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American electronic commerce and cloud computing company

The Amazon Spheres, part of the Amazon headquarters campus in Seattle

Trade name



Cadabra, Inc.



Traded as
FoundedJuly 5, 1994; 25 years ago (1994-07-05) in Bellevue, Washington, United States
FounderJeff Bezos

Seattle, Washington, and Arlington, Virginia


United States

Area served


Key people

RevenueUS$232.887 billion (2018)

Operating income

US$12.421 billion (2018)

Net income

US$10.073 billion (2018)
Total assetsUS$162.648 billion (2018)
Total equityUS$43.549 billion (2018)

Number of employees

750,000 (2019)[1]
Footnotes / references

Amazon.com, Inc.[7] (), is an American multinational technology company based in Seattle that focuses on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence.

It is considered one of the Big Four tech companies, along with Google, Apple, and Facebook.[8][9][10]

Amazon is known for its disruption of well-established industries through technological innovation and mass scale.[11][12][13] It is the world's largest online marketplace, AI assistant provider, and cloud computing platform[14] as measured by revenue and market capitalization.[15] Amazon is the largest Internet company by revenue in the world.[16] It is the second largest private employer in the United States[17] and one of the world's most valuable companies.

Amazon was founded by Jeff Bezos in Bellevue, Washington, in July 1994. The company initially started as an online marketplace for books but later expanded to sell electronics, software, video games, apparel, furniture, food, toys, and jewelry. In 2015, Amazon surpassed Walmart as the most valuable retailer in the United States by market capitalization.[18] In 2017, Amazon acquired Whole Foods Market for US$13.4 billion, which vastly increased Amazon's presence as a brick-and-mortar retailer.[19] In 2018, Bezos announced that its two-day delivery service, Amazon Prime, had surpassed 100 million subscribers worldwide.[20][21]

Amazon distributes downloads and streaming of video, music, and audiobooks through its Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music, and Audible subsidiaries.

Amazon also has a publishing arm, Amazon Publishing, a film and television studio, Amazon Studios, and a cloud computing subsidiary, Amazon Web Services. It produces consumer electronics including Kindlee-readers, Firetablets, Fire TV, and Echo devices.

In addition, Amazon acquisitions include Ring, Twitch, Whole Foods Market, and IMDb.

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Among various controversies, the company has been criticized for technological surveillance overreach,[22] a hyper-competitive and demanding work culture,[23]tax avoidance,[24] and anti-competitive practices.[25]


Further information: History of Amazon

Jeff Bezos founded Amazon in July 1994.

He chose Seattle because of technical talent as Microsoft is located there.[26] In May 1997, the organization went public. The company began selling music and videos in 1998, at which time it began operations internationally by acquiring online sellers of books in United Kingdom and Germany.

The following year, the organization also sold video games, consumer electronics, home-improvement items, software, games, and toys in addition to other items.

In 2002, the corporation started Amazon Web Services (AWS), which provided data on Web site popularity, Internet traffic patterns and other statistics for marketers and developers.

In 2006, the organization grew its AWS portfolio when Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), which rents computer processing power as well as Simple Storage Service (S3), that rents data storage via the Internet, were made available.

That same year, the company started Fulfillment by Amazon which managed the inventory of individuals and small companies selling their belongings through the company internet site. In 2012, Amazon bought Kiva Systems to automate its inventory-management business, purchasing Whole Foods Market supermarket chain five years later in 2017.[27]

Board of directors

As of November 2019[update], the board of directors is:[28]

  • Jeff Bezos, President, CEO, and Chairman
  • Rosalind Brewer, Group President, and COO, Starbucks
  • Jamie Gorelick, partner, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale, and Dorr
  • Daniel P.

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    Huttenlocher, Dean and Vice Provost, Cornell University

  • Judy McGrath, former CEO, MTV Networks
  • Indra Nooyi, former CEO, PepsiCo
  • Jon Rubinstein, former Chairman, and CEO, Palm, Inc.
  • Thomas O. Ryder, former Chairman, and CEO, Reader's Digest Association
  • Patty Stonesifer, President, and CEO, Martha's Table
  • Wendell P.

    Weeks, Chairman, President, and CEO, Corning Inc.

