Amazon.com's customer base grew from 1 million to 10 million in less than two years-something for which David Risher, senior VP-product development, says he is most proud.
"You just don't get to 10 million customers strong without creating a great service that's met the needs of so many people," says Mr. Risher, who added that 64% of all orders come from repeat customers.
"In the online world, it's difficult to discern what is marketing and what is product development," explains Mr. Risher. "In cyberspace, branding is important, but it's not as important as building the right service. If you build something the customers love, it creates the brand. Word-of-mouth experiences become your best advocate."
He says he doesn't want consumers to think of Amazon as the Earth's biggest bookstore. He wants them to think of Amazon as a source for videos, music and even toys-a market the online merchant reportedly will soon be entering. Amazon is getting into the auction business and recently struck a deal with Sotheby's.
"Right now is category formation time," says Mr. Risher. "We think of ourselves as a company that's 10 times as large as we are. We do have plans that forecast profitability, but we're real cautious about sharing those."
Mr. Risher is a veteran of Microsoft Corp., where he was responsible for launching Microsoft Access, a database product.
He says he joined Amazon to do what he does best: help build and bring products