Andy Jassy launched my career over 20 years ago. Here's what he did and why I will be forever grateful to the new CEO of Amazon:
In my first year of b-school I desperately wanted an internship at Amazon. They weren't recruiting from Michigan so I asked everyone I knew if they had any contacts. My parents' friends' daughter's boyfriend had gone to b-school with Andy Jassy, early marketing manager at Amazon.
I begged for an intro and he connected me to Andy who was gracious but said they were too heads down to think about summer internships. I asked Andy if he would get lunch with me if I showed up to his office in Seattle. He agreed, and I flew to Seattle over Xmas break.
Andy told me they wouldn't be hiring summer interns until May. I pinged him again in April and he set up a loop for me with his marketing team. I had no experience in marketing, but I was thrilled to have my foot in the door.
The week before my interview with Andy's team, I stumbled across another connection in my network to Ram Shriram who was running business development at Amazon and was also a Michigan alum. I actually had some experience in Biz Dev! This would be my dream job at Amazon.
I told Ram I was already scheduled to interview with Andy's team and asked him for a second interview loop with his Biz Dev team. Amazon was already paying for my flight to Seattle, why not get the most out of my trip?
I blew my interview with Andy's team. His boss had just moved from P&G, I opened our interview by making a joke about how much harder she must be working now that she was at a start-up - bad idea! She proceeded to quiz me on my marketing knowledge and quickly saw that I had none.
My interview with the Biz Dev team went well, and they later made me an offer for a summer internship - hooray! Andy called to tell me I wasn't getting an offer on the Marketing team, and when I called him back to say I had received an offer in Biz Dev he was very happy for me.
After I joined Amazon full-time, I asked Andy to get lunch every 6-12 months. He always gave me great career advice and helped me navigate the company. When he later became Jeff's technical assistant (aka "shadow") it was really fun to catch up with him at those lunches.
During his 2-year run in Jeff's office, Andy identified a bunch of inefficiencies in how teams worked together and convinced Jeff to invest in infrastructure to reduce dependencies. Amazon later externalized some of those APIs and Andy became the founder and CEO of AWS.
Andy talked to me about joining AWS in 2004. I didn't think I was technical enough to work on that team so I went to Kindle instead. I continue to be blown away to this day that Andy could run and scale AWS without a deep technical background. We're only limited by our ourselves!
When Andy took my first call in 1998, he opened a huge door for me. You never know who will be on the other side of that call...

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More from @DanRose999

24 Jan
I learned an important lesson in business when I launched a new retail category early in my career at Amazon: Fail Fast! I spent 18 months shipping a product that should have taken a few months, delaying the oppty to learn and adjust to our initial failure. Here's what happened:
I was originally hired at Amazon on the business development team. After a year I got recruited to help ship a new computer store and run merchandising. I jumped at the opportunity to launch a new business and learn new skills. Amzn was great at creating these opportunities.
Two weeks after joining the retail team, I was in a meeting presenting our pro forma P&L for our computer store launch. I was forecasting inventory turns and gross margins. It was exciting to be thrown into the deep end. I felt like I was at a start-up inside of a start-up.
Read 14 tweets
8 Jan
I was at Amzn in 2000 when the internet bubble popped. Capital markets dried up & we were burning $1B/yr. Our biggest expense was datacenter -> expensive Sun servers. We spent a year ripping out Sun & replacing with HP/Linux, which formed the foundation for AWS. The backstory:
My first week at Amzn in '99 I saw McNealy in the elevator on his way to Bezos' office. Sun Microsystems was one of the most valuable companies in the world at that time (peak market cap >$300B). In those days, buying Sun was like buying IBM: "nobody ever got fired for it"
Our motto was "get big fast." Site stability was critical - every second of downtime was lost sales - so we spent big $$ to keep the site up. Sun servers were the most reliable so all internet co's used them back then, even though Sun's proprietary stack was expensive & sticky.
Read 15 tweets
13 Dec 20
I had a December tradition at Facebook of delivering a one-hour "end of year talk" to my org. The topics changed each year but the common thread was a reflection on life and work outside of our day-to-day. Here's a high-level summary of some of the themes I shared in those talks:
One of my favorite books is Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. We all have activities where we are in a flow state. For me it's surfing - when I see a wave on the horizon coming towards me and suddenly I'm lifted up - I'm not thinking of anything else in that moment.
When we close our eyes and imagine our flow state activities, most of us picture things we do in our free time - cooking, rock climbing, music, writing, etc. But when we evaluate our waking time, most hours are spent at work. What would it look like to experience flow at work?
Read 16 tweets
21 Nov 20
A few days after I joined as head of biz dev at Facebook in 2006, MySpace announced a partnership w/Google worth $1B. I sent an internal email suggesting we pursue a similar deal and Zuck gave me a hunting license. Here's how I signed the biggest deal of my career with Microsoft:
Microsoft had been left at the alter with MySpace. They bid more than Google for the right to run banner ads, but MySpace was owned by NewsCorp and Rupert liked Google better. Ballmer was reportedly very upset about losing, so my first call was to some folks I knew at Microsoft.
MySpace had 10x more users than Facebook at the time, but we were #2 and growing. I told Microsoft we could be their “rebound date,” but they had to move fast because Google was also pursuing us (which was true). I didn’t mention we were wary of Google’s competitive ambitions.
Read 13 tweets
8 Nov 20
I got my first real job in '99 on the biz dev team at Amazon. Like most first jobs, it was a combination of hustle and luck. I had no idea Amazon (or later Facebook) would become what it is today, but I knew I wanted to work there. Here's how it happened:
In high school I thought I wanted a career in business, but my dad was a doctor, my mom a therapist, aunts/uncles physicians & lawyers. I had no role model in biz except my grandfather who owned a fleet of taxi cabs in NY. And my grandmother who always told me "work for yourself"
Harvard had no business major so I thought I would try economics. But after taking Econ 101 freshman year, I decided it wasn't for me (too theoretical and math heavy). Instead I studied Sociology and went down a path of learning about human behavior.
Read 15 tweets
17 Oct 20
In 2004 I had an offer to join the new Kindle team at Amzn and I jumped at the oppty. I was on our retail team at the time -> Kindle was new/sexy. But a week before I was scheduled to start my new job, I was told to stay put and I learned an important lesson. Here’s the story:
2 years earlier I had been given P&L responsibility for Amzn’s cell phone store. We sold phones + plans (like Car Warehouse and Best Buy). This was Amzn’s highest margin biz, but it was tiny and not growing and I was told it could get shut down. I had 6 mos to turn it around.
The industry model at that time was give phones for free w/ service plan attach. I reinvested the service plan margin to make phones less than free, and rev growth exploded. GM % plummeted, but profit $ went way up. My little biz was our fastest growing segment at Amzn!
Read 10 tweets

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