framed magazine as a ‘reminder’ that AWS was once just a ‘risky bet’

Some people have degrees that are framed. Others have framed celebrity photographs. A framed 16-year-old edition of Businessweek magazine belongs to Jeff Bezos.

On Wednesday, the Amazon CEO tweeted a snapshot of the cover of the November 2006 issue of Time magazine, which featured a photo of Bezos at the age of 42 below the caption “Amazon’s Risky Bet.” Why did Wall Street executives doubt Amazon Web Services, a brand-new on-demand cloud computing service at the time, would ever succeed?

In the tweet, Bezos, now 58, added, “I keep this old 2006 BusinessWeek framed as a reminder.” “Wall Street despised Amazon Web Services, which produced revenue of more than $62 billion last year.”

According to Businessweek, Amazon was only worth $10 billion in 2006, and investors and analysts were “losing faith in Bezos’ claims.” The piece chastised Bezos for embarking on a “spending frenzy” at an inopportune time, stating that his investments in new technologies such as cloud computing had increased by 52 percent since January of that year, while Amazon’s stock had dropped by 20%.

Amazon Web Services is “Bezos’ largest bet since he and his wife, MacKenzie, went west in 1994 to seek fame and money on the Internet,” according to Businessweek.

Today, the cloud computing platform is credited with revolutionizing the world of online marketplaces, and it is a major contributor to Amazon’s $1.08 trillion market valuation as of Friday afternoon.

According to the company’s annual report, Amazon Web Services produced $62.2 billion in revenue last year. AWS produced $6.52 billion in operational income during Q1 of 2022, greatly exceeding Amazon’s total operating income of around $3.7 billion, according to an earnings statement released earlier this year.

The Businessweek analysis wasn’t completely incorrect. Over the years, Amazon has developed a reputation for placing large bets on new technologies and using the proceeds from those investments to finance its failures.

Amazon lost $170 million in 2014 due to unsold Firephones. In 2019, the company shut down its meal delivery service and closed 87 pop-up locations. It removed Dash Buttons last year, which were one-click buttons supposed to be put around users’ homes for regular product reorders.

Failures don’t appear to bother Bezos, who frequently declares that taking risks – and losing – is the price of admission to success.

“If we’re going to shift the needle, we need massive failures – billion-dollar scale failures,” Bezos stated at Amazon’s re:Mars conference in 2019. “And if we aren’t, it’s because we aren’t swinging hard enough.”

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