($) re:Inventing AWS: Keynote Digs and Narratives
The tips of Selipsky’s spear is aiming squarely at Microsoft and OpenAI.
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AWS’s annual conference, re:Invent, is probably the mother of all events in the cloud infrastructure and SaaS world. As one of the first movers in cloud and still the largest by market share, AWS is still the 800-pound gorilla whose every move shakes the industry. And what dictates the key moves, narratives, and competitive dynamics for the next twelve months (until the next re:Invent) is the opening keynote by the CEO.
As some of you know, I started my career in political communications, working on presidential campaigns and the White House press office. Since switching to tech and having listened to my fair share of keynotes from industry conferences, like re:Invent and KubeCon, I find that these presentations have similar characteristics to the State of the Union (SOTU) addresses.
Both annual rituals, a cloud computing keynote is like a mini-SOTU – a well-choreographed, highly-staged presentation that typically ends up being a laundry list of past accomplishments, future plans, and a few jabs at your opponents or competitors. Instead of guests invited by the First Lady, you bring your best customers or partners on stage to tell your story. Instead of half the room physically ignoring the President while the other half cheers loudly in unison, attacks on the enemies are aggressively communicated in screenshot slides and verbal digs. And from this alchemy of accolades and thinly-veiled insults, a few interesting storylines always emerge to set the tone for the next four quarters.
Just like in previous years, I watched this year’s re:Invent keynote delivered by AWS CEO, Adam Selipsky, with a SOTU-like lens. Unlike previous years, however, this is one of the few times where AWS is starting from a defensive position, with the generative AI wave threatening to allow challengers to erode its market leading position.
From today’s keynote, clocking in at 2 hours and 17 minutes long, three key competitive narratives emerged for me: digging at Microsoft and OpenAI, receiving Jensen Huang’s approval, and reminding customers that cloud computing fundamentals still matter.