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Amazon (company)

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Amazon.com, Inc.
Amazon
Formerly called
Cadabra, Inc. (1994–1995)
Public
Traded as
ISIN US0231351067
Industry Online shopping
Cloud computing
Founded July 5, 1994; 23 years ago (1994-07-05)
Founder Jeff Bezos
Headquarters Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
Products
Revenue Increase US$135.98 billion[1] (2016)
Increase US$4.186 billion[1] (2016)
Increase US$2.371 billion[1] (2016)
Total assets Increase US$83.402 billion[1] (2016)
Total equity Increase US$19.285 billion[1] (2016)
Number of employees
Increase 541,900[2] (2017)
Divisions Worldwide Consumer (Global Retail)
Amazon Web Services (AWS)[3][4]
Subsidiaries
Website amazon.com

Amazon.com, Inc., doing business as Amazon (/ˈæməzɒn/), is an American electronic commerce and cloud computing company based in Seattle, Washington that was founded by Jeff Bezos on July 5, 1994. The tech giant is the largest Internet retailer in the world measured by revenue and market capitalization, and second largest after Alibaba Group in terms of total sales.[5] The amazon.com website started as an online bookstore and later diversified to sell DVDs, Blu-rays, CDs, video downloads/streaming, MP3 downloads/streaming, audiobook downloads/streaming, software, video games, electronics, apparel, furniture, food, toys, and jewelry. The company also produces consumer electronicsKindle e-readers, Fire tablets, Fire TV, and Echo—and is the world's largest provider of cloud infrastructure services (IaaS and PaaS).[6] Amazon also sells certain low-end products like USB cables under its in-house brand AmazonBasics.

Amazon has separate retail websites for the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Australia, Brazil, Japan, China, India, and Mexico; in 2016, Dutch, Polish, and Turkish language versions of the German Amazon website were also launched.[7][8][9] Amazon also offers international shipping to certain other countries for some of its products.[10]

In 2015, Amazon surpassed Walmart as the most valuable retailer in the United States by market capitalization.[11] Amazon is the fourth most valuable public company in the world, the largest Internet company by revenue in the world, and the eighth largest employer in the United States.[12] In 2017, Amazon acquired Whole Foods Market for $13.4 billion, which vastly increased Amazon's presence as a physical retailer.[13] The acquisition was interpreted by some as a direct attempt to challenge Walmart as a physical store.[14]

History

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos

The company was founded as a result of what Amazon founder Jeff Bezos called his "regret minimization framework," which described his efforts to fend off any regrets for not participating sooner in the Internet business boom during that time;[15] in 1994, Bezos left his employment as vice-president of D. E. Shaw & Co., a Wall Street firm, and moved to Seattle, Washington. He began to work on a business plan[16] for what would eventually become Amazon.com.

On July 5, 1994, Bezos incorporated the company as Cadabra, Inc.[17] Bezos changed the name to Amazon.com, Inc. a few months later, after a lawyer misheard its original name as "cadaver".[18] In September 1994, Bezos purchased the URL Relentless.com and briefly considered naming his online store Relentless, but friends told him the name sounded a bit sinister. The domain is still owned by Bezos and still redirects to the retailer,[19][20] the company went online as Amazon.com in 1995.[21]

Bezos selected the name Amazon by looking through the dictionary; he settled on "Amazon" because it was a place that was "exotic and different", just as he had envisioned for his Internet enterprise. The Amazon River, he noted, was the biggest river in the world, and he planned to make his store the biggest in the world.[21] Bezos placed a premium on his head start in building a brand and told a reporter, "There's nothing about our model that can't be copied over time, but you know, McDonald's got copied. And it still built a huge, multibillion-dollar company. A lot of it comes down to the brand name. Brand names are more important online than they are in the physical world."[22] Additionally, a name beginning with "A" was preferential due to the probability it would occur at the top of any list that was alphabetized.[citation needed]

After reading a report about the future of the Internet that projected annual Web commerce growth at 2,300%, Bezos created a list of 20 products that could be marketed online, he narrowed the list to what he felt were the five most promising products, which included: compact discs, computer hardware, computer software, videos, and books. Bezos finally decided that his new business would sell books online, due to the large worldwide demand for literature, the low price points for books, along with the huge number of titles available in print.[23] Amazon was founded in the garage of Bezos' home in Bellevue, Washington.[24]

