The company’s stock price rose 1.7 per cent in trading on Tuesday morning, to $2,050.50 per share, putting its market value at just over $1 trillion. Together, Amazon and Apple now make up more than 8 per cent of the entire value of the S&P 500, according to CNN.
The achievement was not an unexpected one for the Seattle-based company, the value of which has more than doubled in the last year alone. In the 24 years since its founding, the company has capitalised on a growing demand for online shopping, while amassing a powerful trove of data on its Prime subscription service members. It now generates $178bn in revenue each year.
The company has gone from being an online marketplace to a movie and television producer, e-book publisher, and cloud storage centre. It has partnered with brick-and-mortar retailers like Whole Foods, and created a popular, digital home assistant named “Alexa”. Its search for a second headquarters recently set off a frantic bidding war between more than 200 cities, states, and regions across the continent.
“We have one person whose wealth is increasing by $250 million every single day, while he pays thousands of his workers wages that are so low that they are forced to go on food stamps, Medicaid, and subsidized housing,” Mr Sanders said, according to MyChamplainValley.com.
The company hit back with a statement claiming Mr Sanders had spread “misleading statements” about employees’ pay and benefits, noting that the average hourly wage for full-time associates at the company’s fulfilment centres – including cash, stock, and incentive bonuses – was over $15 per hour.
“We encourage anyone to compare our pay and benefits to other retailers,” the company said.
It was not the first time the nearly 600,000-person company has been criticised for its employment practices. Much scrutiny has been placed on Amazon’s treatment of its fulfilment centre employees, who complete online orders in physical warehouses around the world.
A 2015 expose from the New York Times revealed how even the company’s white-collar employees are often worked past their breaking points. The company responded by calling the article “sensational” and saying it had misrepresented the company.
Amazon has also found a frequent critic in President Donald Trump, who recently accused the company of everything from failing to pay its fair share of taxes to using Mr Besos’s ownership of the Washington Post to lobby for its interests.
In an interview published by Business Insider in April, Mr Bezos welcomed the criticism – from Mr Trump and others.
“Amazon is now a large corporation and I expect us to be scrutinised,” he said at the time. “…I think it’s true that big government institutions should be scrutinised, big non-profit institutions should be scrutinised, big universities should be scrutinised. It just makes sense.”