Amazon: King of Commerce

Amazon: King of Commerce


Competition is a Sin - John D. Rockefeller

Lots of interest in Amazon and the "Race to a Trillion," (edit: looks like the race is over $APPL) so I thought I'd take a deeper dive...

Disclaimer: I attempted to - vastly - expand my circle of competence for this one, with brand new knowledge of computer science, antitrust law, logistics, etc., so please bear with me.

Back in 1995, Jeff Bezos was offering 1% slices of his nascent e-commerce business for $50,000.

24 years later, that 1% stake is now worth $8.56 billion dollars, a compound annual return of 81.86%. For reference, Rentec's Medallion Fund did "only" 71.8% (before fees) from 1994-2014.

How did a retailer(!) outperform the world's most sophisticated hedge fund?

Humble Beginnings


Bezos is the cool one

Born Jeffrey Preston Jorgenson to a teenage mother, Bezos worked as a line cook at Mcdonald's in high school before attending Princeton as a self described "EECS geek."

Like many Ivy leaguers, visions of an Oasis brought him to Wall Street (see what I did there?) and D. E. Shaw & Co., where Jeff made SVP by 30.

A very forward thinking and technology savvy firm, deshaw.com was registered in 1992, a full 3 years before Goldman Sachs joined the .com party.

Bezos would regularly meet with David Shaw himself, where the two would brainstorm ideas for businesses to build (example spinouts: FarSight, a precursor to E-Trade born in 1995 and sold to Merrill Lynch; Juno, a free ad-supported e-mail service that went public in 1999).

David Shaw and Jeff Bezos even discussed an idea for something they dubbed "the everything store."

Shortly after this conversation, Bezos left the comfort of finance and ventured West, founding Amazon.com in Seattle, Washington, on July 5, 1994.

By the end of '94, Amazon had $139,000 in assets, lost $52,000, and was projecting to lose $300,000 the following year.

**Jeff Bezos: When we opened our doors, we had 10 employees. I was driving the packages to the post office myself in my 1987 Chevy Blazer and dreaming one day that we might have a forklift. **

You know how this story goes: Bezos realized his dream, got that forklift, and picked up a few more things along the way...

The Hard Thing About Hard Things


"A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well." - Jeff Bezos

I racked my brain trying to think of a harder way to earn a buck than retailing...

  • Low barriers to entry
  • High fixed costs
  • Huge working capital needs
  • Fickle customer base
  • Low margins

...and came up with nothing (restaurants maybe?).

And Bezos focused on by far the most difficult piece of the system, the logistical nightmare that is moving consumer goods at scale.

To give you an idea of just how difficult, let's consider the Traveling Salesman Problem:

"Given a list of locations and the distances between them all, what is the shortest possible route that visits each location once and returns to the origin?"

A single person traveling to 10 different locations has more than 3.5 million different paths to take. Add in a few more people with a few more locations, and the number of possible routes quickly becomes greater than the number of atoms in the known universe.

In a typical day, a worker in an Amazon fulfillment center might walk 13 miles, pick 1300 items, from a selection of over 2 million products, in a one million sq ft building… Amazon has several hundred thousand people doing this everyday.

Very interesting video if you have the time

To paraphrase Bezos, this is "a dynamic traveling salesman problem completed by a decentralized swarm of workers where some of the cities move and disappear."

Add in time constraints - like 1 day shipping in the case of Amazon Prime, or hourly windows for Amazon Fresh - and the difficulty ratchets up to a whole new level.

The complexity is mind bending.

With existing technology, it's impossible to brute force - attempt every possible combination - this kind of problem, so organizations employ sophisticated algorithms (and high IQ engineers) to give reasonable approximations.

When we consider Amazon's operations in that context, success in relatively easy, high margin businesses - content distribution, auctions, advertising, etc. - seems all but assured.

It's All About The Middle, Man


"The art of good business is being a good middleman. Putting people together. - Layer Cake ( Underrated movie!)*

According to Dr. Shaw: "The idea was always that someone would be allowed to make a profit as an intermediary. The key question is: Who will get to be that middleman?"

Taking a cue from his mentor, Bezos inserted himself into the middle of book buyers and book sellers, took over the most complex part of the system, and began to expand "middle out."

Over time, as Amazon came to account for a greater and greater piece of book distributors business, Bezo's lieutenants began to demand increasingly favourable terms.

Then, Bezos skipped the middleman (there can only be one!), and started negotiating directly with book publishers.

According to the man himself, Amazon should "approach these small publishers the way a cheetah would pursue a sickly gazelle."

Over time, Bezos moved into publishing books directly, eliminating yet another middleman.

You can see this same strategy across every Amazon business line:

I could do a multi-part post on the strategic importance of Amazon Web Services alone, and the sheer magnitude of the operation precludes me from including much in-line…

However, here is a quote from famed Venture Capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya:

Chamath Palihapitiya:

I think Amazon is the most interesting company right now and represents the surest path to a $5T (15-20x from current levels) market cap within 50 years. the reason i think this has nothing to do with e-commerce although e-commerce is their way of dog fooding the real reason: AWS.

AWS is a tax on the compute economy. So whether you care about mobile apps, consumer apps, IoT, SaaS etc etc, more companies than not will be using AWS vs building their own infrastructure. e-commerce was AMZN's way to dog food AWS, and continue to do so so that it was mission grade. if you believe that over time the software industry is a multi, deca trillion industry, then ask yourself how valuable a company would be who taxes the majority of that industry.

