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Amazon (company)

Amazon (company)

Amazon is a multinational technology company focusing in e-commerce and cloud computing.


Amazon is a multinational technology company, founded and headquartered in , Washington, in 1994. The company focuses on various services, including e-commerce, , digital streaming, and artificial intelligence (AI). Amazon is considered one of the Big Five information technology companies in the United States alongside , , , and . Amazon was referred to as the "most valuable brand" in the world by in 2019.

Amazon is best known for its disruption of well-established industry giants through technological innovation at mass scale. As of 2020, Amazon was the world's largest online marketplace, AI assistant provider, live-streaming platform, and cloud computing platform when measured by recurring revenue and market capitalization. Additionally, Amazon was the largest internet company in the world, when measured by revenue, and was the second-largest private employer in the United States as of 2020.

Amazon distributes products like downloads and streaming of video, music, and audiobooks through its Prime Video, Amazon Music, , and Audible subsidiaries. Additionally, Amazon has its own publishing company, Amazon Publishing; a film and television studio, ; and a cloud computing subsidiary, . The company has developed and produced various electronic devices, including Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets, Fire TV, and Echo devices. Amazon has made multiple acquisitions over the years, including Ring security, Twitch, , and IMDb.

Company history

Amazon was initially founded in 1994 by as Cadabra, Inc. It was developed as a result of what Bezos called his “regret minimization framework,” which was a description of his efforts to avoid regrets regarding late participation in the internet business boom that occurred in the mid-1990s. Bezos left his position as vice-president of D.E. Shaw & Co., a investment firm, in 1994 and moved to Seattle to build the business plan for what would initially be named Cadabra, but would become Amazon in 1995. Bezos decided to change the company name after a lawyer mistook the name Cadabra for “cadaver.”

In the early days of founding and planning, Bezos operated the company out of his home on Northeast 28th St in Bellvue, Washington. In September of 1994, he purchased the domain name with a short-lived plan to rename his online retail platform Relentless. Still, close confidants advised Bezos the name might have a negative connotation. Bezos still owns the domain, which redirects traffic to the homepage.

Naming the company Amazon

Bezos chose the name for Amazon by leafing through a dictionary. He settled on “Amazon” because he viewed it as a place that was “exotic and different,” which aligned with his vision for the internet enterprise. Bezos noted in an interview that the Amazon River was the largest globally and that he intended to run the largest bookstore in the world.

The 1990s operations, online bookstore, and IPO

After reading a report about the future of the internet that projected annual web commerce growth at 2,300%, Bezos developed a list of potential products that could be marketed online. After contemplation, he narrowed the list to five products he felt were most promising before finally settling on books due to the global demand for literature, low unit prices, and the volume of titles available in print. At this point, Amazon was officially founded in the garage of Bezos’ Bellevue rental-home with his parents providing the initial investment of just under $250,000.

In July of 1995, Amazon officially launched its service as an online book retailer. The first book to ever be sold by Amazon was Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought by . Within the first two months of operation, Amazon had sold books to all 50 states and over 45 countries, and sales were totaling up to $20,000 per week. By October 1995, the company announced itself to the public, and in 1996, it was reincorporated in . Amazon issued its initial public offering (IPO) of stock on May 15, 199t, at $18 a share, trading on the with the exchange symbol AMZN.

In 1999, Amazon attempted to enter the publishing market for the first time by buying a defunct imprint, “Weathervane,” and published some books that The New Yorker said were “selected with no apparent thought.” The Weathervane imprint disappeared soon after, and as of 2014 Amazon representatives stated they had never heard of it. Additionally, in 1999, Bezos was named Person of the Year by TIME magazine.


On May 12, 1997, Barnes & Nobel sued Amazon, under the allegation that Amazon’s claim to be the “world’s largest bookstore” was false as Amazon was a book broker, not a store. Eventually, the lawsuit was settled out of court, but Amazon continued to refer to itself as the “world’s largest bookstore.”

On October 16, 1998, Amazon was sued again, this time by under the allegation that Amazon had stolen Walmart’s trade secrets by hiring former Walmart executives. This suit was also settled outside of court but resulted in Amazon implementing internal restrictions and reassigning the former Walmart execs.

Amazon launched its current logo in June of 2000
The 2000s

In June of 2000, Amazon changed its logotype to feature a curved arrow leading from A to Z, insinuating the company carries all products A to Z. Additionally, the arrow was designed and shaped to represent a smile.

Amazon experienced slow growth, with some Amazon sources saying Amazon didn’t expect to turn a profit for four to five years. The slow growth caused stockholders to complain about the company and discuss its inability to reach profitability quickly enough to justify investments or long-term survival capability. In 2001, the dot com bubble burst was the demise of many e-commerce companies due to uncertainty and speculation of online retail. Still, Amazon survived and continued to move forward to become significant in online retail. In the fourth quarter of 2001, Amazon finally turned its first profit: $0.01 per share on revenues of more than $1 billion, proving to skeptical investors that the unconventional business plan Bezos had developed could succeed.

