These Amazon Facts Will Make You Realize We Are Living In Its World

Amazon is on a roll right now.

The company’s stock continues to see record highs, hitting $1,500 per share this week seeing its market value has soared to $740 billion dollars — almost three quarters of a trillion dollars.

That’s bigger than the GDPs of Switzerland and Saudi Arabia.

Consequently, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and biggest shareholder (almost 79 million shares), has seen his personal wealth shoot to $119 billion — making him the richest man on the planet — and to my knowledge, the universe.

The reasons this is so impressive is because unlike Microsoft or Facebook, tech companies built on intangible products, Amazon has spent the past two decades building more than just technology. The company has poured billions into building warehouses and infrastructure, as well as sophisticated software, to run its extremely efficient e-commerce platform.

Why should we care now?

Well, Amazon is certainly not done building, but most of the “heavy lifting’ is complete and the company is operating on all cylinders. This means that as revenues continue to grow — as it has done remarkably for 20 years now — its profitability will continue to get stronger and stronger.

So Amazon — and Jeff Bezos — will undoubtedly continue to get stronger and stronger as well.

And while Amazon’s $740 billion dollar market cap is still far behind that of Apple ($910 billion) and slightly behind Google ($794 billion), and far from the inflation-adjusted peaks of Microsoft and GE over a decade ago, ask yourself who yields influence and power beyond market cap?

All of the other major tech giants — Apply, Google, Facebook, Microsoft — are influential and powerful, but when you consider these facts about Amazon, you will why it will be with us long into the future.

Amazon Is Owning Online Business

Retail is dying. The fact is that shoppers are moving online, and the ease and convenience of online browsing and shopping assures us that it will only become more widely adopted.

And Amazon is leading that charge.

Need proof? Consider that in addition to transacting 50 percent of all holiday e-commerce sales in 2017, Amazon is now worth more than the 15 most well-known retailers combined — and that includes Walmart, Target, Costco and Best Buy.

Sure, e-commerce made up only 9.1 percent of all retail sales in 2017, but that trend is growing fast — and according to One Click Retail, an e-commerce analytics provider, 4 percent was attributed to Amazon alone.

Amazon Is Owning The Internet

While building its infrastructure, Amazon understood it needed its own reliable and secure hosting service, so it created Amazon Web Services (AWS), which according to the company’s 4Q 2018 report accounted for more than 60 percent of Amazon’s operating income on only 10 percent of its total revenue.

Today, AWS is used by hundreds of companies like Netflix, Hulu, Comcast, McDonalds and Dow Jones, just to name a few. In 2016, Gartner’s Magic Quadrant ranked Amazon first in market share for cloud infrastructure service, with 31 percent — more than Microsoft, IBM and Google combined.

How powerful is AWS? In February 2017, a glitch in the AWS service brought countless websites and web services across the globe to a long, grueling and agonizing halt (5 hours), making painfully clear how dependent we are on its service.

Amazon Is Owning Our Homes

Many people were up in arms about Amazon’s new proposed in-home delivery service, Amazon Key, that would allow delivery drivers the ability to enter your home and leave packages inside your door.

Creepy? Yes, but in my opinion, more so is the fact that the wildly popular Amazon Echo, with the virtual assistant, Alexa, has found a place in more than 22 million homes, according to Forbes, through the end of 2017.

I am more worried about a quiet, unassuming virtual assistant, who is constantly monitoring our every conversation, than a guy rushing to catch the lunch special at 5 Guys Burgers.

Jeff Bezos Is a Badass with Rockets

Bezos’ personal project, the Blue Origin space rocket program, has successfully tested numerous reusable rockets and plans both commercial and tourism trips into space.

And sure, there are more billionaires, and even billionaires with rockets that are bigger than those of Blue Origins, but you have to admit that when the richest one of all sheds the nerd image, shaves his head, pumps iron, surrounds himself with celebrities and at times looks like a super villain, it might be time to pay a little more attention.

Facebook’s Long-Term Plan for WhatsApp Is Finally Coming to Fruition (and It’s Brilliant)

Which acquisition has had better returns for Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. Answer by Jeremy Arnold, Business analyst, on Quora:

As things stand today, Instagram has returned far more in value. But Facebook’s long-term plan for WhatsApp is just now coming to fruition.