1%, 2%, 5% - it doesn't matter because the numbers are so huge - the revenues, profits, profit margins etc. i don't see any cleaner monopoly available to buy in the public markets right now.

More comprehensive info on AWS can be found here, on Stratechery. https://stratechery.com/company/amazon/

Resistance is Futile


"Market leadership can translate directly to higher revenue, higher profitability, greater capital velocity, and correspondingly stronger returns on invested capital." - Jeff Bezos

As I was writing this article, a report came out that Amazon was developing its own network switches a direct threat to Cisco, a $200bb company...

Trying to list all of the areas that Amazon competes in would be… ahem, futile... so let's look at a few compelling statistics (shamelessly pilfered from this thread):

  • Since 2010, Amazon has added $64 billion in top line revenue growth, or the equivalent of Nordstrom, Macy's and Sears combined.

  • 52% of households in the U.S. have Amazon Prime subscriptions.

  • $4.5 billion is AmazonStudios content budget for 2017, or more than every other major media player (HBO, ABC, NBC) except Netflix

  • Amazon is the most preferred DSP (demand side platform) among digital advertisers, beating Google's DoubleClick & AppNexus

  • Amazon owns half of all online shopping, and is growing faster than the sector as a whole

Using the Borg cube as the leading picture for this section is particularly apt (if I do say so myself!) given Bezo's penchant for assimilating (or destroying) other entities.

For example, in 2012, Amazon purchased Kiva Systems, a manufacturer of automatic fulfillment robots..

After contracts ran out with existing customers (read: retail competition), Kiva Systems was renamed Amazon Robotics and closed to outsiders.

The above screen grab is taken from a talk Bezos did at MIT in 2002, where Bezos highlighted his amazing partnership initiatives, allowing other retailers to leverage Amazon's amazing e-commerce infrastructure!

What Jeff neglected to mention was that Amazon partners with other businesses the way a parasite partners with a host. Of that list, the only retailer that still exists independently is Target.

Let me repeat that:

Of that list, the only retailer that still exists independently is Target.

6 went bankrupt, 2 were picked up by Macy's and Barnes & Noble (aka bankrupt they just don't know it yet), and 2 are now controlled by KKR & Paul Singer (a fate worse than bankruptcy).

Revenge of the Nerds


"Your margin is my opportunity." - Jeff Bezos

Building the 21st century Standard Oil is just Jeff's day job. To make ends meet, Bezos spends evenings moonlighting as history's most successful Angel investor, with investments including:

Google (pre-seed!) - AirBnB - ZocDoc - Uber - Domo - Vicarious - Rethink Robotics - Twitter - Workday - Juno Therapeutics - D Wave - Convoy - FundBox - and many more

He also works weekends as the publisher of one of the world's most respected newspapers - The Washington Post - and building Blue Origin, the Yin to Elon Musk's SpaceX Yang.

"Jeff Bezos might be the most terrifying businessman in history" - I wrote this here, and I think it's accurate….

But don't take my word for it! Listen to what some other people have to say about Mr. Bezos (you may have heard their names before):

  • Charlie Munger: Jeff Bezos is a different species.

  • Warren Buffett: Jeff Bezos is the most remarkable business person of our age.

  • John Malone: And I think Jeff Bezos is gonna be the most disruptive. As the Death Star moves into striking range of every industry on the planet, you've just got to take your hat off and envy what he has built.

  • *Peter Thiel: Bezos is the toughest person in the world to compete with.

  • Seth Klarman: Discussions in the Baupost conference rooms are increasingly likely to include an assessment of what Amazon executives are discussing in their conference rooms.

  • Stan Druckenmiller: I think Bezos is incredible.

When a panoply of our wealthiest, most powerful investors are unanimous in their praise, it's time for the rest of the world to take notice.

(Anti)Trust The Process


And the Troll of the Year award goes to: David Sacks!

Unfortunately for Bezos, one of the people taking notice happens to be the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump.

Antitrust law is the elephant in the room (for a detailed overview of the topic as it relates to Amazon, I highly recommend this Yale Law Journal article) and the real estate mogul has not been shy in expressing his disdain for Bezos the-would-be Conqueror.

Interestingly, to this date, the only antitrust-style litigation Amazon has been involved in was when a group of publishers + Apple were convicted of colluding against AMZN to keep prices high.

Assuming the Trump administration actually wants to prosecute Amazon, I'm not sure that existing legislation will be effective
.
There is precedent, with A&P back in the 1940's & 50's. The government (mostly) failed to breakup the grocer, when the case was successfully delayed until a pro-business administration was put in office.

Notably, there was an "outpouring" of support from "thousands of consumers" (Note: very cool, in-depth article about a long lost empire).

Given that Prime is now in greater than 50% of American households, a contemporary outpouring of support would be a thing to behold.

And since a supreme court ruling in 1979, courts have taken the view that consumer welfare is the key antitrust metric, and Amazon has delivered year-over-year improvements in prices, selection, customer experience, and innovation across its landscape of products and services.

Even The Fed speculates that Amazon is directly responsible for reducing inflation.

Furthermore much of the government itself is dependent on Amazon through the orgs web services architecture: the CIA has praised Amazon for innovation, noting their cloud infrastructure deal with AWS has been "nothing short of transformational."

And much of that innovation Amazon supplies via web service comes from lessons learned via solving retail ops problems… given looming conflict with China, I'm not sure U.S. intelligence agencies will permit the crippling of a key asset, especially when the Chinese have something comparable in the form of Alibaba.

