[…] In early 1997, Jeff Bezos flew to Boston to give a presentation at the Harvard Business School. He spoke to a class taking a course called Managing the Marketspace, and afterward the graduate students pretended he wasn’t there while they dissected the online retailer’s prospects. At the end of the hour, they reached a consensus: Amazon was unlikely to survive the wave of established retailers moving online. “You seem like a really nice guy, so don’t take this the wrong way, but you really need to sell to Barnes and Noble and get out now,” one student bluntly informed Bezos.
Brian Birtwistle, a student in the class, recalls that Bezos was humble and circumspect. “You may be right,” Amazon’s founder told the students. “But I think you might be underestimating the degree to which established brick-and-mortar business, or any company that might be used to doing things a certain way, will find it hard to be nimble or to focus attention on a new channel. I guess we’ll see.”
Excerpt from The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone