How Jeff Bezos inspired GE CEO Jeff Immelt

GE’s CEO Jeff Immelt is a highly admired role model to a lot of people. And the guy that he admires? Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

“I think Amazon is an amazing company. Jeff Bezos is one of the guys I really look up to,” Immelt recently told Vanity Fair.

That’s not surprising. Bezos landed the No. 1 spot on Fortune’s list of the World’s Greatest Leaders earlier this year, propelled by Fortune’s survey of 500 CEOs, in which Bezos was consistently named the most admired CEO.

It’s certainly Bezos’s year, from the breakaway success of Amazon’s cloud business (where GE is a customer), to the success of Amazon’s retail business, to Bezos’s history-making space rocket startup, Blue Origin. Blue Origin has been successfully testing a reusable rocket capable of carrying six passengers.

GE has been inspired by the booksellers’ success in the tech industry, and one result is that GE is moving into the Internet of Things in a big way.

“We look at that and say, ‘Why not us?’ We think we can be a viable competitor against software companies because we have the assets,” Immelt says.

For instance, GE’s aircraft engines include 30-50 sensors. By using software that can read and analyse that data, GE helps airlines reduce repairs, save fuel, and save money, he says.

But, interestingly enough, while Immelt thinks IoT will help GE best its traditional competitors, he also thinks some new competitor might arise that he didn’t see coming. That competitor might even be Bezos and Amazon, given that Bezos is now in the rocket business himself.

“I think we’ll have new competitors. You’ll be partners with somebody in the morning and compete with them in the afternoon,” Immelt says. “We use Amazon Web Services. As amazing as they are, they have never made a jet engine. So let’s go. Let’s see what happens,” he adds.

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through hispersonal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

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