The Future Ain't What It Used To Be


"The greatest achievement of our technology may well be creation of tools that allow us to go beyond engineering – that allow us to create more than we can understand." - Danny Gillis

The antenna pictured above was designed for NASA by an evolutionary computer design program, and it outperformed every human variant.

Bezos runs Amazon like one giant consumer experiment, and I think he is the first person to use computer science to apply economic principles directly to a correctly defined business objective - maximizing the present value of future cash flows.

Jeff: Technology has been our single biggest investment and the company basically runs on computer science.

Computer generated solutions don't necessarily look human, and if you think about Amazon in that context, it becomes very hard to predict what happens next.

Leveraging scale, maybe Amazon is able to reduce prices on basic items to the point where it makes sense to give things away - for free - to poor people, and then use the resulting data to improve customer experience at the high end, charging the rich more…

And as the poor get richer from Amazon's generosity, they are able to spend more…

On Amazon.

Maybe, through the ongoing healthcare initiative with Berkshire and JP Morgan, Bezos' algos discover that NPV is best increased by providing free healthcare to all Prime members. (For a primer on what this might look like, check this highly interesting post from Steve Jurvetson, the smartest venture capitalist in the game)

Obviously this is all fantastical, but it is fun to speculate…

This Time… Is Different?


I've been inside the sausage factory and know how complex business is in the real world. In that context, a lot of investor opinions display a high level of confidence based on a relatively sparse set of facts - Alice Schroeder

I think that as long as Bezos is at the helm, it will take a paradigm shift - 3d printing? Teleportation? Molecular computing? - or some unforeseeable catastrophe to take down Amazon.

Large, long term trends in the business environment - including the internet, globalization, robotics, machine learning, etc. - all favor scale, and I don't see how/when the world shifts from this model.

Gun to my head, I'd buy... but I'm not smart enough to go beyond "intelligent" speculation.

I think there could be a real opportunity here to deploy a large amount of capital for anyone with the knowledge to value AMZN correctly.

For the rest of us mere mortals, I think it makes sense to channel Warren Buffett by asking "and then what?" in the context of Amazon.

For the Quantrepreneurs, I think a truly-personalized-price-discrimination algorithm based on predictive analytics would be very interesting, and applicable across a wide range of businesses (and if you like my writing and need a lowly business guy, give me a shout!).

For the life sciences people, there has been tremendous innovation in agriculture of late, and producing food at scale using advanced gene scripts and autonomous drones could be tremendously lucrative.

If you're a venture guy, I think you could make money on something like Twiggle, a startup that provides tools for e-tailers to better compete.

If you're in PE, there must be opportunities in liquidations.

And if capital markets is your game, I'm sure there's dough to be made in distressed debt.

For the time being, I hope you'll all join me in welcoming our new Bezosian overlord.

All Hail King Bezos


"AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!" - Jeff Bezos

Good hunting,

CC

P.S.

Update: Long TSLA

I will do a Long TSLA: Aftermath post when the last of my options are sold/expire, but I wanted to do a quick recap.

@thebrofessor mentioned hubris in my Tesla thread. I bought a set of deep OTM TSLA roughly here, on May 25:

Using Bayesian statistics - and building in a large margin of safety - I ballparked the odds of a TSLA short squeeze at 1/100, with a 1000/1 payoff (expected value 10x), and bet 0.5% of my portfolio.

Roughly 3/4s of the way up that large spike, my options were up 10x (sorry I don't have a screenshot). So I was right!!!...

But hallucinations of instant riches got to me, so rather than liquidating I HODL'd and now I'm roughly even (Theta Decay is a bitch).

Update: I'm up a good amount again, thanks for apologizing Musk!

Stay Tuned.

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Comments (52)

Aug 2, 2018 - 2:02pm
CuriousCharacter, what's your opinion? Comment below:

GreenspanAndHam @Pio nono" Shadow_Tenderfoot @crookedhillary" thebrofessor @Layne Staley" @poasb40" urmaaam thexfactor336 BBDreamin Disjoint anoss @WallStreetOasis.com" watdo monkeyseemonkeypoo @LReed" Secyh62 KLMC @Dig Bumb Idiot" Synergy_or_Syzygy @real_Skankhunt42" DeepLearning wannabetrader11 sl55amg Pmc2ghy

@iBankedUp" the_gekko LeveragedTiger iridescent007 hungry23 @More Leverage" accountingbyday Whiskey5 @Sham Wow" @man-1500" WolfofWSO AlexCook MonacoMonkey @g-i the pharma guy" @TNA" GoodBread APAE @Port Ricky" UFOinsider @Pass the mayo" oligarch

  • 1
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Aug 2, 2018 - 3:47pm
CuriousCharacter, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Honestly I looked everywhere for a compelling short thesis while preparing this post...

I found nothing apart from big macro/catastrophic events.

I think the best place to look would be the history of the political and regulatory apparatus.

At some point, resistance will most likely come in the form of a powerful industry consortium banding together and lobbying for a "21st century interpretation" of antitrust laws ..

But given how many people depend on Amazon not just for goods and services, but for a primary source of income, I'm not sure the public will tolerate a breakup.

If anyone has a better idea I'm all ears.

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Aug 2, 2018 - 3:58pm
ResearchLackey19, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Right. I was looking everywhere as well but I couldn't find one either. I'll come back and post it if I find one.

