Amazon is a cloud computing giant and the largest American e-commerce company. It was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos.
Originally known for selling books through its website (and later digital versions via its Kindle e-reader), Amazon has built up a customer service, inventory, and shipping empire that allows the site to offer everything from clothes to lawn furniture to janitorial supplies. It also sells digital content like movies, music, and apps. Its Amazon Web Services arm is a multi-billion-dollar provider of cloud-based services for millions of business customers around the world, including government agencies and universities. And it’s a major player in consumer electronics—not only by offering devices such as Fire tablets and TV boxes but also via its Alexa AI assistant service, which made news at the CES 2017 gadget show by being built into everything from LG refrigerators to Ford cars.
Amazon is even a Hollywood player, taking home two awards at the 2017 Golden Globes. 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 just two hours 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 aerial vehicles that will deliver packages under five pounds.
In an interesting twist, Amazon opened its first brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle and plans to open more in 2017. The stores are substantially different from the hundreds of traditional bookstores that it has obliterated since entering the market: The Amazon stores are largely showrooms and include machines that allow shoppers to read online user reviews for each item.