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Growth Champions: The Battle for Sustained Innovation Leadership by

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CHAPTER 9

Amazon and Google

Expertly using data to get ever closer to customers

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Amazon and Google are two of the largest and most successful companies in the consumer internet space. Both have helped construct and reshape the industry, delivering new services and capabilities that improve the way consumers engage with information, with companies, and with each other. Both have created new categories while disrupting others, support thousands of other businesses, and extract value from mind-boggling amounts of user data. Both are still led by their brilliant, billionaire founders, who it turns out all attended Montessori schools in their youth – a system that strongly encourages students to think for themselves, rather than accept the status quo. And both companies have seen extraordinary and consistent, mostly organic, growth over the past decade in revenues and user metrics. Yet these two companies have taken very different routes to success, and have markedly different approaches towards innovation and growth.

Google is obsessed with solving hard problems around information access and management. It built a search engine that was markedly better than anything available at the time, bringing order to the chaos of the web. It taught people that mess was OK, as long as Google was on your side. Users flocked to the site, and Google monetized them by reshaping the advertising world, ...

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