The 2010s to present day

In 2011, Amazon had hired 56,200 employees between offices, warehouses, and data centers, but by 2017 Amazon had grown to over 566,000 employees after its acquisition of Whole Foods.

In 2014, Amazon launched the Fire Phone, a 3D-enabled smartphone developed by Amazon and manufactured by . Originally it was announced in June of 2014 and was available for pre-order the day it was announced. The Fire Phone was Amazon’s entrance into the smartphone industry and was meant to deliver streaming options to users. Still, the launch failed, which resulted in Amazon registering $170 million in losses, which led to the Fire Phone production halting the following year.

In 2017, Amazon announced it had plans to locate a second headquarters in a metropolitan area with at least 1 million people in the population. Cities were required to submit proposals and presentations by October 19, 2017, for the project that would be called HQ2. At this time Amazon was only headquartered in Seattle in a building that had initially been 500,000 sq ft but had room for expansion up to 8 million sq ft. Amazon announced it would develop space within the building for Mary’s Place, a local charity in 2020.

On August 8, 2018, a story in stated that Amazon had a 5% stake in U.S. retail spending (excluding the automotive market and restaurant industry) and a 43.5% stake in American online expenditure.

In September of 2018, Amazon launched its last-mile delivery program and ordered 20,000 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans for the independent delivery service to expedite shipping further. The expansion also allowed Amazon to extend shipping on Sunday. Amazon also partnered with the (USPS) to offer shipping in less populated areas on Sundays as USPS is responsible for 40% of the domestic product shipping.


In November of 2018, Amazon announced it would open its new headquarters, HQ2, in , , , and the Crystal City neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia. However, on February 14, 2019, Amazon announced it would not be moving forward with the Queens project and would solely focus on the Arlington, Virginia location. The company plans to staff HQ2 with at least 25,000 employees by 2030 and will invest more than $2.5 billion in the project. The announcement led to a partnership between Amazon and to develop an Innovation Campus to meet high-tech talent demand.

COVID-19 pandemic walkout

At the end of March in 2020, some employees at the warehouse staged a walkout in protest of the health conditions within their workplace amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the organizers, Chris Smalls, was the first to be put on quarantine without other employees being quarantined. Soon after, Smalls was fired from Amazon.

Flagship products and services

Amazon boasts a wide selection of product lines on its website, including media (books, DVDs, music, CDs, videotapes, and software), apparel, consumer electronics, gourmet food, beauty products, baby products, groceries, health and personal-care items, industrial supplies, kitchen items, jewelry, watches, lawn and garden items, musical instruments, sporting goods, tools, automotive items, toys, games, and more. In 2019, Amazon applied to develop a liquor store in , California with the means to ship beer and other spirits within city limits. Amazon has other retail websites for other countries and offers international shipping of some products. In November of 2020, Amazon developed an online delivery service dedicated to prescription medications. The service provides up to 80% off generic drugs and 40% off brand name medications for Amazon Prime subscribers. The products can be purchased on the Amazon website or at 50,000 brick-and-mortar pharmacies nationwide in the United States.

Amazon has many brands and products, but a few key products boasted more success than others such as:

Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime is the Amazon subscription that comes with benefits that are not available to customers using the platform for free. Some of the upgraded conveniences of Amazon Prime are same-day or two-day shipping; streaming movies and shows from Prime Video; music streaming from Prime Music; free e-books from Prime Reading; grocery delivery with Prime Pantry; Prime Now, which offers delivery within two hours of ordering; Amazon Key, which allows delivery people to leave packages in someone’s home, car, or garage; Prime Gaming, which is a premium Twitch streaming membership; and Prime Day, which is an annual day of Amazon product sales that was initially launched to celebrate 20 years of Amazon.

Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services (AWS) was launched in 2002 to provide programmatic access to its website, since then it has expanded to a cloud-based computing platform with APIs for businesses and companies to host companies, individuals, or governments. Amazon Web Services initially started as an Amazon product but has become a subsidiary of Amazon, complete with its own CEO and separate operations from


Amazon’s Alexa, most commonly known as Alexa, is a virtual voice-activated assistant AI. Initially, it was developed for the Amazon Echo product, but since its inception it has expanded to other products beyond the Echo. Alexa is capable of performing tasks such as changing songs, turning lights on or off, developing to-do lists, setting timers, and more.

Amazon Kindle

The Kindle is a portable e-reader tablet where books can be downloaded and stored for easy access. It is compatible with downloads from various retailers including , Good Reads, and Audible.


