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Breaking Down How Amazon Makes Money

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‘Tis the season for shopping.

For many of us, that means buying things online – and if you are like most internet denizens, you’ll be picking up at least one item this holiday season through the the world’s largest e-commerce giant, Amazon.

The company’s sales numbers are growing at a staggering pace. Last year, Amazon had $136 billion in sales, and the company is projected to finish at the $177 billion mark this year.

What are the exact sources of Amazon’s revenue, and how does it all break down?

How Amazon Makes Money

Today’s infographic comes to us from Sellbrite, and it dives into the company’s success, and how Amazon makes money:

Breaking Down How Amazon Makes Money

To the chagrin of many investors, Amazon has traditionally spent a lot to make a little.

In 2016, for example, the company brought in $136 billion in net sales, but it spent $131.8 billion on operating expenses. That gave the company an operating income of $4.2 billion.

However, that high-growth strategy seems to be paying off.

During the same period, e-commerce revenue jumped 25%, AWS revenue increased 55%, and net income skyrocketed 302%. The growth has continued through 2017 and it’s why Jeff Bezos is now the richest person in the world.

A Closer Look

Here’s how Amazon makes money, according to the company’s last annual report for 2016:

Revenue StreamNet Sales (2016)% of Total Revenue
Retail products$91.4B67.2%
Retail 3rd party sellers$23.0B16.9%
Amazon Web Services (AWS)$12.2B9.0%
Subscriptions (Amazon Prime, etc.)$6.4B4.7%
Other (ads, co-branded credit cards)$3.0B2.2%
Total Revenue$136.0B100.0%

Which areas of Amazon’s business are growing the fastest – and where is the company investing in the future?

Here are just a few directions in which the Jeff Bezos Empire is expanding:

Ads
In 2017, the size of Amazon’s advertising business (forecasted at $1.65 billion) has already surpassed those belonging to Twitter ($1.21 billion) and Snapchat ($642 million). Of course, Amazon is still a longshot from impacting the Google and Facebook ad oligopoly, but the two leaders would be wise to take the emerging threat seriously.

Why would Amazon ads work well? The company has a vast database of user info to allow for effective targeting, as well as high margins.

Prime Video
In 2017, Amazon is spending $4.5 billion on creating original content. It has fewer dollars allocated to content than Netflix, but it’s still more than double what HBO spends each year. By the way, Amazon Prime Video is now live in an impressive 200 countries.

International
With 65% of U.S. households having access to Amazon Prime subscriptions, a focus on international sales is the biggest lever that Amazon can pull for future growth. The company is eyeing obvious countries, but less obvious ones as well. In India for example, Amazon’s marketplace is the fastest-growing in the country.

B2B
Amazon is also leveraging its strong logistics platform to provide goods for small businesses, rather than just consumers.

Shipping and Logistics
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is already a booming business that allows small businesses to tap into the scale of Amazon. Investing in shipping also betters the customer experience – a key objective for Amazon. However, it’s still possible that the company could take shipping and logistics a step further: domination in the $200 billion parcel shipping market would be a strategic and attainable prize.

With many other ways for the e-commerce giant to grow, it’ll be interesting to breakdown how Amazon makes money in 2018.

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The 20 Biggest Bankruptcies in U.S. History

There is always risk in business – but for these 20 companies, which caused the biggest bankruptcies in history, those risks didn’t quite pan out.

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Doing business means taking calculated risks.

Regardless of whether you are opening a lemonade stand or you’re a leading executive at a Fortune 500 company, risk is an inevitable part of the game.

Taking bigger risks can generate proportional rewards – and sometimes, such as for the companies you’ll read about below, the risk-taking backfired to queue up some of the biggest bankruptcies in U.S. history.

Going For Broke

Today’s infographic comes to us from TitleMax, and it highlights the 20 biggest bankruptcies in the country’s history.

Companies below are sorted by total assets at the time of bankruptcy.

The 20 Biggest Bankruptcies in U.S. History

There are times when companies are forced to push in all of their chips to make a game-changing bet. Sometimes this pans out, and sometimes the plan fails miserably.

In other situations, companies were actually unaware they were “all-in”. Instead, the potentially destructive nature of the risk was not even on the radar, only to be later triggered through a global crisis or unanticipated “Black Swan” events.

The Biggest Bankruptcies in the U.S.

