Bezos on Powerpoint, the military’s favorite software

August 8, 2013

As we have all heard by now, Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, has purchased the Washington Post.  I have nothing to add about what this means for the newspaper, Bezos, or the publications that Bezos didn’t purchase from the Washington Post Company (Foreign Policy and Slate).  But I did notice something interesting about Bezos in Ezra Klein’s interview with Don Graham, the chairman of the Washington Post Company – Bezos doesn’t like Powerpoint:

Here are a few things I’ve learned in the past two weeks. When Jeff holds meetings at Amazon he asks people not to use Powerpoints but to write an essay about their product or program or what the meeting is to be about. For the first 10 or 15 minutes everyone sits and reads the essay. His point is that if you write at length, you have to think first, and he feels the quality of thought you have to do to write at length is greater than the quality of thought to put a Powerpoint together. He also says to get to know people he calls daylong meetings about books where everyone reads the same book and talks about [it]. So he’s a reader.

The U.S military and Department of Defense is (in)famously obsessed with Powerpoint.  The software is the defense community’s golden calf.  A U.S. military officer was even sent home from Afghanistan for an anti-Powerpoint rant.