The company began as an online bookstore, which was an idea spurred off with a discussion with John Ingram of Ingram Book (now called Ingram Content Group), along with Keyur Patel who still holds a stake in Amazon.[25] Amazon was able to access books at wholesale from Ingram; in the first two months of business, Amazon sold to all 50 states and over 45 countries. Within two months, Amazon's sales were up to $20,000/week.[26] While the largest brick and mortar bookstores and mail order catalogs might offer 200,000 titles, an online bookstore could "carry" several times more, since it would have a practically unlimited virtual (not actual) warehouse: those of the actual product makers/suppliers.[citation needed]

Amazon was incorporated in 1994 in Washington State; in July 1995, the company began service and sold its first book on Amazon.com: Douglas Hofstadter's Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought.[27] In October 1995, the company announced itself to the public;[28] in 1996, it was reincorporated in Delaware. Amazon issued its initial public offering of stock on May 15, 1997, trading under the NASDAQ stock exchange symbol AMZN, at a price of US$18.00 per share ($1.50 after three stock splits in the late 1990s).[citation needed]

Barnes & Noble sued Amazon on May 12, 1997, alleging that Amazon's claim to be "the world's largest bookstore" was false because it "...isn't a bookstore at all. It's a book broker." The suit was later settled out of court and Amazon continued to make the same claim.[29] Walmart sued Amazon on October 16, 1998, alleging that Amazon had stolen Walmart's trade secrets by hiring former Walmart executives. Although this suit was also settled out of court, it caused Amazon to implement internal restrictions and the reassignment of the former Walmart executives.[29]

Since June 19, 2000, Amazon's logotype has featured a curved arrow leading from A to Z, representing that the company carries every product from A to Z, with the arrow shaped like a smile.[30]

Amazon's initial business plan was unusual; it did not expect to make a profit for four to five years. This "slow" growth caused stockholders to complain that the company was not reaching profitability fast enough to justify their investment or even survive in the long-term. When the dot-com bubble burst at the start of the 21st century and destroyed many e-companies in the process, Amazon survived and grew on past the tech crash to become a huge player in online sales, the company finally turned its first profit in the fourth quarter of 2001: $5 million (i.e., 1¢ per share), on revenues of more than $1 billion. This profit margin, though extremely modest, proved to skeptics that Bezos' unconventional business model could succeed;[31] in 1999, Time magazine named Bezos the Person of the Year when it recognized the company's success in popularizing online shopping.[citation needed]

In 2011, Amazon had 30,000 full-time employees in the USA, and by the end of 2016, it had 180,000 employees, the company employs 306,800 people worldwide in full and part-time jobs.[32]

On October 11, 2016, Amazon announced plans to build convenience stores and develop curbside pickup locations for food;[33] in December 2016, the Amazon Go store was opened to Amazon employees in Seattle.[34] The store uses a variety of sensors and automatically charges a shopper's Amazon account as they walk out of the store, eliminating the need for checkout lines,[35][36] the store is planned to open for the general public in early 2017.[37][38][needs update]

Day 1 building in Seattle

In June 2017, Amazon announced that it would acquire Whole Foods, a high-end supermarket chain with over 400 stores, for $13.4 billion.[13][39] The acquisition was seen by media experts as a move to strengthen its physical holdings and challenge Walmart's supremacy as a brick and mortar retailer, this sentiment was heightened by the fact that the announcement coincided with Walmart's purchase of men's apparel company Bonobos.[40] On August 23, 2017, Whole Foods shareholders, as well as the Federal Trade Commission, approved the deal.[41][42]

In September 2017, Amazon announced plans for a second headquarters to be located in a metropolitan area with at least a million people.[43] By October 19, 2017, cities were to submit their presentations for the project called HQ2,[44] the $5 billion second headquarters, starting with 500,000 square feet and eventually expanding to as much as 8 million square feet, may have as many as 50,000 employees.[45]

In 2020, Amazon will build a new downtown Seattle building with space for Mary's Place, a local charity.[46]

Mergers and acquisitions

Investment

  • 2008: Engine Yard, a Ruby-on-Rails platform as a service (PaaS) company.[47]
  • 2010: LivingSocial, a local deal site.[48]
  • 2014: Acquired the '.buy' domain in an auction for $4,588,888[49][50]
  • 2014: Amazon announces a US$2 billion investment in India[51]
  • 2016: Amazon announces an additional US$3 billion investment in India[52]
  • 2017: Between May and July 2017, Amazon had pumped in 2,000 crore (US$310 million) in India with 130 crore (US$20 million) pumped its payment arm Amazon Pay India.[53] In November 2017, Amazon pumped in another 2,900 crore (US$450 million) in the Indian arm. [54]

