Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos and Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of GE, were the final two interviewees at yesterday’s star-studded Wired’s Disruptive by Design conference. The two, interviewed by Wired’s Steven Levy and Chris Anderson, peppered their talks with one-liners.
From the super-jolly Bezos on the “physical book”:
- “It’s had a great 500-year run.”
- “I’m grumpy when I’m forced to read a physical book.”
- “Change is anxiety inducing – the newspaper and magazine industry knows what I’m talking about.”
- “Never attribute to conspiracy that which can be explained by incompetence.”
Immelt’s comments were obviously positive about GE’s direction, future, etc., but his humour was darker But hey, these are dark times:
- “One hundred-year-old technology may not last forever.”
- “Hanging on to dumb customers is a bad strategy.”
- On arguing with people about the existence of global warming: “Always having [the actual] facts is helpful.”
- On GE’s size advantage over start-ups: “500,000 engineers”
- “We [that’s the United States of America!] gotta be paranoid.”
- “Every time I leave China I have a headache!”
These last two were part of the overall theme of Immelt’s conversation, in which Immelt touted the importance of understanding the global economy and accepting that big business and the government will increasingly intersect as the economy rebuilds. Immelt also repeatedly said that he is always watching the way China does business.
“The rest of the world moves without us – they won’t wait for us anymore,” he said, noting that China was partial inspiration for GE’s plans to develop mid-tier health technology products.
For his part, Bezos was focused on the new Kindle DX. He still thinks the Kindle is the greatest thing to happen to books ever, and he wants every book ever written in any language EVER to be Kindle-available. And threats to that goal aren’t appreciated. Bezos clearly isn’t pleased with the terms of the Google book-scanning settlement, which is under review by the Justice Department for potential antitrust issues.
“We have a strong opinion about that issue which I’m not going to share,” Bezos said. But he did say you shouldn’t get a prize for violating a long series of copyrights.
As far as which CEO would make the best stand-up comedian, the edge goes to Immelt. Who else could make being scared of China funny?
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