Amazon.com, Inc. (/ˈæməzɒn/ or /ˈæməzən/) is an American electronic commerce company with headquarters inSeattle, Washington. It is the largest Internet-based retailer in the United States. Amazon.com started as an onlinebookstore, but soon diversified, selling DVDs, Blu-rays, CDs, video downloads/streaming, MP3 downloads/streaming,software, video games, electronics, apparel, furniture, food, toys and jewelry. The company also produces consumer electronics—notably, Amazon Kindle e-book readers, Fire tablets, Fire TV and Fire Phone—and is the world's largest provider of cloud computing services. Amazon also sells certain low-end products like USB cables under its in-house brand AmazonBasics.
Amazon has separate retail websites for United States, United Kingdom & Ireland, France, Canada, Germany, Italy,Spain, the Netherlands, Australia, Brazil, Japan, China, India and Mexico. Amazon also offers international shipping to certain other countries for some of its products. In 2011, it had professed an intention to launch its websites inPoland and Sweden.
The company was founded in 1994, spurred by what Bezos called his "regret minimization framework", which described his efforts to fend off any regrets for not participating sooner in the Internet business boom during that time. In 1994, Bezos left his employment as vice-president of D. E. Shaw & Co., a Wall Street firm, and moved to Seattle. He began to work on a business plan for what would eventually become Amazon.com.
Jeff Bezos incorporated the company as "Cadabra" on July 5, 1994 and the site went online as Amazon.com in 1995. Bezos changed the name cadabra.com to amazon.com because it sounded too much like cadaver. Additionally, a name beginning with "A" was preferential due to the probability it would occur at the top of any list that was alphabetized.
Bezos selected the name Amazon by looking through the dictionary, and settled on "Amazon" because it was a place that was "exotic and different" just as he planned for his store to be; the Amazon river, he noted was by far the "biggest" river in the world, and he planned to make his store the biggest in the world. Bezos placed a premium on his head start in building a brand, telling a reporter, "There's nothing about our model that can't be copied over time. But you know, McDonald's got copied. And it still built a huge, multibillion-dollar company. A lot of it comes down to the brand name. Brand names are more important online than they are in the physical world."
After reading a report about the future of the Internet which projected annual Web commerce growth at 2,300%, Bezos created a list of 20 products which could be marketed online. He narrowed the list to what he felt were the five most promising products which included: compact discs, computer hardware, computer software, videos, and books. Bezos finally decided that his new business would sell books online, due to the large world-wide demand for literature, the low price points for books, along with the huge number of titles available in print. Amazon was originally founded in Bezos' garage in Bellevue, Washington.
The company began as an online bookstore, an idea spurred off with discussion with John Ingram of Ingram Book (now called Ingram Content Group), along with Keyur Patel who still holds a stake in Amazon. In the first two months of business, Amazon sold to all 50 states and over 45 countries. Within two months, Amazon's sales were up to $20,000/week. While the largest brick and mortar bookstores and mail order catalogs might offer 200,000 titles, an online bookstore could "carry" several times more, since it would have an almost unlimited virtual (not actual) warehouse: those of the actual product makers/suppliers.
Since June 19, 2000, Amazon's logotype has featured a curved arrow leading from A to Z, representing that the company carries every product from A to Z, with the arrow shaped like a smile.
Amazon was incorporated in 1994, in the state of Washington. In July 1995, the company began service and sold its first book on Amazon.com: Douglas Hofstadter's Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought. In October 1995, the company announced itself to the public. In 1996, it was reincorporated in Delaware. Amazon issued its initial public offering of stock on May 15, 1997, trading under the NASDAQ stock exchange symbol AMZN, at a price of US$18.00 per share ($1.50 after three stock splits in the late 1990s).
