Is Space the Final Frontier for Amazon's Bezos?

Kyle is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

Corporate CEOs are an interesting bunch. Not everyone that makes it from a one-bedroom apartment endeavor to billionaire captain of industry react the same once they have planted the company flag at the mountain top. Much in the same way with the sports world, there seem to be fewer and fewer repeat champions. It’s difficult to keep your eyes on the prize once you have acquired said prize, I get it. It’s not easy to stay hungry after you have eaten your competition’s lunch.

Not everyone has the traits of some of the more successful societal misfits like Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Apple’s Steve Jobs, or Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett. These people not only possessed the desire to create something many people wanted to be a part of, and be aligned with, they weren’t satisfied with merely reaching the top. They kept searching for more mountains to climb; possibly because they never had the burden of being named “Most Popular” in high school.

CEOs have several admirable qualities that many of us envy, and some that we would never want.  Focus is an often fleeting quality that would probably be in the top three if you asked many of us what we would list as a necessary characteristic for the CEO of our dreams. But focus can shift; sometimes all too easily once the winners take that first sip of bubbly from the golden goblet.

Former Tyco (NYSE: TYC), CEO, Dennis Kozlowski had a habit of doling out unauthorized pay, to himself and others. Unfortunately, he lost his laser-sharp focus and directed it toward $6,000 shower curtains, $15,000 umbrella stands and $2M birthday bashes for his adoring wife. This inopportune focal shift also resulted in an address change to a minimum security facility in Harlem, where he was recently denied parole. Dennis dubiously steered the ship in the direction of over $100M in one of the most serious fraud cases of shareholder mistrust. No worries, he’s eligible for parole again in 2013.

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), Founder, CEO, Chairman, and President, Jeff Bezos has quite the passion for space, dedicating a decent portion of his mattress money to undertake his high school dream of offering space travel for us Earthlings. I’m sure there is quite a market for that. Not only that, he’s spending a portion of his personal fortune to recover the Apollo 11 engines that are rusting comfortably at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Now what an individual chooses to do with their fortune is their own business. If you want to buy the moon and develop a mall next to Newt’s colony there, you have my blessing. But if I were an Amazon shareholder, given the number of titles that precedes the fearless leader’s name, these types of activities would concern me somewhat.

Now I am in no way, comparing the two individuals as CEOs, please don’t think that (although I am quite certain Amazon shareholders will begin construction of my effigy). Nor am I screaming from the bottom of the Atlantic for everyone to rush out and sell their shares. I am trying to posit that there are occasions when the head loses focus, the body follows. With Amazon rumored to have a more sophisticated smart phone entering that market, along with various sized Kindle Fire tablets being considered, focus for the company needs to be carefully aimed. And now that Best Buy (NYSE: BBY), CEO Brian Dunn is stepping down, the likelihood of Amazon losing some of their “showroom” space is a glaring possibility.

As I stated, I have no problem with Bezos dropping his dollars in any money pit he digs. I would rather he undertake his personal focal shifts with someone else at the helm of the great company he helped create, for shareholders’ sake.


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