A look back at Amazon’s first-ever M&A deal in 1998

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on May 26, 2021
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  • Amazon acquired three companies — Bookpages, Telebook, and IMDb — back in 1998.
  • The three transactions were closed for approximately $55 million in cash and common stock.
  • Till date, the company has completed 105 acquisitions.

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Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) announced today that it will acquire the iconic Hollywood studio MGM Studios Inc. for $8.5 billion, including debt. The acquisition is the second-largest deal struck by Amazon, behind its $13.7 billion deal to acquire Whole Foods in 2017.

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Read more about the Amazon-MGM deal here. 

The e-commerce giant has a long history of acquiring companies and has completed 105 deals to date. But let’s take a look at some of the earliest acquisitions of the company.

Amazon.com’s first acquisition(s)

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Amazon.com was founded in 1994 and in April of 1998, the company announced that it was acquiring three companies — Bookpages Ltd., Telebook Inc., and Internet Movie Database Ltd. (IMDb), marking the start of its 105 acquisitions that it will do over the next two decades. The three transactions cost the company approximately $55 million in cash and common stock.

Bookpages and Telebook were strategic investments that enabled Amazon to expand into the European markets.

At the time Bookpages was the largest online bookstore in the United Kingdom with a catalog of 1.2 million books. Bookpages Managing Director Dr. Simon Murdoch said of the acquisition: 

“This is fantastic news for Bookpages and its customers.g By combining Amazon.com’s resources with Bookpages’ in-depth knowledge of the U.K. marketplace, we can provide even better service and selection to our customers inside and outside of the United Kingdom.”

Telebook, on the other hand, was the largest online seller of books in Germany. Telebook President Michael J.G. Gleissner commented:

“Telebook’s longtime local expertise in online bookselling in Germany combined with Amazon.com’s worldwide brand and powerful technology will lead to tremendous benefits for the customer.”

IMDb boasted of a large repository of information on movies and television shows.

The three acquisitions were pivotal to Amazon in expanding its online presence and in to newer geographic regions.

Some other big ticket acquisitions by Amazon

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Amazon has acquired a number of companies both big and small in its almost three decades of history. Some of the companies largest acquisitions have been Whole Foods ($13.7 billion), MGM Studios ($8.45 billion), Zappos ($1.2 billion), Zoox ($1.2 billion), Twitch ($970 million), Ring ($839 million), Kiva Systems ($775 million) and Pillpack ($753 million).

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