More than two decades ago, when Jeff Bezos started Amazon, let's just say it: He kind of looked like a nerd.
Yes, a visionary, aggressive, prescient nerd--but a nerd nonetheless. His company sold books on the internet way back then (how quaint), and Bezos looked kind of bookish: collared shirts, sweaters, a receding hairline that he didn't quite want to give up on.
But now. Oh my God. Last week, Bezos showed up at the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference looking like something out of The Terminator. As Dennis Green at Business Insider put it, "His 'guns' were the most obvious change...but his shaved head also marked a departure from his previous bookish look."
In fact, it was the change that sparked a thousand memes. But one in particular:
So yeah, back in the late 1990s, you could have kicked sand in his face; now it looks like Bezos could probably tear you up. Hey, that's also a heck of a metaphor for his company.
Skynet had nothing on these guys. I'm literally sitting in a chair that I bought from Amazon as I write this. And if there's any part of you that still reflexively thinks of Amazon as "an online bookstore," stop what you're doing and check this out.
There are entire companies whose business model is just about getting you to buy from Amazon, so they can take home the 4 percent affiliate commission--and they're profitable and successful.
Because whether you're a Prime subscriber and an Alexa owner who's ordered thousands of dollars' worth of goods from Amazon this year--or else, if you're someone who only occasionally buys from Amazon (I'm not going to pretend it's possible you've never been their customer)--you recognize one thing:
Years ago, the company seemed like a quixotic adventure at best. But now? We're all living in Amazon's world.