Amazon a Tech Company – Or (Ugh) a Warehouse Company that Has a Web Site?

News that Amazon (AMZN) plans to hire 50,000 seasonal workers to handle the coming holiday order surge underscores that its business model remains shoe-leather-and-elbow-grease, not some amazing, scale-able technology platform.

As YCharts noted last week, revenue-per-employee dipped sharply last year and could conceivably fall yet again for 2012, as Amazon lards on more and more workers, hiring at a pace above its revenue growth. That sort of spending – and the costs of a generous (to customers) free-shipping policy – yields a disturbing chart (yikes on the profit margin):

AMZN Revenue TTM Chart

AMZN Revenue TTM data by YCharts

Dis-economies of scale, anyone?

The $775 million acquisition of Kiva, a maker of robots, announced earlier this year apparently hasn’t done anything to reduce Amazon’s need for human labor.

Jeff Bailey is the editor of YCharts, which includes the just-released YCharts Pro Platinum for professional investors.


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