Selling electronics helped the company grow rapidly and put traditional electronics stores like Circuit City out of business. The computing infrastructure also has helped Amazon quickly launch an advertising technology business that helps other shops identify potential customers based on their interests. With just over $1 billion in ad sales, Amazon isn't making a big dent in the businesses of industry leaders Google and Facebook. Instead of being burned by its smartphone venture, the company launched its digital home assistant device, the Amazon Echo, in 2015.
Veronica Rivera signed up for the introduction to computer science class at Harvey Mudd College mostly because she had no choice: It was mandatory. Programming was intimidating and not for her, she thought. She expected the class to be full of guys who loved video games and grew up obsessing over how they were made. There were plenty of those guys but, to her surprise, she found the class fascinating. She learned how to program a computer to play "Connect Four" and wrote algorithms that could recognize lines of Shakespeare and generate new text with similar sentence patterns.