The Economic Club of Washington threw a party for Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, on Thursday night in the fancy hotel ballroom that also hosts the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.Economic Club president and billionaire private equity investor David Rubenstein interviewed Bezos on a stage for the benefit of lesser rich people who’d paid to attend. At one point near the beginning of the event, Rubenstein asked the crowd if anyone had taken the subway to get there, and everyone laughed.
Bezos is CEO of Amazon, one of the biggest and most controversial companies in America, but the Economic Club exists for business boosterism, not the public interest. So Rubenstein asked the most flattering questions imaginable.
“You have become the wealthiest man in the world. Is that a title you wanted?”“Is there something in that neighborhood [that Bezos shares with Bill Gates outside Seattle] we should know about? Are there any more houses for sale there?”
“From an early age, were you a pretty smart student?”“Where did you get that laugh from? You know, it is distinctive.”“How come you decided to go to Princeton?”
“Where did the name Amazon come from?“Who came up with the idea for Prime?”You don’t like meetings before 10 a.m., you like to get eight hours of sleep, and you don’t like PowerPoints ― explain all that.”
“When you buy over the internet, Amazon, do you ever get the wrong order, is anything ever wrong? What do you do? Do you call up and complain?”
At one point, Rubenstein veered into tough question territory, asking whether Bezos feared the U.S. or European governments might decide his trillion-dollar company is unfairly crushing its competition. Bezos said it’s good for the public to scrutinize large companies, nonprofits and governments, but that nothing could stop his business.