Hey, I'm Dan! I invest in startups at Madrona and write the DL, a weekly newsletter about tech in the Pacific Northwest

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Amazon reaches $1T market cap!

Amazon has officially joined Apple ($1.4T), Microsoft ($1.4T), and Alphabet ($1.0T) in the cuatro commas club! To celebrate, here are a few great quotes from haters including Barron’s 1999 Amazon.bomb article:

Despite all the hoopla surrounding Amazon, Bezos has not really revolutionized the book industry at all. In essence, he is a middleman, and he will likely be outflanked by companies that sell their wares directly to consumers.
“Once Wal-Mart decides to go after Amazon, there’s no contest. Wal-Mart has resources Amazon can’t even dream about.”
It’s hard to say when it will dawn on the masses that Amazon’s growth is slowing markedly. In 1997, the company’s revenues grew 825%… This year that growth is expected to skid to 128%, and next year it will topple to 58%. Within a few years, this company could be increasing revenues at an annual rate of 10% or so.

and a 1999 Forrester Research write-up about Amazon.toast :

Amazon supposedly will dominate because of five factors: 1) Its brand is well-known; 2) it is gathering the best customer information; 3) its access to capital is endless; 4) it has the best technology; and 5) its syndication tactic. Here’s why this thinking is wrong:
1) On-line brands are fleeting. Forrester’s survey of 100,000 Americans has shown that loyalty in the on-line world does not match loyalty in the physical world.
2) Customer information will be ubiquitous. In the future, information on consumers will be detailed and widely available. No single company will have a monopoly on customer behavior or attitudes.

I love reading these reports because the authors were both really right and really wrong. For example, Amazon is definitely a “middleman,” but it turns out that’s a very good place to be for an internet-scale marketplace.

I also found it interesting that both reports called out the direct to consumer selling motion as one of the key things that would take down Amazon. That clearly hasn’t happened yet, but with the rise of Shopify and a DTC company for everything, we’ll see what happens over the next 20 years.

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