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What Would Jeff Bezos Do?

Published on February 26th, 2014 by Hayden Gill

What Would Jeff Bezos Do?

Navigating Amazon in Search of Bitcoin by Hayden Gill For merchants and consumers, as well as supporters and critics of Bitcoin, there is one overriding question involving the rapid ascent of this alternative currency: "What will Jeff [Bezos] do?" Will the Founder and CEO of Amazon.com, the so-called "Everything Store," accept Bitcoin as a form of online payment? The flippant answer to that query, delivered in the manner of this physically diminutive giant of commerce and technology, the only way to respond to this hypothetical about a billionaire with his own idiosyncratic attempts at control and the (futile) reduction of our collective humanity into a massive strand of digital DNA, to be sequenced by an algorithm of Amazonian (the river) length – the reply to this urgent subject is, "Who cares?" For, while Bezos should embrace Bitcoin as a way to expand revenues and serve as a hedge against the arbitrary value of fiat money, this currency will continue to proliferate regardless of the actions of a single individual, no matter how rich or powerful. In fact, the question itself harkens to the years following the death (in December 1966) of Walt Disney, in which colleagues of the late animator, cartoonist, film producer, business magnate and theme park visionary would sequester themselves in Burbank, California, or convene a meeting amidst the 160 acres of converted orange and almond groves in Anaheim, 36 miles south of the San Fernando Valley. Perhaps somewhere inside Sleeping Beauty's Castle, with its golden spires and shimmering parapets, or in the sanctum sanctorum of Disney's own apartment, a Victorian furnished retreat above the firehouse on Main Street, U.S.A., in this conclave of board members – each man adorned with a Mouseketeer hat – the lyrics could summon the wisdom of the departed: Who's the leader of the club That's made for you and me M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E Alas, the great man's silence – the absence of any signal to this business séance, performed in the shadow of a replica of a small Midwestern American town – is a classic reminder of the pointless nature of asking, "What would Walt do?" We need not bother ourselves, therefore, with the equally irrelevant concern about what Jeff will do. To ponder the question is a waste of time, though many will still read Bezos's biography (particularly his previous work at Bankers Trust and D.E. Shaw & Co.) and perform other ceremonies of divination, because people believe Amazon.com's acceptance of Bitcoin will make everything else moot: That we shall have eternal validation, in 339 pixels per inch of text (set upon a decalogue of high-definition tablets), where the word will be made real – in addition to exclusive promotions for members of Amazon Prime, with free two-day shipping on eligible items. Credibility in Lieu of Praise and Integrity Instead of Fame: Increasing the Positive Momentum for Bitcoin To be clear, were Amazon.com to accept Bitcoin as a form of payment – which would be the ultimate victory, following the decision by Overstock.com to do likewise – that policy would weaken or possibly end the rhetorical war against this currency. Were a retailer of this magnitude to issue this announcement – and certify it with their official curved yellow arrow, leading from the letter "a" to "z" – this near ubiquitous logo, imprinted on the sides of over 130 million boxes, packages and parcels, would solidify and immediately accelerate the worldwide legitimacy of Bitcoin. It would be a signature of unambiguous intent, the arrow acting like a grand flourish of finality, for consumers to embrace Bitcoin. Such a scenario would be unprecedented in its size and remarkable in its scope. But to achieve that goal we need to focus less on what Jeff may do and more on how we can get him to do the one thing we desire: To allow users to purchase products and services with Bitcoin. Accomplishing that mission requires many skills – integrity, transparency, professionalism and frequent communications – which would dispel any reservations about this currency and dismiss any false descriptions about the defenders of Bitcoin. The point is: We should do these things because they are necessary – and right – not because we covet the pride of some curtained wizard in Seattle, Washington, who emerges on select occasions to present the newest iterations of his devices – holding them aloft as offerings to tens of millions of acolytes – amidst a starlit auditorium of flashbulbs and applause. Put another way, what we need and what we want are very different things. We must acknowledge this truth, and actualize its meaning, by making the case for Bitcoin with evidence, conviction and consistency. These efforts are the best way to disarm our opponents and isolate the enemies of Bitcoin. The former are civil – a classic instance, where people may agree to disagree – while the latter, implacable in their resolve and outlandish in their choice of words, want to destroy us. For this group contempt is a virtue and manners are a vice, when waging a cyber campaign of unrelenting vitriol and unbelievable pettiness. If we maintain our composure – as we should, and as we must – then the repetition of our argument, lucid in its prose and persuasive in its delivery, will confirm our seriousness. And then, we can answer the far more important question: “Should we grant Jeff’s plea to accept Bitcoin on behalf of Amazon.com?”

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