Amazon.com Inc (Amazon) is an online retailer and web service provider. The company provides products such as apparel, auto and industrial items, beauty and health products, electronics, grocery, games, jewelry, kids and baby products, music, sports goods, toys, and tools.
Amazon was founded by Jeff Bezos from his garage in Bellevue, Washington, on July 5, 1994. Initially an online marketplace for books, it has expanded into a multitude of product categories, a strategy that has earned it the moniker The Everything Store. It has multiple subsidiaries including Amazon Web Services (cloud computing), Zoox (autonomous vehicles), Kuiper Systems (satellite Internet), and Amazon Lab126 (computer hardware R&D). Its other subsidiaries include Ring, Twitch, IMDb, and Whole Foods Market. Its acquisition of Whole Foods in August 2017 for US$13.4 billion substantially increased its footprint as a physical retailer.
Amazon has earned a reputation as a disruptor of well-established industries through technological innovation and “aggressive” reinvestment of profits into capital expenditures. As of 2023, it is the world’s largest online retailer and marketplace, smart speaker provider, cloud computing service through AWS,live-streaming service through Twitch, and Internet company as measured by revenue and market share.In 2021, it surpassed Walmart as the world’s largest retailer outside of China, driven in large part by its paid subscription plan, Amazon Prime, which has over 200 million subscribers worldwide.It is the second-largest private employer in the United States.[
Amazon also distributes a variety of downloadable and streaming content through its Amazon Prime Video, MGM+, Amazon Music, Twitch, and Audible units. It publishes books through its publishing arm, Amazon Publishing, film and television content through Amazon MGM Studios, including the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio which acquired in March 2022. It also produces consumer electronics—most notably, Kindle e-readers, Echo devices, Fire tablets, and Fire TVs.
Amazon has been criticized for customer data collection practices, a toxic work culture, tax avoidance, and anti-competitive behavior.
Amazon was founded on July 5, 1994, by Jeff Bezos, who chose the Seattle area for its abundance of technical talent, as Microsoft was in the area.
Amazon went public in May 1997. It began selling music and videos in 1998, and began international operations by acquiring online sellers of books in the United Kingdom and Germany. The following year, it began selling music, video games, consumer electronics, home improvement items, software, games, and toys.
In 2002, it launched Amazon Web Services (AWS), which initially focused on providing APIs for web developers to build web applications on top of Amazon’s ecommerce platform.In 2004, AWS was expanded to provide website popularity statistics and web crawler data from the Alexa Web Information Service. AWS later shifted toward providing enterprise services with Simple Storage Service (S3) in 2006, and Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) in 2008, allowing companies to rent data storage and computing power from Amazon. In 2006, Amazon also launched the Fulfillment by Amazon program, which allowed individuals and small companies (called “third-party sellers”) to sell products through Amazon’s warehouses and fulfillment infrastructure.
Amazon purchased the Whole Foods Market supermarket chain in 2017. It is the leading e-retailer in the United States with approximately US$178 billion net sales in 2017. It has over 300 million active customer accounts globally.
Amazon saw large growth during the COVID-19 pandemic, hiring more than 100,000 staff in the United States and Canada. Some Amazon workers in the US, France, and Italy protested the company’s decision to “run normal shifts” due to COVID-19’s ease of spread in warehouses. In Spain, the company faced legal complaints over its policies,while a group of US Senators wrote an open letter to Bezos expressing concerns about workplace safety.
On February 2, 2021, Bezos announced that he would step down as CEO to become executive chair of Amazon’s board. The transition officially took place on July 5, 2021, with former CEO of AWS Andy Jassy replacing him as CEO. In January 2023, Amazon cut over 18,000 jobs, primarily in consumer retail and its human resources division in an attempt to cut costs.