I was listening to a podcast few weeks back and a lawyer was saying that anti-trust thesis is not going to work against AMZN because the consumers need to get hurt in an anti-trust situation. I don't think I'm getting hurt from my AMZN prime membership hah. I think you are on point when you say that they would need some new interpretation of the law.

Aug 2, 2018 - 4:06pm
thebrofessor, what's your opinion? Comment below:

allow me to summarize, because I've been wrong on Amazon forever (check my thread history).

  1. it's overvalued by all metrics
  2. its margins are thinner than christian bale from the machinist
  3. it treats its sellers on the platform like dogshit (heard this anecdotally, never confirmed firsthand)

essentially what every short is hoping for is what I'm hoping for (because I'd like to buy it): eventually the market decides they want amazon to be valued on its bottom line profits and go from a nosebleed valuation to a GARP valuation, which would take over a 50% haircut to come close. the trouble with shorting is you don't have to be right in the direction of your call, you have to right about timing as well.

Aug 2, 2018 - 4:22pm
CuriousCharacter, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Can you share the metrics and/or model you're using to value AMZN? Not being snarky, I'd like to take a look.

I actually think thin margins are a good thing, as they act as competition deterrence. Obviously being APPL - with the cost of Toyota and the margins of Ferrari - is a wonderful place to be, but that's not Bezo's game...

You're 100% right about sellers being treated badly.

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Aug 2, 2018 - 4:36pm
ResearchLackey19, what's your opinion? Comment below:
thebrofessor:
  1. it treats its sellers on the platform like dogshit (heard this anecdotally, never confirmed firsthand)

Does this matter at this point? I don't know if you are familiar with Samsung but it is known for treating its supplier like dogshit (ex. stretch the shit out of payable). I mean if a supplier complain, there are 10 other companies that are willing to take its place to be treated like dog shit. Samsung is simply too big in South Korea for the suppliers to fight back.

I mean what are the sellers gonna do if AMZN treats them like shit? Am i missing something?

Aug 2, 2018 - 4:37pm
urmaaam, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Great analysis and post, I love how you took the time to write this up.

Another thing I'd like to mention that really helps Amazon is its employees. I think company culture is one of if not the biggest factor in a company's success. Like all of the quotes you posted from friggin geniuses, Jeff is just an amazing guy from a business perspective. If a normal person were running the company, it would have remained an online book distributor until it got bought up by Borders or something. Steve Jobs famously preached " A players hire A players, but B players hire C players and C players hire D players." Bezos started as a super-A player and they force the fat to trim itself often. You can see it in the Amazon culture.

They're ruthless, give no quarter and ask for no quarter. Your point about the immigrants I found very relevant, they're famous for hiring immigrants who have no better alternative, working them to the bone for cheap. Amazon has an ability to attract obsessive, well educated people on par with Wall Street, only most are MBAs trying to start a division in the company.

I think it'll be awhile before they slow down, especially with the resources they have. brofessor mentioned thin margins- and it's true for the retail business because they're just at war forever. They are extremely profitable in their AWS division.

In short, long $AMZN until gov and/or Karma catches up.

Aug 2, 2018 - 10:19pm
MichaelScarn, what's your opinion? Comment below:

And now I just read it -- simply awesome! Such a great summary of what makes AMZN and Bezos great, and why they very well may be formidable and (potentially) unbeatable forces for decades to come.

Also, though I'm no well-versed in options, was fascinated by the info. at end regarding the chances of a short squeeze, but the potential payoff, which I imagine is why you took the risk...

Most Helpful
Aug 2, 2018 - 4:54pm
Secyh62, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Very well done, makes me want to buy some to be honest.

The way I see it only three things can stop Amazon, the government, a misstep, or a better competitor. A better competitor simply does not exist today and it is not a wise investment strategy to avoid a company because someday someone will probably do it better. Will Amazon make a poor decision that at least slows them down? I would say this is probably the most likely scenario. I did not think the Whole Foods acquisition made the most sense but it wasn't bad enough to really throw a cog into the operation. I'd say a poor acquisition is probably the biggest threat to Amazon but Bezos is, as you've described, one of the most incredible operators in history, so I would not take that bet. As for government intervention, there is no precedent for antitrust when consumers are benefiting. At some point however, will Amazon displace enough workers from the firms it keeps running over where that in and of itself is detrimental to the consumer? I don't know, investing based on potential unprecedented government intervention is not a wise strategy either.

The nightmare scenario for an Amazon bear is that they are able to smoothly transition from high growth to high margins. Honestly as time goes on I become more convinced that they can probably do it. I still look to the R&D line and think that if they scaled that back to like 5% of revenue they'd be much more profitable and be reasonably valued here. Is the high R&D necessary to facilitate the growth, idk, probably some, and probably some goes into more long shot projects. All I know is that at some point the growth has to slow, no company in history has been able to maintain that type of growth over the very long-term. When will the growth slow? Not something I'm willing to bet on. Incredible company and likely to be the most disruptive force that we will see in our lifetimes.

The real question you're likely asking is would I be a buyer of the stock? Not here. I think there's too much dumb money piled into these things that any kind of temporary shift in sentiment could really let some air out of this thing. On a good sell-off, like some serious panic selling, I probably would be a buyer. Another barrier to my entry is that I have to clear all my trades through our CIO and he hates Amazon (particularly bc we are a value shop benchmarked to the SP 500, so we don't own it, and it runs us over every day). That would likely keep me out of it realistically, but bet against it I would never do.

