Jeff Bezos's bald pate, trim physique, signature cackle, and relatively rare public appearances all work to build mystique around Amazon's founder and CEO. Last year, his new initiatives—including short-read Kindle "Singles"; Kindle Fire grabbing the No. 2 tablet slot; the rapid expansion of Quidsi from diapers and drugstore goods to pet supplies, toys, and groceries; and the expansion of Amazon's streaming-video service to include CBS and Fox programming—burnished his visionary reputation. Bezos also suffered a few dings: Kindle Fire shipped with sluggish and buggy software; Amazon's promotion of its Price Check app sparked a backlash; and its financials fell short of expectations. Unlike Apple, Amazon has yet to show it can profit off both hardware and media sales. Amazon's deeper moves into tablets, book publishing, and streaming-media delivery are inspired. But right now, it's the least alpha of the alphas.
Illustration by Peter Oumanski