Amazon Acquisitions and Investments

Updates added July 28, 2009

I tried to find a list of companies that had acquired or had invested in, and couldn’t find any lists that looked close to complete. So I decided to create my own. I hunted down a number of their investments and acquisitions, which I’ve included below. Chances are that I’ve missed some, and if you have knowledge of any that you would like to share, please let me know.

Amazon has made some large purchases over the years, but they seem to favor making investments in companies, and marketing agreements with the companies they invest in. While some of their transactions were fairly public, a few were very private, and there aren’t many details on the web about those – for instance, it’s very difficult to find a date for the transaction involving Leep Technologies, which I’ve listed at the end of the 1999 acquisitions.

I’ve included links to a number of patents which were, or are held by these companies.

logo for Bookpages

(announced April 27, 1998) – one of the largest online bookstores in the United Kingdom – – became Amazon’s online UK store.

logo for Telebook

(announced April 27, 1998) – operating through its ABC Bücherdienst subsidiary, was Germany’s number one online bookstore – – became Amazon’s German online store.

logo for Internet Movie Database

Internet Movie Database
(announced April 27, 1998) – launched in 1990, terrific repository for information about movies and television –

logo for Planetall

Sage Enterprises (PlanetAll)
(announced Aug. 4, 1998) – Sage Enterprises, running, from Cambridge, Mass., offered a Web-based address book, calendar, and reminder service. According to a June, 2000 CNet article, Amazon to shut PlanetAll, absorb features, a number of features from PlanetAll were to be integrated into Amazon’s “Friends and Favorites” section. If you have an Amazon account, you’ll see some of these on your profile page, such as a reminder service.

logo for Junglee

Junglee Corporation
(announced Aug. 4, 1998) – Junglee Corp. was based in Sunnyvale, California, and provided Web-based virtual database technology to help shoppers find products on the web. The deal was for 100 percent of outstanding shares in exchange for equity having an value of about $280 million. Before Google’s head of Research, Peter Norvig, became a Googler and prior to his working on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers software, he was employee number 8 at Junglee. His name is on one of the patents below.

logo for
(February 1999) – buys a stake in I’m seeing conflicting reports of the percentage that Amazon purchased.

logo for Geoworks

(February 1999) – acquisition of a minority interest in Geoworks, which works in wireless communications – Owner of a number of patents related to wireless phones.

logo for
(Announced on March 29, 1999) – purchased a 54 percent stake, paid for in cash and stock.
(April 1999 ) – live-event internet auctions

logo for

logo for Bibliofind

logo for Musicfile

e-Niche Incorporated –,, and
(The Merger Agreement and Plan shows a date of April 24, 1999) – for $200 million in mostly stock, the company developed Internet marketplaces at, and operated a rare and collectibles online bookstore at Bibiliofind, and a music site at

logo for Alexa

Alexa Internet
(Announced April 26, 1999) – The press release from Amazon announcing this acquisition focused primarily upon the acquisition of In the press release, we are told that the acquisitions of,, and should be closed by June 30, 1999, and that they were “three separate substantially all-stock transactions totaling approximately $645 million.”

In Amazon makes Net triple play, the internet Archive is mentioned as one of the attractive aspects of what Alexa had to offer. The article provides the following quote:

“Alexa has a pretty interesting database with really good information about what people are doing on the Web and also relationships with close to a million users and potential relationships with a larger number,” said Barry Parr, analyst with IDC. “The immediate application by Amazon isn’t obvious, but it’s an interesting group of folks in an interesting position in the marketplace.”

There are a number of patent filings associated with Alexa Internet. Some of these were filed before the acquisition date, while others were developed afterwards.

logo for Financial Services Corporation
(The Merger Agreement and Plan shows a date of April 25, 1999) –, which specializes in person-to-person and consumer-to-business transactions.

logo for Home
(Announced on May 18, 1999) – –’s $42.5 million in cash and stock bought a 35 percent stake in the online grocer, which served customers in Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. For an idea of what the site and its service was like, see: Buying Peaches, E-Commerce Style
(Announced July 14, 1999) – Offered 100-percent closeout merchandise in all sports categories, which meant that their prices on brand-name sporting goods were at prices from 20 to 90 percent off retail. Deal was for approximately 49 percent of’s outstanding shares as of July 1, 1999. The company was purchased by in 2000.

Tool Crib of the North
(Acquired in October, 1999) – Purchased the online and catalog sales division of the company, selling a very wide variety of tools and home improvement items.

logo for Convergence Corp

Convergence Corporation
(Announced on Oct. 4, 1999) – Makes software to connect wireless devices to the Internet, for about $23 million in stock.

logo for Mindcorps

MindCorps Incorporated
(Founded in 1996, sold to Amazon in 1999) – the company created applications for web sites from online chats to web based databases. Nice interview with one of the founders, Eric Best.

logo for
( has a minority interest (20 percent as of November 1999) in, which offers gift registry, expert advice, and personalized gift suggestions. Other investors in include Tiffany & Co., Crate and Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, and other retailers. In April, 2000, the company merged with, which is an online wedding planning and bridal registry resource, under the name

logo for Back to Basics Toys

Back to Basics Toys
(November 1999) – Privately held catalog toy store based in Herndon, Virginia. Sold to Scholastic in 2003

logo for
(December 1999) – Web retailer of luxury products. Amazon invested $10 million for a 16.6 percent ownership in outstanding common stock, with contract covering the holiday seasons in 1999 and 2000, for Ashford to offer Amazon’s customers selections from its product line.

logo for Leep Technology Inc.