Aug 2, 2018 - 5:25pm
CuriousCharacter, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I don't see how any of the old guard can traverse Amazon's moat. All of the pre-dotcom companies have the "problem of profitability" (thanks professor Galloway!) and are essentially locked in to old business models...

(Side note: the market recognizes this so could be a fertile ground for investors)

Maybe a company like Wish could take a bottoms-up approach, but with Bezos - and investors, evidently - comfortable with extremely thin margins, I'm not sure there is any oxygen underneath Amazon.

Re: WF

I think Whole Foods was the logical next step in the quest for world domination.

I wrote this back in 2012:

Curiouscharacter:
Even better, how about a site where you input your entire grocery list, and it searches all of the grocery stores in a 10 mile radius for the best total price. It could even take into account the cost of driving based on current gas prices and your make/model of car. Hell, you could put a price on your time: have the site linked to traffic patterns based on the Google Maps API, and the current wait time at grocery store checkouts.

If your time is semi-valuable, meaning you're not willing to pay for delivery, but you don't have an hour to spend at the grocery store, purchase all of your groceries in advance based on current market value, and have a stock boy pack them and have them ready for pick-up at a designated time.

In this thread: https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/blog/is-dynamic-pricing-the-wave-of-the-future

And it looks like Amazon is executing on it...

For a more detailed analysis check out the Stratechery post on the acquisition, dudes analysis is more comprehensive than mine.

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Aug 6, 2018 - 3:01am
traderlife, what's your opinion? Comment below:

In the past there have been good value arguments for Amazon.

PE ratio is a really stupid metric. Especially for a company like amazon. I'd like to see how profitable amazon would be right now if it was run for earnings. It's not. They willingly lose money on a lot of businesses for growth. The money they spend on content for example is a zero. I can't name one amazon show. It's all a waste. It's 4.5 billion a year wasted (for what it's worth a saw a list on all the businesses they've failed in and it is extensive). Point is amazon is burning $10 maybe $20 billion a year on unprofitable ventures. If you back those out amazon isn't that expensive.

And people ask how can amazon fail? They fail by not conquering new territories. My guess if the company was run for profits it's probanly a 30-40 pe stock maybe more. If that's as profitably as it can be and they can't find new profits then it would sell off a lot. And if they started to try to push up profits would their customers leave them? I don't know.

As far as tech companies go I'm fairly confident in Apple. Amazon I wouldn't have a problem with at half the price. Too tough for my head to figure out what they can actually earn. But as a 500 billion company I'd be fairly comfident they can earn enough. Netflix at half the price id like too....if done some tam analysis and struggle seeing how they can earn enough but others disagree. Google is cheap but the antitrust threat is real with them.... they cross some lines that are not beneficial to consumers. Facebook getting boring but it's probably alright and valuation metrics are attractive. Tesla's dog shit. I can't see any business that companies on that has be potential to earn enough to justify their valuation...they have to reinvent the margins of the car business to be interesting....but I do believe they are an interesting innovative company...I just think they are in a bad business.

The one problem with faang is no one ever talks about the risks. I think they all have risks. Apple has the risks that someday consumers decide its stupid paying $900 for an Apple phone when you can get a $200 Android phone that does 99% of the same functionality. Personally I think their a luxury goods company now and people will pay for the brand, but that is a risks. I think most of faang can be considered reasonably valued but also have risks people don't talk about.

Also think Uber's a zero. No margins. And may be the high costs provider in the taxi market. I think riders will always choose to save a penny on their ride and are willing to switch apps anytime if it saves them a buck. I view them like phones in general...no one else made money in phones besides Apple. And every other smart phone company saw their margins go to zero.

Aug 2, 2018 - 7:43pm
Sham Wow, what's your opinion? Comment below:

How do people feel about FAANG Founders/ Early investors obtaining Robber Baron level wealth??

Aug 2, 2018 - 8:14pm
CuriousCharacter, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think Zuck et al. have done their best to proactively address this issue - The Giving Pledge, donations, trusts, etc. -

But I don't think society has really considered this just yet, and things could come to a head when the next big recession hits...

More info here: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/30/doomsday-prep-for-the-super-rich

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Aug 2, 2018 - 11:19pm
WidespreadPanic90, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Excellent write up. Insightful and entertaining. I'll be curious to see how AMZN reacts to MSFT's Azure encroaching (albeit still far behind) on their claim of cloud computing technology supremacy in the coming years.

"That was basically college for me, just ya know, fuckin' tourin' with Widespread Panic over the USA."

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Aug 15, 2018 - 9:25am
Galahad, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Amazon: A Real-Life BuyNLarge (Originally Posted: 10/31/2017)

Hey all,

If you guys have watched Disney Pixar's hit animation Wall-E, you probably remember "BuyNLarge", the massive monopoly that basically controls every aspect of consumers' lives.

Recently I read about Amazon's potential expansion into becoming a pharmacy after acquiring rights to distribute in twelve states, and what this means for existing pharmacy companies such as CVS.

Personally, I think these pharmacies should definitely be on the lookout: considering how much Amazon is integrating itself into consumers' daily lives (I buy 95% of my stuff online and pretty soon I'll probably buy all my food and stuff online as well).

But going back to Wall-E, I want to point out what BuyNLarge was: a massive monopoly that grew from a yogurt shop to a tech giant, pharmaceutical, engineering firm, retail giant, etc. over time. Is it just or does anyone see the similarity to Amazon?

Aug 15, 2018 - 9:26am
WSO Monkey Bot, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey Galahad, I swear if I had a silver banana for every lonely thread I posted too I'd be richer than @compbanker ...

