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Amazon Celebrates 27th Anniversary As E-Commerce Giant

From online book store to $1.33T valuation, a look back at Amazon's journey since its founding in 1994.

While July 4 marks a well-known anniversary for the United States of America, the following day marks the anniversary of one of the largest and most well-known American companies. Leading e-commerce giant, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) was founded on July 5, 1994.

Amazon gift cards are seen at a store in Krakow, Poland on July 5, 2023. (Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images) 

Now worth $1.33 trillion, Amazon was founded in 1994 after Jeff Bezos quit his job at an investment firm to open an online book store.

Bezos moved to Seattle from New York and drafted the initial business plan during his cross-country trip. The company’s name came after initially being named Cadabra, a name which was misheard by Bezos’ lawyer and instead named Cadaver, before being renamed.

The Amazon logo connecting the A to the Z is symbolic to represent that the company offers everything and anything to order from A to Z.

In 1995, around 300 of Bezos’ friends performed beta testing for

Amazon went public on May 15, 1997, with an initial price offering. The company offered shares at a price point of $18 and a company valuation of around $300 million.

A look back at Amazon at the time of its IPO shows that the company had around 80,000 average daily visits to its website, 256 employees and annual revenue of $15.8 million.

In its IPO filing, Amazon said it was “the leading online retailer of books.”

“Amazon strives to offer its customers compelling value through innovative use of technology, broad selection, high-quality content, a high level of customer service, competitive pricing and personalized services,” the filing also said.

The company had 340,000 customer accounts from 100 countries at the time of its public offering filing.

The rest, as they say, is history. Amazon is now the fifth most valuable public company with a market capitalization of $1.33 trillion.

The company has grown through new product offerings such as Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Web Services and through expanding internationally. Amazon has also been aggressive with acquisitions over the years, acquiring companies like Alexa, Audible, Twitch, Whole Foods, Pill Pack and MGM.

Investors who bought Amazon shares at the time of the company’s IPO have done quite well but would have had to weather through the dot-com bubble. A bubble of tech companies, including many dot-com names, wiped out competitors of Amazon and also saw shares of the e-commerce company fall significantly.

Investors who bought $1,000 of Amazon shares at the time of its IPO could have bought 18.55 AMZN shares based on the $18 price point.

Stock splits of Amazon in June 1998 (2:1), January 1999 (3:1), September 1999 (2:1) and June 2022 (20:1) would have turned the 18.55 AMZN shares into 13,334.4 shares today.

Produced in association with Benzinga

Edited by Alberto Arellano and Joseph Hammond

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