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Amazon.com Revolutionized Internet Commerce

We are knee-deep in 2009’s “Cyber Monday.”  Today, tens of millions of Americans will turn to the Internet to shop for the holidays.  “Cyber Monday” has become such a holiday shopping ritual that it is easy to forget that online shopping is a relatively new phenomenon.

One company, above all others, stands out as responsible for creating a secure atmosphere where consumers could conduct online commercial transactions – Amazon.com.  When Amazon.com was launched in 1995, commercial transactions on the Internet were limited to transactions such as pornography, online gambling, and the like. At the time, consumers were highly reluctant to share credit card or other financial information online, and for good reason.  Commerce on the Internet was highly insecure in comparison to today.

At the time it was launched, Amazon.com followed an unusual business model.  The company predicted that it would not be profitable for several years.  True to this model, Amazon.com was not profitable, while other businesses around it grew exponentially as part of the “dot come bubble.”  When that bubble burst, however, many of those companies went belly up, while Amazon.com persevered.  The company expanded from being merely an online bookseller to offering an array of products.

On November 21, 2005, Amazon entered the S&P 500 index, replacing AT&T after it merged with SBC Communications. On December 31, 2008, Amazon entered the S&P 100 index, replacing Merrill Lynch after it was taken over by Bank of America.

In 1999, Time magazine named Bezos Person of the Year, recognizing the company’s success in popularizing on-line shopping.

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