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  • American Psycho and Real Life- Bateman much Lately? Most of the older crowd grew up watching the original Wall Street, generation later was American Psycho, followed by Wall Street 2, which some, not I, claim to be better than the first but I digress, and finally Margin Call /Wolf of Wall Street/The Big Sh ...
  • Amazon: $1trn by 2020E? Great video: Galloway: Amazon Will Be Broken Up predicting that Amazon will be a $1trn company by ... 2020E, at which point it will be broken up. Thoughts? amazon to Friday, July 21, 2017- 10:55am ...
  • More suggestions...

Or maybe the following WSO members have something to say: CorpFinanceGuy Jhawer peremium

If those topics were completely useless, don't blame me, blame my programmers...

Aug 3, 2018 - 12:13am
UTDFinanceGuy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I love this write up.

It's interesting, because I think Amazon is the #1 country in the United States and possibly the entire world when it comes to technology companies.

What I want to address is there there is a tremendous amount of opportunity and almost a sub-startup environment that will produce a ton of 9-figure and potentially 10-figure deals in the works for companies like this. The best way to describe it is that there a ton of "big' companies than command an absolutely massive percentage of market share. I'm thinking Amazon, Salesforce, etc. There are people that are pack leaders in this market (mind you the technology market is still in its infancy since the inception of internet) has a huge advantage.

So being an additional piece of that company (being acquired by them) or working side by side (AppExchange on Salesforce) is worth a ton of money.

Now of course you can't build an Apple out of an Amazon sub-service, right?

Traditionally I'd agree, but if you look at Internet and technology innovation you have a bit of a different strategy and way talent affects your growth and big vision.

A company may come out of starting as an Amazon transportation data algorithm and ALSO solve a huge issue related to transportation as a whole. Definitely in slightly more mature years (think Series C and beyond) since you'll be focused on one specific client or a few handful of clients at first that are huge and specific in their needs. Once you hit the point you can service and have extra capital, start solving the BIGGER picture problems.

Next thing you know this transportation algorithm is so amazing, because you had the chance to deviate and expand the functionality and bring on new clients.

This is where I think you will see a ton of great success as a new market emerges that rewards this type of build up. And with it a ton of opportunity.

Amazon as a whole is safe. They are going to keep doing what they're doing and they will be the Walmart of E-commerce but because of that -- they will grow, grow, grow to not fully identifiable constraints I can point out.

The real next market -- will be those companies that go to solve a problem for larger enterprises, solves that pain, and then uses additional funds to expand the scope of the larger vision.

The only caveat is the B2C side. Because everything I just said was specifically about B2B companies. Only the B2C side you find that virality is sometimes more important than function as first. But even then I think you can see the ones that have the benefit also extend their scope. Such as Facebook and focusing on simply college students and updates to being a personal online connector of life events.

Not sure if any of that makes sense, but it 's the way I see it.

"It is better to have a friendship based on business, than a business based on friendship." - Rockefeller. "Live fast, die hard. Leave a good looking body." - Navy SEAL
  • 5
Aug 15, 2018 - 9:27am
DawgStreet, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Looking for a place to put your money? Follow Amazon... (Originally Posted: 02/28/2018)

"To say Amazon will not compete with you is lunacy because they compete with everybody,"

Left and right, Amazon has been looking at different ways to enter your life, whether it be through the way you buy groceries or what you do at home.

To add to the arsenal, Amazon recently acquired Ring, a 'smart' doorbell startup focused on providing online home security, for about $1 billion:

Amazon is buying smart doorbell maker Ring, a deal that will allow the company to expand its home security and in-house delivery services.

You can check 'home security' off of your "industries to be dominated by Amazon" list.

Wondering where Amazon will move next? Look no further:

This isn't the first time Amazon has partnered with Ring. The e-commerce company previously invested in Ring through its Alexa Fund, which exclusively invests in companies that help scale its Alexa voice technology.

Saying that you should put your money where Amazon puts its money should no longer be a bizarre idea. Maybe predicting Amazon's next move might be the key to winning while Amazon keeps winning. For a start, take a look at the companies that the Alexa Fund has invested in so far. It would not be a stretch to say that these companies are somehow part of Amazon's master plan to world dominance.

Do you agree? Or are you skeptical of what Amazon is doing?

Do you think it would be wise to look at other competitors like Google?

What do you think is next for Amazon?

Source

Aug 15, 2018 - 9:28am
WSO Monkey Bot, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hi DawgStreet, just trying to help:

  • The guessing game: best site for Amazon's new HQ? retailers know they're dead-Appley Jeff Bezos is looking for a new site to place Amazon 's new HQ. ... What he's looking for?-Urban location close to a good university-The location has to be near ... take your pick: Which city should the new Amazon HQ be placed in and which sch
  • Let's Talk About Amazon With the news of Jeff Bezos passing Bill Gates for richest person, I wanted to start a discussion ... invest in AMZN sub $200/share, I've never been able to bring myself to buy it because I've ... always looked at traditional valuation metrics. leaving aside for the moment that the company purposely ...
  • Amazon and your groceries-- would you choose Amazon, Kroger, Costco, or other? The Amazon-Whole Foods deal came together relatively quickly, according to people familiar with ... the matter, indicating Amazon may not yet have a fully formed strategy for Whole Foods. Something as ... threat to everyone and their mother's businesses. That said, now that Amazon has joined the fray in ...
  • Would investing in Amazon and Tesla actually be a mistake? past has been wonderful for Amazon.com investors, but for current investors, there's a lot of risk ... Article from The Motley Fool: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/2-stocks-could-lose... With Amazon ... their shares with extreme optimism. However, investing in these companies might actually make you lose ...
  • WSJ: Amazon is disrupting MBA recruiting at many of the programs. Through sheer size, Amazon is sending recruiters en masse to campus, and ... convinced that this is due to Amazon being so awesome but rather is the result of the decline of finance ... recruiting at MBA programs and consulting being shit due to the travel and lifestyle. Moreover, Amazon is the ...
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  • Financial Analyst at Amazon? for your help! amazon Financial Analyst tech company <p class="h4 m-t-none">Corporate ... Hi, I'm going to be starting a job as an entry level Financial analyst at Amazon pretty soon ... helpful. If it helps I think I might be put into a product finance team (i.e. Amazon Fire, Kindle, etc.) ...
  • More suggestions...

