Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com bought The Washington Post, a daily news publication for $250 million in 2013. The first thing he did was to bring his customer-first management style to the Post’s working.
An anecdote that appeared in WSJ gives a glimpse into the way he’s changing the Post’s culture.
Bezos’ customer centric thinking led him to make his personal email-id (firstname.lastname@example.org) available in public domain. Idea is that customers can contact him directly should they have valid complaints regarding any of his businesses.
He once received an email from a Post reader complaining about the slow loading time of its app. Bezos immediately forwarded the email to Shailesh Prakash, the Post’s CIO.
Prakash looked at the problem and told Bezos he could improve the load time to “maybe two seconds.”
Bezos didn’t accept that answer.
“It needs to be milliseconds,”
Bezos wrote back, according to the WSJ report.
Bezos later suggested using low-resolution images first in the app to speed up its loading time. And later hi-resolution when clicked-through. Tada..!! Problem solved, while still keep product quality at good standards.
It is because of its increased reader-first attitude, the Post is growing very fast. It was reported in October 2015 that the Post beat the New York Times in unique visitors for the first time. A month later, it recorded 71.6 million uniques, almost a 3X jump from two years ago, when Bezos bought the company.
The Washington Post website now sees 1,200 articles a day on average, and has become one of the leading publishers on emerging news platforms, like Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News.
Now, the Post is trying to emulate another part of Amazon that made it so successful: data-driven culture. The Post has a data analytics board ‘Arc’ at the center of the newsroom. It now employs common web strategies like “A/B testing” to track how different headlines and story framings affect readership for each story. It also created a program that takes articles from other publications and asks readers which ones they’d rather read.
So, that’s Bezos for you. And there’s something for you to learn when building your company and business.