Subsidiaries

  • 2003: A9.com, a company focused on researching and building innovative technology.[55]
  • 2004: Lab126, developers of integrated consumer electronics such as the Kindle.[56]
  • 2007: Endless.com, an e-commerce brand focusing on shoes.[57] (discontinued 2012)
  • 2007: Brilliance Audio, the largest independent audiobook producer in the US.[58]
  • 2009: CreateSpace, self-publishing services for independent content creators, publishers, film studios and music labels; created by the internal merger of CustomFlix (on-demand DVDs for independent filmmakers) and BookSurge (self-publishing, on-demand printing, online distribution), both originally acquired 2005.[59][60]

Amazon owns over 40 subsidiaries, including Zappos, Shopbop, Diapers.com, Kiva Systems (now Amazon Robotics), Audible, Goodreads, Teachstreet and IMDb.[61]

Board of directors

As of February 2016, the board of directors is:[62]

Merchant partnerships

Until June 30, 2006, typing ToysRUs.com into a browser would bring up Amazon.com's "Toys & Games" tab; however, this relationship was terminated due to a lawsuit.[63] Amazon also hosted and managed the website for Borders bookstores but this ceased in 2008,[64] from 2001 until August 2011, Amazon hosted the retail website for Target.[65]

Amazon.com operates retail websites for Sears Canada, Bebe Stores, Marks & Spencer, Mothercare, and Lacoste. For a growing number of enterprise clients, including the UK merchants Marks & Spencer, Benefit Cosmetics' UK entity, edeals.com and Mothercare, Amazon provides a unified multichannel platform where a customer can interact with the retail website, standalone in-store terminals or phone-based customer service agents. Amazon Web Services also powers AOL's Shop@AOL.[citation needed]

On October 18, 2011, Amazon.com announced a partnership with DC Comics for the exclusive digital rights to many popular comics, including Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, The Sandman, and Watchmen. The partnership has caused well-known bookstores like Barnes & Noble to remove these titles from their shelves.[66]

In November 2013, Amazon.com announced a partnership with the United States Postal Service to begin delivering orders on Sundays. The service, included in Amazon's standard shipping rates, initiated in metropolitan areas of Los Angeles and New York due to the high-volume and inability to deliver timely, with plans to expand into Dallas, Houston, New Orleans and Phoenix by 2014.[67]

In July 2016, Amazon.com announced a partnership with the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority to test some of the technologies and may use delivery service via prime air drone in the future.[68]

In June 2017, Nike confirmed a partnership with Amazon, stating it to be in an initial phase where they'll be selling goods on Amazon.[69][70][71]

As of October 11, 2017, AmazonFresh sell a range of Booths branded products for home delivery in selected areas.[72]

Products and services

Amazon.com's product lines available at its website include several media (books, DVDs, music CDs, videotapes and software), apparel, baby products, consumer electronics, beauty products, gourmet food, groceries, health and personal-care items, industrial & scientific supplies, kitchen items, jewelry, watches, lawn and garden items, musical instruments, sporting goods, tools, automotive items and toys & games.[citation needed]

Amazon is now gearing up in India to play a role in the grocery retail sector aimed at delivering customer needs.[73]

Amazon.com has a number of products and services available, including:

Subsidiaries

Amazon Maritime, Inc.

Amazon Maritime, Inc. holds a Federal Maritime Commission license to operate as a non-vessel-owning common carrier (NVOCC), which enables the company to manage its own shipments from China into the United States.[74]

Audible.com

Audible.com is a seller and producer of spoken audio entertainment, information and educational programming on the Internet. Audible sells digital audiobooks, radio and TV programs and audio versions of magazines and newspapers. Through its production arm, Audible Studios, Audible has also become the world's largest producer of downloadable audiobooks, on January 31, 2008, Amazon announced it would buy Audible for about $300 million. The deal closed in March 2008 and Audible became a subsidiary of Amazon.[75]

Beijing Century Joyo Courier Services

Amazon 40' container turnpike double, a long combination vehicle

Beijing Century Joyo Courier Services is a subsidiary of Amazon and it applied for a freight forwarding license with the US Maritime Commission. Amazon is also building out its logistics in trucking and air freight to potentially compete with UPS and FedEx.[76][77]

Brilliance Audio

Brilliance Audio is an audiobook publisher founded in 1984 by Michael Snodgrass in Grand Haven, Michigan,[78] the company produced its first 8 audio titles in 1985.[78] The company was purchased by Amazon in 2007 for an undisclosed amount,[79][80] at the time of the acquisition, Brilliance was producing 12–15 new titles a month.[80] It operates as an independent company within Amazon.