Merchant partnerships

In 2000, U.S. toy retailer Toys "R" Us entered into a 10-year agreement with Amazon, valued at $50 million per year plus a cut of sales, under which Toys "R" Us would be the exclusive supplier of toys and baby products on the service, and the chain's website would redirect to Amazon's Toys & Games category.

In 2004, Toys "R" Us sued Amazon, claiming that because of a perceived lack of variety in Toys "R" Us stock, Amazon had knowingly allowed third-party sellers to offer items on the service in categories that Toys "R" Us had been granted exclusivity.

In 2006, a court ruled in favor of Toys "R" Us, giving it the right to unwind its agreement with Amazon and establish its own independent e-commerce website.

Amazon (company)

The company was later awarded $51 million in damages.[29][30][31]

In 2001, Amazon entered into a similar agreement with Borders Group, under which Amazon would comanage Borders.com as a co-branded service.[32] Borders pulled out of the arrangement in 2007, with plans to also launch its own online store.[33]

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.[34]

In November 2013, Amazon 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 because of the high-volume and inability to deliver in a timely way, with plans to expand into Dallas, Houston, New Orleans and Phoenix by 2014.[35]

In June 2017, Nike confirmed a "pilot" partnership with Amazon to sell goods directly on the platform.[36][37][38]

As of October 11, 2017[update], AmazonFresh sold a range of Booths branded products for home delivery in selected areas.[39]

In September 2017, Amazon ventured with one of its sellers JV Appario Retail owned by Patni Group which has recorded a total income of US$ 104.44 million (₹ 759 crore) in financial year 2017–18.[40]

In November 2018, Amazon reached an agreement with Apple Inc.

to sell selected products through the service, via the company and selected Apple Authorized Resellers. As a result of this partnership, only Apple Authorized Resellers may sell Apple products on Amazon effective January 4, 2019.[41][42]

Products and services

Main article: List of Amazon 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] In August 2019, Amazon applied to have a liquor store in San Francisco, CA as a means to ship beer and alcohol within the city.[43] Amazon has separate retail websites for some countries and also offers international shipping of some of its products to certain other countries.[44]

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


See also: List of Amazon locations

Amazon owns over 40 subsidiaries, including Zappos, Shopbop, Diapers.com, Kiva Systems (now Amazon Robotics), Audible, Goodreads, Teachstreet, Twitch and IMDb.[45]


A9.com, a company focused on researching and building innovative technology, has been a subsidiary since 2003.[46]

Amazon Maritime

Amazon Maritime, Inc.

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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.[47]

Annapurna Labs

In January 2015, Amazon Web Services acquired Annapurna Labs, an Israel-based microelectronics company reputedly for US$350–370M.[48][49]


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.[50]

Beijing Century Joyo Courier Services

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.[51][52]

Brilliance Audio

Brilliance Audio is an audiobook publisher founded in 1984 by Michael Snodgrass in Grand Haven, Michigan.[53] The company produced its first 8 audio titles in 1985.[53] The company was purchased by Amazon in 2007 for an undisclosed amount.[54][55] At the time of the acquisition, Brilliance was producing 12–15 new titles a month.[55] It operates as an independent company within Amazon.

In 1984, Brilliance Audio invented a technique for recording twice as much on the same cassette.[56] The technique involved recording on each of the two channels of each stereo track.[56] It has been credited with revolutionizing the burgeoning audiobook market in the mid-1980s since it made unabridged books affordable.[56]


ComiXology is a cloud-based digital comics platform with over 200 million comic downloads as of September 2013[update].

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.[57]


CreateSpace, which offers self-publishing services for independent content creators, publishers, film studios, and music labels, became a subsidiary in 2009.[58][59]


Eero is a company that manufactures mesh-capable routers.

The company was founded in 2015 and is based in San Francisco. Amazon announced it would buy Eero in 2019.


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.

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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.[60]

Health Navigator

In October 2019, Amazon finalized the acquisition of Health Navigator, a startup developing APIs for online health services.

The startup will form part of Amazon Care, which is the company's employee healthcare service. This follows the 2018 purchase of PillPack for under $1 billion, which has also been included into Amazon Care.[61]


Junglee is a former online shopping service provided by Amazon that enabled customers to search for products from online and offline retailers in India.