Leep Technology Inc.
(Founded in 1995, Acquired by Amazon in 1999) – Developer of on-line database query tools and Customer Relationship Management software. Sold to It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact date.

logo for
(Announced on January 21, 2000) – A 5 percent stake in online car retailer The exact terms weren’t disclosed, but a promotional agreement within the investment has Greenlight paying Amazon $82.5 million over five years for marketing efforts and promotions, and Amazon could option to increase their stake in Greenlight to 30 percent within the five years after the agreement.

logo for

Greg Manning Auctions, Inc.
(Announced Feb. 3, 2000) – A minority investment in GMAI, for $5 million of GMAI’s stock. The company focus was on a wide range of collectibles, and became known as the Escala Group (link no longer available). Active in the US, Europe, and China at the time of the investment.

logo for Basis Technology

Basis Technology
(Announced on Feb. 18, 2000) – A minority investment in this provider of internationalization technology for Internet companies and Web software developers.

logo for
(Announced on March 20, 2000) – Amazon invested $60 million for a minority stake this company which offered free delivery, within an hour, of things like rental DVDs and Starbucks coffee. Great overview at Anatomy of a Dot-Com from an employee of the company. Also interesting is Kozmo Kills the Messenger. Great Google Answer about Kozmo, what they delivered, and what their most popular delivery items were.

logo for
(Announced on April 18, 2000) – A minority investment of $ 30 Million, in this San Francisco and Napa based company, which had set up a system involving more than 550 wineries, importers and suppliers and 250 wholesalers in 45 states (representing about 85 percent of the U.S. population).

logo for
(Announced on Jan. 31, 2000) – An investment in the range of millions of dollars, for 5 percent of this spoken audio service, which featured content from newspapers and magazines, and books on audio. For promoting, Amazon would receive $ 30 Million over three years.

logo for Catalogcity
(Announced Nov 9, 2001) – A $ 5 Million investment, and a commercial agreement with this group of catalog merchants.

logo for
(Announced in December 2001) – Bankrupt electronics online retailer was purchased for $ 6.1 Million.

logo for OurHouse
(December 2001) – was intended to be the online partner for Ace Hardware. Employee number 17, Tom Tresser, was the marketing director for the business, and has (had) a page about OurHouse and some of the promotions and efforts that made it a successful site.

logo for CDNow

(December, 2002) – CD Now was acquired by Bertelsmannin 2000, and their operation was merged with the now defunct BMG Direct Record Club. Amazon and Bertelsmann agreed to a long term deal which would have Amazon handle things such as “fulfillment, inventory, content and customer service” for CDNow’s site in early December of 2002. The CD Now website reflected the change by the end of 2002.

logo for Limited
(Announced on Aug. 19, 2004) – Web retailer in China, from the British Virgin Islands, purchased for $75 Million ($72 million in cash and the assumption of employee stock options). The largest online retailers of books, music and videos in China at the time.

logo for BookSurge

BookSurge LLC
(Announced on April 4, 2005) – Inventory-free on-demand book printing and fulfillment from Charleston, South Carolina.

logo for Mobipocket
(April 2005) – A French company that specialized in ebooks for mobile devices, with both reader and server software.

logo for CustopmFlix

(June 2005) – Enables films to be downloaded and burned on DVDs.

logo for Shopbop
(Announced on Feb 27, 2006) – Retailer of apparel, shoes and accessories for women. The site has nothing on it to indicate that it is now owned by Amazon, but there is a link from Amazon’s Apparel & Accessories Store ( to the site.

logo for Wikia

wikia, Inc.
(invested in December 2006) – Wikia supports development of open source software which is used to Wikipedia and Wikia, and many thousands of other wiki sites.

logo for

Digital Photography Review
(May 14, 2007) – Amazon acquired Digital Photography Review (, which has continued to operate as a standalone business since the acquisition.

logo for Brilliance Audio

Brilliance Audio, Inc.
(Acquired May 23, 2007) – If you visit the web site of Brilliance Audio, you would be hardpressed to uncover their relationship with The company was the largest independent publisher of audiobooks in the United States at the time of the acquisition.

logo for Amie Street

Amie Street
(Investment announced on August 6, 2007) – The terms of this Series A financing deal aren’t disclosed in the press release from Amie Street, but this social networking digital music store has been growing quickly, and an October 2008 Press release describes significant growth of catalogue and customers and employees. It also tells us that the site is “raising its Series B round of financing with strong participation from existing investors.”

logo for Audible GmbH

Audible GmbH
(Announced January 31, 2008 ) – The press release tells us that Audible is the “leading online provider of premium digital spoken word audio content, specializing in digital audio editions of books, newspapers and magazines, television and radio programs and original programming.”