In 1984, Brilliance Audio invented a technique for recording twice as much on the same cassette,[81] the technique involved recording on each of the two channels of each stereo track.[81] It has been credited with revolutionizing the burgeoning audiobook market in the mid-1980s since it made unabridged books affordable.[81]

ComiXology

ComiXology is a cloud-based digital comics platform with over 200 million comic downloads as of September 2013. It offers a selection of more than 40,000 comic books and graphic novels across Android, iOS, Fire OS and Windows 8 devices and over a web browser. Amazon bought the company in April 2014.[82]

Goodreads

Goodreads is a "social cataloging" website founded in December 2006 and launched in January 2007 by Otis Chandler, a software engineer, and entrepreneur, and Elizabeth Chandler. The website allows individuals to freely search Goodreads' extensive user-populated database of books, annotations, and reviews. Users can sign up and register books to generate library catalogs and reading lists, they can also create their own groups of book suggestions and discussions. In December 2007, the site had over 650,000 members and over 10 million books had been added. Amazon bought the company in March 2013.[83]

Shelfari

Shelfari was a social cataloging website for books. Shelfari users built virtual bookshelves of the titles which they owned or had read and they could rate, review, tag and discuss their books. Users could also create groups that other members could join, create discussions and talk about books, or other topics. Recommendations could be sent to friends on the site for what books to read. Amazon bought the company in August 2008.[83] Shelfari continued to function as an independent book social network within the Amazon until January 2016, when Amazon announced that it would be merging Shelfari with Goodreads and closing down Shelfari.[84][85]

Twitch

Twitch is a live streaming platform for video, primarily oriented towards video gaming content. The service was first established as a spin-off of a general-interest streaming service known as Justin.tv. Its prominence was eclipsed by that of Twitch, and Justin.tv was eventually shut down by its parent company in August 2014 in order to focus exclusively on Twitch.[86] Later that month, Twitch was acquired by Amazon for $970 million.[87] Through Twitch, Amazon also owns Curse, Inc., an operator of video gaming communities and a provider of VoIP services for gaming.[88] Since the acquisition, Twitch began to sell games directly through the platform,[89] and began offering special features for Amazon Prime subscribers.[90]

The site's rapid growth had been boosted primarily by the prominence of major esports competitions on the service, leading GameSpot senior esports editor Rod Breslau to have described the service as "the ESPN of esports".[91] As of 2015, the service had over 1.5 million broadcasters and 100 million monthly viewers.[92]

Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market is an American supermarket chain exclusively featuring foods without artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners, and hydrogenated fats.[93]

On August 23, 2017, it was reported that the Federal Trade Commission approved the merger between Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market.[94] The following day it was announced that the deal would be closed on August 28, 2017.[95]

Website

Amazon.com
Type of site
E-commerce
Available in
Owner Amazon.com
Slogan(s) Work hard, have fun, make history
Website amazon.com (original U.S. site)
Alexa rank Positive decrease 11 (Global, July 2017)[96]
Commercial Yes
Registration Optional
Launched 1995
Current status Online
Written in C++ and Java[97]

The domain amazon.com attracted at least 615 million visitors annually by 2008.[98] Amazon attracts over 130 million customers to its US website per month by the start of 2016,[99] the company has also invested heavily on a massive amount of server capacity for its website, especially to handle the excessive traffic during the December Christmas holiday season.[100]

Results generated by Amazon's search engine are partly determined by promotional fees.[101]

Amazon site global availability (Light color for sites with only digital contents)

Amazon's localized storefronts, which differ in selection and prices, are differentiated by top-level domain and country code:

Region Sovereignty Domain name Since
Asia  China amazon.cn September 2004
 India amazon.in June 2013
 Japan amazon.co.jp November 2000
South East Asia  Singapore amazon.com.sg July 2017
Europe  France amazon.fr August 2000
 Germany amazon.de October 1998
 Italy amazon.it November 2010
 Netherlands amazon.nl November 2014
 Spain amazon.es September 2011
 United Kingdom amazon.co.uk October 1998
North America  Canada amazon.ca June 2002
 Mexico amazon.com.mx August 2013
 United States amazon.com July 1995
Oceania  Australia amazon.com.au November 2013
South America  Brazil amazon.com.br December 2012

Reviews

Amazon allows users to submit reviews to the web page of each product. Reviewers must rate the product on a rating scale from one to five stars. Amazon provides a badging option for reviewers which indicate the real name of the reviewer (based on confirmation of a credit card account) or which indicate that the reviewer is one of the top reviewers by popularity. Customers may comment or vote on the reviews, indicating whether they found a review helpful to them. If a review is given enough "helpful" hits, it appears on the front page of the product; in 2010, Amazon was reported as being the largest single source of Internet consumer reviews.[102]

When publishers asked Bezos why Amazon would publish negative reviews, he defended the practice by claiming that Amazon.com was "taking a different approach ... we want to make every book available—the good, the bad and the ugly ... to let truth loose".[103]

There have been cases of positive reviews being written and posted by public relations companies on behalf of their clients[104] and instances of writers using pseudonyms to leave negative reviews of their rivals' works.[105]

Content search

"Search Inside the Book" is a feature which allows customers to search for keywords in the full text of many books in the catalog.[106][107] The feature started with 120,000 titles (or 33 million pages of text) on October 23, 2003.[108] There are about 300,000 books in the program. Amazon has cooperated with around 130 publishers to allow users to perform these searches.[citation needed]

To avoid copyright violations, Amazon does not return the computer-readable text of the book. Instead, it returns a picture of the matching page, instructs the web browser to disable printing and puts limits on the number of pages in a book a single user can access. Additionally, customers can purchase online access to some of the same books via the "Amazon Upgrade" program.[citation needed]

Third-party sellers

Amazon derives many of its sales from third-party sellers who sell products on Amazon (around 40% in 2008).[109] Associates receive a commission for referring customers to Amazon by placing links to Amazon on their websites if the referral results in a sale. Worldwide, Amazon has "over 900,000 members" in its affiliate programs;[110] in the middle of 2014, the Amazon Affiliate Program is used by 1.2% of all websites and it is the second most popular advertising network after Google Ads.[111] It is frequently used by websites and non-profits to provide a way for supporters to earn them a commission.[112] Amazon reported over 1.3 million sellers sold products through Amazon's websites in 2007. Unlike eBay, Amazon sellers do not have to maintain separate payment accounts; all payments are handled by Amazon.[citation needed]

Associates can access the Amazon catalog directly on their websites by using the Amazon Web Services (AWS) XML service. A new affiliate product, aStore, allows Associates to embed a subset of Amazon products within another website, or linked to another website; in June 2010, Amazon Seller Product Suggestions was launched (rumored to be internally called "Project Genesis") to provide more transparency to sellers by recommending specific products to third-party sellers to sell on Amazon. Products suggested are based on customers' browsing history.[113]

Amazon sales rank

The Amazon sales rank (ASR) provides an indication of the popularity of a product sold on any Amazon locale, it is a relative indicator of popularity that is updated hourly. Effectively, it is a "best sellers list" for the millions of products stocked by Amazon.[114] While the ASR has no direct effect on the sales of a product, it is used by Amazon to determine which products to include in its best-sellers lists.[114] Products that appear in these lists enjoy additional exposure on the Amazon website and this may lead to an increase in sales; in particular, products that experience large jumps (up or down) in their sales ranks may be included within Amazon's lists of "movers and shakers"; such a listing provides additional exposure that might lead to an increase in sales.[115] For competitive reasons, Amazon does not release actual sales figures to the public. However, Amazon has now begun to release point of sale data via the Nielsen BookScan service to verified authors.[116] While the ASR has been the source of much speculation by publishers, manufacturers, and marketers, Amazon itself does not release the details of its sales rank calculation algorithm, some companies have analyzed Amazon sales data to generate sales estimates based on the ASR,[117] though Amazon states:

Please keep in mind that our sales rank figures are simply meant to be a guide of general interest for the customer and not definitive sales information for publishers—we assume you have this information regularly from your distribution sources

— Amazon.com Help[118]