Junglee started off as a virtual database that was used to extract information off the internet and deliver it to enterprise applications. As it progressed, Junglee started to use its database technology to create a single window marketplace on the internet by making every item from every supplier available for purchase. Web shoppers could locate, compare and transact millions of products from across the Internet shopping mall through one window.[62]

Amazon acquired Junglee in 1998, and the website Junglee.com was launched in India in February 2012[63] as a comparison-shopping website.

It curated and enabled searching for a diverse variety of products such as clothing, electronics, toys, jewelry and video games, among others, across thousands of online and offline sellers. Millions of products are browse-able, whereby the client selects a price, and then they are directed to a seller.

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In November 2017, Amazon closed down Junglee.com and the former domain currently redirects to Amazon India.[64]

Kuiper Systems

Amazon announced in April 2019 that they would fund and deploy a large broadbandsatellite internet constellation called "Project Kuiper".[65][66] It is expected to take up to a decade to fully deploy all 3,236 satellites planned for the full constellation in order to provide internet to "tens of millions of people who lack basic access to broadband internet."[65] Amazon has not announced if they intend to sell broadband service directly to consumers, but they will "offer broadband service through partnerships with other companies."[67]

The satellites will use an orbit with a height between 590 and 630 km (370 and 390 mi).[68] Kuiper will work in concert with Amazon's previously announced large network of 12 satellite ground station facilities (the "AWS Ground Station unit") announced in November 2018.[69] Amazon filed communications license documents with the U.S.

regulatory authorities the FCC in July 2019, which included information that the wholly owned Amazon subsidiary that intended to deploy the satellite constellation was Kuiper Systems LLC, based in Seattle, Washington.[70] The Kuiper System will consist of 3,236 satellites operating in 98 orbital planes in three orbital shells, one each at 590 kilometers (370 mi), 610 km (380 mi), and 630 km (390 mi) orbital altitude.[71] The Kuiper System includes high-performance satellites, terrestrial gateways, internetworking technologies, and a range of customer terminals."[70]

In December 2019, information became public that Amazon is asking the FCC to waive requirements that SpaceX and OneWeb had to follow in order to get their large satellite internet constellations licensed.[72] The FCC has not yet ruled on the request.

The president of Kuiper Systems is Rajeev Badyal, a former vice president of SpaceX satellite internet constellation business unit.[67]


Main article: Amazon Lab126

Lab126, developers of integrated consumer electronics such as the Kindle, became a subsidiary in 2004.[73]


Main article: Ring (company)

Ring is a home automation company founded by Jamie Siminoff in 2013.

It is primarily known for its WiFi powered smart doorbells, but manufactures other devices such as security cameras. Amazon bought Ring for $1 billion USD in 2018.[74]


Shelfari was a social cataloging website for books.

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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.[60] 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.[75][76]


Main article: Souq.com

Souq.com is the largest e-commerce platform in the Middle East based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

On March 28, 2017, Amazon confirmed it would be acquiring Souq.com for $580 million.[77] Souq.com is now a subsidiary of Amazon, and acts as Amazon's arm into the Middle East region.

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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.[78] Later that month, Twitch was acquired by Amazon for $970 million.[79] Through Twitch, Amazon also owns Curse, Inc., an operator of video gaming communities and a provider of VoIP services for gaming.[80] Since the acquisition, Twitch began to sell games directly through the platform,[81] and began offering special features for Amazon Prime subscribers.[82]

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".[83] As of 2015[update], the service had over 1.5 million broadcasters and 100 million monthly viewers.[84]

Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market is an American supermarketchain exclusively featuring foods without artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners, and hydrogenated fats.[85]

On August 23, 2017, it was reported that the Federal Trade Commission approved the merger between Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market.[86] The following day it was announced that the deal would be closed on August 28, 2017.[87]

Supply chain

Amazon first launched its distribution network in 1997 with two fulfillment centers in Seattle and New Castle, Delaware.