Amazon's initial business plan was unusual; it did not expect to make a profit for four to five years. This "slow" growth caused stockholders to complain about the company not reaching profitability fast enough to justify investing in, or to even survive in the long-term. When the dot-com bubble burst at the start of the 21st century, destroying many e-companies in the process, Amazon survived, and grew on past the bubble burst to become a huge player in online sales. It finally turned its first profit in the fourth quarter of 2001: $5 million (i.e., 1¢ per share), on revenues of more than $1 billion. This profit margin, though extremely modest, proved to skeptics that Bezos' unconventional business model could succeed. In 1999, Time magazine named Bezos the Person of the Year, recognizing the company's success in popularizing online shopping.
Barnes & Noble sued Amazon on May 12, 1997, alleging that Amazon's claim to be "the world's largest bookstore" was false. Barnes and Noble asserted, "[It] isn't a bookstore at all. It's a book broker." The suit was later settled out of court, and Amazon continued to make the same claim." Walmart sued Amazon on October 16, 1998, alleging that Amazon had stolen Walmart's trade secrets by hiring former Walmart executives. Although this suit was also settled out of court, it caused Amazon to implement internal restrictions and the reassignment of the former Walmart executives.
Acquisitions and investments
- 1998: PlanetAll, a reminder service based in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Junglee, an XML-based data mining startup based in Sunnyvale;Bookpages.co.uk, a UK online book retailer, which became Amazon UK on October 15, 1998; Telebook (www.telebuch.de) was Germany's leading online bookstore, it became Amazon's German online store; Internet Movie Database (IMDb).
- 1999: Alexa Internet a database company; Accept.com a financial services company; Drugstore.com 40% investment in 1999, increased stake in 2000, sold stake to Walgreens in 2011 for a 90% loss; GeoWorks, a wireless communications company, acquisition of a minority interest; Pets.com, purchased a 54 percent stake; LiveBid.com, which produced Internet-based auction software; e-Niche Incorporated comprising Exchange.com, Bibliofind.com (hard-to-find book titles), and Musicfile.com (hard to find music titles); HomeGrocer.com, a 35 percent stake in the online grocer;Gear.com, 49 percent stake (the company was purchased by Overstock.com in 2000); Tool Crib of the North, acquired the online and catalog sales division of the company in October 1999, selling a very wide variety of tools and home improvement items; Convergence Corporation, software to connect wireless devices to the Internet; MindCorps Incorporated, applications for web sites including online chats to web based databases; Della.com, gift registry, expert advice, and personalized gift suggestions, Amazon purchased a 20% stake (in April 2000, the company merged with WeddingChannel.com); Back to Basics Toys, catalog toy store (sold to Scholastic in 2003); Ashford.com, retailer of luxury products, Amazon acquired a 16.6 percent ownership; Leep Technology Inc., developer of on-line database query tools and CRM software.
- 2003: Online music retailer CDNow. By 2011, the website cdnow.com was defunct and in use by a different company.
- 2004: Joyo.com, a Chinese e-commerce website.
- 2005: BookSurge, a print on demand company, and Mobipocket.com, an e-book software company. CreateSpace.com (formerly CustomFlix), a distributor of on-demand DVDs (since expanded to include print on-demand books, CDs, and video), based in Scotts Valley, California. Smallparts.com, an industrial component supplier.
- 2006: Shopbop, a retailer of designer clothing and accessories for women, based in Madison, Wisconsin.
- 2007: dpreview.com, a digital photography review website based in London; Brilliance Audio, the largest independent publisher of audiobooks in the United States.
- 2008: Audible.com; Fabric.com; Box Office Mojo; AbeBooks; Shelfari; (including a 40% stake in LibraryThing and whole ownership ofBookFinder.com, Gojaba.com, and FillZ); Reflexive Entertainment, a casual video game development company.
- 2009: Zappos, an online shoe and apparel retailer Lexcycle, SnapTell, an image matching startup, Stanza, a rival e-book reader to Amazon's Kindle.
- 2010: Touchco., Woot, Quidsi, BuyVIP, Amie Street.