Amazon's technology

Amazon runs data centers for its online services and owns generators or purchases electricity corresponding to its consumption, mostly renewable energy,[119] the US Navy has stated that its Relocatable Radar remains operable regardless of an Amazon wind farm.[120] The company also records data on customer buyer behavior which enables them to offer or recommend to an individual specific item or bundles of items based upon preferences demonstrated through purchases or items visited.[121]

On January 31, 2013, Amazon experienced an outage that lasted approximately 49 minutes, leaving its site inaccessible to some customers.[122]

On May 5, 2014, Amazon unveiled a partnership with Twitter. Twitter users can link their accounts to an Amazon account and automatically add items to their shopping carts by responding to any tweet with an Amazon product link bearing the hashtag #AmazonCart, this allows customers to never leave their Twitter feed and the product is waiting for them when they go to the Amazon website.[123]

Multi-level sales strategy

Amazon employs a multi-level e-commerce strategy. Amazon started by focusing on business-to-consumer relationships between itself and its customers and business-to-business relationships between itself and its suppliers and then moved to facilitate customer-to-customer with the Amazon marketplace which acts as an intermediary to facilitate transactions, the company lets anyone sell nearly anything using its platform. In addition to an affiliate program that lets anyone post-Amazon links and earn a commission on click-through sales, there is now a program which lets those affiliates build entire websites based on Amazon's platform.[124]

Some other large e-commerce sellers use Amazon to sell their products in addition to selling them through their own websites, the sales are processed through Amazon.com and end up at individual sellers for processing and order fulfillment and Amazon leases space for these retailers. Small sellers of used and new goods go to Amazon Marketplace to offer goods at a fixed price.[125] Amazon also employs the use of drop shippers or meta sellers, these are members or entities that advertise goods on Amazon who order these goods direct from other competing websites but usually from other Amazon members. These meta sellers may have millions of products listed, have large transaction numbers and are grouped alongside other less prolific members giving them credibility as just someone who has been in business for a long time. Markup is anywhere from 50% to 100% and sometimes more, these sellers maintain that items are in stock when the opposite is true, as Amazon increases their dominance in the marketplace these drop shippers have become more and more commonplace in recent years.[citation needed]

In November 2015, Amazon opened its first physical bookstore location, it is named Amazon Books and is located in University Village in Seattle. The store is 5,500 square feet and prices for all products match those on its website.[126] Amazon will open its tenth physical book store in 2017;[127] media speculation suggests Amazon plans to eventually roll out 300 to 400 bookstores around the country.[126]

Revenue

Amazon.com is primarily a retail site with a sales revenue model; Amazon takes a small percentage of the sale price of each item that is sold through its website while also allowing companies to advertise their products by paying to be listed as featured products.[128]

Controversies

Since its founding, the company has attracted criticism and controversy from multiple sources over its actions, these include: luring customers away from the site's brick and mortar competitors,[129] poor warehouse conditions for workers; anti-unionization efforts; Amazon Kindle remote content removal; taking public subsidies; its "1-Click patent" claims; anti-competitive actions;[130] price discrimination; various decisions over whether to censor or publish content such as the WikiLeaks website; LGBT book sales rank;[131][132] and works containing libel, facilitating dogfight, cockfight, or pedophile activities. In December 2011, Amazon faced a backlash from small businesses for running a one-day deal to promote its new Price Check app. Shoppers who used the app to check prices in a brick-and-mortar store were offered a 5% discount to purchase the same item from Amazon.[133] Companies like Groupon, eBay and Taap.it countered Amazon's promotion by offering $10 off from their products.[134][135] The company has also faced accusations of putting undue pressure on suppliers to maintain and extend its profitability. One effort to squeeze the most vulnerable book publishers was known within the company as the Gazelle Project, after Bezos suggested, according to Brad Stone, "that Amazon should approach these small publishers the way a cheetah would pursue a sickly gazelle."[101] In July 2014, the Federal Trade Commission launched a lawsuit against the company alleging it was promoting in-app purchases to children, which were being transacted without parental consent.[136][137]

Selling counterfeit items

On October 16, 2016, Apple filed a trademark infringement case against Mobile Star LLC for selling counterfeit Apple products to Amazon; in the suit, Apple provided evidence that Amazon was selling these counterfeit Apple products and advertising them as genuine. Through purchasing, Apple was able to identify that nearly 90% of the Apple Accessories sold and fulfilled by Amazon were counterfeit. Amazon was sourcing and selling items without properly determining if they are genuine. Mobile Star LLC settled with Apple for an undisclosed amount on April 27, 2017.[138]

