Since 2004, Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos (through his personal investment fund Bezos Expeditions) have been banking big on Web services infrastructure companies. This week, Amazon.com participated in a $15m VC investment in San Francisco-based Engine Yard. Founded in 2006, Engine Yard hosts software that enables enterprises to build and manage open source Ruby on Rails applications. The investment also comes on the heels of adopting SnapLogic’s open source data integration framework into its Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service.
In addition, Bezos has been actively investing in the applications that run on top of its service. On Monday, Bezos Expeditions contributed to a $15m round for Social Gaming Network Inc, which distributes games on Facebook and other social networks. The fund also participated in a $15m series C for Twitter in May. That same month, Bezos made another $15m series B for Seattle-based Pelago, which sports the popular mobile social networking app Whrrl, and whose founders Jeff Holden and Darren Erik Vengroff have solid roots in Amazon.
On top of its VC spending spree, Amazon has made eight acquisitions of Web companies since 2004. This rapid expansion has landed the Internet behemoth next to Google in the Web services business. Interestingly, Bezos Expeditions also injected $12.5m in San Francisco-based Wikipedia search startup Powerset last summer, which was picked up by Microsoft two weeks ago for a reported $100m. Incidentally, Powerset is deployed by Amazon’s EC2 service. While looking for ways to catch up to its rivals on the Web, Microsoft might benefit by partnering with, or (we daresay) buying the Web infrastructure Jeff Bezos and company have been so insightful to build.