- 2010: Toby Press
- 2011: LoveFilm, The Book Depository, Pushbutton, Yap
- 2012: Kiva Systems, Teachstreet, Evi
- 2013: IVONA Software, Goodreads, Liquavista,
- 2014: Double Helix Games, comiXology, Twitch 
- 2015: Annapurna Labs, a chip designer based in Yokneam, Israel
- 2008: Engine Yard, a Ruby-on-Rails platform as a service (PaaS) company.
- 2010: LivingSocial, a local deal site.
- 2014: Acquire .buy domain in an auction for $4,588,888
- 2014: Amazon Announces Additional US $2 Billion Investment in India in June 2014
- 2004: A9.com, a company focused on researching and building innovative technology.
- 2004: Lab126, developers of integrated consumer electronics such as the Kindle.
- 2007: Endless.com, an e-commerce brand focusing on shoes.
- 2007: Brilliance Audio, the largest independent audiobook producer in the US.
Amazon owns over 40 subsidiaries, including Zappos, Diapers.com, Kiva Systems, Goodreads, Teachstreet, and IMDb.
Board of directors
As of November 2014, the board of directors is:
- Jeff Bezos, President, CEO and Chairman
- Tom Alberg, Managing partner, Madrona Venture Group
- John Seely Brown, Visiting Scholar and Advisor to the Provost at USC
- Bing Gordon, partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
- Jamie Gorelick, partner, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr
- Alain Monié, CEO, Ingram Micro
- Jon Rubinstein, former Chairman and CEO, Palm, Inc.
- Thomas O. Ryder, former Chairman and CEO, Reader's Digest Association
- Patty Stonesifer, President and CEO, Martha's Table
Until June 30, 2006, typing ToysRUs.com into a browser would bring up Amazon.com's "Toys & Games" tab; however, this relationship was terminated due to a lawsuit. Amazon also hosted and managed the website for Borders bookstores but this ceased in 2008. From 2001 until August 2011, Amazon hosted the retail website for Target.
Amazon.com operates retail websites for Sears Canada, bebe Stores, Marks & Spencer, Mothercare, and Lacoste. For a growing number of enterprise clients, currently including the UK merchants Marks & Spencer, Benefit Cosmetics' UK entity, edeals.com, and Mothercare, Amazon provides a unified multichannel platform where a customer can interact with some people they call the retail website, standalone in-store terminals, or phone-based customer service agents. Amazon Web Services also powers AOL's Shop@AOL.
On October 18, 2011, Amazon.com announced a partnership with DC Comics for the exclusive digital rights to many popular comics, including Superman, Batman,Green Lantern, The Sandman, and Watchmen. The partnership has caused well-known bookstores like Barnes & Noble to remove these titles from their shelves.
In November 2013, Amazon.com announced a partnership with the United States Postal Service to begin delivering orders on Sundays. The service, included with Amazon’s standard shipping rates, initiated in metropolitan areas of Los Angeles and New York due to the high-volume and inability to deliver timely, with plans to expand into Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, and Phoenix by 2014.
The company's global headquarters are in 14 buildings in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood. The European headquarters are in Luxembourg's capital, Luxembourg City. In Seattle, as of 2012, a three-tower headquarters near Amazon's existing buildings with a capacity of 12,000 employees is under construction.
Software development centers
While much of Amazon's software development occurs in Seattle, the company employs software developers in centers across the globe. Some of these sites are run by an Amazon subsidiary called A2Z Development.
