Jeff Bezos

Bezos named Fortune's businessperson of the year

Nov. 16, 2012 at 9:43 AM ET

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is America's top businessman, at least according to Fortune's Magazine.

Bezos beat out Apple's Tim Cook, Comcast's Brian Roberts and Steve Burke, eBay's John Donahoe and Larry Page it the magazine's annual Businessperson of the Year issue.

He's a guy who took his love of books and turned it into an online empire, taking on the seemingly impervious retail book world.

Now try to find a Barne's and Noble today.

His latest move is the line of Kindles, sure to be on many a wishlist this holiday season. Can this e-reader cum tablet device trojan horse really compete with Apple and the iPad?

If his gamble pays off, it may cement his legacy as the man they call  "the ultimate disruptor." That name, by the way, which has also been applied to Apple founder Steve Jobs.

A big test will be how well the Kindle Fire HD does this Black Friday.

This morning TODAY's Matt Lauer talked to Bezos about his rise to the top of the business world, his predictions for the holiday shopping season, and who deserves to grace a very coveted slot on a TIME magazine cover.

"I'm very optimistic about this holiday selling season," said Bezos, who said Amazon is making 50,000 seasonal hires to keep up with the expected demand. "I think it will be our best shopping season ever. Knock on wood."

This year Walmart and Target are experimenting with same-day shipping. Order it by noon, and it's on your doorstep by that evening. Amazon can't do that.

"We've always been a hyper competitive industry," said Bezos. "That's good for customers, that's good for companies. Businesses force each other to evolve. We're ready."

Lauer asked, "Can you really compete in the area of coolness with Apple?"

Bezos replied, "I have a lot of admiration for Apple. We take a different approach. The Kindle Fire HD at $199 is a lot of technology into a small package. But we only break even. We hope to make money over time as people use the devices, buying mp3s, movies, and books."

"The Kindle Fire HD is our best-selling device ever," added Bezos.

Shifting gears, Lauer asked Bezos, "I'm really going to put you on the spot here. Who should be Time's 2012 Person of the Year be?" Bezos was honored with the title in 1999.

"I don't know, how about Matt Lauer?" said Bezos.

Pressed again by Lauer, Bezos said "It's an election year, Obama would be a good choice." 

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