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MIT Technology Review

35 Innovators Under 35

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  • Robert Frederick

    31

    You probably think of Amazon.com as a place to buy everything from books to kitchenware. But thats only a part of what the company aspires to be. Programmer Robert Frederick is leading Amazons transformation into something more like the Coca-Cola of e-commerce, with its own virtual vending machines – each a gateway to Amazons entire inventory – scattered across thousands of third-party websites. Its all part of a grand vision starring Amazon as the Webs central platform for almost any kind of online purchase. Frederick got his start at the company five years ago by building Amazon Anywhere, software that prepares data from Amazons vast product database for display on cell phones and other mobile devices. From there, it was a short conceptual step to opening up Amazons database to any independent Web merchant or programmer with a need for product information. And the resulting tools – a set of standardized commands for interacting with Amazons database, built around XML and other new Web standards for describing content – have allowed outsiders to soup up their businesses with a range of Amazon services. More than 60,000 Web developers have signed up to use Amazons new services, with many hoping to bring new customers to their sites – and earn a commission of up to 10 percent on every sale.