Prime Video was a prescient bet for Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, but it brought a major crisis and a turning point for the founder.
Before Mrs. Maisel was marvelous and Jack Ryan saved the world, Jeff Bezos was convinced the internet would change how people watched television shows and movies. His response to the opportunity was called Prime Video—a prescient bet to bring a selection of video programming into the bundle of perks for Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime members.
But the road to Hollywood was bumpy. Amazon set up a studio, tried to reconceive how TV shows were made and then learned the hard the way that there are no reliable algorithms to reproduce creativity. After an early moment of success, the company navigated a crisis in 2017 around allegations of inappropriate behavior targeted at studio boss Roy Price. Soon, Price apologized and resigned. He reflects on that period in part three of Foundering: The Amazon Story.
Prime Video gave Bezos his first real taste of celebrity culture, sparking a personal reinvention that would have major consequences for the company and his own muted personal life.