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28 April 2007
Amazon dot com


Amazon.com, Inc. is an American electronic commerce company based in Seattle, Washington. It was one of the first major companies to sell goods over the Internet and was one of the iconic stocks of the late 1990s dot-com bubble. After the bubble burst Amazon faced skepticism about its business model, but it made its first annual profit in 2003.

Founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994, and launched in 1995, Amazon.com began as an online bookstore, though it soon diversified its product lines, adding DVDs, music CDs, computer software, video games, electronics, apparel, furniture, food, toys and more.

Amazon has established separate websites in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, France, China, and Japan. It ships globally on selected products.


History and Business Model

Amazon was founded in 1994, spurred by what Bezos refers to as his "regret minimization framework," i.e. his effort to fend off late-in-life regret for not staking a claim in the Internet gold rush. It is common lore that Bezos wrote its business plan while he and his wife drove a 1988 Chevrolet Blazer from Fort Worth, Texas to Bellevue, Washington.

The company began operating as an online bookstore under the name Cadabra.com (as in abracadabra), a name that Bezos quickly abandoned due to its sounding like cadaver.While the largest brick-and-mortar bookstores and mail-order catalogs for books might offer 200,000 titles, an online bookstore could offer many times more. Bezos renamed his company "Amazon" after the world's most voluminous river. The company was incorporated in 1994 in the state of Washington, began service in July 1995, and was reincorporated in 1996 in Delaware. Amazon.com had its initial public offering on May 15, 1997, trading on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the symbol AMZN at an IPO price of $18.00 per share (equivalent to $1.50 after three stock splits during the late 1990s).

Amazon's initial business plan was unusual: the company did not expect to turn a profit for four to five years. In retrospect, the strategy was effective. Amazon grew at a steady pace in the late 1990s while many other Internet companies grew at a blindingly fast pace. Amazon's "slow" growth caused a number of its stockholders to complain, saying that the company was not reaching profitability fast enough. When the Dot-com bubble burst and many e-companies went out of business, Amazon persevered and finally turned its first profit in the fourth quarter of 2002: a meager $5 million, just 1 cent per share, on revenues of over $1 billion, but it was important symbolically. The firm has since remained profitable: net income was $35.3 million in 2003, $588.5 million in 2004, $359 million in 2005, and $190 million in 2006 (including a $662 million charge on R&D in 2006). Nevertheless, the firm's cumulative profits remain negative, since the positive performance of recent years is not yet sufficient to wipe out the losses of the past, as of 2005 the accumulated deficit stood at $2.03 billion.

Revenue continued to grow thanks to product diversification and international presence: $3.9 billion in 2002, $5.3 billion in 2003, $6.9 billion in 2004, $8.5 billion in 2005, and $10.7 billion in 2006. On November 21, 2005, Amazon entered the S&amp;P 500 index, replacing the venerable AT&T after it merged with SBC Communications.

Time Magazine named Bezos its 1999 Man of the Year in recognition of the company's success in popularizing online shopping.

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