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    • Chris

      Amazon just bought PillPack for just under a billion $. I had never heard of PillPack, but they're an online pharmacy. Walgreens and CVS stocks each slumped by almost 10% in pre-opening trading.

      So wait, they bought Ring Doorbell, Whole Foods, Twitch eSports streaming, PillPack, 10 other companies last year. They won Oscars for their movies, they lead in online data centers, retail sales online, they have a new huge health care initiative...

      How is this even imaginable? Warren Buffet says he didn't invest in Amazon because he doesn't invest in miracles.

    • Pa

      I remember many years ago ( ~25 or so ) , shortly after Amazon appeared on the web, I actually spoke to someone to place an order with my credit card - at that point, back in the 90's - I wouldn't just enter my card data into a website - that's how long ago -

      I found I could order 2nd hand, out of print books - even books printed in the 18th or 19th century, easily. I bought one for my wife for Christmas - it was written about the "recent" battle in the Little Big Horn mountains where General Custer died, in June 25-26 1876.

      A few months later I attended a speech by Robert Ballard about his discovery of the Titanic - and he mentioned a couple books that he read as an adolescent which directed him to a career in marine archeology. I was able to find those two books in a few minute search on Amazon, and bought them both. One had been in the Kansas City Library system for over 60 years.

      I loved being able to find old, used books - but Amazon never made a profit as a public company back then, so I was smart and never invested in it - even though I loved the service, and have coontinued to use it to this day. I could now shop, and whatever I wanted, would be dropped on my doorstep, usually within 24-48 hours. If I didnt like it, I could just ship it back, no questions asked.

      Amazing in retrospect, I have never invested in Amazon itself. How foolish I was.

      I am curious how their new thrust into medicine will work out. Drug pricing can be very bizarre. Many generic drugs are not made in this country any longer, but are readily available over seas. Do I want to take drugs from China or India, or other third world countries?? I have reservations. I remember the poisonings of dog food with melamine, and other things. Yet, both China and India and other countries countries have sophisticated modern industries, quite capable of producing quality items.

      When I went looking for Aleve recently, I found two different bottles of it at Sam's Club - one was made in India, and one was made in China. I did not see one stating that it was made in the USA or even a country in western Europe, despite Aleve being a product of Bayer.

      When I drop into Alibaba looking for naproxifen ( generic Aleve ) I can find it for sale for $43-55 dollars per kilogram - but I have no idea who made it or if it is even safe for animals or humans to use. I can guaraantee there will be folks buying it that way, and stuffing it into pills or capsules to sell if they can get away with it legally - or even illegally if the profit is large enough. I am hoping Jeff Bezos and his crew can resolve some of these issues.

      It will be interesting to watch.

    • Chris

      That was a pretty awesome write-up, grayrest.

      It's crazy, I started an online bookstore about a year after Jeff founded Amazon, but we didn't think their inventory-free model would work well, so we established a distribution center in Kentucky. We focused on professional books—computers, medical, law... Fatbrain.com. It grew to $100 million in sales in 4 years and went public on the NASDAQ.

      Back in the day, Barnes & Noble was considered a real company flush with cash and they bought us, whereas Amazon was considered not long for this world. They folded us into BN.com because they hated our name.

      We had a great run because people could get stuff quicker from us and we had book reviews before Amazon did, but damn, when one of their board members realized they needed inventory, they got into it in a mind-blowing way.

    • Richard

      And yet, Alibaba is flourishing without inventory, I believe. They are less profitable than Amazon and less valuable at the moment, but Internet penetration in China is well below US levels, so their margin for growth may be greater. I think of both of these companies as primarily selling brilliant logistics--I don't think it matters in the least to the consumer where the product was stored as long as it's easy to order and is delivered quickly and as promised. BTW, The Atlantic has an interesting article on the life of an Amazon free-lance delivery person in the Bay Area. Nothing miraculous about that...

    • ti

      I am curious how their new thrust into medicine will work out. Drug pricing can be very bizarre. Many generic drugs are not made in this country any longer, but are readily available over seas. Do I want to take drugs from China or India, or other third world countries?? I have reservations.

      As a former Amazon employee, I would guess it is only a matter of time before Amazon is the one making the drugs :)

    • Chris

      Wow! I'd love to hear some of those stories!

      I heard Warren Buffet being questioned about their health initiative with Amazon. He said they've been on the hunt for a CEO for a long time. If they couldn't find the right CEO, they wouldn't do it.

      I can't believe it but they got Atul Gawande. Oh my God that guy's books are SO RIVETING!

    • gorudy

      How might history have been different if Barnes and Nobles bought Amazon and not Fatbrain?

      I'd love to hear more about the time you started an online bookstore within 18 months of when amazon did. There's probably a lot of interesting nuances of strategy and context around that time that we now take for granted.

    • Chris

      Our issue was we couldn't count on suppliers to ship accurately or on time, or even well packed. It just created so many customer service issues. Maybe it's easier in China.

    You've been invited!