Here are the 20 biggest bankruptcies in U.S. history, and what triggered them:

RankCompanyYearAssets at BankruptcyDownfall
#1Lehman Brothers2008$691 billion2008 financial crisis
#2Washington Mutual2008$328 billion2008 financial crisis
#3Worldcom Inc.2002$104 billionAccounting scandal
#4GM2009$82 billionMassive debt
#5CIT Group2009$71 billionCredit crunch
#6Pacific Gas & Electric2019$71 billionWildfires
#7Enron2001$66 billionFraud
#8Conseco2002$61 billionFailed acquisition strategy
#9MF Global2011$41 billionEuropean sovereign bonds
#10Chrysler2009$39 billionMassive debt
#11Thornburg Mortgage2009$37 billionDeclining mortgage values
#12Pacific Gas & Electric2001$36 billionDrought
#13Texaco1987$35 billionContract dispute
#14FCOA1988$34 billionSavings and loan crisis
#15Refco2005$33 billionAccounting fraud
#16IndyMac Bancorp2008$33 billionMortgage market collapse
#17Global Crossing2002$30 billionPlummeting world economy
#18Bank of New England1991$30 billionBad loans
#19General Growth Properties2009$30 billionFailed acquisition strategy
#20Lyondell Chemical2009$27 billionDecline in demand

The data set on the biggest bankruptcies is organized by assets at time of bankruptcy. Therefore, they are not in inflation-adjusted terms, meaning the list skews towards more recent events.

This makes the impact of the 2008 financial crisis particularly easy to spot.

The events and consequences relating to the crisis (loan defaults, illiquidity, and declining asset values) were enough to take down banks like Lehman Brothers and WaMu. The after effects – including a slumping global economy – led to a second wave of bankruptcies for companies such as GM and Chrysler.

In total, nine of the 20 biggest bankruptcies on the list occurred in the 2008-2009 span.

A Dubious Distinction

You may also notice that one company was on the list twice, and this was not an accident.

Pacific Gas & Electric, a California company that is the nation’s largest utility provider, has the dubious distinction of going bankrupt twice in the last 20 years. The first time, in 2001, resulted from a drought that limited hydro electricity generation, forcing the company to import electricity from outside sources at exorbitant prices.

The more recent instance happened earlier this year. Facing tens of billions of dollars in liabilities from raging wildfires in California, the utility filed for Chapter 11 protection yet another time.

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Chart of the Week

A Visual History of the Largest Companies by Market Cap (1999-Today)

See how the world’s largest companies have changed over time, and how this helps tell a broader story about what the market is thinking.

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A Visual History of the Largest Companies by Market Cap

The macro narrative that underlies the market is constantly under revision.

While this is partially a function of shifts in investor sentiment, it’s also driven by game-changing events as well as much more structural market forces.

For example, how does the macro narrative change after a commodity price crash? What about when the unprecedented scale of technology is truly understood by the market?

An Evolving Narrative

In this week’s chart, we look at how the big picture narrative has changed over time by using a very simple approach.

We have visualized the market capitalizations of the 10 largest public companies in the world over five-year intervals from 1999 until today, and it gives us a series of snapshots of what the market was “thinking” during these specific periods.

Not only is it evident as certain industries rise to prominence, but there are also some interesting individual stories to follow. We can see iconic companies – such as Apple – ascend into the public consciousness, while others fall off the radar completely.

YearDescriptionTop CompanyWho Dominates Top 10?
1999Dotcom BubbleMicrosoft ($583B)Five tech companies in the mix
2004Post-BubbleGE ($319B)Diverse mix of companies by industry
2009Financial CrisisPetroChina ($367B)Six non-U.S. companies make list
2014$100 OilApple ($560B)Last year for oil companies, tech starts ascending
2019Big Tech EraMicrosoft ($1,050B)Seven companies are tech

The composition of the top 10 changes in each of the snapshots above, and this simple approach helps capture the market narrative for each timeframe.

During the Dotcom Bubble, you can see that half of the list was dominated by tech companies. This was short-lived, and the years 2004, 2009, and 2014 have much more diverse lists.

You can also see the impact of the financial crisis on U.S. company valuations. In 2009, there is an equal distribution of Chinese and American companies. Royal Dutch Shell (UK/Netherlands) and Petrobras (Brazil) help round out the top 10.

Finally, over the last five years, you can see the impact of lower oil prices and the growing scale of tech. Back in 2014, Exxon Mobil was the second largest company in the world by a solid margin, but today it’s been displaced by companies like Facebook, Amazon, Tencent, and Alibaba.

The Big Tech Era

Here is the current top 10 list of the world’s largest companies by market cap:

RankCompanyIndustryMarket Cap
#1๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ MicrosoftTech$1,050 billion
#2๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ AmazonTech$943 billion
#3๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ AppleTech$920 billion
#4๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ AlphabetTech$778 billion
#5๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ FacebookTech$546 billion
#6๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Berkshire HathawayDiversified$507 billion
#7๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ AlibabaTech$435 billion
#8๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ TencentTech$431 billion
#9๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ VisaFinancial$379 billion
#10๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Johnson & JohnsonConsumer Goods$376 billion

In total, the five biggest tech giants brought in a combined $801.5 billion in revenue last year, and $139 billion in net income.

The Staying Power of Microsoft

With a valuation today of just over $1 trillion, Microsoft is again the world’s largest company by market capitalization.

In this way, the above lists come full circle, since Microsoft was also the biggest company in 1999.

While the software giant experienced short periods where it did drop out of favor, Microsoft was the only company to make the list in our five snapshots above.

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