A Round up of All the Companies Amazon Owns
The Amazon empire is all-encompassing. You find out the weather from your home assistant, the Amazon Alexa. You shop for a week’s worth of groceries at Whole Foods, an Amazon-acquired grocer. Need a last minute pair of heels for date night? Amazon.com ships them to you within a day or two through your Amazon Prime membership, and you have designer retailers like Steve Madden and Jessica Simpson to choose from.
Still, Amazon owns a ton of businesses and website you probably didn’t know about that you visit or use on a daily basis. Jeff Bezos is worth nearly $150 billion and he didn’t get there just through Amazon and Amazon Prime alone: These are all of the companies the world’s largest online retailer owns.
The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) was originally founded as a fan-powered site to give movie watchers insight into their favorite films including its stars, plot, and critical reception. In 1998, Bezos struck a deal with IMDb’s principal shareholders and bought the site for around $55 million. Amazon.com could then use IMDb as an advertising resource and gave IMDb more funds to pay its shareholders.
The site continued to grow under Bezos’ watch. In 2002 it added IMDbPro, a subscription service, which launched at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. Other than the frequent Amazon DVD purchasing options and ads, it remains relatively independent … and most don’t even know Amazon owns the site.
Most people didn’t even know about Audible’s existence until Amazon made the audiobook website a visible part of its company (and brand). In 2008, Amazon.com announced it has reached a $300 million deal with the digital audiobook provider Audible Inc.
The acquisition gave Audible the ability to expand its staff and reach and fit in well with Amazon’s step into the digital narrative world. Amazon users can purchase the Audible narration to compliment their Amazon Kindle e-book. Prime members have free access to the original audio series Audible created.
3. Box Office Mojo
The website Box Office Mojo was founded in 1999 to track box office revenue through an algorithm and publish for the public. IMDb (owned by Amazon) purchased the site in 2008, and users will find Amazon ads and deals all over the homepage.
Box Office Mojo continues to run as its own entity, although the prevalence of Amazon.com and IMDb ads pose a question mark as to the website’s future.
As Amazon moved into the online fashion realm, it found itself up against a fair competitor: Zappos, the discount online shoe retailer. While many online shoppers debated their loyalties, what they didn’t realize was that Amazon bought the website in 2009 in a nearly $1 billion deal.
Zappos’ CEO sent a letter to its employees and the public to explain how the company’s culture and essence would remain despite the acquisition.
“We think that now is the right time to join forces with Amazon because there is a huge opportunity to leverage each other’s strengths and move even faster towards our long term vision. For Zappos, our vision remains the same: delivering happiness to customers, employees, and vendors. We just want to get there faster.” Zappos has remained an independent entity since the 2009 deal.
Goodreads labeled itself a “social cataloging” site that encouraged users to search a database of books. Users merely had to sign up to join the various library catalogs and reading lists as well as create their own list of book suggestions and discussions with fellow Goodreads users.
It was founded in 2006 and had over 650,000 users within one year. In March 2013 Amazon acquired the company for $X and by July the site had 20 million members.
The purchase was fairly logical considering Amazon’s attempts to capitalize on ebooks and all their accoutrements. Original Goodreads users were upset as they felt that Amazon’s ownership would mean more money for big business and less for the independent booksellers. After much controversy and debate, reporters uncovered that Amazon paid $150 million for Goodreads.
Twitch began as a live video-game streaming platform in 2011 and grew monumentally up until its 2014 Amazon acquisition of $970 million. Many speculated why an online retailer had such interest in a video game streaming platform until financial insiders uncovered the purchase was an investment in Amazon Web Services (AWS). According to Business Insider, the big names in tech were confident in gaming’s future.
Amazon Prime members can access Twitch for free as a part of their membership. Twitch’s COO Kevin Lin disclosed what it was like to have Amazon buy his company in light of the recent Whole Foods acquisition.
“… we met with a ton of people and Amazon from a company values perspective matched ours really well. And we felt like we were really differentiating. They weren’t doing anything like we were. Whereas other companies had similar platforms or similar businesses. We felt pretty comfortable with it,” Lin said.
Two Madison, Wisconsin residents founded the U.S. online fashion retailer in 1999. By 2006 Amazon acquired the website. Shopbop sold only women’s clothes at the time and resold over 70 designers including big names like Marc Jacobs and Juicy Couture.
Amazon’s acquisition of the site was good news for Prime fashionistas. Shopbop purchases are eligible for Prime’s free two-day shipping. However, the site still runs primarily independent from Amazon (and often even competes with the website’s clothing sales).
8. Whole Foods Market
The organic market began in 1978 as “SaferWay” in Austin, Texas. By the 1980s it expanded to other Texas cities under the name The Whole Foods Co.
Whole Foods came a long way in the few decades since its creation. It expanded to include over 470 locations in the U.S., UK, and Canada. Then, the largest and most newsworthy Amazon acquisition happened in 2017 when the online retailer bought Whole Foods for $13.7 billion.
Whole Foods shoppers were quick to notice the major changes that Amazon made to the grocer. It cut prices on various products, began selling its technology in grocery stores, and switched Whole Foods’ rewards program to an Amazon Prime rewards system.
Select locations now offer 2-hour delivery from Whole Foods stores to Amazon users’ homes. Amazon also opened multiple Amazon “pop-up stores” inside of large Whole Foods Markets.
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