Amazon is an American e-commerce company--the largest e-retailer in the country, in fact--and cloud computing giant. It was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos. Originally known for selling books through its website (and later digital versions via its branded e-reader Kindle), Amazon has built up a customer service, inventory, and shipping empire that allows the site to shill everything from clothes to lawn furniture to janitorial supplies. It also sells digital content like movies, music, and apps; it's a consumer-electronics player with success stories (the wireless, voice-activated Echo speaker) and flops (Fire Phone); and its Amazon Web Services arm is a multi-billion-dollar provider of cloud-based services for business customers. It's even a Hollywood player, taking home two awards at the 2016 Golden Globes for original shows that stream through its Prime service. Yet the basics of Bezos's business philosophy--focusing on long-term customer loyalty over short-term profits and never-ending expansion into new businesses--have been surprisingly consistent over the years. And Amazon's obsession with efficiency explains why it's now delivering products in less than an hour via its Prime Now service, and why it hopes to be among the first e-commerce companies to deploy its own fleet of drones with Amazon Prime Air--a future fleet of autonomous vehicles that will deliver short-range packages instead of humans.
The biggest challenges standing in this company's way in 2016:
Investors may be less patient with Amazon's seeming lack of interest in profits than they've been in the past.
What to look out for:
News about efforts to deliver goods even more quickly and efficiently, ranging from its Prime Air drones to Prime Now same-day delivery to rumors of it leasing its own cargo planes
More competitive in Chinese markets with a January 2016 approval to ship its goods via ocean liners
Top perks for employees:
Amazon is well-known for not indulging in much in the way of flashy perks. But it does pay 95% of tuition for employees who takes classes in in-demand areas such as nursing and aircraft servicing--even if they have nothing to do with someone's responsibilities at Amazon.
Social media handles:
3% Other (U.S. Only)
37% Female (Global)