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2HRS2GO: Personally, why leave Amazon?

    Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) is everyone's favorite whipping boy these days.

    A friend of mine kicked himself a couple of years ago for not taking an Amazon.com job offered to him back when the online retailer was just starting out. He didn't hold his regrets for very long -- he's not the type to look back on missed opportunities.

    Besides, this opportunity wasn't open very long, as it turned out. If the trendline of the last seven months keeps up, AMZN soon will trade in the 20s, far below the stock's high of 113 in December. The downward spiral has come as many observers questioned the company's ability to reach profitability and stay there.

    Now the company's second-in-command has not only jumped ship, but jumped industries. Joseph Galli shed Amazon.com's president and COO trappings and donned the robes of CEO at business-to-business portal VerticalNet (Nasdaq: VERT).

    Talk about a Tale of Two Press Releases.

    VerticalNet used 483 words (not counting boilerplate items such as "About VerticalNet") to announce Galli's arrival. Galli's PR quote took 88 words alone.

    Here's the complete take from Amazon.com:

    "Amazon.com today announced that Joe Galli, president and chief operating officer, is leaving the company for personal reasons.

    "Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said, 'We'd like to thank Joe for his hard work and accomplishments over the last year. I believe he is making the right decision for him and his family circumstances. We all wish him the very best.'

    "Bezos will continue as CEO and resume the duties of president."

    All of 72 words.

    Joy often finds expression through verbosity. As for brevity? It speaks for itself.

    I like the standard "personal reasons" justification on Amazon.com's part. We're supposed to believe a CEO job is just the thing for improving someone's personal life.

    But let's take Amazon.com's word for it, and assume Galli did leave for "personal reasons." A few of us at ZDII speculated about Personal Reasons to Leave Amazon.com:

    • "Personally, I'm tired of stuffing boxes of books every holiday season."

    • "Personally, who really needs a city of coffee houses?"

    • "Personally, I always wanted the biggest office."

    • "Personally, I'm happy about two words: Delegate Everything."

    • "Personally, I think B2C is so 1999."

    • "Personally, I could never remember if it's pronounced BEE-zos or BAY-zos."

    • "Personally, I'm annoyed that I washed Jeff Bezos' car and still couldn't get an autographed copy of the latest Harry Potter book."

    • "Personally, I'd rather be Vertical than an Amazon, if you know what I mean."

    • "Personally, I want to work someplace where I don't end up with negative returns on stock option exercises."

    Other issues:

  • AT&T
  • (NYSE: T) Ma Bell announced second quarter earnings today, and no doubt many folks skipped past almost everything else to find out about broadband.

    The good news: AT&T is on track to meet its annual goals for broadband services over cable. With the assimilation of MediaOne, AT&T now expects to have 1.1 million high-speed Internet access subscribers and at least half a million cable telephony customers by year's end. Most important, the rate of new installations continues to increase each quarter.

    On the downside, to hear that information on the conference call, you had to sit through sentences like this one from C. Michael Armstrong, AT&T's chairman and CEO:

    "Specifically, in the business segment, while voice pricing pressures continued in the second quarter, operational issues outlined in the first quarter are beginning to neutralize through the corrective actions, and we see the second quarter leading indicators that should drive a second half improvement."

    Such labored syntax neutralizes a listener's interest. Fortunately, executives on the call provided corrective actions in the form of encouraging broadband numbers. 22GO>