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Bezos Overruled HQ2 Selection Process To Pick New York, According To New Book

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

All of the incentive wars, controversy and fanfare to lure the biggest e-commerce name in the game were for nothing, a new book claims.

Amazon had narrowed down its HQ2 search to three finalist cities in Philadelphia, Chicago and Raleigh only for founder and CEO Jeff Bezos to unilaterally choose New York based on his "gut," according to Amazon Unbound, a book about Bezos and the company's empire-building, The New York Times Book Review reports.

"The cynical interpretation of [the Amazon HQ2 result] is that it went where Jeff Bezos wanted it to go," Amazon Unbound author Brad Stone said in a video interview with the News & Observer. "He has homes in New York and Washington, D.C., [and] those are the corridors of power."

Amazon's public announcement of its request for proposals for a second headquarters set the stage for a competition between cities to showcase themselves — not to mention offer tax breaks and other economic incentives — the likes of which had never been seen before. Even more unprecedented was Amazon reversing its decision to locate in New York after sustained public outrage.

The selection of two gateway office markets led to grumbles that the entire RFP process was not the open competition it had been made out to be. That sentiment may have extended all the way to Amazon's HQ2 site selection team, Stone said.

"I do feel like there were members of the HQ2 team who felt like, well, what did they go through it all for?" Stone told the News & Observer. "Why did they visit these places if everything was going to be subject to the personal whims of the leadership team?"

Regardless of how fair or unfair the search process was, it led to hundreds of cities putting together detailed recruiting pitches for large businesses that some, including Philly, were determined to build on for future economic development initiatives. It also provided a cautionary tale for any company seeking to move to a new city with relatively little controversy.

Related Topics: Amazon, Jeff Bezos, Amazon HQ2