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Amazon Strategy Teardown: Building New Business Pillars In AI, Next-Gen Logistics, And Enterprise Cloud Apps

#artificialintelligence

Amazon is the exception to nearly every rule in business. Rising from humble beginnings as a Seattle-based internet bookstore, Amazon has grown into a propulsive force in at least five different giant industries: retail, logistics, consumer technology, cloud computing, and most recently, media and entertainment. The company has had its share of missteps -- the expensive Fire phone flop comes to mind -- but is also rightly known for strokes of strategic genius that have put it ahead of competitors in promising new industries. This was the case with the launch of cloud business AWS in the mid-2000s, and more recently the surprising consumer hit in the Echo device and its Alexa AI assistant. Today's Amazon is far more than just an "everything store," it's a leader in consumer-facing AI and enterprise cloud services. And its insatiable appetite for new markets mean competitors must always be on guard against its next moves. As the biggest online retailer in America, the company accounts for 5% of all retail spending in America, and the company has been publicly traded for two decades. While its market capitalization has swelled recently, so too have expectations. Wall Street banks like Morgan Stanley expect Amazon to continue growing at a rate that no company its size has ever done before: 16% average compound growth in sales through 2025. If Amazon were able to satisfy the lofty goals, it would be "the most aggressive expansion of a giant company in the history of modern business." Understanding the many-headed beast that is Amazon is no easy feat, especially because Amazon is far less transparent than its peers. As the Times has written, "It isn't just secretive, the way Apple is, but in a deeper sense, Jeff Bezos' e-commerce and cloud-storage giant is opaque. Amazon rarely explains either its near-term tactical aims or its long-term strategic vision. By all accounts, Amazon is just getting started in newer initiatives like cloud services, artificial intelligence, and logistics. Given Amazon's enormous breadth, we won't be covering every aspect of its business. Jeff Bezos, the company's founder and long-time CEO, first hatched the idea for Amazon while working on Wall Street at the hedge fund and tech private equity group D. E. Shaw & Co. For a while, it was bootstrapped as an internet bookstore with Bezos' money along with contributions from friends and family. In 1995, Bezos raised nearly $1M in small checks from 20 local angels with a typical check size between $30k and $50k. Among those angels, Nick Hanauer, Eric Dillon, and Tom Alberg (of Madrona Venture Group) were brought on as company advisors.


AI 50: America's Most Promising Artificial Intelligence Companies

#artificialintelligence

Artificial intelligence is infiltrating every industry, allowing vehicles to navigate without drivers, assisting doctors with medical diagnoses, and mimicking the way humans speak. But for all the authentic and exciting ways it's transforming the tasks computers can perform, there's a lot of hype, too. As Jeremy Achin, CEO of newly minted unicorn DataRobot, puts it: "Everyone knows you have to have machine learning in your story or you're not sexy." The inherently broad term gets bandied about so often that it can start to feel meaningless and can be trotted out by companies to gussy up even simple data analysis. To help cut through the noise, Forbes and data partner Meritech Capital put together a list of private, U.S.-based companies that are wielding some subset of artificial intelligence in a meaningful way and demonstrating real business potential from doing so. One makes robots that can whir around shoppers to help workers restock shelves. Another scans recruiting pitches for unconscious bias. A third analyzes massive data sets to make street-by-street weather predictions. To be included on the list, companies needed to show that techniques like machine learning (where systems learn from data to improve on tasks), natural language processing (which enables programs to "understand" written or spoken language), or computer vision (which relates to how machines "see") are a core part of their business model and future success. Find all the details on our methodology here.


AI 50: America's Most Promising Artificial Intelligence Companies

#artificialintelligence

Artificial intelligence is infiltrating every industry, allowing vehicles to navigate without drivers, assisting doctors with medical diagnoses, and mimicking the way humans speak. But for all the authentic and exciting ways it's transforming the tasks computers can perform, there's a lot of hype, too. As Jeremy Achin, CEO of newly minted unicorn DataRobot, puts it: "Everyone knows you have to have machine learning in your story or you're not sexy." The inherently broad term gets bandied about so often that it can start to feel meaningless and can be trotted out by companies to gussy up even simple data analysis. To help cut through the noise, Forbes and data partner Meritech Capital put together a list of private, U.S.-based companies that are wielding some subset of artificial intelligence in a meaningful way and demonstrating real business potential from doing so. One makes robots that can whir around shoppers to help workers restock shelves. Another scans recruiting pitches for unconscious bias. A third analyzes massive data sets to make street-by-street weather predictions. To be included on the list, companies needed to show that techniques like machine learning (where systems learn from data to improve on tasks), natural language processing (which enables programs to "understand" written or spoken language), or computer vision (which relates to how machines "see") are a core part of their business model and future success. Find all the details on our methodology here.


AI 50: America's Most Promising Artificial Intelligence Companies

#artificialintelligence

Artificial intelligence is infiltrating every industry, allowing vehicles to navigate without drivers, assisting doctors with medical diagnoses, and mimicking the way humans speak. But for all the authentic and exciting ways it's transforming the tasks computers can perform, there's a lot of hype, too. As Jeremy Achin, CEO of newly minted unicorn DataRobot, puts it: "Everyone knows you have to have machine learning in your story or you're not sexy." The inherently broad term gets bandied about so often that it can start to feel meaningless and can be trotted out by companies to gussy up even simple data analysis. To help cut through the noise, Forbes and data partner Meritech Capital put together a list of private, U.S.-based companies that are wielding some subset of artificial intelligence in a meaningful way and demonstrating real business potential from doing so. One makes robots that can whir around shoppers to help workers restock shelves. Another scans recruiting pitches for unconscious bias. A third analyzes massive data sets to make street-by-street weather predictions. To be included on the list, companies needed to show that techniques like machine learning (where systems learn from data to improve on tasks), natural language processing (which enables programs to "understand" written or spoken language), or computer vision (which relates to how machines "see") are a core part of their business model and future success. Find all the details on our methodology here.


AI 50: America's Most Promising Artificial Intelligence Companies

#artificialintelligence

Artificial intelligence is infiltrating every industry, allowing vehicles to navigate without drivers, assisting doctors with medical diagnoses, and mimicking the way humans speak. But for all the authentic and exciting ways it's transforming the tasks computers can perform, there's a lot of hype, too. As Jeremy Achin, CEO of newly minted unicorn DataRobot, puts it: "Everyone knows you have to have machine learning in your story or you're not sexy." The inherently broad term gets bandied about so often that it can start to feel meaningless and gets trotted out by companies to gussy up even simple data analysis. To help cut through the noise, Forbes and data partner Meritech Capital put together a list of private, U.S.-based companies that are wielding some subset of artificial intelligence in a meaningful way and demonstrating real business potential from doing so. One makes robots that can whir around shoppers to help workers restock shelves. Another scans recruiting pitches for unconscious bias. A third analyzes massive data sets to make street-by-street weather predictions. To be included on the list, companies needed to show that techniques like machine learning (where systems learn from data to improve on tasks), natural language processing (which enables programs to "understand" written or spoken language), or computer vision (which relates to how machines "see") are a core part of their business model and future success. Find all the details on our methodology here.