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2021-01-14

The Rise and Fall of Amazon

 

Ray W. Keiser
January 14, 2021

Less than 27 years, that's all it takes.

Jeff Bezos founded Amazon in 1994.  It went through a couple of name changes at the beginning, but the core of one of the first Internet bookstores went online July 5, 1994.

Some of you (especially those born after 1990) will have to read that last paragraph again to catch the full meaning: Amazon was founded as a book store.  All of that other stuff came later.

Bezos chose books as a product because he knew that they would be easy to distribute, and could be sold all over the world. His business model was based on the easy sharing of knowledge and ideas.

Over time, Amazon began adding new products: CDs and DVDs, video games, Kindle tablets, clothing, etc.  Its website became a model for how online shopping could be done, by suggesting related and alternate items and making re-orders easy. It began adding web services for business partners, beginning with A9, a web search and advertising research arm, then expanding into the application and hosting cloud services that Amazon Web Services (AWS) is known for. They've acquired various companies, from Zappos to Whole Foods. They added the ability for partners to sell their own wares within Amazon's marketplace. They helped drive the industry in digital and streaming services, starting with e-books, and later music, video, and audiobooks. And, of course, they introduced the popular Amazon Prime option to help drive customer loyalty.

Amazon isn't perfect: the aforementioned A9 service has since been dismantled, its technology folded back into Amazon's main site.  And they have had some bad calls (the Fire Phone was a noteworthy disaster).

But for the most part, Bezos and his team have made shrewd decisions, time and time again accurately predicting market directions and gaining enviable strategic footholds. And in the process, Bezos became one of the wealthiest men in the world (as of this writing, he was just dethroned to #2, by Elon Musk).

More prominently in the news, AWS recently ousted the conservative social network Parler from its network, with only 24 hours notice. Parler's crime: allowing users to speak their minds without censorship. Oh, the horror!

Bear in mind that this was in the same week that Facebook and Twitter began cleansing their user base of "offensive" accounts. Google and Apple joined Amazon in removing Parler's free app from their stores.  Make no mistake, this was a coordinated effort.  But Amazon's actions were the most devastating blow, and it remains to be seen whether Parler will recover.

Compared to Facebook and Twitter, Parler is a relatively small fish in the social networking ocean. Amazon's actions are tantamount to a landlord revoking the lease on a local mom & pop grocery store, simply because the landlord is friends with the local Wal-Mart manager, and doesn't like some of the things the grocer's customers say.

And they did it with only 24 hours notice.

Note: I don't agree with all of the things that Parler's users were saying.  I abhor racism, and don't condone hate directed at anyone.  But I can disagree with the things said, while supporting their right to say them. If you don't understand how terrifying Amazon's actions are, you truly don't understand the concept of free speech, and how important it was to America's foundersSupporting free speech means supporting the right for people to say things that are uncomfortable, disrespectful, offensive, and downright repugnant.

All of this is to say that it took less than 27 years for Jeff Bezos and Amazon to go from a bookseller, helping in the easy exchange of knowledge and ideas, to the preeminent censor of "dangerous" ideas on the Internet.  Amazon has risen to become a business powerhouse, but in the process has fallen into moral decay.

- RWK

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Amazon

2021-01-10

Big Tech censorship = Technological fascism

When you silence your opposition, you don't change their mind.
All you do is show how afraid you are of them.


 

2021-01-04

Disarmament and tyranny go hand and glove.


 What does a government do, once it has disarmed its populace?

As history has shown, the answer is: Anything it wants.