business news in context, analysis with attitude

This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.

Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.

There was a story the other day in the Seattle Times about a venture capitalist named Nick Hanauer, who turned a $45,000 investment in Amazon, made in the company's early days, into more than $100 million when he finally sold it.

The story, however, was not about that so much as it was about Hanauer's belief that the US needs a national minimum wage of $15 per hour. But in the context of the discussion about wages, Hanauer made the statement that he believes that Amazon has not created any jobs, and in fact may have destroyed a million jobs as it has grown, most of them in the businesses and industries that it has disrupted.

That number may or may not be accurate. If it is only 50 percent accurate, that alone would be worth taking note of, and I suspect that in coming years, Amazon may have to deal with some of the same job destruction issues that Walmart has dealt with for years. That's one of the things that happens when big companies get bigger and more efficient and effective … it is not the most pleasant of consequences, but it may be the inevitable collateral damage of progress.

I'm not here to defend job destruction strategies, but I do think that such things always have happened. In the movie Other People's Money, Danny DeVito plays a venture capitalist who essentially asks the question, what good is it to be the world's best buggy whip manufacturer in a world that no longer needs buggy whips?

The answer is, not good at all. The people who made buggy whips had to find new jobs, develop new skills, create new careers. They were helped out some by private industry, and some through public policies that helped them achieve some level of relevance. But mostly, they became relevant because they were willing to see that the world had changed, and they had to change with it.

As I say, I'm not defending Amazon. It just happens to be better at what it does than almost anyone else, and disruption often is not a localized event … it can be big and powerful and, by its very nature, seismic in nature.

We can't expect Amazon or any other company to inhibit progress. We can just look for the new opportunities and find ways to take advantage of them, and remember that the process never, ever stops.

That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.

KC's View: