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11 Companies You Might Not Realize Are Owned by Amazon

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by Simon Brew

With over $107 billion in annual revenue in 2015 (yep, that's not a typo), Amazon is the dominant online retailer on Planet Earth. What's more, its tentacles stretch farther than you might realize. Here are just a few of the companies that operate under the Amazon umbrella:

1. IMDB.COM

Amazon bought the Internet Movie Database back in 1998. Individual pages within the database now have the option to click to buy a DVD or Blu-ray of the film from Amazon. Other than that, it's remained a relatively separate entity since the purchase.

2. ALEXA.COM

Not to be confused with Amazon's digital assistant with the same name, Alexa is an analytics provider. Thus, it's used primarily to rank the popularity of websites. Amazon snapped up the service in 1999, in a deal worth $250 million in stock.

3. AUDIBLE

Arguably the most popular repository of audiobooks online, Audible became part of the Amazon empire back in 2008 in a deal that cost Amazon $300 million. Now, when you search for a book on Amazon, you have the option to purchase the Audible narration along with your Kindle e-book at a reduced price; and Amazon Prime members have access to original audio series created by Audible.

4. BOX OFFICE MOJO

The website Box Office Mojo has been charting the box office performance of movies since 1999, and in July 2008, IMDb (which, we've discussed, is owned by Amazon) bought the service. Thus far, Box Office Mojo has continued to run as its own entity, although in October 2014, traffic for one day was redirected to IMDb's own box office page. This change was reversed within 24 hours, but it's added a question mark to the future of the site.

5. ABEBOOKS

Acquired by Amazon in 2008, AbeBooks was and is a site dedicated to tracking down rare, used and out of print books. It works with independent bookstores to ensure a hefty range of titles that otherwise would be hard to find.

6. ZAPPOS

If you've ever debated the merits of Zappos over Amazon, we've got some bad news for you: Amazon bought the shoe retailer in 2009 for a whopping $807 million. Since its acquisition, Zappos has remained an independent entity and has worked hard to maintain its individual company culture and values.

7. GOODREADS

One of the 350 most popular websites in the world (according to Alexa, at least!), Goodreads is a community of book reviews, recommendations, and discussion. It came to life in December 2006, and was acquired by Amazon in March 2013. While it was a pretty logical purchase for the company, many Goodreads devotees were angered by it because they believed the Amazon affiliation would harm local booksellers (Goodreads users would now be prompted to purchase the books from Amazon, rather than mom-and-pop shops).

8. DOUBLE HELIX GAMES

Amazon has snapped up a couple of video game developers throughout its history, including Double Helix Games in 2014. The studio is best known for creating titles such as Killer Instinct and Silent Hill: Homecoming.

9. TWITCH

The live video-game streaming platform was snapped up by Amazon in the autumn of 2014 for a cool $970 million, and now, access to Twitch is free with a Prime membership. Google had been circling Twitch beforehand, but it was Amazon that ultimately concluded the deal. Why would a business that is primarily a retailer want a live-streaming service? Business Insider's Matt Weinberger believes the acquisition was a way for Amazon to bolster its Amazon Web Serves division, which focuses on cloud computing.

10. SHOPBOP

Trendsetters are likely familiar with the shopping site, which was founded in 2000 and bought by Amazon in 2006. Thanks to the partnership, Shopbop purchases are eligible for Amazon Prime's free two-day shipping.

11. QUIDSI

Quidsi might not be a household name, but you've probably heard of (and use) its sites, which include Wag.com (pet supplies), Soap.com (household needs), Diapers.com (baby supplies), and BeautyBar.com (cosmetics). Amazon made Quidsi part of its family in 2010 for $500 million.

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Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Sam's Club Brings $.99 Polish Hot Dogs to All Stores After They're Cut From Costco's Food Courts
Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In early July, Costco angered many customers with the announcement that its beloved Polish hot dog was being removed from the food court menu. If you're someone who believes cheap meat tastes best when eaten in a bulk retail warehouse, Sam's Club has good news: The competing big box chain has responded to Costco's news by promising to roll out Polish hot dogs in all its stores later this month, Business Insider reports.

The Polish hot dog has long been a staple at Costco. Like Costco's classic hot dog, the Polish dog was part of the food court's famously affordable $1.50 hot dog and a soda package. The company says the item is being cut in favor of healthier offerings, like açai bowls, organic burgers, and plant-based protein salads.

The standard hot dog and the special deal will continue to be available in stores, but customers who prefer the meatier Polish dog aren't satisfied. Fans immediately took their gripes to the internet—there's even a petition on Change.org to "Bring Back the Polish Dog!" with more than 6500 signatures.

Now Sam's Clubs are looking to draw in some of those spurned customers. Its version of the Polish dog will be sold for just $.99 at all stores starting Monday, July 23. Until now, the chain's Polish hot dogs had only been available in about 200 Sam's Club cafés.

It's hard to imagine the Costco food court will lose too many of its loyal followers from the menu change. Polish hot dogs may be getting axed, but the popular rotisserie chicken and robot-prepared pizza will remain.

[h/t Business Insider]

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Two of the Last Blockbuster Stores Are Closing
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The fact that Blockbuster still has three stores in the U.S. may come as a surprise, but the video rental chain's days are numbered. The brand's two branches in Alaska will be closing up shop next week, leaving only one last holdout in Bend, Oregon, according to Engadget.

"If you'd asked me 14 years ago, there's no way I'd thought we'd be the last one," Sandi Harding, General Manager of the Oregon store, tells Engadget. "It just seems a little crazy.”

Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy in 2010 but continued to license its logo to franchisees. In 2013, there were 13 remaining Blockbuster stores, and by 2016 there were nine. Many of these branches were located in Alaska, where internet is costly and many areas lack a broadband connection, making streaming difficult.

This alone wasn't enough to keep Blockbuster's Fairbanks and DeBarr Road locations in business, though. The stores will close July 16, but they'll reopen the following day for an inventory sale that will last until the end of August.

John Oliver, host of Last Week Tonight, became an unlikely champion of the DeBarr Road outlet last April when he bought the jockstrap worn by Russell Crowe in Cinderella Man for $7000 and donated it to the store in hopes of generating interest and foot traffic. It worked for a little while, but the effect was temporary and business dropped off once again. Indeed, the age of Netflix marks the end of an era.

[h/t Engadget]

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