- The pioneering e-commerce giant battles soaring costs and a stagnating legacy business
IT IS HARD not to be in awe of Amazon. It is one of history’s greatest companies. Jeff Bezos nurtured the firm from the humble online bookshop he founded in 1994 into a tech juggernaut, selling everything from corn syrup to cloud computing, a future trillion-dollar industry that Amazon more or less invented (see chart 1). Today it is the world’s fifth-most-valuable company, third-largest revenue generator and second-biggest private employer. Its warehouses, data centres, shops and offices cover an area almost the size of Manhattan. Consumers, competitors and politicians have been left to wonder if Amazon would take over the world. Or whether it would stop there—it is investing heavily in Kuiper, a satellite-broadband venture.