September 28, 2021
Amazon launches home robot, named Astro and giant Alexa display.
September 9, 2021
Amazon announces its first self-branded smart TVs and a new 4K streaming media player called the Fire TV Stick 4K Max.
July 8, 2021
Amazon India launches its first Digital Kendra in Surat, Gujarat.
June 29, 2021
Amazon announces a new feature that will turn Alexa into a reading companion for children.
May 13, 2021
Amazon updates Echo Show 8, 5 with better cameras and introduces Kids Edition Echo Show 5
February 2, 2021
Amazon announces plans for founder Jeff Bezos to retire as CEO. AWS CEO Andy Jassy will become CEO of Amazon
November 17, 2020
Amazon launches online pharmacy in challenge to traditional retailers
October 24, 2019
Amazon acquires Health Navigator, a startup that develops APIs for online health services.
July 2001
Amazon raises a $100,000,000 venture round from AOL.
December 27, 1999
Jeff Bezos announced as 1999 Person of the Yea
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Funding rounds




Brian Olsavsky

Senior vice president and CFO

Daniel P. Huttenlocher

Board of directors

Indra Nooyi

Board of directors

Jamie Gorelick

Board of directors

Jeff Bezos

President, CEO, and Chairman

John Rubenstein

Board of directors

Judy McGrath

Board of directors

Keith B. Alexander

Board of directors

Patty Stonesifer

Board of directors

Rosalind Brewer

Board of directors

Thomas O. Ryder

Board of directors

Wendell P. Weeks

Board of directors

Further reading


Documentaries, videos and podcasts





By The Associated Press
October 18, 2021
___Automakers step up pace on electric vehicle battery plantsDETROIT (AP) -- Global automakers are stepping up the pace when it comes to building factories to prepare for what many believe will be a fast-moving transition from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles.
October 18, 2021
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. House lawmakers are threatening to seek a criminal investigation of Amazon, saying the tech giant has one "final chance" to correct previous testimony by executives on its competition practices.
Heather Landi
October 13, 2021
Telehealth use overall has leveled off at levels 38 times higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to McKinsey. For the major incumbent telehealth players, the current state of play represents both opportunities and challenges. New entrants have now rushed to the market with more specialized virtual care platforms, fueled by a boom in venture capital dollars.
Shira Ovide
October 13, 2021
Why are DoorDash and Instacart letting businesses buy their way to the top of search results?
Suneera Tandon
October 13, 2021
Retail sales last month touched 96% of pre-pandemic levels--September 2019--as against 88% in August. Strong rebound in sales across categories could point to a "turnaround" for the retail sector this festive season
October 13, 2021
Examining the company's internal emails, strategy papers and business plans reveal that the e-commerce giant exploited internal data from their website to make products of a similar kind. This was subsequently offered on the platform.
Caroline Donnelly
October 13, 2021
Latest market tracker data from Synergy Research Group highlights how soaring demand for cloud services is affecting the dominant suppliers
Richard Luscombe
October 13, 2021
the Guardian
Critics see the 'awful business' of private space tourism as having little technological or exploration value
Joanna Partridge
October 13, 2021
the Guardian
Leigh Day launches group action for drivers classed as self-employed and not entitled to employee rights
Anonymous Google and Amazon workers
October 12, 2021
the Guardian
We cannot support our employer's decision to supply the Israeli military and government technology that is used to harm Palestinians
Shira Ovide
October 12, 2021
When the tech giants splurge on big-ticket investments, it's great for them but hard for others to keep up.
Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro
October 12, 2021
the Guardian
In a petition to the international criminal court experts said the 'mass deforestation' poses a clear danger
Zee News
October 12, 2021
Zee News
Amazon is offering its teams more flexibility as the internet bhemoth is all set to return to office.
Julie Weed
October 12, 2021
Despite an overall decline in office leasing in the United States, technology companies gobbled up more space in the Seattle area than they had the previous year.
By The Associated Press
October 11, 2021
___Merck asks US FDA to authorize promising anti-COVID pillWASHINGTON (AP) -- Drugmaker Merck has asked U.S. regulators to authorize its promising antiviral pill against COVID-19, setting the stage for a decision within weeks.
October 12, 2021
Amazon has adjusted its return-to-work plans amid a surge in the Covid-19 delta variant
The Associated Press
October 11, 2021
ABC News
Amazon says it will allow many tech and corporate workers to continue working remotely indefinitely as long as they can to commute to the office when necessary
October 11, 2021
SEATTLE (AP) -- Amazon said Monday it will allow many tech and corporate workers to continue working remotely indefinitely, as long as they can commute to the office when necessary.The new policy was announced in a blog post and is a change from Amazon's previous expectation that most employees would need to be in the office at least three days a week when offices reopen from the COVID-19 pandemic in January.
October 10, 2021
the Guardian
Editorial: Is a low-tax corporate form of work intensification where staff are tracked and assessed to ensure they meet exacting targets good for Britain?
October 9, 2021
As we head into the busy holiday shopping season, the last thing you want is your gifts to be stolen by porch pirates. Here's how to stop them.


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