Money Amazon is not invincible, says Silicon Valley's most powerful Aussie Jeremy Liew

08:31  13 november  2017
08:31  13 november  2017 Source:   Brisbane Times

Amazon yet to announce firm date for Australian launch

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The most powerful and celebrated Aussie investor in Silicon Valley says fears of Amazon ' s dominance in e-commerce are overblown. Jeremy Liew , who was propelled into the top echelon of US startup investors earlier this year when his early bet on Snapchat paid off spectacularly

Originally published on smh.com.au as ' Amazon is not invincible , says Silicon Valley ' s most powerful Aussie Jeremy Liew '.

BRW Ex Pat Roundtable. Picture Phil Carrick.Jeremy Liew, Lightspeed Venture Partners SPECIALX 59670© Phil Carrick BRW Ex Pat Roundtable. Picture Phil Carrick.Jeremy Liew, Lightspeed Venture Partners SPECIALX 59670 The most powerful and celebrated Aussie investor in Silicon Valley says fears of Amazon's dominance in e-commerce are overblown.

Jeremy Liew, who was propelled into the top echelon of US startup investors earlier this year when his early bet on Snapchat paid off spectacularly, told Fairfax Media over coffee in San Francisco this week that Jeff Bezos' $US500 billion ($628 billion) plus e-commerce giant should not be seen as invincible.

"The narrative of you can't compete with Amazon, it just looks like it is wrong," he said.

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  Amazon Australia's Website Is Now Being Populated With Items If you're getting excited for Amazon's arrival in Australia, there's a few more signs that launch is imminent. Amazon's Australian website is now being populated with some items - among other things, power boards, cables and garden gnomes have begun appearing on the site. Spotted by u/repairsalmostcomplet on Saturday morning, Amazon.com.au is currently displaying a range of items outside of their usual Kindle range and apps. There's not a lot of excitement to be found just yet (and perhaps this is still the Tech team ironing out some kinks in the back end of the site) but, there are a ton of power boards being listed.

The most powerful and celebrated Aussie investor in Silicon Valley says fears of Amazon ' s dominance in e-commerce are overblown. Jeremy Liew , who was propelled into the top echelon of US startup investors earlier this year when his early bet on Snapchat paid off spectacularly

Amazon is not invincible , says Silicon Valley ' s most powerful Aussie Jeremy Liew . School crash victim Jihad Darwiche farewelled at emotional service. The sun may finally be setting on Rupert Murdoch’s media power .

His comment comes as Amazon prepares to finally launch an online retail offering in Australia, as soon as this month. The Seattle-based internet conglomerate, which has had a presence in Australia via its web services business for years, is holding a seller summit in Sydney next Monday.

Jeremy Liew, who grew up in Perth and graduated from the Australian National University in the early 90s, was the very first investor in what was up until recently known as Snapchat.© Karine Aigner Jeremy Liew, who grew up in Perth and graduated from the Australian National University in the early 90s, was the very first investor in what was up until recently known as Snapchat. Despite Amazon's perceived dominance of online retail, Liew points out that in recent years there have been a string of successful e-commerce companies in the US and Europe that have either listed on stockmarkets or been acquired for billion-dollar prices.

Amazon Australia's website is being populated with items

  Amazon Australia's website is being populated with items If you're getting excited for Amazon's arrival in Australia, there's a few more signs that launch is imminent. If you're getting excited for Amazon's arrival in Australia, there's a few more signs that launch is imminent. Amazon's Australian website is now being populated with some items - among other things, power boards, cables and garden gnomes have begun appearing on the site.

Silence is the most powerful scream. The best time for you to hold your tongue is the time you feel you must say something or bust. – Josh Billings.

“ Silicon Valley is such an isolated bubble,” Liew said . “Our reality is not the reality of a normal American in normal America. Tibbens joined Lyft after more than three years as a vice president at Amazon .

These include Chewy, a petfood delivery firm acquired by brick and mortar rival PetSmart for $US3.5 billion, subscription razor blade business DollarShave, which was acquired by Unilever for $US1 billion, and Zalando, a German online electronics retailer whose market cap has nearly doubled since listing.

" It turns out that most of them competed with Amazon," says Liew. "If you look at the data, it looks like you can compete with Amazon and you can beat them."

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The companies that are able to survive and even do better than Amazon online tend to be "digitally native vertical brands" - brands that design, make and sell their own products (rather than other vendors' products) and control the entire customer experience.

This will provide little comfort for big box retailers facing the Amazon threat, but it could be more encouraging for the array of promising, if yet ultimately unproven e-commerce startups emerging from Australia.

"Look, Amazon is an amazing company, [but] even the most amazing company can only do three of four things at the same time well," he says.

© AP "Even the most amazing company can only do three of four things at the same time well," says high-profile Silicon Valley investor Jeremy Liew. Born in Singapore, Liew grew up in Perth, where his parents still reside, and attended Duncraig Senior High School in the west coast city.

He graduated from the Australian National University in Canberra with degrees in linguistics and pure mathematics and started his career at consulting firm McKinsey in Sydney.  A dual citizen of Australia and the US, Liew retains a distinctly Australian accent and still considers himself an Aussie.

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Winning streak

Liew has been on quite the winning streak lately. Another of his portfolio companies, Bonobos, a men's retail clothing startup, was recently acquired by retail giant Walmart for $US310 million, and he has been a prominent bull for bitcoin, the crypto-currency which has been surging in value.

But he remains most famous for being the first investor in Snapchat, the millennial ephemeral messaging service which successfully went public in March, but has struggled since then.

After fortuitously tracking down founder Evan Spiegel on Facebook after a tip from a colleague, Liew invested $US485,000 of Lightspeed's capital into Snapchat. By the time of its IPO , his firm's stake in the business was worth about $US2 billion.

Liew made his name for being the first investor in Snapchat.© Bloomberg Liew made his name for being the first investor in Snapchat. Shares in Snap, the parent of Snapchat, tumbled by more than 15 per cent on Wednesday in the US, wiping billions off its market value after the company reported weaker than expected quarterly revenue and user growth.

Spiegel, the company's CEO (who happens to be married to Australian model Miranda Kerr) said Snapchat would be redesigned to make it less confusing to new users.

'Earn it every day'

Lightspeed still holds some Snap shares and for his part, Liew says he is still confident in the company's potential.

Amazon kicks off assault on Aussie retailers with 'unheard of' fashion attack

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"I think really highly of the management team, I think they are terrific," he said, describing the product as "extraordinary".

Despite his recent stellar run, he says he won't be taking his foot off the pedal any time soon.

"You have got to go out an earn it every day," he said. "You can't rest on your laurels. I've got to go out and meet a new bunch of entrepreneurs today because...hopefully five or eight years from now some of those companies will be worth something."

"You've still got to go and do the work."

Pictures: Stories behind your favourite logo

Amazon's Australian Launch: New Details Revealed! .
Amazon Australia has laid out its plans during a marketplace summit in Sydney. We finally have some firm details about the launch, including a delivery time promise. Here's what you need to know!Amazon Australia has laid out its plans during a marketplace summit in Sydney. We finally have some firm details about the launch, including a delivery time promise.

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