The company’s shares are down a bit today, but the company’s stock is taking a much less catastrophic plunge in already-meager profits than Apple, whose stock plunged simply because its Q4 profits increased at an unexpectedly slow rate. That’s because Amazon, as best I can tell, is a charitable organization being run by elements of the investment community for the benefit of consumers. The shareholders put up the equity, and instead of owning a claim on a steady stream of fat profits, they get a claim on a mighty engine of consumer surplus. Amazon sells things to people at prices that seem impossible because it actually is impossible to make money that way. And the competitive pressure of needing to square off against Amazon cuts profit margins at other companies, thus benefiting people who don’t even buy anything from Amazon.
They have really thin margins. Extremely thin.
» A grand gesture by Amazon’s founder: With Bezos’ donation, the man who created Amazon from nothing will now be one of the largest donors to same-sex marriage efforts in the country. So what got him to support the effort? An e-mail from a very early employee who is now a lesbian mother of four. “I want to have the right to marry the love of my life and to let my children and grandchildren know their family is honored like a ‘real’ family,” wrote Jennifer Cast, who left the company in 2001. “We need help from straight people. To be very frank, we need help from wealthy straight people who care about us and who want to help us win.” Cast’s e-mail helped make Bezos the largest individual donor in the effort to pass Referendum 74.
» And the key factoid? Amazon’s best-selling item of all-time is the third-generation Kindle, which only came out a few months ago. That’s not the best-selling technology item. No. It managed to top the final book in the “Harry Potter” series for the mantle of Amazon’s biggest seller of all-time. At $139, guess they found their price point. And guess we have egg on our face.