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Amazon has several types of distribution facilities consisting of crossdock centers, fulfillment centers, sortation centers, delivery stations, Prime now hubs, and Prime air hubs. There are 75 fulfillment centers and 25 sortation centers with over 125,000 employees.[88][89] Employees are responsible for five basic tasks: unpacking and inspecting incoming goods; placing goods in storage and recording their location; picking goods from their computer recorded locations to make up an individual shipment; sorting and packing orders; and shipping.

A computer that records the location of goods and maps out routes for pickers plays a key role: employees carry hand-held computers which communicate with the central computer and monitor their rate of progress.



amazon.com homepage

Type of site

Available in
  • Arabic
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Italian
  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Portuguese
  • Dutch
  • Turkish
Websiteamazon.com (original U.S.


Alexa rank12(Global, December 2019[update])
Current statusOnline
Written inC++ and Java

The domain amazon.com attracted at least 615 million visitors annually by 2008.[92] Amazon attracts over 130 million customers to its US website per month by the start of 2016.[93] 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.[94]

Results generated by Amazon's search engine are partly determined by promotional fees.[95]

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

RegionCountryDomain nameSince
Asia Chinaamazon.cnSeptember 2004
Indiaamazon.inJune 2013
Japanamazon.co.jpNovember 2000
Singaporeamazon.com.sgJuly 2017
Turkeyamazon.com.trSeptember 2018
United Arab Emiratesamazon.aeMay 2019
Europe Franceamazon.frAugust 2000
Germanyamazon.deOctober 1998
Italyamazon.itNovember 2010
Netherlandsamazon.nlNovember 2014
Spainamazon.esSeptember 2011
United Kingdomamazon.co.ukOctober 1998
North America Canadaamazon.caJune 2002
Mexicoamazon.com.mxAugust 2013
United Statesamazon.comJuly 1995
OceaniaAustraliaamazon.com.auNovember 2017
South AmericaBrazilamazon.com.brDecember 2012


See also: Criticism of Amazon § Amazon reviews

Amazon allows users to submit reviews to the web page of each product.

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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.[96]

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 ...

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to let truth loose".[97]

There have been cases of positive reviews being written and posted by public relations companies on behalf of their clients[98] and instances of writers using pseudonyms to leave negative reviews of their rivals' works.

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.[99][100] The feature started with 120,000 titles (or 33 million pages of text) on October 23, 2003.[101] 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 (around 40% in 2008) from third-party sellers who sell products on Amazon.[102] 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.[103] 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.[104] It is frequently used by websites and non-profits to provide a way for supporters to earn them a commission.[105] 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.[106] In 2019, Amazon launched a bigger local online store in Singapore to expand its product selection in the face of intensifying competition with competitors in the region.[107]

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.[108] 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 bestsellers lists.[108] Products that appear in these lists enjoy additional exposure on the Amazon website and this may lead to an increase in sales.

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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.[109] 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.[110] 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,[111] 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[112]

Multi-level sales strategy

Amazon employs a multi-level e-commerce strategy.

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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.[113]

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.[114]

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.

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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 a physical Amazon Books store in University Village in Seattle. The store is 5,500 square feet and prices for all products match those on its website.[115] Amazon will open its tenth physical book store in 2017;[116] media speculation suggests Amazon plans to eventually roll out 300 to 400 bookstores around the country.[115]

Amazon plans to open brick and mortar bookstores in Germany.[117]


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.[118] As of 2018[update], Amazon.com is ranked 8th on the Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.[119]

For the fiscal year 2018, Amazon reported earnings of US$10.07 billion, with an annual revenue of US$232.887 billion, an increase of 30.9% over the previous fiscal cycle.

Since 2007 sales increased from 14.835 billion to 232.887 billion, thanks to continued business expansion.[120] Amazon's market capitalization was valued at over US$803 billion in early November 2018.[121]

Year Revenue
in mil.


Net income
in mil. USD$
Total Assets
in mil. USD$
2007[122]14,835 476 6,485 17,000
2008[123]19,166 645 8,314 20,700
2009[124]24,509 902 13,813 24,300
2010[125]34,204 1,152 18,797 33,700
2011[126]48,077 631 25,278 56,200
2012[127]61,093 −39 32,555 88,400
Company's largest campus outside USA inaugurated in Hyderabad, India in September 2019