Amazon.Com Once Sold Only Books; Now The Retail Giant Markets Everything

Amazon also purchased a video-game studio that's begun releasing a slate of games, including the team brawler "Breakaway." And for a brief time through Twitch, it owned an e-sports team.

More recently, job postings show Amazon is looking for news editors to produce digests of trending topics that probably would be fed into Alexa, the virtual assistant found on Echo speakers.

Last year, the company also launched a music-streaming subscription, Amazon Music Unlimited, to compete with Pandora and Spotify.

GROCERIES Amazon has long had aspirations as a grocer, starting in 1999 when it invested millions in HomeGrocer.com, a first-of-its-kind online supermarket that was ultimately doomed by the dot-com bust.

It wasn't until 2007 that the company launched its first grocery delivery service, AmazonFresh, rolling it out slowly by invitation only to residents of the affluent Seattle suburb of Mercer Island. Pickup locations were later added in nearby Kirkland and Bellevue.

In 2013, AmazonFresh expanded to Los Angeles and San Francisco. More cities have been added, including San Diego, New York and Philadelphia as well as Tokyo and London.

The service was initially met with skepticism given the difficulty getting perishables to customers on time, particularly in cities known for traffic gridlock. And for all the convenience AmazonFresh provides, it often remains pricier than your neighborhood market. Subscribers must be Amazon Prime members, which costs $99 a year. AmazonFresh is an additional monthly membership for $14.99.

The $13.7 billion Whole Foods deal marks Amazon's biggest foray into groceries.

"The final was always food," O'Keefe said. "It's a smart deal for continuing the sales of online groceries, and it is likely that we'll see them grow rapidly."

WHAT'S NEXT? Amazon's deal-making team, led by Senior Vice President for Business Development Jeffrey Blackburn, doesn't appear to be slowing down. Amazon has showed interest in acquiring workplace chat app Slack in a deal that could value the startup at $9 billion, Bloomberg reported earlier this month.

Another possible next venture for Amazon is same-day delivery services such as GrubHub or Postmates, some analysts say.

"The next logical move is ... strategic partnerships that allow Amazon to streamline the consumer experience from delivery to in-store shopping experience," said Tom Ball, co-founder and managing director of Next Coast Ventures.

For some, Amazon's acquisitions signal lower costs for all the products consumers use on a daily basis. But Lloyd Greif, chief executive of Greif & Co., warns that once Amazon has complete control, it will be free to raise prices dramatically as it sees fit.

"Amazon is an octopus and it has its tentacles everywhere," Greif said. "Once it's completed its mission, then you're going to have the price inflexibility that's not in the consumers' interest." ___ (Los Angeles Times staff writers Ryan Faughnder, Tracey Lien and James Peltz contributed to this report.)

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