Sales and use taxes

Amazon state sales tax collection policy has changed over the years since in the company's beginning it did not collect any sale taxes; in the U.S., state and local sales taxes are levied by state and local governments, not at the federal level. In most countries where Amazon operates, a sales tax or value added tax is uniform throughout the country, and Amazon is obliged to collect it from all customers. Proponents of forcing Amazon.com to collect sales tax—at least in states where it maintains a physical presence—argue the corporation wields an anti-competitive advantage over storefront businesses forced to collect sales tax.[139]

Many U.S. states in the 21st century have passed online shopping sales tax laws designed to compel Amazon.com and other e-commerce retailers to collect state and local sales taxes from its customers. Amazon.com originally collected sales tax only from five states as of 2011, but as of April 2017, Amazon collects sales taxes from customers in all 45 states that have a state sales tax and in Washington, D.C.[140]

Poor working conditions

Amazon has attracted widespread criticism by both current employees, which refer to themselves as Amazonians,[141] and former employees,[142][143] as well as the media and politicians for poor working conditions. In 2011 it was publicized that at the Breinigsville, Pennsylvania warehouse, workers had to carry out work in 100 °F (38 °C) heat, resulting in employees becoming extremely uncomfortable and suffering from dehydration and collapse. Loading-bay doors were not opened to allow in fresh air as "managers were worried about theft". Amazon's initial response was to pay for an ambulance to sit outside on call to cart away overheated employees.[citation needed]

Some workers, "pickers", who travel the building with a trolley and a handheld scanner "picking" customer orders can walk up to 15 miles during their workday and if they fall behind on their targets, they can be reprimanded, the handheld scanners feedback to the employee real-time information on how fast or slowly they are doing; the scanners also serve to allow Team Leads and Area Managers to track the specific locations of employees and how much "idle time" they gain when not working.[144][145] In a German television report broadcast in February 2013, journalists Diana Löbl and Peter Onneken conducted a covert investigation at the distribution center of Amazon in the town of Bad Hersfeld in the German state of Hessen, the report highlights the behavior of some of the security guards, themselves being employed by a third party company, who apparently either had a Neo-nazi background or deliberately dressed in Neo-Nazi apparel and who were intimidating foreign and temporary female workers at its distribution centers. The third party security company involved was delisted by Amazon as a business contact shortly after that report.[146][147][148][149][150]

In March 2015, it was reported in The Verge that Amazon will be removing 18 months long non-compete clauses from its US employment contracts for hourly-paid workers, after criticism that it was acting unreasonably in preventing such employees from finding other work. Even short-term temporary workers have to sign contracts that prohibit them from working at any company where they would "directly or indirectly" support any good or service that competes with those they helped support at Amazon, for 18 months after leaving Amazon, even if they are fired or made redundant.[151][152]

A substantial New York Times article published on August 16, 2015, described evidence of an intimidating and confrontational working culture for the company's office workers.[11]

In an effort to boost employee morale, on November 2, 2015, Amazon announced that it would be extending 6 weeks of paid leave for new mothers and fathers, this change includes birth parents and adoptive parents and can be applied in conjunction with existing maternity leave and medical leave for new mothers.[153]

Lobbying

Amazon lobbies the United States federal government and state governments on issues such as the enforcement of sales taxes on online sales, transportation safety, privacy and data protection and intellectual property. According to regulatory filings, Amazon.com focuses its lobbying on the US Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Reserve. Amazon.com spent roughly $3.5 million, $5 million and $9.5 million on lobbying, in 2013, 2014 and 2015, respectively.[154]

Amazon.com was a corporate member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) until it dropped membership following protests at its shareholders' meeting May 24, 2012.[155]

In 2014, Amazon expanded its lobbying practices as it prepared to lobby the Federal Aviation Administration to approve its drone delivery program, hiring the Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld lobbying firm in June.[156] Amazon and its lobbyists have visited with Federal Aviation Administration officials and aviation committees in Washington, D.C. to explain its plans to deliver packages.[157]

Notable businesses founded by former employees

A number of companies have been started and founded by former Amazon employees.[158]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "AMAZON.COM, INC. FORM 10-K For the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2016" (XBRL). United States Securities and Exchange Commission. August 5, 2017. 
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Further reading

External links