  • Instagram was much cheaper (just $1 billion, compared to a net price of around $22 billion for WhatsApp). It’s gone from 30 million daily active users at acquisition to over 500 million today (with another 300 million that use it at least once a month). It’s contributing about $1 billion per quarter in revenue, and about the same per year in net profit — numbers that will continue to climb, with no ceiling in sight.
  • This doesn’t account for the value of their new Direct spin-off app (a Snapchat messaging clone), or Instagram’s value as a cultural institution. All in all, we’re talking a spectacular return on investment.
  • WhatsApp, in contrast, hasn’t been meaningfully monetized yet. Just as with early Facebook, focus has been on growth. Monthly active users have more than doubled from when the deal closed (now 1.3 billion), most of whom live in emerging countries where Facebook can layer additional needful services on the base platform.
  • WhatsApp’s two largest competitors, Line and WeChat, earn a respective average revenue per user of $7 and $9 USD. At those figures, WhatsApp would be bringing in $9-12 billion a year. Now, this isn’t a totally fair comparison, as those platforms serve ads that we’ll never see on WhatsApp. But those apps do something else really well that WhatsApp is very interested in copying: payments.
  • WeChat’s core value in China is as the country’s most efficient payments app. Whether for ecommerce (ordering food or movie tickets) or sending rent to your landlord, mobile has taken over the role of cash and credit cards. WeChat Pay alone handled around $2 trillion in transactions in 2016, a number which has likely doubled since then.
  • While Line is at a somewhat slower pace of growth, they’re still doing in excess of 10 million transactions per month at a gross value of $482 million USD. While $6 billion a year might not sound like much, the market is still nascent. Using China as a benchmark for where the world is going, that number is going to skyrocket with each passing year.
  • That context in mind, consider the state of the informal economy in India (where WhatsApp has the largest foothold), which has historically been cash dependent and where no mobile wallet has yet reached widespread adoption.

In sum, Instagram was a bargain that’s turned a very tidy profit. WhatsApp was a very different sort of bet. If it can become the dominant payment app/e-commerce platform in a country of 1.3 billion people, it’ll be one of the shrewdest acquisitions of the Information Age.

This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

One Big Thing Tesla Doesn’t Do as Well as Other Automakers

How good is Tesla at manufacturing vs other automakers? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Jeremy Arnold, Business analyst, on Quora:

As things stand today, Tesla is pretty far behind. But that’s because they’re still a minnow with little scale or experience. The three largest automakers (GM, VW, Toyota) each produce a little over 10 million cars a year. Tesla will ship around 100,000 vehicles in 2017 — i.e., a comparative production of about 1%.

Of course, this gap is about to close. Tesla is just now getting into the mid-priced sedan market with their Model 3, which they’re hoping to make at a pace of 10,000 per week by the end of 2018. (They’ve already pre-sold 455,000 of them, so they’re feeling significant pressure to up their production dramatically.)

Quality and efficiency should improve with experience, but early reviews of the few hundred Model 3s shipped thus far suggest they have a ways to go. For all the talk about their “factories of the future”, Tesla is subject to the same constraints and vulnerabilities as any other niche manufacturer. Early products are going to be expensive and not always well made.

Even with time, it isn’t obvious that they’re going to become “better” in any universal sense. They’re placing more focus on automation than most traditional automakers, true — but for all the marketing hyperbole, their playbook is less revolutionary and more an aggressive optimization of the norm (combined with higher risk-tolerance).

Their secret sauce basically boils down to:

  1. Keeping the number of models to an absolute minimum (fewer lines to optimize).
  2. Keeping the number of parts and design elements to an absolute minimum (fewer things to bottleneck).
  3. Producing as many of the parts internally as possible (e.g., building the Gigafactory for battery production).
  4. Skipping some normal aspects of quality assurance (like soft-tooling, the forgoing of which for the Model 3 saved them five to eight months).
  5. Avoiding unionization so workers can be replaced with less hassle (also pushing said workers to the brink with hyper-ambitious quotas).
  6. Automating as many things as can be automated (expensive up front, but efficient down the line thanks to the preceding points).

So they’re not quite a disruption to the industry so much as a niche manufacturer fully exploiting the upsides of their position. It’s likely that this path will end with them producing cars at an industry-leading margin, but that’s more a function of narrow focus than manufacturing brilliance.

Musk was able to disrupt the space industry by employing radical strategies in an low-competition market. Making cars is far more of a solved science. There’s no equivalent innovation in the automotive world to reusable rockets. Sure, aspects like the Supercharger network (with drive-through battery swapping) are ingenious — but the actual manufacturing is happening in an old GM facility that’s not all that more innovative than current GM facilities elsewhere. That anyone believes otherwise is a testament to Tesla’s marketing magic.

This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions: