You could say that Jeff Bezos is a very down-to-earth guy. The CEO and founder of Amazon.com, and now the owner of The Washington Post, makes great small talk about hair (or his lack thereof), the weather and jokes about the audio guy's being named Mike.
But once you start asking one of America's most noted entrepreneurs and richest men questions, you realize he's reaching for the stars. Quite literally.
Bezos, 49, answers questions about his vision for the company, the future of the technology industry and his investments without even a pause. He carefully explains why he has made certain business and technology choices, without making bold or airy statements as many technology executives are prone to do.
He explains complex ideas and plans in a basic and understandable way with a clear vision that it is all about moving forward and not standing still.
ABC News sat down with him earlier this week to learn more about the company's new Kindles, but also about his vision for technology, media and science. Below are some of the most interesting comments.
On the Washington Post
Bezos changed the book industry and it's clear he has now set his sights on doing the same for the newspaper industry.
When asked about his new $250 million investment and whether he was surprised by anything about his new company, he said he knew what he was getting into.
"I knew the quality of the people would be very high; I spent two days there," he said. "The business challenges in the newspaper industry have nothing to do with the quality of the people. These are big industry wide trends.
|"What we need to do is always lean into the future."|
"What we need to do is always lean into the future, when the world changes around you and when it changes against you -- what used to be a tail wind is now a head wind -- you have to lean into that and figure out what to do because complaining isn't a strategy."
Some of Amazon core business strategies and pillars can translate to the Post, Bezos said. "Customer centricity, willingness to invent, willingness to be patient, work together to allow companies to do things that they otherwise could never do. And I do think that could be applicable to a wide number of industries."
The connection between newspapers and BlackBerry isn't hard to see.
On the heels of BlackBerry's announcement that it will lay off 40 percent of its workforce and go private, Bezos talked about being "forever young."
"Forever young. If your customer base is aging with you, then eventually you are going to become obsolete or irrelevant," he said. "You need to be constantly figuring out who are your new customers and what are you doing to stay forever young."
|"What are you doing to stay forever young."|
And, yes, we asked Bezos about his plans to make an Amazon smartphone, which has been rumored for a long time. "We won't comment on future roadmap," he said, though hinting that any future Amazon product would have the same kind of synergy of services, software and hardware.
"Our basic approach lends itself to a lot of different things. We want to give people premium products at affordable price points, we want to pack a lot of hardware into those devices," he added. "One thing we do differently is we don't want to make money when we sell the device, we want to make money when people use the device."
Yes, Bezos is quite literally reaching for the stars.
Bezos explained that he has an investment in Blue Origin, a company that has plans to take tourists up to sub-orbital space. The engineers are in Seattle and the launch operations team is in West Texas, who are working on their third development vehicle.
|"I can't wait to fly."|
"Personally, I can't wait to fly," he said.
When asked when we are going, he said, "When do you want to go?"