- North America
- USA: Austin, Texas; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Herndon, Virginia; Irvine, California; Charleston, South Carolina; Cupertino, California; Orange County, California; San Francisco; San Luis Obispo, California; Seattle; New York and Tempe, Arizona
- Canada: Vancouver, British Columbia; Toronto, Ontario; and Mississauga, Ontario
- South Africa: Cape Town
Customer service centers
- United States: Kennewick, Washington; Huntington, West Virginia; Grand Forks, North Dakota; Winchester, Kentucky
- India: Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Gurgaon
- South Africa: Cape Town
- Philippines: EGS Manila, Convergys Cebu, Convergys Bacolod, Convergys MDC100 Libis
- China: Chengdu
- Germany: Berlin, Regensburg
- Ireland: Cork
- Morocco: Sala al Jadida
- UK: Edinburgh, Scotland
- Japan: Sapporo
- Costa Rica: Heredia and San Jose
- Uruguay: Montevideo
- Italy: Cagliari
- Jamaica: Kingston
Fulfillment and warehousing
Fulfillment centers are located in the following cities, often near airports. These centers also provide warehousing and order-fulfillment for third-party sellers:.Amazon Fulfillment centers can also provide warehousing and order-fulfillment for third-party sellers for an extra fee. Third-party sellers can use Fulfillment by Amazon, or FBA, to sell on other platforms as well, such as eBay or their own websites.
Warehouses are large and each has hundreds of employees. Employees are responsible for four basic tasks: unpacking and inspecting incoming goods; placing goods in storage and recording their location; picking goods from their computer recorded locations to make up an individual shipment; and shipping. A computer that records the location of goods and maps out routes for pickers plays a key role: employees carry hand-held computers which communicate with the central computer and monitor their rate of progress. A picker may walk 10 or more miles a day. In the United Kingdom initial staffing was provided by Randstad Holding and other temporary employment agencies. Some workers are accepted as Amazon employees and granted pension and shares of stock; others are dismissed. "When we have permanent positions available, we look to the top performing temporary associates to fill them." Development of a high level of automation is anticipated in the future following Amazon's 2012 acquisition of Kiva Systems, a warehouse automation company.
- North America
- United States Of America (Fulfillment Center Codes)
- Goodyear, Arizona (PHX5)
- Phoenix, Arizona (PHX3, PHX7)
- San Bernardino, California (ONT2, ONT5)
- Patterson, California (OAK3)
- Tracy, California (OAK4)
- Stockton, California (XUSD)
- Newark, California (OAK5)
- Moreno Valley, California (ONT6/ONT8)
- Redlands, California (ONT9)
- Windsor Locks, Connecticut (BDL1)
- Middletown, Delaware (PHL7)
- New Castle, Delaware (PHL1)
- Davenport, Florida (MCO1)
- Ruskin, Florida (South of Tampa) (TPA1)
- Lakeland, Florida (Eastern Tampa Bay Area) (TPA2)
- Doral, Florida (Miami) (MIA1)
- East Point, Georgia (ATL6)
- Jeffersonville, Indiana (SDF8)
- Plainfield, Indiana (IND2, IND3, IND5)
- Whitestown, Indiana (IND1, XUSE)
- Indianapolis, Indiana (IND4)
- Chicago, Illinois (under construction)
- Coffeyville, Kansas (closing Feb 2015) (TUL1)
- Lenexa, Kansas (MCI5)
- Campbellsville, Kentucky (SDF1)
- Hebron, Kentucky (CVG1, CVG2, CVG3, CVG5, CVG7)
- Lexington, Kentucky (LEX1, LEX2)
- Louisville, Kentucky (SDF2)
- Shepherdsville, Kentucky (SDF4, SDF6, SDF7, SDF9)
- Baltimore, Maryland (BWI2, BWI5)
- Stoughton, Massachusetts (BOS5)
- Fernley, Nevada (scheduled to close) (RN01)
- North Las Vegas, Nevada (LAS2)
- Reno, Nevada (RN02)
- Nashua, New Hampshire (BOS1)
- Avenel, New Jersey (EWR5, EWR7)
- Robbinsville, New Jersey (EWR4)
- Swedesboro, New Jersey (EWR6)
- Concord, North Carolina (CLT5)
- Carlisle, Pennsylvania (PHL4, PHL6, PHL9, XUSC)
- United States Of America (Fulfillment Center Codes)