logo for

Without A Box, Inc.
(Acquired January 17, 2008) – The acquisition was by the Internet Movie Database, as a subsidiary of Without A Box is a media company that promotes independent films to audiences, and to film festivals.

logo for

Lovefilm International
(Investment announced April 2, 2008) – became the largest shareholder of stock for in exchange for Amazon Europe’s DVD rental business in the United Kingdom and Germany, as well as a cash investment. The agreement also included a multi-year deal for Amazon Europe to promote’s services to customers in the UK and Germany.

logo for Animoto

(Investment in May, 2008) – CEO Jeff Bezos gave a presentation in April of 2008 at Y Combinator’s Startup School, which featured Animoto video creation technology, run on Amazon’s cloud computing platform. A month later, Amazon is one of a number of investors in the company.

logo for
(Acquired June 25, 2008) – An online fabric store, offering custom measured and cut fabrics. has continued to be run as an independent business.

logo for Box Office Mojo

Box Office Mojo
(Acquired July 2008) – The strength of Box Office Mojo has been the box office tracking data that it has been able to collect and share online. The acquisition was made by the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), rather than directly by The site also includes analysis, reviews, and interviews, and continues to operate independently of IMDB and, though its likely that the data collected by Box Office Mojo about box office numbers, and film and TV credits is being shared.

logo for Engine Yard

Engine Yard Inc.
(Invested in July, 2008) – Engine Yard enables Ruby on Rails developers to deploy their applications on the Web, using cloud computing.

logo for Elastra

Elastra Corp
(Invested in August 2008) – This company makes software to move some of their computing infrastructure onto the internet, accessible via “cloud computing.”

logo for Shelfari

(Shelfari acquired August 25, 2008) – Amazon originally was an investor in Shelfari in Febuary, 2007. At the time of the acquistion, the Shelfari blog told us that:

As many of you may already know, Amazon has been a long supporter of Shelfari. They’ve worked closely with us as we introduced readers, like you, to our global community of book lovers. They’ve been there each step of the way as we brought forth new features, like the cool Facebook application and our virtual bookshelf. And now Shelfari and Amazon will work hand in hand to continue to grow our dynamic community and create innovative new tools around the books you love.

Reflexive Entertainment Inc.
(Acquired October 20, 2008) – The acquisition added significantly to the games that Amazon offers, and the Reflexive website appears to run as a standalone business with no sign that it is owned by Amazon except for CEO Lars Brubaker’s announcement of the acquisition.

logo for Abe Books

logo for

logo for Bookfinder

logo for

logo for

logo for LibraryThing

logo for Chris Lands

LibraryThing (40 %)

(Acquistion completed December 1, 2008) – Abe Books is an online marketplace for millions of mostly used, out of print, and rare books, which are listed by thousands of independent booksellers from around the world. Again, this is another acquired company that continues to be a stand-alone operation after being purchased.

AbeBooks made a number of acquisitions on its own before being purchased by, including in October of 2001, and in October 2004. AbeBooks acquired in November of 2005, a book inventory and order management company named FillZ in February of 2006, a 40 percent stake in LibraryThing in May of 2006, created a site named in February of 2008, and acquired Chrislands in April of 2008.

logo for Yieldex

(Investment in company on February 17, 2009) – Yieldex is an online ad targeting optimization firm.

logo for Lexcycle

Lexcycle Inc.
(Acquired April 27, 2009) – This is the company behind Stanza, an electronic book reading application for the iPhone and iPod.

logo for

(Seed capital investment in April, 2009) – The Chairman of Booktour is author and journalist Chris Anderson, who is the editor in chief of Wired Magazine, and the writer of the book The Long Tail. The company lets authors create profile pages where they can communicate with fans, and provide a schedule of events they may be participating in.

logo for

(Investment in May, 2009) – Foodista is an online cooking encyclopedia and wiki which launched in December of 2008, and is being built with user contributions.

logo for Talkmarket

Talk Market Inc
(Investment on June 9, 2009) – A minority stake in Talk Market, which allows sellers of unique products to upload videos about what they offer, and add graphics and soundtracks to those videos. In essence, this is an online shopping network.

logo for Snaptell

SnapTell Inc.
(Acquisition on June 16, 2009) – Snaptell was acquired by subsidiary A9. The company makes mobile image recognition marketing applications and technology, and has been one of the most popular applciations for iPhones and Android phones.

logo for Zappos

(Acquired July 22, 2009) – The email that Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh sent out to his employees to inform them of the acquisition of Zappos by provides a lot of insight into why Amazon purchased this popular ecommerce company. He tells them:

We plan to continue to run Zappos the way we have always run Zappos — continuing to do what we believe is best for our brand, our culture, and our business. From a practical point of view, it will be as if we are switching out our current shareholders and board of directors for a new one, even though the technical legal structure may be different.

We think that now is the right time to join forces with Amazon because there is a huge opportunity to leverage each other’s strengths and move even faster towards our long term vision. For Zappos, our vision remains the same: delivering happiness to customers, employees, and vendors. We just want to get there faster.


Author: Bill Slawski

Share This Post On