The Download: Fueled by the e-commerce surge caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Amazon has added more than 427,000 employees in the past 10 months—1,400 workers per day—raising its global workforce to more than 1.2 million. That adds up to record-breaking growth for a corporation in the U.S., beating Walmart’s 230,000 employees added during a single year two decades ago. (Amazon is on pace to pass Walmart as the world’s largest employer in the next couple of years.) This holiday season, sales are expected to grow by 30 percent over last year, according to the National Retail Federation.
The Outlook: Amazon’s takeover of large segments of the world economy will continue to be a source of fierce debate. Just this month, the European Union brought new antitrust charges against the company, accusing it of leveraging the data from small merchants to bolster its in-house brands. President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration is expected to increase scrutiny on the tech giants, too. But could Amazon’s dominance be a boon for the design world? Luxury fashion has reluctantly started to embrace the platform, and for smaller studios without much e-commerce infrastructure, it offers an opportunity to reach a wider audience than some of the category-specific platforms. Still, the concerns about the company becoming too powerful are real.
In Their Own Words: “This period has been partly about a recession but also about a pretty dramatic shift of economic activity from some sectors to others,” says Jed Kolko, chief economist at the online jobs site Indeed. “We are turning into Amazon Nation,” says Margaret O’Mara, a history professor at the University of Washington.
Surface Says: If we’re helpless to stop Amazon’s complete takeover of our lives, can we at least get an interface redesign?