Today at the dawn of the 22nd century Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) issued the following press release:
In celebration of the start of the 22nd century, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos IV and the President of the Earth Federation decided to change the name of the entire planet to Amazon in what promises to be the most expensive naming rights purchase in the history of mankind. Amazon drones and robots everywhere are dropping leaflets to the citizens of Amazon to make sure they are informed of the name change. Since Amazon now effectively controls or owns all the government transportation infrastructure, media, creative, and scientific outlets, Earth's President decided it was prudent to sell the world's most powerful company the naming rights to the planet itself.
A century in the making
At the beginning of the 21st century Amazon was merely an "online" bookstore selling books. However, Jeff Bezos IV's great grandfather, Jeff Bezos I had a vision for Amazon to become the one stop hub of commerce that it is today without any interference from pesky competitors so that it may serve you and planet Earth better. First, by eliminating the overhead of the typical "brick and mortar" business, an old term referring to a place of business where people actually traveled to shop, enabled Amazon to profitably sell books at a lower price destroying the competition. Customers grew weary of "driving" to the book store and fighting the crowds especially around Christmastime. Within the bookstore industry, a series of notable bankruptcies occurred in the second decade of the 21st century starting with Borders in 2011 and ending with the last of the great book stores chains Barnes and Noble (NYSE:BKS) going out of business in 2018. With sales already declining 4% in 2012, Barnes and Noble already knew that trouble awaited them.
Amazon didn't stop there. Jeff Bezos I took on electronic retailers such as Circuit City and Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) and by 2012 Best Buy saw its sales declining 2%. By 2020 both Circuit City and Best Buy too found themselves in bankruptcy court. Ordinary companies of the day surely would have stopped their and rested on their laurels. Still, the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos I had still higher aspirations.
Jeff Bezos I realized that in order to achieve his goal of being the center of commerce that he needed to delight the customer and he couldn't do that without access to technology and infrastructure . He then began a massive fulfillment center expansion initiative in order to shorten lead times, increase purchasing power and ubiquity. As a result, most brick and mortar retail shops were bankrupt by 2030.
On the entertainment front, Amazon planted the seeds for all the superheroes and heroines your children now enjoy by launching Jet City Comics in 2013 . This serious media platform bankrupted popular media conglomerates of the day such as Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) by 2040 after which Amazon went in and picked up its popular franchises for nearly nothing. It's hard to believe that Walt Disney was once a $125 billion company ($1.6 trillion in 2100 terms, adjusted for 3% per annum inflation ). Also in 2013, Amazon partnered up with government entities such as the U.S. Postal Service in order to expand its delivery times to seven days a week. Eventually, in exchange for private bailout money the Federal government handed control of the Postal Service over to Amazon. The combined delivery powerhouse put large delivery companies such as the Fed Ex Corporation (NYSE:FDX) out of business by 2033. Fed EX was once worth as much as $44 billion ($559 billion in 2100 dollars) and Amazon stepped in and bought its assets for a fraction of the price during its bankruptcy proceedings.
Back to reality
Does this imaginary press release sound far-fetched? Not really given Amazon's past successes and the fact that it's delivered some investors over 100 times their original investment. Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos has demonstrated vision and imagination in his pursuit of total ubiquity and market dominance through crazy PR stunts such as the now-famous "drones announcement" and unlikely partnerships to bring streaming music to cars. Successful investors also demonstrate vision, imagination, and long-term thinking. With that said, Amazon could very well come close to becoming the world's hub of commerce and its investors (along with their descendants) could one day look back with awe at the humble beginnings of this once simple online book retailer.