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The world's largest retailer

From e-commerce to cloud services is one of the largest enterprises in the world that sells books, music, movies, housewares, electronics, toys, and many other goods, either directly (1P) or as the middleman between other retailers (3P) and their millions of customers, through what’s commonly called The Everything Store – namely

It is also the world's largest provider of cloud infrastructure services (IaaS and PaaS) through its subsidiary Amazon Web Services, or in short AWS, and the owner of companies like organic grocery store chain Whole Foods Market, footwear online retailer Zappos, gaming streaming platform Twitch Interactive and world-leading books and entertainment rating platforms Goodreads and International Movie Database – IMDb.

Background and history

Jeff Bezos bet on e-commerce

In the early 1990s, while being employed as the Vice President of the Wall Street firm D.E. Shaw & Co., Jeff Bezos read an Internet research report which projected e-commerce to grow at 2,300% annually in the coming years, which propelled him to leave his high-paying job and start from zero as an Internet entrepreneur.

While still operating out of Jeff’s garage in Washington, Amazon was first incorporated as Cadabra Inc, which was later changed because it sounded too much like “cadaver”. So, Bezos purchased domains for working names like,, and, which were also scratched. Although these three domains are still owned by Amazon, so if you type in any of these names in your browser, you will be directed immediately to The Everything Store. Bezos motivated the final name change, to Amazon, by saying, “It is not only the largest river in the world, it is many times larger than the next biggest river. It blows all other rivers away."

Subscription via Amazon Prime

Bezos thought up a list of 20 products that could be sold successfully online and finally landed on books because of the global demand for literature, the low unit price, and the huge number of titles available in print which would make it hard for physical bookstores to compete with inventory. Two months after launch, Amazon was selling books to all 50 states domestically, and more than 45 countries total, something that could never have worked before the Internet.

After books, they went into adjacent categories like CDs, movies, games, and software, which were still distributed physically. Today, Amazon is almost literally selling everything except huge items like cars, living things like dogs, or legally complex product categories like weapons, lottery tickets, tobacco, alcohol, or pharmaceuticals.

The company also has its own customer loyalty subscription service called Amazon Prime, with more than 200 million members. By paying the subscription fee of $14.99 per month or $139 per year, you get free one- or two-day shipping (depending on where you live), a Prime Gaming (previously known as Twitch Prime, a gaming streaming service) account, a Prime Video (a movie and TV-show streaming service, like Netflix) account, a Prime Music (a streaming service for music, like Spotify) account, exclusive Prime Day deals and much more.

Cloud services with AWS

Amazon Web Services, or AWS, is a world-leading cloud infrastructure platform (also known as IaaS - Infrastructure as a service, or PaaS - Platform as a service) used by startups and huge global enterprises alike. The sales pitch to subscribers of the service is that they can obtain large-scale computing capacity quicker and cheaper than by setting up their own physical server farms. The adoption of cloud was something that Amazon bets on very early, founding AWS in the early 2000s with Andy Jassy setting out to create “the Internet operating system.” Some famous early employees of AWS are Jeff Lawson, founder of Twilio, and Adam Selipsky, founder of Tableau, which is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Salesforce.

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