Amazon is a multinational technology and e-commerce company headquartered in Seattle, Washington. It is one of the big five tech giants alongside Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook-owner Meta, and by market cap, is the largest online retailer in the world.
The company was founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994 in the garage of his home in Bellevue, a suburb of Seattle. Beginning life as an online marketplace for books, the company expanded rapidly into other areas and is now active across e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence (AI).
What does the company offer?
The company offers a vast array of products and services across its core areas of e-commerce, digital streaming, cloud computing, and AI.
In 2011, the company released its first e-reader, the Amazon Kindle, offering customers a convenient way to read books on the go, mimicking the way Apple’s iPod revolutionised the way people listen to music.
In subsequent years, the company expanded into consumer goods services such as grocery deliveries through Amazon Fresh, subscription video streaming via Amazon Prime, tablet computers and streaming devices with Amazon Fire, and even hair salons that include augmented reality hair consultations.
The Echo smart speaker was released in 2014 and uses “Alexa”, a virtual assistant that scans the internet to answer queries, provides weather forecasts, plays music, and even controls the temperature of your home when integrated into smart home technologies, among other functions.
Prime was launched in 2007 as a paid subscription service offering users access to free next-day delivery on products and groceries, the option to borrow books and try on clothes before making a full purchase, and a host of other benefits.
The streaming and video rental service Amazon Prime Video was released in 2014 and can either be purchased as a stand-alone product or as part of Prime membership. It has been screening films and television programs produced by Amazon Studios since 2006.
In 1998, four years after the company was founded, it made a net loss of $125m. In 2003 the company reported its first profit, announcing a net income of $35.3m. By 2020, net income had grown to $21.3bn, driven by the rapid expansion of product offerings and services.
To support the company’s growth, it grew its employee base from 17,000 in 2007 to almost 1.3 million in 2020, an increase of 7,535% in 13 years.
The e-commerce platform sells roughly 12 million individual products, but when individual sellers’ stores are taken into consideration, this number increases to more than 353 million products. The platform fulfils more than 66,000 orders per hour, equivalent to 18.5 orders per second.
In 2019 the company reported total revenue of $280.5bn. This figure increased to $386.1bn in 2020 and rose again in 2021 to $469.8bn. In 2020 it had a brand value of $415.9bn according to data firm Statista, making it the most valuable brand in the world ahead of Microsoft, Google, and Apple.
While it delivers products and provides services across the globe, there are dedicated operations in several locations, including Europe, the UK, the US, Canada, Mexico, India, China, Japan, and Australia. These countries are home to 110 fulfilment locations, and there are 185 more centres globally.
Amazon stock price history overview
The company is listed on the Nasdaq exchange in New York under the ticker symbol AMZN, and on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) under the ticker code 0R10. The company is also a constituent of the S&P 500.
After going public in 1997, AMZN stock struggled initially. The shares gained traction from February 2007, doubling in value over the next eight months. However, amid the turmoil of the 2008 financial crisis, AMZN stock fell back to pre-rally levels.
The company performed well in 2009, as consumer confidence recovered from the shock of the financial crisis. The volume of online purchases increased, particularly for Kindle e-readers, electronics, and other consumer goods sold on its e-commerce platform.
For the third quarter of 2009, it reported a 69% surge in profit, lifting AMZN shares to a new closing-price high of $118.49, beating the previous high of $106.68 set in December 1999. This paved the way for a near-continuous year-on-year increase in the stock’s valuation.
At the beginning of 2016, AMZN stock saw its strongest rally, as investor sentiment was boosted by the performance of the Amazon Web Services cloud system and Amazon Prime, confidence in Jeff Bezos as the company’s CEO, and its strategy to win and retain customers. Amazon’s stock price grew to a new record high of $2,003 in September 2018, before tumbling as the company was hit by a massive fine from European regulators for breaching regional privacy laws.
The shares recovered and began to increase in value again in 2019. Then, in March 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic struck, stay-at-home orders from governments across the globe prompted a surge in online shopping, sending its sales, profits, and stock valuation soaring. The Amazon share price reached an all-time high of $3,721 on 8 July 2021.
When did Amazon stock split?
In the dot-com era of the late 1990s, the company split its stock three times: first in June 1998 (a 2-for-1 split), then again in January 1999 (a 3-for-1 split), and once more in September 1999 (a 2-for-1 split).
For many years, the company did not carry out any further stock splits, despite becoming one of the highest-priced publicly traded stocks in the US.
Then, in March 2022, the company announced a 20-for-1 stock split and a share buyback. While the stock split does not change AMZN’s fundamental value, it makes the price of an individual share cheaper, potentially encouraging optimism among investors. The split may also open the door to a listing on the prestigious Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) index. The Dow only accepts companies with relatively low stock prices because the index is weighted, so a highly-priced stock could create an imbalance.