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It seems preposterous now, but Amazon began as a bookstore.

In 1994, at the age of thirty, Bezos, a Princeton graduate, quit his job at a Manhattan hedge fund and moved to Seattle to found a company that could ride the exponential growth of the early commercial Internet.

Sam Walton wanted merely to be the world’s biggest retailer. Amazon is not just the “Everything Store,” to quote the title of Brad Stone’s rich chronicle of Bezos and his company; it’s more like the Everything.

After Apple launched the i Pod, Steve Jobs didn’t sign up pop stars for recording contracts. What remains constant is ambition, and the search for new things to be ambitious about.

Dennis Johnson, an independent publisher, says that “Amazon has successfully fostered the idea that a book is a thing of minimal value—it’s a widget.” Amazon is a global superstore, like Walmart. Amazon’s identity and goals are never clear and always fluid, which makes the company destabilizing and intimidating. still takes you to Amazon’s site—before adopting the name of the world’s largest river by volume.

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