Ama­zon story un­fin­ished busi­ness

The Daily Courier - - OPINION -

From Jan. 8, The Tele­graph on Ama­zon’s in­flu­ence:

Within the space of 25 years, a com­pany that be­gan life sell­ing niche sec­ond-hand books from a garage in Seat­tle has be­come the world’s most valu­able busi­ness. Ama­zon was worth $797 bil­lion when the U.S. stock mar­ket closed last Mon­day, sur­pass­ing Mi­crosoft for the first time.

Jeff Be­zos, the founder, started off with the sale of a book en­ti­tled Fluid Con­cepts and Cre­ative Analo­gies: Com­puter Mod­els of the Fun­da­men­tal Mech­a­nisms of Thought, by Dou­glas Hof­s­tadter. To­day, his com­pany dom­i­nates the on­line re­tail de­liv­ery mar­ket and has ex­panded into TV, on­line film and mu­sic dis­tri­bu­tion and cloud com­put­ing. It has made Mr Be­zos the rich­est man on earth, owner of the Wash­ing­ton Post and a power in the land; and as is in­evitable when some­one reaches such heights the ques­tion arises: has he be­come too pow­er­ful?

In the past 25 years, huge cor­po­ra­tions — Ap­ple, Google and Face­book — have sprung al­most out of noth­ing.

But Ama­zon’s reach seems greater than any. There are echoes from his­tory here. In the late 19th cen­tury, Stan­dard Oil, founded by John D Rock­e­feller, rapidly be­came the world’s first and largest multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tion. In 1911, how­ever, the US Supreme Court, in a land­mark case, ruled it was an il­le­gal mo­nop­oly that was us­ing ag­gres­sive pric­ing to put com­peti­tors out of busi­ness.

The court forced its break-up into 34 smaller com­pa­nies.

There is no rea­son yet to be­lieve Ama­zon is the Stan­dard Oil of to­day. In re­tail, for in­stance, it is smaller than Wal­mart and in the me­dia world it is still dwarfed by other play­ers.

But it is grow­ing fast and you can be sure that reg­u­la­tors are keep­ing an eye on just how fast.

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