Amazon is the biggest web-based retail platform in the world. It operates through its websites in the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Germany, China and a few more countries. Apart from selling a vast array of goods, it offers a wide range of products and purchasing subscriptions.
Amazon also manufactures and sells electronics such as Amazon Kindle e-book, Fire TV and Fire tablet computers. Another Amazon service, Kindle Direct Publishing, enables independent authors to publish their content and gain exposure for their books.
Growth in Amazon’s Prime delivery service helped sales jump by nearly a third in 2017. Full-year revenue came in at $177.9 billion, and profit hit $3 billion. In February 2018, Amazon’s market capitalisation stood at over $700 billion, making it the No. 3 most valuable company in the world.
Jeff Bezos, who founded Amazon.com in 1994, is President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board. Rarely out of the spotlight, he was named TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year in 1999. In February 2018 the Bloomberg Billionaires Index put Bezos’ net worth at a staggering $118 billion, making him the world’s richest person.
Other key figures at Amazon include Brian Olsavsky, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; Jeffrey M. Blackburn, Senior Vice President, Business Development; and Andrew R. Jassy, Chief Executive Officer, Amazon Web Services.
Amazon was founded in 1994 and went online the following year. Jeff Bezos briefly considered naming his online store Relentless, but settled on Amazon because it seemed “exotic and different". After reading a report that projected annual e-commerce growth at 2,300%, Bezos prepared a list of 20 products that could be marketed online.
Amazon began as an online bookstore, but rapidly expanded its offering. By October 2017 it employed a staggering 542,000 people around the world and sold everything from music to clothing and consumer products. In 2017, Amazon acquired Whole Foods Market for $13.4 billion, massively boosting its presence as a brick-and-mortar retailer.
In January 2018 Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase announced that they were preparing to set up an independent healthcare company for their US employees. The companies said the initiative would be “free from profit-making incentives and constraints” but didn’t clarify whether that meant they would create a non-profit organisation. Either way, the news sent stocks for insurers and other major health companies plunging. Amazon’s reputation as an industry disrupter prompted lots of speculation about exactly what the new healthcare company might do – and its potential reach.
In another move, there’s been speculation that Amazon plans to merge Amazon Fresh with Prime Now by the end of 2018. Prime Now, launched in 2014, is Amazon's 2-hour delivery service which uses central hubs to deliver both general merchandise and groceries. Amazon Fresh, the company's first try at delivering groceries, has a far wider variety of grocery products and uses big trucks to deliver rather than couriers.
You can follow the ups and downs of the Amazon share price at Capital.com. Take a look at our AMZN chart to see how the stock has been performing.
Amazon sells in the US, Canada, major European markets such as the UK, France and Germany, and in China and India. It has fulfilment centres in over a dozen countries around the world including Mexico, Poland and Japan; and it has dozens of offices in more than 30 countries. Over 40,000 employees work at its Seattle headquarters alone.
Amazon shares are traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The company is a member of the NASDAQ-100 index, the S&P 500 index and the S&P 100 index. Check out Capital.com for the latest AMZN chart.
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