The evolution of Amazon
Amazon’s offerings for Prime members just get better and better.
As well as fast shipping, streaming of exclusive television shows, and access to the Kindle lending library, customers are now able to use Audible for free, which allows them to enjoy around 50 audiobooks from the catalogue.
After a shaky start, Amazon Prime has found its feet, now boasting around 63 million subscribers. The company has come a long way from its humble beginnings in founder Jeff Bezos’s garage – here is a timeline of some of Amazon’s greatest achievements.
1994 – Amazon was founded. Bezos decided to leave his well-paid job to start a business in e-commerce, after researching the rise of the internet. He started by exclusively selling books.
1998 – Amazon acquired IMDB.com, one of the most respected movie information sites which has thousands of visitors per day. The same year, Amazon announces it will begin to sell more than books.
2004 – Amazon acquired Joyo for $75 million, which later became Amazon China, and allowed Amazon to stiffen its competition against Alibaba.
2007 – Amazon begins allowing authors to distribute self-published books through its site, via CreateSpace’s Books on Demand service. It also launches AmazonFresh, Amazon Music, and Amazon Kindle in this same year.
2010 – Despite e-book competition from Barnes & Noble and Apple, Amazon’s Kindle e-book sales outnumbered hardcover book sales for the first time.
2011 – Amazon acquired LoveFilm, and folded it into its Amazon Instant Video service, adding access to thousands more films and television shows for Prime members. In this same year, the company announced that the Kindle Fire – a direct rival to the iPad – would retail at $199. The cheapest iPad cost $499.
2013 – Amazon acquired book review site GoodReads, and launched in India.
2014 – Amazon Echo was launched – a wireless speaker and voice command device to make placing orders easier. The voice service, named Alexa, can be added to other Amazon devices.
2015 – In an unusual move for an e-commerce business, Amazon opened its first physical store in Seattle. It now plans to open at least 100 more. The Amazon Tower I, nicknamed Doppler, was built in the Denny Triangle neighbourhood as the company’s new HQ. The complex will eventually be three towers, due to be finished by 2020.
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Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.