Jeff Bezos has said that Amazon has had failures worth billions of dollars — here are some of the biggest ones (AMZN)


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  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has called the e-commerce giant “the best place in the world to fail.”
  • He has famously instituted a culture in which failure is an acceptable — even necessary — part of doing business. 
  • That said, Amazon has had some spectacular failures over the years, resulting in billions of dollars in mistakes, according to Bezos. 
  • “If the size of your failures isn’t growing, you’re not going to be inventing at a size that can actually move the needle,” he wrote in his annual letter to shareholders in April. 

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos famously called the e-commerce giant “the best place in the world to fail” in his 2016 shareholder letter.

“What really matters is, companies that don’t continue to experiment, companies that don’t embrace failure, they eventually get in a desperate position where the only thing they can do is a Hail Mary bet at the very end of their corporate existence,” Bezos told Business Insider’s Henry Blodget in a 2014 interview. 

Amazon’s most successful initiatives would never have happened without some element of risk.

“I’ve made billions of dollars of failures at Literally billions of dollars of failures,” Bezos told Blodget. “None of those things are fun. But they also don’t matter.”

And the size of those failures should only be growing, Bezos said in his 2018 letter to shareholders in April.

“If the size of your failures isn’t growing, you’re not going to be inventing at a size that can actually move the needle,” he wrote. “Amazon will be experimenting at the right scale for a company of our size if we occasionally have multibillion-dollar failures.”

We’ve catalogued some of Amazon’s more high-profile failures through the years. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it offers a taste of Amazon’s culture of failure.

SEE ALSO: Philladelphia banned stores from refusing to accept cash, and it’s a troubling trend for Amazon

Amazon Storywriter

On May 4, Amazon sent an email to users saying that it would be shutting down its Amazon Storywriter and Amazon Storybuilder features, effective June 30.

Combined, the services enabled TV and film writers to easily create scripts, which could then be submitted directly to Amazon Studios for consideration. It previously shut down the script submission program in 2018, putting the future of Storybuilder and Storywriter into question.

Pop-up stores

Amazon will close all 87 of its pop-up stores and discontinue the program, it told Business Insider in March.

“After much review, we came to the decision to discontinue our pop-up kiosk program, and are instead expanding Amazon Books and Amazon 4-star, where we provide a more comprehensive customer experience and broader selection,” a spokesperson for Amazon said.

The stores were a place where customers interested in smart gadgets, such as Amazon’s Echo and Fire TV products, could see how they worked in the real world before purchasing them.

Dash buttons

Dash buttons offered a way to reorder a consumable item on Amazon without having to think about it. Customers could link an item and preferred quantity to the button, and press it whenever they needed more. The buttons could be mounted in cupboards or on top of washing machines.

Amazon stopped offering them for sale this year, but a spokesperson told CNET they were a rousing success in that they got customers used to shopping without a screen.

“Dash button was an awesome stepping stone into the world of connected home,” Daniel Rausch, an Amazon vice president, said, later adding, “We never imagined a future where customers had 500 buttons in their home. We imagined a future where the home was taking care of itself, including replenishing everyday items that customers would rather not worry about.”

Now that the AmazonBasics microwave can automatically reorder popcorn, there’s simply no need for a separate $5 button.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider