Jeff Bezos as an avatar of Vishnu? Fortune magazine draws ire for its bold cover of Amazon boss.

Fortune magazine's cover on Amazon's Jeff Bezos

The latest Fortune magazine’s January issue is a bold piece of reportage – it profiles the Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the magazine cover shows Bezos as an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu.

Fortune magazine's cover on Amazon's Jeff Bezos
Fortune magazine’s cover on Amazon’s Jeff Bezos

The story is featured in the magazine’s international edition, about Amazon’s expansion into India – and the cover piece is entitled “Amazon invades India.” It talks about how Bezos plans to conquer this next trillion dollar market.

In the illustration prepared by Nigel Buchanan, the blue skinned, smiling Bezos is seen holding a lotus in one hand while his other hand has Amazon’s logo printed on it.

However, the cover has drawn outraged comments from the Indian community in the US over the apparent “trivialization of a venerated deity.”

In fact, a statement by Rajan Zed, a Nevada based Hindu spokesperson, says, “Lord Vishnu is a highly revered major deity in Hinduism meant to be worshiped in temples or home shrines and not to be used indecorously or thrown around loosely in re-imagined versions for dramatic effects.”

The outrage against the cover also reared up on social media after the latest edition of the magazine hit newsstands. “Ok, cool @FortuneMagazine now do one with Bezos as Jesus in honor of Black Friday?” American technologist and blogger Anil Dash tweeted. “Also, many Indian people (like my dad) were born under colonial rule. So a headline discussing a corporate ‘invasion’ is probably not ideal,” he followed up in another tweet.

Fortune Editor-In-Chief Alan Murray rushed to apologize over the controversial cover. “Fair point, Anil. Apologies to those offended,” he tweeted.

CEO of technology firm Stripe, Patrick Collison, pointed out that Fortune wasn’t the only publication that had used the image of a CEO with shades of a religious figure. “I think these magazines *are* totally willing to be sacrilegious with Christian imagery too,” he tweeted with the image of a cover by The Economist that shows Steve Jobs as Moses, presenting the iPad.

In a recent statement the company revealed that Amazon has emerged as the largest store in just two years and nine months of operations in India. It stocks over 40 million products, of which one million are in-stock and available for immediate shipment. However, with many competitors in the e-commerce space, Amazon’s so-called India takeover will not be easy, which is what the Fortune story was also trying to underscore.


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