The key to understanding Amazon as a business is that earning a profit is antithetical to its corporate culture and mission. Rather than increasing the value of Amazon stock by pushing out cash to shareholders, Bezos’s strategy is to increase the value of Amazon by literally making the company bigger. Each year, Amazon owns more warehouses, more customer data, more intellectual property, wider distribution channels, etc., and therefore becomes a more valuable enterprise than it was before.
On occasion, Amazon will turn a profit either to prove to Wall Street that it can or else because (as with AWS recently) a particular venture simply proves more lucrative than expected.
This article paints and interesting1 picture of Amazon’s motivations.
- and slightly terrifying ↩