A pioneering e-commerce company headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Amazon is the world’s largest online retailers by annual revenue. While China’s Alibaba is larger than Amazon when measured in packages delivered, Amazon dominates the highly evolved, online retail market in the United States in both revenue and packages delivered.
Amazon was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, who left a Wall Street firm in New York earlier that year to move to Seattle and work on a business plan for what would become the online retail giant. Since then, Bezos has remained with the company as president, CEO and chairman.
Amazon began as an online bookstore and has since diversified into many sectors, disrupting traditional retail along the way. Amazon survived the dot.com bust of the early 2000s, in large part because its initial business model was more focused on growth and diversification than on profit. In fact, it didn’t call for turning a profit for the first four to five years, which—while causing some stockholders to complain about the slow growth to profitability—ultimately contributed to its success.
Amazon has software development centers, customer service centers and fulfillment and warehousing centers around the world, employing more than 240,000 full- and part-time employees. Like other leading technology firms, Amazon has continued to innovate, rolling out same-day delivery service, launching its own lines of consumer electronics, expanding into groceries and exploring drone technology. Not only that, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has emerged as the world’s largest provider of cloud infrastructure services.
Amazon is the biggest tech employer of graduates from elite business schools. In 2015, the company hired more than twice as many top MBAs as Microsoft, the next biggest tech employer, and is the fifth-largest employer of graduating MBAs overall, according to U.S. News. As at Google, MBA graduates at Amazon receive a great deal of autonomy and responsibility from the start.
Amazon is nothing if not data-driven. Metrics on everything from how customers behave to what recruiting strategies yield the best results inform processes and practices at the tech firm. This approach dovetails beautifully with the skill sets many MBAs hone in business school. Amazon also remains true to its leadership principle of hiring for talent and committing to developing employees with a focus on individual growth.