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