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Amazon has replaced Google as the company that freaks out corporate America the most

  • Amazon just had to announce that it was buying Whole Foods to send grocery stocks reeling.
  • Google, among other pursuits, is a search engine, a driverless-car maker, a media company and an advertising behemoth through which Russians tried to steer the U.S. presidential election.
  • Both companies compete over personal gadgets like their voice-controlled speakers Google Home and Amazon Echo that are becoming the centerpieces of connected homes.
Jeff Bezos
Getty Images
Jeff Bezos

Amazon and Google occupy a huge portion of the corporate psyche.

Both have long elicited fear, admiration and inspiration as evidenced by the frequency with which both companies are cited on conference calls across industries.

But Amazon has replaced Google as the corporate boogeyman. Amazon was mentioned 2,090 times this year on publicly available corporate conference calls (including earnings calls, shareholder meetings, and guidance calls), up 11 percent from last year, according to an analysis of FactSet data, which goes through the morning of Oct. 11, 2017. Google (or Alphabet) was mentioned in about 1,500 company conference calls, down 19 percent from 2016.

In these conference calls, investors are often simply reacting to Amazon's presence or expected presence in an industry. Amazon just had to announce that it was buying Whole Foods to send grocery stocks reeling. Rolling out a Geek Squad competitor caused Best Buy's stock to plunge. And Blue Apron has never been able to recover from the dark cloud that is Amazon dabbling in meal delivery.

Amazon and Google are on everyone's lips because it can seem like both have their hands in everything.

Amazon isn't just an online retailer but also a media company and a brick-and-mortar grocery store. Google, among other pursuits, is a search engine, a driverless-car maker, a media company and an advertising behemoth through which Russians tried to steer the U.S. presidential election.

Both companies compete over personal gadgets like their voice-controlled speakers Google Home and Amazon Echo that are becoming the centerpieces of connected homes. Both vie for control over the internet's backbone though their vast data center businesses.

In short, both companies are drawing attention from their many competitors. Amazon is just a bit scarier.

By Rani Molla, Recode.net.

CNBC's parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Recode's parent Vox, and the companies have a content-sharing arrangement.

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