It is one of the Big Five American information technology companies, alongside Alphabet, Apple, Meta, and Microsoft.
Amazon was founded by Jeff Bezos from his garage in Bellevue, Washington, on July 5, 1994. Initially an online marketplace for books, it has expanded into a multitude of product categories: a strategy that has earned it the moniker The Everything Store.
It has multiple subsidiaries including Amazon Web Services (cloud computing), Zoox (autonomous vehicles), Kuiper Systems (satellite Internet), Amazon Lab126 (computer hardware R&D). Its other subsidiaries include Ring, Twitch, IMDb, and Whole Foods Market. Its acquisition of Whole Foods in August 2017 for US$13.4 billion substantially increased its footprint as a physical retailer.
Amazon has earned a reputation as a disruptor of well-established industries through technological innovation and mass scale.As of 2021, it is the world's largest online retailer and marketplace, smart speaker provider, cloud computing service through AWS, live-streaming service through Twitch, and Internet company as measured by revenue and market share.
In 2021, it surpassed Walmart as the world's largest retailer outside of China, driven in large part by its paid subscription plan, Amazon Prime, which has over 200 million subscribers worldwide. It is the second-largest private employer in the United States.