Hockey Stick Growth Charts

Amazon: Stage-By-Stage: How They Did It

Tinkering/Pre-Start (1994 and earlier)

  • Founder Jeff Bezos graduates from Princeton in 1984 after studying electrical engineering and computer science
  • 1994: As an employee at D.E. Shaw, a global investment and technology development firm, Bezos is asked by founder David E. Shaw to look into internet sales opportunities; Bezos finds online book retailing as a business idea and quits job
  • 1994: Moves from New York to Seattle to launch business (started as Cadabra, then Relentless, then Amazon)

The Blade Years (1994-1997)

  • 1994: Builds company on $10,000 investment from Bezos, $44,000 in loans, wife handling admin., plus two hired programmers
  • 1995: Bezos and team build technology that allows Amazon to purchase a book from a distributor as soon as it is purchased through Amazon (keeps inventory costs down)
  • Site launches July 16, 1995
  • Selling at heavy discounts, experiencing only losses
  • Bezos expects employees to work more than 60 hours/week

 Growth Inflection Point (1997)

  • Year 4 growth inflection point: $173,154,541 revenue (grew 864% from 1996)
  • Listed on NASDAQ in 1997

Surging Growth (1998-2000)

  • 1998: Music and movies added to product offering
  • 1999: Electronics added to product offering
  • 1999: Customer service team of more than 500; compete in weekend-long events to clear out backlog of customer emails
  • 2000: Amazon Marketplace allows other companies and individuals to sell products using Amazon platform
  • Company doesn’t make a profit until 2001: $5M on revenues over $1B