A billionaire VC who made his fortune from funding startups, Chamath Palihapitiya has come a long way since his days as a Facebook employee. Now worth more than $1 billion, he owns and runs Social Capital, a successful venture-capital company.
In a Q & A session with Quora this week, Palihapitiya revealed the one company he believes is capable of achieving the $5 trillion market cap: Amazon.
He estimates that the global conglomerate has potential to reach 15-20 times more than current levels in the next 50 years. He is so confident in this bet that he is considering a 10-year investment towards it.
Surprisingly, Palihapitiya’s confidence is not in Amazon’s 23-billion e-commerce platform. No. The VC is more interested in the computing services provided by the company. Amazon Web Services currently pulls in an estimated $7 billion annually.
Although he does not deny the aptitude of e-commerce’s revenue-generating power, he believes that Amazon is simply using it to make way for the real product – Amazon Web Services.
Palihapitiya likened AWS to a tax. As companies become dependent on it to provide their services, Amazon will reap the rewards of the fixed fee they charge their clients yearly to use their software.
The logic behind his thinking is simple. It is easier for companies to run their services on existing infrastructure than create their own. Whether it is a consumer app, Saas or IoT a company is interested in, it makes better sense to subscribe to trusted computing software.
With more companies signing up to use AWS, Amazon is in a great position to “tax” users through its fixed fee. And as the software industry grows, the most valuable company would be the one who can provide computing technology.
According to the investor, AWS will eventually follow Microsoft, which started charging its users a fee to use Office and related software. At first, the IT community was reluctant to pay this fee as laid out in Microsoft’s licensing agreements. However, companies have succumbed to the “Microsoft tax” and Palihapitiya thinks the same will happen with AWS.
The migration towards AWS has already begun, according Palihapitiya. Netflix, Juniper, News Corp and Spotify have turned to Amazon for computing technology. These and several other large companies are closing down data centers in favor of Amazon’s cloud services.
Amazon is set to become a cloud-computing monopoly and figures are backing this prediction. According to Deutsche Bank, AWS’s worth is estimated at $160 billion. It generated roughly $521 million in the last quarter, quickly catching up to Amazon’s e-commerce platform that made $528 million in the same quarter.