founder shares the secrets of his success

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Distributing every book, in every language, in every country.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Distributing every book, in every language, in every country.

That's just one of the goals CEO Jeff Bezos has in mind for his popular cyber bookstore. Bezos also eventually hopes to sell electronic books and create online personalized bookstores for every person who visits the site.

The Web's 'Kitty Hawk era'
During a speech Monday night before the Silicon Valley chapter of the Commonwealth Club, Bezos detailed his climb to the top of the online book-selling world -- and gave tips to those hoping to launch their own successful online business. wrote the book

"This is the Kitty Hawk era," he said of the online world, referring to the North Carolina village where Wilbur and Orville Wright flew their first airplane in 1903. "I bet we know 2 percent of what we'll know 10 years from now."

Above all, Bezos said startups should build a strong management team and make sure its members have time to step away from the daily grind and think creatively.

Bezos recalled how he didn't have enough packing tables when he first started in 1995. So workers, including Bezos, would kneel on the floor late into the night packing books. The result?

Lots of sore knees.

"I remember thinking, 'We've gotta get kneepads,' " he told the crowd. Instead, he should have been examining the entire office and distribution setup. "Somebody has to step back and think about how to improve things," he said.

Despite all the sore knees, the company took off, raking in revenues of $116 million in its most recent quarter, more than three times the year-ago quarter. Though it has yet to turn a profit, Amazon's (Nasdaq:AMZN) sales have been climbing steadily since its founding, and the company claims that 63 percent of its daily visitors are repeat customers.

Amazon no 'cadaver'
During his speech, Bezos said Web startups also should ensure their brand names have the potential to be easily recognizable.

"One of the things people don't think about is people have to know how to spell it to get there," he said. Bezos originally named his site Cadabra, but changed it after people thought he was saying "cadaver."

He also said Web companies should focus on offering features unique to the online world, such as customization and giving people the chance to talk to one another. For instance, lets readers post both positive and negative book reviews.

Going forward, Bezos said he plans to open distribution centers in key areas outside the U.S., offer downloadable books -- so no book will ever be out of print -- and further customize the consumer experience by giving users more book recommendations.

The company's most immediate plans include selling videos online.


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