If we're lucky, maybe these professional users will respond: Lupi Fin_Grad17 sanchitmittal

Fingers crossed that one of those helps you.

Aug 15, 2018 - 9:29am
DawgStreet, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Want packages delivered to your car? Amazon has got you covered... (Originally Posted: 04/24/2018)

Amazon delivery people can already enter your home to make deliveries. But maybe you need your package now and won't be home until late at night...

Always looking innovate, Amazon is now able to make deliveries directly to your parked car:

The car service is free for Amazon Prime members who own certain newer GM and Volvo models. Customers download the Amazon Key app and link an Amazon account with a connected car service, such as OnStar. A delivery driver unlocks the car-either the trunk or doors, depending on the vehicle-remotely through the wireless connection.

Customers are instructed to park in a "publicly accessible area," such as a driveway, street or a surface-level lot within the delivery range. The day of the delivery, customers receive a four-hour delivery time window, as well as notifications when the car is unlocked and locked.

As Amazon keeps innovating and redefining e-commerce, the biggest obstacle the company faces with most of these new services is consumer skepticism. At one point, enough is enough. I for one would probably not let Amazon get in my car...

Would you ever let Amazon touch your car?

Where can you see Amazon expanding its delivery services?

Thoughts?

Aug 15, 2018 - 9:30am
WSO Monkey Bot, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hi DawgStreet, don't worry, the WSO Monkey Bot is here.... I'm hoping one of these links will help find your answer:

  • Do you trust Amazon to let strangers into your home? Amazon sure wants you to trust them. In fact, they unveiled yet another product. This service is ... Amazon verifies the address and delivery time and allows him or her into your home. You can watch from ... deliveries. They hope to make it compatible with cleaning services, pet sitters, and dog walkers. Amazon
  • Amazon's Delivery Guarantee Is Worth $13.25 to deliver the item on time I will try my best to resolve this issue for you. How has your day been ... exactly Amazon means when they "guarantee" your package will be delivered by a certain date. ... Goldie..Do not worry. Your item will be delivered to you<
  • Amazon is Eyeing the Banking Industry: Here is how Amazon is planning to break into Wall Street... wants to be a bank without actually being called a bank? The article goes on to say that Amazon is ... avoid "capital rules and regulations". Either way, Amazon has got Wall Street's ... Bank of America Corp, the two biggest U.S. banks. I think this just adds to the idea that Amazon wants ...
  • Amazon and your groceries-- would you choose Amazon, Kroger, Costco, or other? threat to everyone and their mother's businesses. That said, now that Amazon has joined the fray in ... The Amazon-Whole Foods deal came together relatively quickly, according to people familiar with ... online groceries, where would you buy your groceries from and why? What kind of business model do you ...
  • Amazon to rival Wal-mart in the grocery market being a AmazonFresh members is that you can pick up your purchases in 15 minutes. Amazon has also ... is paid for through your phone and a connection to Amazon `s system via wireless. The pickup and ... delivery service that AmazonFresh has introduced is intended to compliment the brick-and-mortar convenience ...
  • Would investing in Amazon and Tesla actually be a mistake? money. The key issue with Tesla is the fact that it's already trading as though it were a major car ... past has been wonderful for Amazon.com investors, but for current investors, there's a lot of risk ... quarters, Amazon.com has earned around $1.9 billion, which is small compared with Walmart's $11.4 ...
  • How Amazon Is Disrupting MBA Recruiting Because so many aspects of the business and major projects require many MBAs to succeed, Amazon has had to ... benefits) Give you an opportunity to be a part of something huge. Amazon is one of the biggest and fastest ... at many of the programs. Through sheer size, Amazon is sending recruiters en masse to campus, and ...
  • More suggestions...

Or maybe the following WSO members have something to say: btglover CaliBankerSF dyslan

I hope those threads give you a bit more insight.

Aug 15, 2018 - 9:31am
yul33, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Amazon Shares Hit $2,000 (Originally Posted: 08/30/2018)

CNBC just posted an article about Amazon's share prices, which reached $2,000:

At one point during the premarket, Amazon was at $2,001 per share. A day earlier, it closed at a record $1,998.10 for a 3.2 percent jump that was sparked by a bullish call by Morgan Stanley. Analysts at the bank raised their 12-month price target on Amazon to $2,500 from $1,850.

Amazon shares have been on a tear this year, surging 70.9 percent through Wednesday's close. They have also more than doubled over the past 12 months.

CNBC cites Amazon's rapid growth and "high margin revenue" as a reason to expect more gains. Additionally, the article points out that Amazon is really close to the 1 trillion dollar valuation.

