Amazon hit a market value of $1 trillion in September of this year. And although it wasn’t the first to do it (pipped to the post by US Tech Giant Apple), it raced to the finish line with far greater speed overall than managed by Apple.

The landmark Trillion Dollar valuation for Amazon was reached after 24 years of trading and growth in online retail, but was notably influenced and pushed that final furlong by Amazon’s other businesses:  such as cloud computing, and latterly its expansion into the physical retail market, notably with the purchase of upscale US based grocer Whole Foods.

Amazon’s shares are up 75 percent since the start of the year. Among big tech companies, that year-to-date growth rate is surpassed only by Netflix, whose stock has grown 80 percent. Apple has gained more than 32 percent this year. As an example of how they’re faring against rival Tech Giant Apple; over the last 10 years, Amazon’s market value has grown 30-fold while Apple’s value has increased just eight-fold.

It started simply, as an online bookstore in the early years of the internet. But from there Amazon, led by its founder Jeff Bezos, has grown into an online force to be reckoned with that has changed the retail landscape across the world forever. It was at the forefront of the consumer subscription trend — with revenue from its annual Prime service, plus other subscription services, growing annually and exponentially since its introduction.

Always looking for expansion opportunities and to expand its horizons, the Seattle based company has dabbled in everything possible: from e-reader devices, to smart speakers that act as home personal assistants, to physical grocery stores.

Amazon famously ships more than 400 items per second. In the space of just 24 years, it’s grown from a humble online bookseller to the giant of online retail that we know today. In fact, in the US Amazon receive 44 cents out of every dollar spent online. That’s an astonishing 44% of the online retail trade across the whole of America, and a huge contributing factor to their hitting that trillion dollar mark last month. (Source: recode.net and eMarketer).

Amazon’s journey from 1994 to 2018, includes key milestones such as:-

  • 1996 – Generates $16million in revenue just 2 years after being founded
  • 1997 – Begins Public trading at $18 a share
  • 2000 – Launched Amazon Marketplace, allowing 3rd party sellers and re-sellers list items for sale. Now has an annual revenue of $2.8bn.
  • 2002 – now with an annual revenue of $3.9bn, Amazon launches AWS – Amazon Web Services – which nowadays powers sites such as Netflix and Airbnb
  • 2005 – Amazon Prime launches, annual revenue reaches $8.5bn
  • 2007 – The Kindle e-Reader is launched. Annual revenue now reaches $14.8bn
  • 2010 – Amazon Studios launched. Creates original TV content such as Mr Robot and The Grand Tour. Annual revenue is now at $34.2bn
  • 2017 – Acquired US organic produce chain Whole Foods. Annual revenue reaches $177.9bn
  • 2018 – September. Shares hit $2,050 each, raising the company above the $1 Trillion Dollar valuation for the first time

(Source: theguardian.com and nytimes.com)

The size and power of Amazon, and therefore of its founder Jeff Bezos, was already attracting criticism from Donald Trump before Bezos purchased the Washington Post in 2013. Although he’s kept the Post very distant to and completely separate from Amazon, the Post’s constant and searing criticism of the now President Trump and his erratic behaviour has not endeared the billionaire nor his companies to the US President.

These facts are unlikely to trouble Jeff Bezos, if in fact he even notices them at all. Amazon has not stopped growing, not by a long way, and has been the subject of recent heavy online speculation as to whether it will now beat Apple to the $2 Trillion Dollar mark (by a large consensus, opinion heavily favours Amazon now outstripping Apple and heading onwards towards that unbelievable sounding $2 Trillion mark).

An examination of Amazon as a success story would be incomplete without mentioning the heavy criticism the company receives for the pay and treatment of its warehouse workers worldwide.  The recent announcement of a new $15 dollar per hour paydeal for all its US warehouse workers has gone some way towards alleviating that criticism, however it has not ended it; with stories still circulating about mistreatment and harsh working conditions that are difficult to ignore by nature of their consistency across numerous sources and geographical locations.

Time will tell us two things. Firstly, if Amazon’s overall public opinion in certain quarters will continue to be a troubling downward spiral. And secondly, if that will even make a dent in their race to a $2 Trillion dollar valuation. On balance of probability, you have to accept that in all likelihood they will continue to attract criticism and attention aplenty; whilst also continuing their push to develop and launch innovative new technologies which in turn launches them in an inevitable fashion towards that next finish line.

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