In 2015, Amazon surpassed Walmart as the most valuable retailer in the United States by market capitalization.[11] Amazon is the third most valuable public company in the United States (behind Apple and Microsoft),[12] the largest Internet company by revenue in the world, and after Walmart, the second largest employer in the United States.[13] In 2017, Amazon acquired Whole Foods Market for $13.4 billion, which vastly increased Amazon's presence as a brick-and-mortar retailer.[14] The acquisition was interpreted by some as a direct attempt to challenge Walmart's traditional retail stores.[15]
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Amazon's state sales tax collection policy has changed over the years since it did not collect any sales taxes in its early years. In the U.S., state and local sales taxes are levied by state and local governments, not at the federal level. In most countries where Amazon operates, a sales tax or value added tax is uniform throughout the country, and Amazon is obliged to collect it from all customers. Proponents of forcing Amazon.com to collect sales tax—at least in states where it maintains a physical presence—argue the corporation wields an anti-competitive advantage over storefront businesses forced to collect sales tax.[165]
Bezos selected the name Amazon by looking through the dictionary; he settled on "Amazon" because it was a place that was "exotic and different", just as he had envisioned for his Internet enterprise. The Amazon River, he noted, was the biggest river in the world, and he planned to make his store the biggest bookstore in the world.[25] Additionally, a name that began with "A" was preferential due to the probability it would occur at the top of an alphabetized list.[25] Bezos placed a premium on his head start in building a brand and told a reporter, "There's nothing about our model that can't be copied over time. But you know, McDonald's got copied. And it's still built a huge, multibillion-dollar company. A lot of it comes down to the brand name. Brand names are more important online than they are in the physical world."[26]
In 2013, Amazon secured a US$600 million contract with the CIA, which poses a potential conflict of interest involving the Bezos-owned The Washington Post and his newspaper's coverage of the CIA.[200] Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, said, "It's a serious potential conflict of interest for a major newspaper like The Washington Post to have a contractual relationship with the government and the most secret part of the government."[201] This was later followed by a US$10 billion contract with the Department of Defence.[155]
Amazon Studios, which was founded in 2010 to compete with Hulu and Netflix in original programming, has become a powerhouse in Hollywood, taking home both Emmys and Oscars and growing into a staple of the modern entertainment diet of many Americans. Rounding out its position in digital media is the FireTV streaming device, which Amazon first launched in 2014 to compete with Apple, Roku, and other set-top box makers. The product has since been shrunk into a skinny HDMI stick — Amazon still sells the box and now also a small, square-shaped Fire TV Cube — and it remains one of the best-selling consumer electronics devices on Amazon.com.
Brilliance Audio is an audiobook publisher founded in 1984 by Michael Snodgrass in Grand Haven, Michigan.[93] The company produced its first 8 audio titles in 1985.[93] The company was purchased by Amazon in 2007 for an undisclosed amount.[94][95] At the time of the acquisition, Brilliance was producing 12–15 new titles a month.[95] It operates as an independent company within Amazon.
Even so, the first infomercial of the same type we see on TV today, aired in 1982 and was for a hair growth supplement called “New Generation” which was marketed by entrepreneur Robert E. Murphy Jr. It was such a success that other companies quickly began following suit and purchasing program-length commercial air time. At this time infomercials used to commonly be shown during late night/early morning hours, although stations discovered success showing them at other times when they learned that the majority of purchases were made in the morning, during the day, and around primetime.
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