Of the five big tech companies that dominate their respective corners of the industry, Amazon is the only one whose headquarters sprout from the soil of a bustling metropolis. There’s no suburban sprawl in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, where a cluster of Amazon office towers is located, along with the company’s distinctive, triple-bulbed biodome, The Spheres. Instead, there’s The Devil’s Triangle, a gentleman’s club nearby that advertises “Amazon Appreciation Wednesdays.”
The eclecticism is fitting for a company that operates The Everything Store. It’s also increasingly apt for Amazon Web Services, the cloud computing business that has been outshining its parent company. Under its newish CEO, Adam Selipsky, AWS is doubling down on its push to sell online tech services for businesses as comprehensively as its retail sibling hawks consumer goods online. Just as Amazon aims to sell folks any product they can think of, AWS wants business customers to use it for all the tech tasks they don’t want to do themselves.
I’ve come to Seattle on a sunny Tuesday in June to meet Selipsky on the fourth-floor terrace of an AWS building, where we discuss everything from how worried he is about the current turbulence in the economy to how the global chip shortage is pinching AWS.