In a letter to investors in 2010, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos outlined the threats that he predicted the company would have to contend with as it plotted its future.
Amazon might not be successful expanding internationally, he wrote. It still needed to figure out how to optimize and operate its fulfillment centers. And as the company grew, Bezos predicted, it would have to contend with increasing scrutiny and taxation from governments at home and abroad.
More broadly, Bezos wrote that Amazon’s ambitions were largely uncharted territory, making it impossible to predict exactly what the company’s future would hold.
“Many of the problems we face have no textbook solutions,” Bezos wrote. “And so we — happily — invent new approaches.”
For the most part, the bets that Amazon took paid off throughout the 2010s. It amped up its overseas operations, acquired dozens of promising startups, and built out Amazon Web Services into a cloud-computing juggernaut.
In total, the company’s net income grew from $1.2 billion in 2010 to more than $10 billion in 2018.
Here’s a breakdown of moments that defined Amazon’s growth in the past decade.
In the past decade, Amazon massively bulked up its global presence.
Since 2010, Amazon has grown its presence as an international retailer, expanding its localized storefronts to include domains for India, Singapore, Turkey, UAE, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Mexico, Australia, and Brazil.
Amazon invested heavily in its web services subsidiary, becoming a cloud computing juggernaut.
Amazon Web Services was first founded in 2006, but it migrated all of its web operations to AWS in 2010, which grew exponentially in the decade that followed. AWS’ annual revenue ballooned from $1.5 billion in 2012 to more than $25 billion in 2018.
Amazon deployed Alexa in 2014, and the software has helped the company woo new users with convenience and synergy.
Amazon’s line of Echo devices, which are powered by Alexa, is now the most-used line of smart speakers with 61% of the US market share.
Amazon’s core retail business continued to grow — in 2015, Amazon surpassed Walmart as the largest retailer in the US.
Source: The New York Times
Amazon bulked up its entertainment operations in the past decade, pouring more money into Prime Video and acquiring Twitch in 2015.
Prime Video, which was founded in 2006 as a rental service, bulked up its original programming beginning in 2012 to compete with streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.
Meanwhile, Amazon’s acquisition of Twitch lent it even more dominance in the realm of gaming entertainment.
Amazon also beefed up its brick-and-mortar presence by acquiring Whole Foods in 2017 for $13.7 billion.
In 2018, the company acquired smart doorbell maker Ring for $1 billion, stepping into the home security market and gaining a leg up on smart-home tech.
Amazon’s acquisition of Ring demonstrated the company’s dominance at fusing tech and retail.
As Amazon expanded into new markets, the size of its workforce swelled — it went from 33,700 employees in 2010 to 647,500 employees in 2018.
Amazon reported the employee counts in its 10-K filings from each year.
As the decade drew to a close, Amazon signaled that it will begin expanding into a new field: healthcare.
Amazon acquired health startups PillPack in 2018 and Health Navigator in 2019. It has incorporated both into its new pilot healthcare program, Amazon Care, which is currently only open to its own employees but may be expanded in the future.
Amazon consistently attributes its success to one focus: an “obsession” with customer satisfaction.
Despite repeated controversies throughout the past decade, Amazon remains relatively well-liked by the general public, due in part to its dedication to increasing customer convenience in order to drive revenue. So far, the strategy has paid off.