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    Definitions 4 min read

    Amazon is a technology company that’s primarily focused on ecommerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence. According to the 2020 Fortune Global 500, the publicly traded corporation is the largest internet-based company by revenue in the world, and it’s the second-largest employer in the United States. Amazon is currently headquartered in Seattle, Washington.

    History of Amazon

    In 1994, Jeff Bezos started Amazon.com as an online marketplace for books. Over the next few years, the company expanded to include videos, music, and games; today, Amazon.com—dubbed the “everything store”—is a global marketplace for virtually every category of material goods in existence. The first IPO was offered in 1997 at $18 per share; to date, the highest closing price of Amazon stock was $3,531.45 on September 2, 2020 (Nasdaq).

    In September 2017, Amazon announced a request for proposals for a new second headquarters location. Hundreds of cities across North America submitted bids and created promotional campaigns for consideration, all vying for the opportunity to bring new jobs and economic growth to their municipalities in exchange for sizable tax credits. A shortlist of 20 finalists was released in January 2018, and Amazon announced they would split the HQ2 site between Crystal City, VA and New York City, NY. However, in February 2019, the NYC plans were cancelled in response to strong opposition from state and local officials. The Crystal City HQ2 is expected to be completed in 2025, and a separate Operations Center of Excellence in Nashville, TN is expected to be completed in 2021.

    In early 2021, Jeff Bezos announced that he would be stepping down from his role as CEO of Amazon and handing the reins to the CEO of Amazon Web Services, Andy Jassy. Official statements indicate that this move is intended to allow Bezos to focus on developing new initiatives rather than the day-to-day operations of the company. In recent years, Amazon has faced criticism from employees, advocacy groups, and the media for anti-competitive behavior, toxic workplace culture, and tax avoidance among other ethical controversies. As of 2021, the company is facing a legal battle for antitrust allegations as well as a unionization vote that could cause a major shift in the Amazon workforce.

    Amazon products and services

    The Amazon umbrella company includes a number of lines of business and subsidiaries in addition to Amazon.com. Some of the major divisions include:

    Services

    Amazon Web Services

    Products

    • Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant
    • Echo, a family of smart speaker devices featuring the Alexa virtual assistant
    • Kindle, a family of e-readers and tablets
    • Fire TV, an HDMI television streaming device featuring the Alexa virtual assistant
    • Amazon Basics, a line of basic electronic accessories, fitness and automotive equipment, office supplies, and housewares that are manufactured in-house

    Subsidiaries

    • Audible, an audiobook and podcast streaming service
    • Goodreads, an online book database and community platform for book readers
    • Ring, a home security system manufacturer and monitoring service
    • Whole Foods Market, an organic-focused grocery store
    • Zappos, an online shoe retailer
    • IMDb, an online database related to film, television, and video games
    • Shopbop, an online retailer of women’s clothing
    • Twitch, a live streaming platform for video gaming

     

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