Back To Being Amazon.Bomb
(FORTUNE Magazine) – FORTUNE: Last year e-tailing was hot. Now it's completely out of favor.
BEZOS: Last year was weird for me. This is more normal. This is what Amazon.com saw in 1995, 1996, and 1997, when nobody had heard of e-commerce. In early 1996 we were called Amazon.con, in '97 Amazon.toast, and in 1999 it was Amazon.bomb. Then there was my personal favorite--Amazon.org, because clearly we're not for profit. But e-commerce is still a rapidly growing, important segment of the future economy. It still gets a ton of attention. I mean, you're still talking to me.
Still, it must hurt when your stock is off 60%.
Of course we wish our stock price were a smooth line going from the left up to the right, but that's not how the market works. In most ways what you've seen over the past couple of months is very good for the marketplace and for Amazon.com. You'll see a more rational set of behavior from Internet companies. There were companies that would go for funding and say, "Here's what we're going to do, here's how it's going to work--but it only works if we get $100 million." And people would say, "Okay, here's $100 million." Those days are over. But that's not a bad thing. It's a good thing. Throwing that kind of money around was irrational.
You've often compared the Internet explosion to geologic time. Where are we now?
The Cambrian Era--550 million years ago. It's the time when single-celled life first transitioned into multicelled life, and every experiment of life--in every form and shape--was tried. What you had was the greatest rate of speciation ever seen, but it was also the greatest rate of extinction the planet has ever seen.
I think that's exactly what you see going on here. Every experiment [on the Internet] is getting tried. Many of them are going to succeed, and many of them are going to fail. There will probably still be lots of new ideas, but clearly there are going to be a lot more extinctions this year than there were last year.