At $2,000, the stock would need to gain just $50 per share in order to reach the 13-digit market cap.

So, my questions for the WSO community are:

1.) Do you own any AMZN stock? 2.) Do you believe Amazon is overvalued or still undervalued?

I am neither experienced nor thoroughly knowledgable about the markets compared to some of the other WSO members, and I want to know your opinions. I think that though Amazon is surging it may experience some correction as it's currently riding momentum. I don't own any AMZN stock personally, and I'm not sure about valuation because that's a complex subject.

Aug 15, 2018 - 9:33am
m_1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I don't own amazon stock but I do think it will keep skyrocketing. The sheer amount of usable data they have is ridiculous along with e-commerce market share they hold. It's become pointless selling any commoditized products as an ecomm retailer over the last 3 years or so because Amazon has done an amazing job of eating up market share with things like amazon basics.

I'm surprised there's no antitrust hitting Amazon/Google to be honest!

Aug 15, 2018 - 9:34am
YungBull, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Amazon Passes $1 Trillion Market Cap (Originally Posted: 09/05/2018)

Amazon.com Inc (AMZN) on Tuesday briefly joined Apple Inc (AAPL) to become the second $1 trillion publicly listed U.S. company after its stock price more than doubled in a year as it grew rapidly in retail and cloud computing. - Reuters article

What do you guys think of this accomplishment?

More Cool Facts:

Amazon claimed 34% of the total cloud computing market during the second quarter. - Yahoo article

Monopoly, shall we say?

If you had invested $1,000 during Amazon's IPO in May 1997, your investment would be worth $1,362,000 as of September 4, according to CNBC calculations. - CNBC article

Baffled by this 1,340 bagger.

Morgan Stanley analysts upped their price target for Amazon from $1,850 to a whopping $2,500 per share last week. - Yahoo article

What do you guys think of Morgan Stanley's price target?

Yung Bull
  • 2
Aug 15, 2018 - 9:35am
WSO Monkey Bot, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hi YungBull, yes, I'm a bot, but I'm also good looking. Hopefully, these threads help you:

  • Apple passes one trillion Market Cap Apple hit $1 trillion in market cap sooner rather than later. Do you monkeys think its justified ...
  • It's Apple and not Amazon at $1 trillion For a while everyone thought Amazon might beat Apple to reach $1 trillion in market cap. But Apple ...
  • How long until $1 trillion market cap? In 2012 we had this thread about whether Apple's market cap could hit $1 trillion. Last week ... to become the first $1 trillion market cap company in the history of business." Jeff Bezos & ... I saw this article regarding the possibility of Amazon hitting $1 trillion. I personally think that ..
  • The $1 Trillion College Bubble debt market stands at a whopping $1 trillion dollars only 2nd to residential loan debt which currently ... stand at $13 trillion dollars. The Fed does not regulate the student debt market and it seems the ...
  • Amazon: King of Commerce surest path to a $5T (15-20x from current levels) market cap within 50 years. the reason i think this has ... Stratechery. https://stratechery.com/company/amazon/ Resistance is Futile "Market leadership can translate ... Amazon: King of Commerce Competition is a Sin- John D. Rockefeller Lots of interest in Amazon and ...
  • $1 trillion opportunity, or a failed housing scheme? tip of a $1 trillion iceberg of foreclosed asset sales... several PE firms & hedge funds are ...
  • The World's Greatest Pairs Trade (Short Amazon, Long Walmart) retailers and have market caps around $200 Billion. After that the vast differences between the companies ... Why Amazon Has Moved Amazon is the perfect example of the current market's misunderstanding of ... a multi-year dollar bull market. The 9.5 TRILLION USD carry trade short in the FX markets will continue to ...
  • More suggestions...

If we're lucky, maybe I can guilt some users to help you out: JohnDoe236 @fayolle.samuel" @David-Larson"

Fingers crossed that one of those helps you.

Aug 15, 2018 - 9:36am
inthemoneystocks, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Amazon.com, Inc. Drones Could Signal Top (Originally Posted: 12/02/2013)

Jeff Bezos sat down with Charlie Rose on 60 minutes just hours before Cyber Monday kicked off. Going into this interview, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) rallied for six days straight to new all time highs, just under the $400.00 level.

Bezos talked about using drones to deliver packages from Amazon in near future. This has generated major buzz in the media and a lot of discussion on whether or not it is feasible. The stock opened higher and kissed $399.00 before reversing. The reversal is technically a bearish signal.

This wild news reminds pro investors of the hype that usually ends a strong run for the stock. In addition, the even number of $400 must be respected as resistance. The reality of drones is somewhat silly in the near term. First, FedEx and UPS will throw massive lobbying dollars to the government to try and block it. Afterall, this would hurt their business. In addition, I know many Americans that will shoot a drone out of the sky if they see it. #TargetPractice. Lastly, drones dropping packages on people #LawsuitsGalore, packages getting stolen, bad winds, weather ect. There are a ton of question marks and liabilities that Amazon will have to deal with to get this through, at least with the current technology. I tip my cap to Bezos as he is trying to be Elon Musk-like but drones are years away.

I am eyeing Amazon as a short up here for a solid pull back into 2014. The valuation is stretched even if the most expensive model.

Gareth Soloway InTheMoneyStocks

Aug 15, 2018 - 9:37am
WallStreetOasis.com, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Aug 15, 2018 - 9:39am
happypantsmcgee, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford
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