Amazon, King of Disruptors
When it comes to disruptive technology, there’s one company that reigns supreme. Amazon ($AMZN). Amazon and it’s pioneering founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, are responsible for disrupting more industries than I can count on my hands, and they’re still going. In this article I’m going to explain what makes Amazon such an efficient machine, and the many industries disrupted.
When was the last time you walked into a Barnes & Noble ($BKS)? Or any other bookstore for that matter? How about the last time you visited Amazon’s website? I’m willing to bet almost everyone reading this has been on the Amazon website in the past few days, and I’m equally willing to bet that almost no one has walked into a physical bookstore in quite a while. The bookstore industry, symbolized by former giant Barnes & Noble, was the first victim of Amazon’s disruptive tendencies. Amazon’s roots go back to 1994 when the company founded an online bookstore. By design as an online bookstore, Amazon was able to offer a far wider selection than any physical bookstore, along with being able to offer the same selection at a cheaper cost to the consumer. As the free market normally behaves, consumers chose the cheaper option when offered an identical product or service. By 2007, Amazon had surpassed Barnes & Noble in revenue from book sales, the same year they released the first version of the Kindle e-book reader. By 2010, digital book sales surpassed physical book sales through Amazon. Amazon also runs the company and website Audible, one of the biggest players in the audio book game. In 2011, Borders Group, what was just a few years prior the second biggest bookstore chain in the United States filed for bankruptcy, and ceased to exist a few months later. At the time of writing this article, Barnes & Noble has a market cap of approximately $454 million dollars. Amazon has a market cap of approximately $832 billion dollars. By market cap valuation, Amazon is worth nearly 2000 times as much as Barnes & Noble. Amazon’s entry into the bookstore industry and it’s replacement of companies that were prior cemented in place is the simply the first of many industries the Amazon bull has disrupted.
NO END IN SIGHT
After profit from direct retail sales and fees charged to third party vendors on the Amazon website, Amazon makes the greatest percentage of their revenue from their Amazon Web Services (AWS) division. AWS has a history going back to 2006. Over the course of 2006, Amazon launched in succession, Simple Storage Service (S3), a file storage service as the name would Imply. Simple Queue Service (SQS), a service meant to automate message queues. And to finish off the year, they launched Elastic Cloud Computer (EC2), a service that allowed users to pay for server time to run programs and simulations. Today there are around 100 different services offered under the umbrella of Amazon Web Services that can serve almost every digital need. Nowadays, nearly half all digital cloud computing is operated by Amazon. Similar to the what happened to the bookstore industry, Amazon has taken control. By 2020, cloud computing is projected to be more than a $400 billion dollar industry. And Amazon is set in place to dominate this market for the foreseeable future.
CLAIM TO FAME
The Retail and grocery industry is a perfect example of an industry permanently changed by Amazon, and what they’re most known for. However, to start with, Walmart ($WMT) has just about three times the annual revenue of Amazon, so it’s not like Bezos and Co. have come to dominate the retail industry, but they have certainly made a dent. One could say that they’ve disrupted the industry. While they were founded in 1994, for the first four years they were just an online bookstore, but in 1998, the company broadened it’s catalog and started to sell more than just books. Ever since then, the company’s online sales have grown exponentially year after year, and they have even been accused of driving many traditional retailers out of business. Amazon makes about 85% of their revenue from their retail business, so clearly it’s the biggest part of Amazon. By pioneering online retail Amazon was able to establish themselves as one of the biggest retail players despite being entirely online, partially from convenience and lower prices. More recently, in 2017, Whole Foods, a luxury grocery store, was acquired by Amazon to further their market share in the retail and grocery scene. Through their online retail arm and physical grocery arm, Amazon is able to take a sizable market share and hold agency over the space. Oh and just to put the extent of Amazon into perspective, over two thirds of all households have an Amazon Prime subscription.
BUT WHAT ELSE
Up above I’ve talked about what the Amazon’s biggest divisions are, and what they’re most known for. But here I’m going to talk about the lesser known parts. Amazon operates their Amazon Video service and is available to all Prime customers. This service acts as competition to traditional TV and media and is popular among cord cutters, it rivals other streaming services like Netflix ($NFLX) and Hulu (Soon to be owned by Disney, ($DIS)) and offers thousands of movies and TV shows. There’s Amazon Drive, which offers unlimited file storage for only $59.99 dollars per year. Recently, they also acquired the streaming website twitch, the largest video game live stream site there is giving Amazon market share in the streaming and e-sports industries. One of the first subsidiaries is A9, a highly advanced search engine and marketing company that operates with machine learning. Amazon is also going after self-driving vehicle companies like Tesla ($TSLA) and Google’s Waymo ($GOOG, $GOOGL). Although, Tesla is not as advanced as many believe, nor as good of an investment. Getting back on track, they also have Amazon Music, Amazon Tickets, Amazon Home Services, Amazon Inspire, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), Amazon Go, Fire TV, Goodreads, Zappos, and countless more. Go ahead and look up Amazon subsidiaries or services offered by Amazon that I haven’t talked about, you can probably find at least a few dozen more. A couple days ago Amazon even announced that they were acquiring an online pharmacy in order to offer an online pharmacy, and pharmaceutical delivery service that will disrupt traditional pharmacies.
Right now, Amazon is the second most valuable company by market cap in the world. The only company that surpasses them is the tech giant Apple ($APPL). Based on Amazon’s massive potential for growth, and lack of equivalent competition, I believe that their value will continue to skyrocket. They are in a unique position of disrupting almost every industry thinkable, and succeeding at the same time. Amazon is a remarkable company that will continue to expand indefinitely, and I would advise anyone to invest in the company, despite some people believing they are overvalued.